If you want a bit of a fuller, richer sound for your guitar then a chorus pedal could well be what you need. In its crudest terms it simulates the sound of more than one guitar playing at once and is one of the most popular guitar effects.
- Boss CE-2W Waza Craft
- MXR M234 Analog Chorus Pedal
- Boss CH-1 Stereo Super Chorus
- TC Electronic Corona
- Behringer UC200 Ultra Chorus
- Electro-Harmonix Small Clone
- Boss CE-5 Stereo Chorus Ensemble
Note: There’s a lot more information below but clicking the above links will take you to current prices, further information and customer reviews on Amazon.
Table of Contents
What are chorus pedals and how do they work?
The principle is very simple. The guitar signal is split in two, one of these is then delayed before they are both combined again. What really adds the sparkle is the delayed signal is also subjected to pitch modulation using low frequency oscillator (LFO) causing a vibrato effect.
So, what does it sound like?
Check out this video
In their most basic form chorus pedals feature both a Depth and Rate control. Depth controls the intensity of the modulation with the Rate altering the amount of delay. Setting either of these two too high will result in an unnatural and over-the-top sound.
Some chorus pedals may include extra controls such as effect level and tone adjustment.
Chorus Pedal Buying Guide
Have a read of our article, ‘Do I need a Chorus Pedal‘ if you are still unsure.
Durability – like any pedal you want them to be able to stand up to a certain amount of abuse if you are taking them out on the road with you.
All of the chorus pedals we mention below should serve you well.
Should you go for Digital or Analog?
The main difference is the technology used to process the sound. In the good old days everything was analog. Your guitar outputs analog sound and an analog pedal can act directly on that outputted signal keeping the soundwaves smooth and continuous. Digitally produced sound takes your guitar’s analog soundwave, samples it, does its magic then converts the sound back to analog. It’s this conversion into a sequence of discrete values that can change the original sound.
It’s obviously subjective to the listener but as a general rule, analog choruses sound warmer with digital chorus coming across a bit brighter and thinner sounding.
Stereo vs Mono
If you are just playing live with one amp then obviously stereo isn’t going to be on the must have list for you. However, when used for recording (or more complex live setups running two amps in stereo) a stereo chorus can sound really nice and add something to the overall sound especially with the effect panning across the speakers.
The Best Chorus Pedals – The Reviews
Below is our list of some of the best chorus pedals on the market today:
1. Boss CE-2W Waza Craft Chorus
Image Credit: Boss
- Rate: Adjusts the speed of the chorus modulation.
- Depth: Controls the intensity of the chorus effect.
- Mode Selector: Switches between Standard and CE-1 modes for distinct chorus textures.
- Authentic vintage chorus tones reminiscent of the iconic CE-1 and CE-2 pedals.
- Mode selector adds versatility, allowing players to access both classic and vintage chorus textures.
- Intuitive controls make it easy to dial in a wide range of chorus sounds.
- Built with Boss’s renowned durability and reliability.
- Price point might be on the higher side for those on a tight budget.
The Boss CE-2W Chorus is a versatile and impressive pedal that pays homage to the classic CE-1 and CE-2 chorus units while offering modern enhancements. It encapsulates the warm, rich chorus tones that made the original pedals iconic, making it a must-have for both vintage enthusiasts and contemporary players.
It successfully captures the essence of its legendary predecessors, delivering lush and vibrant chorus sounds that can range from subtle shimmers to more pronounced warbles.
What caught my attention was the Mode Selector, allowing me to switch between Standard and CE-1 modes. The Standard mode nails that classic CE-2 chorus tone that many of us love, while the CE-1 mode offers a more vintage, spacious vibe.
In summary, my experience with the Boss CE-2W Chorus left me impressed as it excels at providing players with a modern take on classic chorus tones. Its ability to switch between Standard and CE-1 modes, coupled with its user-friendly controls, makes it a strong contender in the chorus pedal market. Whether you’re aiming for nostalgic shimmer or a more experimental modulation, the CE-2W delivers, while its sturdy build ensures it can withstand the rigors of both stage and studio environments.
2. MXR M234 Analog Chorus Pedal
- Great, warm sound – brilliant if you want that 80s sound
- Compact design – light but durable
- Stereo effect is great
- Power-in on the side of the unit not that practical
A brilliant analog, retro sounding, chorus. If you want vintage sounds the MXR M234 is one of the best chorus pedals available. The added low and high cut really enable you to get a variety of extra sounds.
MXR are well known for their simple yet “effective” pedals. They are well constructed with jacks and switches that are well suited to life on the road.
The side mounted power in isn’t popular with everyone though as it can make it more difficult when daisy chaining several units on a board.
In short this is a fantastic chorus pedal that will give you superb vintage sounds with a little more range of sound.
3. Boss CH-1 Stereo Super Chorus
- Very solid construction and should provide years of service
- Relatively low noise
- Stereo effect is great
- Quite bright
Reliability and durability you’d expect from a Boss pedal – it’s built like a tank. It’s got a long history too and has been around since 1989. The older versions were analog but since 2001 it was updated to digital. Although some purists will prefer the analog version this pedal still produces those classic tones albeit a bit brighter. It performs equally well with or without distortion.
Can be used as a mono chorus using just one output (A) and the CH-1 really excels when using the stereo effect. Just connect up to dual amps or use when recording for some great sounds.
The CH-1 makes particular use of high-frequencies (bright sounding) and as such some guitarists will prefer this pedal for solo playing rather than chord use. If you like the Boss sound one of the CE pedals would be perfect for chord work. Some guitarists will use both the CH-1 and a CE-5 on their board.
4. TC Electronic Corona
- TonePrint – allowing much more flexibility with the sounds
- True Bypass
- It’ll do classic sounds but just not as well as the MXR M234
This is another compact pedal that is road-ready and packs a great sound.
Something that stands out with this pedal is TC Electronic’s TonePrint. Loaded to the pedal via USB you can upload different tones via software (and USB connection). Not only can you design your own sounds but there are various presets available by top guitarists. These signature tones are available for free.
You don’t need to use those features if you don’t want to. The Corona Chorus has its own great standard sounds and, at the flick of a switch, the Tri-Chorus sound which consists of three different choruses working in tandem (which sounds particularly good when working in stereo).
The Corona produces a much more modern chorus sound especially when you consider the Tri-Chorus and the amount of things you can do with the software.
5. Behringer UC200 Ultra Chorus
- Good sound for the money
- Plastic case
- Limited sound range
- Changing the battery is a bit fiddly
The UC200 is from Behringer’s line of affordable pedals. Aimed at bedroom guitarists it is one of several pedals at pocket money prices.
For a budget unit the UC200 Ultra Chorus has a pretty good sound although it does seem to be lacking something particularly in mono. It comes alive a little more when used in stereo. However, as a budget pedal you’ll be surprised what it does achieve at the price.
It’s great if you want an introduction to chorus and you aren’t expecting to do heaving gigging with it. The plastic casing lets the UC200 down a little bit but at the low end of the price scale something has to be cut. But don’t worry too much as it’s not going to break on the first stomp. It’s relatively thick and durable but just won’t have the life of some of the metal cased pedals here.
6. Electro-Harmonix Small Clone
Image Credit: Electro-Harmonix
Rate knob, depth switch
- Fantastic analog tones
- Simple controls
- Good build quality
- Very little to criticise
The Small Clone is probably the most basic and distinctive looking pedal in our roundup with one large control knob on the top center. Somewhat unusually the depth is controlled by a switch.
Don’t let the simplicity fool you. This is one mighty pedal. It sounds great and built to take some heavy road use. It’s made of thinner sheet metal and perhaps susceptible to a few dents so not as strong as a Boss. Don’t abuse it and you have got something that may well last your lifetime.
Did you know that this was the Chorus that Kurt Cobain used for the riff in Nirvana’s “Come as You Are”? But don’t worry, this isn’t a one trick pony. It’ll produce a variety of lush sounds but probably not such a wide range as the MXR M234. What you’ll like the most is that it is so easy to dial in some great sounds.
7. Boss CE-5 Stereo Chorus Ensemble
- Classic sound
- Minimal background noise
- Subtle effect won’t suit everyone.
If you are looking for classic chorus sounds then the boss ce-5 provides them. After all, it has been around since 1991 and was used by artists like Eddie Van Halen.
It actually started life as an analog chorus but in 2001 it became a digital chorus pedal along with the other of Legendary Boss chorus pedals, the CH-1.
I would definitely class this as a more subtle chorus. It really does sound wonderful and lush but if you wanted something that you could set the rate high and get an exaggerated chorus effect then this pedal won’t do it. That being said it really is a good chorus pedal worthy of consideration.
All of these pedals are good value and offer good sound quality. If you are on a tight budget then you won’t go far wrong with the Behringer UC200 Ultra Chorus. It’s perfect for bedroom playing although the plastic casing might let it down with heavy stage use. However, with that noted it’s stronger than you’d think.
However, if you’re like me and have a soft spot for that vintage charm, the MXR M234 Analog Chorus takes the spotlight as my ultimate old-school favorite. Its analog warmth and distinctive character truly set it apart, making it a standout among chorus pedals.
Now, if you’re willing to invest a bit more to elevate your sound quality to new heights, the Boss CE-2W Chorus is without a doubt the cream of the crop. I’ve found it to be the ultimate top choice, seamlessly blending vintage nostalgia with modern versatility. The ability to switch between Standard and CE-1 modes is a game-changer, and I have to say, the solid build of this pedal reassures me of its long-lasting performance. While it does come with a slightly higher price tag, the CE-2W’s ability to capture both classic and innovative chorus tones makes it a premium option that I believe is well worth the consideration.
Who uses a chorus pedal?
A very good example of a huge commercial song that features a chorus is Nirvana’s “Come as you are”
Where do I put the chorus pedal in a chain?
As a general rule you’d put anything with gain first, then pitch and then echo. So, a basic setup might be Distortion – Chorus – Echo
How do I use a chorus pedal with distortion?
See above. You’ll get better results by placing it after the distortion pedal.