From the achingly beautiful "Leslie-esque" tones of psychedelic rock to the warble and shine of Nirvana's "Come As You Are," chorus is an effect that can open up a wide expanse of sonic territory.
Top 7 Chorus Pedals
Boss CE-2W Chorus
Selectable, mono or stereo chorus
Boss combines a great familiar design with a strict focus on getting some amazing sounds and that is why guitarists from the amateurs to the legends trust this brand. The Boss CE-2W continues that legacy in the modern era.
Relying on good old analog circuits to create a warm sound the Boss CE-2W tries to emulate the classic sounds of the CE-1 and the CE-2, two pedals that were industry staples for a long time. This pedal offers everything the CE-1 and the CE-2 did and improves upon them by offering variable depth control. This just about perfects the winning formula and now you can get truly amazing tones and great versatility.
The range of sounds that you can get out of this pedal is mind-bending. From the subtle to dreamy, this pedal can handle it all. It also sounds pristine through a tube amp and allows you to get all the classic tones that are loved and replicated while also offering you the flexibility to create your own sounds which is an astonishing achievement.
Chorus is a tricky effect as you need to get it just right and the CE-2W makes it really easy for you. The controls are pretty straightforward and using this pedal is quite intuitive. The addition of vibrato makes it the complete pedal and you can get some cool tones out of this pedal. Nosie is always a concern with analog pedals and while it is present on the Boss CE-2W Waza Craft, it is barely perceptible and only creeps up when you use the heaviest of chorus effects. Even then, the noise levels are very low and the never interfere with the quality of tone.
Having two knobs to control the rate and depth makes this an easy pedal to use. The level knob is not missed here. This minimalistic approach does not make this chorus any less potent. You can get really into the fine details of the sound and the degree of customization is surprising. The larger form factor helps in this regards as you can make really minute adjustments with ease. It is also built like a tank and will withstand a fair bit of abuse.
The CE-2w does have a reputation for quickly going through batteries. It is slightly quieter when using batteries but they get drained quickly. It can also get noisy if you use it high up in the signal chain which sort of restricts its usability if you are into extremely experimental stuff but for most purposes, this is one of the best chorus pedals out there.
Bottom Line: It is powerful, easy to use, and extremely versatile. The Boss CE-2W Waza Craft carries forward the proud legacy of Boss pedals even more audaciously.
Tthe TC Electronic Corona Chorus is part of TC Electronic's TonePrint series, which allow you to download presets (the so-called "TonePrints") dialed in by pro artists straight onto your pedal, with either a USB connection to your computer, or wirelessly using your smartphone.
We recommend this chorus pedal for two reasons: it's one of the most versatile chorus pedals out there, and it has the ability to be a relatively subtle effect. What do we mean by subtle? More so than any other chorus pedal on this list, the "Effect Level" knob has a very big range, to the point where the chorus effect is barely perceptible. This is perfect for guitarists who don't necessarily want an all-or-nothing chorus applied to their signal chain, and might just want a touch of it to beef things up or add a shimmer.
This is a very good sounding chorus, particularly because you can dial in the settings to sound like whatever type of chorus you can imagine. For players seeking flexibility and versatility, the TC Electronic Corona Chorus delivers big results. Among its features are four pretty standard chorus knobs - Speed, Depth, FX Level, and Tone - and a toggle switch to select between two types of chorus and the TonePrint.
As a testament to how good it sounds, you can fall in love with it before even experimenting the TonePrint feature. Personally, we had a lot of fun using TonePrint, and feel it's worth mentioning. This pedal gives you a single TonePrint slot, which holds whatever tone you download to the pedal, either through a USB connection or via your smartphone. TC Electronic has an ever-growing library of artist preset TonePrints, which you can find on their website (get chorus tones by Andy Summers, Brian May, John 5, and many more). Some even have accompanying video clips of the artists dialing the pedal to their preferred chorus sound, and audio clips so you preview the sound and decide if you like it. Kudos to TC Electronic for embracing advances in smartphones and technology, and really delivering a good experience with TonePrint.
Bottom Line: The TC Electronic Corona is an astounding digital chorus. Given how versatile it is and the fact that you can dial in whatever sound you're after, or download the chorus settings used by famous artists, you can't go wrong with the Corona Chorus.
The MXR M234 Analog Chorus does a fantastic job of marrying tonal versatility and "tweakability" with all-analog circuitry. And given how expensive those highly sought after discontinued analog chorus pedals can be, the MXR Analog Chorus is an option.
In terms of sound, this one is rich, warm, and smooth, as can be expected from an analog unit. One thing that immediately struck us when looking at this pedal is the multitude of tone knobs at your disposal. The High/Low filter and the mix knobs in combination give you lots of sonic possibilities.
This pedal feels extremely solid to the touch and should last you a very long time, thanks to its all-metal construction. Another plus is there is no drop in volume when the pedal is turned on.
Bottom Line: If you want some level of versatility, analog warmth, all in a high quality, durable and relatively affordable package, the MXR M234 Analog Chorus is the chorus pedal we would recommend. It certainly helps that it's found on the pedalboards of Slash, Eddie Van Halen, and Zach Blair, amongst many others.
The Electro-Harmonix Small Clone was famously found on Kurt Cobain's pedalboard, and it can pretty accurately recreate his chorus tone. Artists like J Mascis and John Fogerty also swear by this chorus pedal. The Small Clone features all-analog circuitry and sports a very attractive price tag. The controls on it are very basic: a 2-position depth switch, and a large rate knob. Depth switch down for a more subtle effect, and up for a more full-on chorus. Despite the lack of versatility, users love the tonal variety you can achieve with it:
Rate at 9 O' Clock, Depth Switch in the UP position, Instant Nirvana. When you really crank the Rate knob you can really get some super seasick wobbles.
You can go from a warm and clean chorus like Eric Johnson's … to a hot and dynamic sound like Kurt Cobain's on Come as you Are just by activating the DEPTH switch.
The Small Clone does not take a standard power adaptor plug, instead opting for a vintage style 1/8" plug (also, for the purposes of laying out your pedalboard, note that the input and output jacks are at the top of the pedal, and not the sides). Although this pedal can be a little bit noisy, the natural, warm analog tone of the EXH Small Clone more than makes up for the downsides.
Bottom Line: If you're looking for a great analog true bypass chorus that won't break the bank, you definitely can't go wrong with the Electro-Harmonix Small Clone. It's capable of conjuring up classic analog chorus tones, from a chiming 12-string tone to a classic Leslie-esque warble.
The Danelectro D-5 Fab Chorus is a simple, solid chorus effect pedal at a shockingly low price.
The reason we highly recommend this pedal is because you are getting a solid chorus pedal for the price. Given that you can pick one up for the price of 5 coffees, this is a great pedal for someone who is buying a chorus for the first time, needs a backup/replacement pedal, or simply wants a reliable chorus on their pedalboard but is not willing to shell out much cash.
We like the Fab for its simplicity. Three basic knobs are at your disposal - Mix, Speed, and Depth. We were able to dial in a nice textured chorus, and were even able to push it to do some pretty crazy warbles. For being a digital chorus, it sounds surprisingly warm.
Truth be told, we don't particularly love the way this pedal is styled. Not only for pure aesthetics, but also because the shape makes the pedal harder to hit with your foot than a more traditional shape. To keep the price down, Danelectro has primarily constructed the Fab Chorus from plastic. However, the Danelectro Fab is surprisingly quite durable and able to withstand a beating on stage.
Bottom Line: It's near impossible to talk about the Danelectro D-5 Fab Chorus without talking about its value per the price. If you're the type of player that doesn't use chorus much but would like it in your arsenal, or if you simply don't have the budget for pedals at a higher price point, the Fab Chorus is a fantastic option.
The Boss CE-5 Stereo Chorus Ensemble will put you in good company - Steve Vai and Jerry Cantrell are amongst the notable users.
Boss is a master of consistency when it comes to guitar effect pedals, and the CE-5 is no exception. This is because they are are durable, sound great, and are easy to use.
The Boss CE-5 deserves praise for its ability to be a very subtle chorus effect. Of course, you can dial up the Depth knob and the CE-5 will really make its presence felt. This pedal offers four control knobs: Effect Level, Rate, Depth, and High/Low Cut Filter (depending on the setting). Having granular control on the high and low frequencies of the chorus effect is a nice feature. You also get stereo outputs, for connection to dual amps if you choose to do so.
Boss truly builds pedals to withstand the harshest abuse. This is truly road-worthy gear, as is attested by stories of people's Boss pedals lasting them for decades.
There are a couple of things to look out for on the Boss CE-5. When engaged, it tends to reduce the gain between your guitar and amp just a little bit. Definitely not a deal breaker, but worth mentioning.
Bottom Line: If you are looking for a simple but reliable Chorus, you can not go wrong the Boss CE-5.
Not that long ago people would have considered a tiny pedal as nothing more than a novelty item to please the amateurs but the advancements in the field of electronics have made these tiny pedals as good as their full-sized counterparts. One good example of this is the Donner Tutti Love chorus pedal.
The Tutti Love could not be simpler. There is a level knob which controls the volume, a depth knob that controls how long the layer will sound and a rate knob which controls how many layers and how quickly they are added to the original sound. This does not mean that it lacks firepower. You can get some really amazing tones out of this that you can’t get out of many costly full-sized pedals. The tone is everything when it comes to guitar effects and this pedal adds that elusive warmth and transparency to the final sound.
This pedal is virtually noise free. You only get a slight bit of hiss when it is cranked all the way up. It is a true bypass instead of some gimmick that tries to mimic a bypass. This really makes this pedal a very versatile one that can do wonders for you if you play a wide range of music.
The footswitch is a bit on the stiffer side and takes a lot of pressure to operate without shoes or with your hands. The level and depth knobs are also miniscule and you need to be really delicate with them to dial them just right. All of these are not deal-breakers by any means and at this price are something that guitarists would be willing to live with.
Bottom Line: For its price, this pedal is a no-brainer and should be on every pedal board that is built on a tight budget. It can also be a great backup chorus pedal for the more expensive pedal-boards out there.
The function of the chorus pedal is to attempt to replicate the sound of large choirs and string sections by giving your guitar the tone of dozens of different instruments playing in tandem. Now, it doesn't really accomplish that, but that is the idea at work behind it.
The actual mechanics at play are pretty simple. Your chorus pedal splits your guitar's signal into two voices, one of which remains clean and another which is treated with both delay and pitch modulation. This results in a guitar tone that is hard to describe, but has a lot of applications.
As an effect, chorus can cover everything from beefing up your guitar's tone (think John Frusciante) to drastically changing the voice of your guitar. An often-cited example of chorus in action is the opening guitar riff of Nirvana's Come As You Are.
What Should I Look For in a Chorus Pedal?
Generally, a good chorus pedal should have a range that can handle everything from more subtle sounds to the really intense effects employed by more experimental guitarists.
Also, it's important that your chorus pedal is voiced appropriately for your rig. If your chorus pedal is too dark (dark meaning it emphasizes bass and low-mid frequencies) it can ruin your entire set-up. The same principle holds true with chorus pedals that are too bright as well.
Analog vs. Digital Chorus Pedals
The debate between analog and digital is pretty controversial. Some players will swear up and down that analog chorus is going to give you a superior sound no matter what, while others tend to veer towards digital units.
Analog pedals tend to sound a bit warmer while digital units are voiced a bit brighter. At the end of the day, the things that are going to decide your experience with a chorus pedal are how it reacts with your rig, or perhaps what chorus pedals your guitar heroes are using, so that you can approximate their sound.