As any guitarist will tell you, there are few things better than a new pedal. Effect pedals are a great way to experiment with your instrument and offer a wide variety of unique and interesting sounds that you can use to enhance your playing. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to know which pedal to choose for getting the effect you want.
A popular group of effects often used by guitarists are pedals that make your guitar sound ‘thicker’ such as flangers and reverb units. Most of these effects are used to create very specific sounds, some of which are very different from the input provided by your guitar.
If, for instance, you want to imitate the sound of multiple guitars with just one, a chorus pedal could be just the thing you are looking for.
From the Police to Nirvana, it is likely you have already heard chorus pedals used in some of your favorite songs. These devices work by taking a ‘dry’ signal from your guitar and duplicating it to form an identical ‘wet’ signal.
The wet signal is slightly detuned to create an effect that is very similar to a 12-string in that it sounds like two guitars playing at once. This is done using a Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO), which is the same device used in flanger pedals. Today we will be taking you through some of the best chorus pedals on the market and what sets them above the competition.
The Boss CE-1 was the very first chorus pedal to ever grace the ears of guitarists.
Players requested that the sizable CE-1 be condensed into a smaller size that could fit on pedal boards, and thus was born the original CE-2. These pedals encapsulated the chorus effects frequently heard in the late 70s and 80s. With the CE-2W, you can now own both of these legendary effects in one compact device.
There is a small toggle between the two control knobs which can be used to switch between the sound of the CE-1 pedal, CE-1 style vibrato and the CE-2. The differences between the sound in each mode is subtle but noticeable, and you can tweak it to suit your preferences with the rate and depth knobs.
Our favorite of the three settings was the CE-1 chorus, which offered a very luscious and full sound with less of the sea-sick treble provided by standard mode.
With stereo outputs, you can easily fill a room with sparkling chords and create what sounds like an ensemble of guitarists with one instrument. The pedal itself is well-made with a durable pad which is satisfying to press down. Overall, this is a versatile effects box that can switch from gentle reverb to warbling vibrato with the flick of a switch.
Based on the original chorus pedal for a perfect imitation of classic 80s chorus effects.
Rate and depth controls, as well as a vibrato setting.
Also available at:
- Special edition WAZA craft pedal delivers the ultimate BOSS tone experience
- Standard mode provides a perfect reproduction of the legendary ce-2 sound
- Ce-1 Mode features chorus and Vibrato, authentically reproducing the two stereo sound modes in the worlds first chorus pedal
- Includes new sounds not available in the original pedals, including ce-2 stereo output and variable depth for ce-1 chorus sounds
- Rate and depth knobs provide fine sound adjustment in both pedal modes
This miniature chorus pedal is easy to use with only two controls, but still sounds great. It offers a slightly thinner effect than the Boss for a more bluesy, sea-sick tone. As for controls, you can alter the rate of the effect with the single knob and the depth with a small switch just to the side of it.
The depth switch allows you to swap between a subtle wavering sound and a more pronounced oscillating warble. Since it is an analog pedal, the sound is quite warm, which is just what you want for making your chord progressions sound awesome. With the rate knob, you can alter the speed of the effect to go from a gentle reverb to a pronounced vibrato depending on what you prefer.
There are two outputs on the top of the pedal, which should make it easy to insert into your pedal board. With a solid nickel, steel case, this unit is very durable and fun to experiment with. It can be powered with batteries or a 9V power adaptor, which is not included in the box.
A warm analog chorus pedal that is easy to use.
The simple controls allow you to create a surprisingly diverse range of sounds.
No power adaptor included in the box.
Don’t be fooled by its small size, the Ibanez mini chorus still packs a very large sound. It has a true-bypass switch, allowing you to alternate between a perfectly clean tone and the chorus effect with one tap. The input and output are on opposite sides, which makes this unit very easy to add to a pedal board.
One thing we love about the mini is the versatility it offers despite taking up very little space. There are three knobs including a large speed control with two smaller ones for depth and level. This means you can adjust how pronounced the chorus effect is, how quickly it is applied and how loud it is compared to the ‘Dry’ signal.
It has a similar, warm, ephemeral sound to the Small Clone pedal, thanks to the analog circuitry. The button is large enough that you won’t easily miss it, and durable, so you won’t break it by tapping it with your foot. One issue is that the smaller control knobs are very small, which may make it difficult to adjust the sound of your effect on the fly.
Durable miniature pedal.
Small enough to fit on any pedal board.
Three different knobs for getting the sound you want.
Difficult to adjust while playing.
Also available at:
- Mini format pedal 100% Analog circuitry Speed, Depth and Level controls True bypass switching Made in Japan
- The mini-pedal market has been booming the past few years, so Ibanez felt the time was right to offer some of their most legendary pedals in new mini housing! Ibanez is proud to announce the new MINI pedal Family, including the Chorus
- Made in Japan, the CSMINI features a smaller Depth knob and a significant larger Speed knob in the middle
- In addition, we’ve added a smaller Level knob for versatility
- A true bypass switch provides the shortest, most direct signal path as well as the the cleanest tone
Like the CE-2W, this is another remake of a classic chorus pedal that offers an equally classic sound. You can use this unit with a piano or guitar, which makes it very versatile despite being controlled with only two buttons. To make use of the stereo output for a guitar, you will need a TRS jack instead of the standard TS variety.
Button one can be used for a rich, moving chorus that fills the whole room. The other button gives you a faster effect that is more wobbly and seasick, with a gentle vibrato at the end of each note. Pressing both buttons in will provide a mix of the two sounds for a double chorus effect that sounds amazing.
As well as sounding just like its vintage ancestor, this pedal also looks the part, with a simple but charming aesthetic offered by the wood side panels. It uses the same analogue circuitry as the old Juno-60 for an authentic sound that is straight out of the 80s. The solid true bypass switch can handle anything you throw at it and won’t affect the sound of your guitar when the pedal is turned off.
Works for both keyboards and guitars.
Recreate classic chorus effects with two buttons and a true bypass switch.
Stylish vintage aesthetic.
Easy to use.
Needs a special cable for stereo output with a guitar.
Also available from:
- Authentic recreation of the legendary synthesizer chorus from the '80s
- 2-Button interface for intuitive and breath-taking modulation tone
- All-analog BBD (bucket Brigade delay) circuitry
- Mono/stereo switch for ultimate chorus experience
- True bypass for ultimate signal integrity
The Sea Machine made by Earthquaker uses a combination of digital and analog circuitry to provide a unique shimmer sound. There are 6 different controls that you can use to customize this sound, creating gentle wavering chords or crazy oscillating vibratos as you please. You can keep track of the rate thanks to the helpful LED that will beep in time with the Low Frequency Oscillator.
As well as rate and depth, you can also use the dimension knob to increase the amount of reverb, or go from tight traditional chorus to wild, frantic effects with the animate function. All of these different knobs work well together to offer a versatile pedal that can be used to create a wide variety of different sounds.
All the knobs are well-made and large enough that you can easily fiddle with them on the fly. The sea machine works very well alongside distortion or fuzz pedals, since it won’t make your sound even muddier. Overall, this is a great addition to any pedal board that looks as good as it sounds.
A versatile set of knobs for altering the output however you like.
LED light helps you keep track of the rate of your pedal.
Create classic chorus sounds as well as lots of other crazy effects thanks to the hybrid digital and analogue circuitry.
Lots of controls may make this pedal more difficult to use for beginners.
- A chorus pedal with as many modulation possibilities as there are fish in the sea
- Capable of tones from subtle, shimmery chorus sounds, to wobbly, warbly pitch-bent detuning
- Works well following fuzz/overdrive/distortion pedals without getting muddy, lowering in output, or breaking up
- When engaged, the Sea Machine’s transparent buffer leaves the all-analog dry signal unaltered and crystal clear
- Controls allow for everything from subtle warble, classic Leslie, seasick pitch bends, strangled alien sounds, stunted arpeggiations and many more far out sounds
Blue Hippo is another old school pedal that has been remade for the modern age. The main difference between the mark 3 and the original is the size, with this pedal being small enough to fit on most pedal boards without a problem. This unit offers the full analog circuitry of its ancestor within a more compact and portable shell that looks great.
With knobs for both speed and depth, you can tailor your output to get the sound that you want. There is also a switch between the two control knobs for switching between a regular chorus effect and vibrato. This makes it a versatile pedal that sounds great when playing any genre or style.
This pedal is beautifully clear, although this means the output has less of the iconic shimmer that chorus pedals are known for. With a solid switch, you can rely on this unit to last you a long time. You will love this pedal for its lush, warbling tones and for the fact that it is very easy to use.
Easy to use.
Can switch between a standard chorus effect and a vibrato mode.
Compact and capable of fitting well on most pedalboards.
Less of a shimmer sound when compared to other pedals on this list.
- Same lusciously liquefied sounds in a more pedalboard-friendly package
- Take it from lush tone-widening to full-on rotating speaker madness
- Vibe switch adds thick Vibrato texture
If you want complete control over your chorus effect, then this pedal made by Electro-Harmonix is the one for you. This unit is slightly larger than the competition, but makes up for its size with a wide variety of different functions. For a start, the mode knob allows you to select between four analog effects including chorus, double track, flanger and a filter matrix.
The feedback and tune/delay control can be used on any of the effects and will allow you to tailor your sound to get the exact output you want. You can make tonnes of cool Sci-fi riffs with this pedal by using the filter matrix for plinky, metallic notes or the double track for a bluesy slap back. No matter what style of music you play, this pedal is a lot of fun to experiment with.
With the choice of stereo and mono outputs, you can plug this pedal into most amps or speakers to get a massive full sound. If you aren’t sure what kind of effect you are looking for, then this versatile pedal is the perfect way to find out.
Four different effects to choose from.
Stereos and mono outputs.
Extensive controls that can be used to fine-tune your effect and get the exact sound you are looking for.
This pedal is relatively large, so you may have trouble fitting it on your pedal board.
- Mode selectable analog effects: chorus, flange, double track and filter matrix
- Double track is a short slapback echo
- Filter matrix mode disengages the sweep flange adjustment for manual flange tones
- All effects have control over feedback and tune/delay
- Sweep filter switch and stereo outputs. 9V power supply included.
Finding the best chorus pedal for you is going to come down to what kind of sound you want to create. Some units will offer a soft, gentle chorus effect, while others will produce a mad warbling vibrato. Here are a few things to look out for while you are shopping for your new chorus pedal.
Analog vs Digital
Whether a pedal is analog or digital depends on the type of circuitry it uses. Digital pedals are modern, but produce a more artificial sounding effect that has clearly been modulated. Units that use analog circuitry have a much warmer sound that is more natural, which is often better for chorus pedals.
While digital pedals are often more affordable, if you want a beautiful shimmering chorus that sounds like an ensemble of guitars, it may be better to save up for an analog pedal to get the best effect.
The number of control knobs on a pedal will determine how much influence you will have over the final sound. Having a rate knob is one of the bare minimum essentials, so you can adjust the speed of the effect between a gentle reverb or a rapid vibrato.
Depth is also very important as it will determine how subtle your chorus effect is. Finally, level is another common control found on chorus pedals, which affects the volume of the modulated ‘wet’ signal. With this, you can make your chorus louder or quieter than the ‘dry’ signal from your guitar.
These are just three of the controls typically found on chorus pedals. Other units like the Earthquaker Sea Machine will have even more knobs for full control over the sound you output through your amp. This is great for anyone who knows what they are doing, although if it is your first pedal you may want something a little more accessible.
Durability and Size
Since you’ll be operating your pedal with your foot, you will want to buy something that can withstand a good stomping. Some pedals will have a large foot pad, while others will use a metal button and both work very well. As well as the main switch itself, you may want a pedal with large controls, so you can adjust its output on the fly without interrupting your playing too much.
If you already own a few different pedals that you have arranged on a board, you will also need to consider size. You want any unit to be large enough that you can locate it and still easily hit the button with your foot. However, it also needs to be small enough to fit on your board alongside the other pedals without causing overcrowding.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a true bypass switch?
The switch on an effects pedal is the button that allows you to activate the effect or turn it off. Many units now have true bypass switches, which means that while the effect is not active, the signal from your guitar will pass straight through to the amp. This means that the pedal won’t affect the sound from your guitar unless you turn it on.
What is a modulation pedal?
Chorus pedals are a type of modulation pedal like flangers, vibrato and phasers. What this means is that the effect offered by these pedals changes one characteristic of your guitar’s sound and constantly alters it.
For a chorus effect, the characteristic that is being changed is the pitch of the duplicated signal from your guitar. This is what lends the pedals on this list their unique ethereal
shimmering sound, since the repeated signal is slightly out of tune with the original.