How to Use a Chorus Pedal

How to Use a Chorus PedalThe chorus pedal was an eighties staple, and although it’s not as common today, it’s still a valuable addition to any guitarists’ arsenal. It’s designed as a replication of the sound of two guitarists playing the same piece – there are inevitably minor differences in pitch and timbre that lead to a choral, choir-like sound. To produce the effect with a solo guitarist, the signal is split into two: the original and a slightly delayed version of itself with a slight difference in pitch, which is modulated to finish off the effect. But how do you put it to best use?

Chorus Pedal Controls 

There are two common controls on a chorus pedal, “Depth” and “Rate.” The “depth” controls the amplitude (or “intensity”) of the effect, and the rate setting adjusts the speed of the modulation. Some pedals have more controls: for example, the Boss CH-1 has settings for “Effect Level” (so you can adjust the mix of original to duplicated signal) and “EQ” (so you can adjust the brightness).

Chorus for Clean Tones

There are two basic sounds from chorus pedals: a warm, fat chorus and a transparent, brighter one. One of the better known examples of chorus on a clean tone is the intro to “Come as You Are” by Nirvana, in which Kurt Cobain used an Electro-Harmonix Small Clone, to produce the warm, fat chorus sound. Many players prefer the transparent type, but you’ll have to push it to the extremes for a pronounced effect.

Chorus for Distorted Tones

With distorted tones, the chorus effect brings you into classic 80s shredder territory. Again, fat or transparent chorus can work, although many players prefer a more transparent style for distorted play. Being able to set the level and EQ is particularly beneficial to sculpting your sound when using a chorus with distortion.

So plug in, mess around with the dials and find a sound you like! If you’re trying to choose a chorus, listen to (or ideally try out) some fatter and more transparent choruses to get an idea of which you prefer.

Chorus Pedal Reviews

By the way, I’ve reviewed some pretty awesome chorus pedals here:


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