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Until recently, a guide to the greatest chorus pedals would have seemed out of place. Despite the fact that chorus effects have been there since the 1970s, they are most commonly associated with the 1980s. Chorus was everywhere, from new wave to prog, shred, dream-pop, and what would become shoegaze.
The chorus pedal, like all fashions, has come back around – and while it was never completely dormant thanks to the likes of Kurt Cobain and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, this re-awakening of chorus has primarily been due to the rediscovery of classic grunge and new-wave records, all of which are covered in chorus.
Both mainstream and boutique pedal manufactures have responded by creating new and inventive twists on the chorus pedal. With so many options available, we’ve compiled a list of the finest chorus pedals for guitarists.
We’ve included some in-depth purchase recommendations at the conclusion of this guide, so if you want to read more, go there. Continue scrolling if you’d rather get right to the chorus pedals.
OASIS GUITAR’S FAVORITE CHORUS PEDALS
If you’re seeking for the industry standard in chorus sounds, Boss’ upgraded edition of the original CE-2 is the answer. The CE-2W has a basic mode that recreates the small original’s thick, luxurious shimmer, but it also has a CE-1 mode that delivers another set of legendary Boss sounds, including vibrato.
With dual outputs and selectable depth for the CE-1 sounds, this is not only the best chorus pedal Boss has ever made, but the best chorus pedal you can buy period.
If you want to spend less money, the TC Electronic June 60 V2 comes in second place. It’s easy, looks beautiful, sounds fantastic, and costs a fraction of what some of the other pedals in this book do. The V2 option also includes a Leslie-style mode.
PRODUCT GUIDE FOR THE BEST CHORUS PEDALS
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Boss CE-2 Chorus and its big brother predecessor, the CE-1 (together with the similar effect incorporated into the Roland Jazz Chorus amp), defined the sound of chorus.
The CE-2W Waza Craft combines two Boss effects in one: the CE-2 and the CE-1, the mother of all chorus effects, complete with chorus and vibrato parts. The CE-2W looks identical to the original CE-2 except for the mini three-way toggle switch for selecting the CE-2, CE-1 chorus, or CE-1 vibrato modes, a second 1/4-inch output jack (direct-only) that delivers stereo chorus/vibrato effects, and the Waza Craft logo embedded in the rubber on/off switch pad.
That unmistakable thick, luscious, shimmering Boss chorus that we’ve all heard on a million legendary recordings from the likes of Rush, the Pretenders, and even Metallica – it’s the most perfect match we’ve ever witnessed between an original product and its reproduction.
The treble on the CE-2W is slightly clearer, but the textures, tones, and character are otherwise identical. The CE-2W’s CE-1 chorus setting creates a fuller chorus effect with more noticeable modulation and a greater sense of space and depth. The CE-1 vibrato setting is quite cool and beneficial, providing a warm warble without causing seasickness.
The Boss Waza Craft CE-2W definitively nails the sounds of both the renowned Boss CE-2 and CE-1 pedals, providing chorus connoisseurs with the effects of their dreams.
|Item Weight||1.23 Pounds|
- Re-creates the classic modulated effects of the BOSS CE-1 and CE-2 pedals
- Standard mode reproduces the classic CE-2 chorus effect
- CE-1 mode replicates the vintage pedal’s chorus and vibrato effects
- Exceeds the capabilities of the original pedals with CE-2 stereo output and CE-1 variable depth
- Rate and Depth controls allow for precise effect adjustment
- Analog bucket brigade (BBD) technology yields premium vintage modulation effects
The original June 60 was a steal, with superb sound and upscale appearance. Based on Roland’s iconic Juno 60 synthesizer’s chorus, it also works well on guitar.
It has stereo out, same like the original June 60, albeit via a TRS jack output, which is more uncommon for guitar. Nonetheless, with its BBD heart, it’s an all-analog vintage-voiced stereo chorus for the price of an unbranded tiny pedal.
There are three new settings as well. On the front panel, you can access Leslie-like rotating speaker sounds by pushing both preset buttons simultaneously. Internally, there are now two DIP switches that let you to toggle the LFO speed between’slow’ and ‘rapid.’ There’s also a DIP switch for guitar versus keys input level, which is less fascinating.
|Item Dimensions LxWxH||5.39 x 3.39 x 2.2 inches|
|Item Weight||500 Grams|
- Faithful recreation of the chorus circuitry from the legendary Juno-60* Synthesizer
- Upgraded V2 circuit design for improved performance and true-stereo output
- Authentic 2-button interface for intuitive and fast change of modulation preset
- All-analog BBD (Bucket Brigade Delay) circuitry
- Mono/stereo switch for ultimate chorus experience
The Way Huge Smalls Work Blue Hippo Analog Chorus is a pedalboard-friendly downsized version of the original, maintaining the same functionality and beautiful tones in a small pedal footprint. Though it’s not as compact as a conventional mini-pedal, it’s still small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and is less boxy than its predecessor, making it ideal for pedalboards.
The Smalls Blue Hippo is designed with controls for Speed and Depth, as well as a Vibe/Chorus button to move between the two settings. The circuit produces a thicker, gooier chorus with less shimmer, clearly distinguishing itself from other, cleaner-sounding chorus units that strive for spatial purity. With its compressed chorus tones, it’s reminiscent of early Andy Summers and Permanent Waves-era Alex Lifeson (think Freewill).
If you like swirls, switching to Vibe provides some seriously vibrating textures that can get downright shaky and liquid. Overall, this Smalls has a large, thick chorus and swirling vibrato that sounds extremely antique.
|Item Dimensions LxWxH||5 x 3 x 2.5 inches|
- 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
The DC-2W is one of the most desired reissues in Boss’ history, recreating the DC-2 Dimension C, which strikes a balance between a chorus pedal and a 3D audio expander.
The DC-2W’s four pushbuttons produce a rather minor impact, yet it may make any signal sound bigger and richer – especially in stereo. In addition, this edition includes a model of Roland’s SDD-320 Dimension D rack effect, which adds its own flavour of spatial broadening.
If you appreciate the audio effect and tonal thickening of typical chorus pedals but not the warble, the DC-2W could be the finest solution for you.
|Item Dimensions LxWxH||15.31 x 13.15 x 6.54 inches|
|Item Weight||1.25 Pounds|
- A special edition of the classic Dimension C chorus pedal
- All-analog circuitry
- Standard mode provides the sound of the original Dimension C
- SDD-320 mode is a spot-on re-creation of the SDD-320 Dimension D rack processor
- Classic 4-button preset interface gives you access to a total of 20 sound variations
- Mono/Stereo I/O is ready for everything from guitar and bass to keyboards and even studio mixing
The Julia is a fully analogue, feature-rich pedal with a plethora of chorus pedal sounds. In addition to the normal Rate and Depth controls, the pedal includes a Lag knob that allows the user to adjust the centre delay time from which the LFO effect modulates for varying amounts of “swing.”
The d-c-v (Dry, Chorus, Vibrato) knob, a blend control that varies the ratio of dry to wet signal supplied to the output, is another unique feature. Keep it at zero for no impact, low levels for subtle variations, or cranked for insane chorus/vibrato combos.
There’s also a waveform switch that toggles between sine and triangle wave patterns, giving you great control over the effect’s sweep, as well as entirely analogue circuitry, an LFO LED that blinks in sync for visual feedback, and real bypass switching. It’s all packed within a lavender-colored box with a design as bizarre as the noises stored within.
|Item Dimensions LxWxH||12.1 x 6.6 x 3.5 Centimeters|
|Item Weight||0.59 Pounds|
- “Rate, Depth, Lag and D-C-V control Selectable analog LFO wave shapes Dimensions: 4.77″” x 2.9″” x 2.3″” Power requirements are 9VDC (30mA minimum)”
- “The Julia is a fully analog, feature-rich chorus/vibrato packed with a wide array of tonal landscapes begging to be explored
- She is able to produce mild smooth chorus, to seasick vibrato and everywhere in between
- With controls like Lag, Dry-Chorus-Vibrato Blend, and selectable analog LFO wave shapes, you are able to dial in all types of classic and unique chorus/vibrato sounds; some settings giving a familiar feel while others are not found on traditional chorus pedals
- A special feature of the Julia is the Lag control
ADVICE ON BUYING THE BEST CHORUS PEDALS
What exactly is a chorus?
A delay line is used to create the chorus. Your guitar signal is separated into ‘wet’ and ‘dry,’ and the wet component is detuned by an LFO. Chorus is obtained by blending this back into the dry signal.
A delay line and an LFO are also used in various other effects. Vibrato, phasers, and flangers are examples of these effects. If you increase the wet/dry mix further more, you’ll get vibrato with a noticeable detune. The delay time is the main distinction between chorus and flanging. Flanging is typically less than 25ms, while chorus usually greater. Furthermore, the ‘feedback’ function found on flanger pedals to add extra resonance is not found on choruses, which is why their timbre is generally’smoother.’
Chorus Analog vs. Digital
Today’s chorus pedals provide a plethora of sonic options for everything from power ballads to subtle tone thickeners and gritty warbles. Many may also simulate a rotary speaker (or Leslie) (think Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun).
Tonal purists will swear for analogue devices that provide the syrupy Bucket Brigade Device swirl that defined the chorus sound for many, particularly in the 1980s – see Boss’s CE-2W for an example.
More recent efforts from Fender and Walrus Audio have taken these old-school sounds into new terrain, serving up extra waveforms to change how angular the chorus sounds.
However, digital chorus pedals have certain advantages: they may not only replicate their analogue forefathers, but also veer into flanger territory – as a result, TC Electronic’s regrettably titled Corona Chorus is one of the most flexible chorus pedals on the market.
If you have twin-amp rigs, we recommend investing in a chorus pedal with dual outputs as well – the 3D effect of a chorus running in stereo is absolutely fantastic.
Check out the speed range on these pedals as well – if you’re looking for Leslie-style rotating speaker tones, you’ll want a pedal that can go really fast for those rotary warbles.