Do I Need a Chorus Pedal?

If you’re new to the world of guitar pedals, you might be wondering do I need a chorus pedal? Before you rush over to our best chorus pedal reviews, the answer is that it depends on the type of music you want to create. If you’re looking to add a bit of texture and depth to your sound, a chorus pedal can be a great option.

Do I Need a Chorus Pedal?

For a gear head then yes of course we want one, but… let’s face it, no one really needs a guitar pedal. But we are guitarists and collecting a load of gear comes naturally to us.   

But seriously, if you like the sound… particularly popular music of the 80s and 90s. It was THE guitar sound. 1990s Country music absolutely screams chorus pedal. This doesn’t mean it is restricted to those decades although we do tend to use it more sparingly. If you like the sound then yes, you’re going to need one.

What is a Chorus Pedal?

First let’s look at what a guitar chorus pedal does.  It’s a modulation effect in same family as a flanger and phaser.

The chorus effect is created by mixing the input signal with a delayed, modulated version of the same signal. The result is a thicker, richer sound that can add depth and texture to your guitar tone – a bit like two instruments playing at the same time. It can even make a 6-string guitar sound more like a 12-string. It’s probably best described as a shimmer although can be set at a more extreme warble.

Chorus pedals are often used in conjunction with other effects, such as delay and reverb, to create a more complex and atmospheric soundscape.

The controls

The pedal typically has two or more controls: depth and rate. Depth controls the intensity of the effect, while rate controls the speed of the modulated signal.

Chorus Effect on Guitar Amps

While not as popular today, during it’s heyday chorus found its way onto several amplifiers.  There were notable amps made by Peavey and Fender (such as Princeton Chorus) that had built-in chorus

Probably the most famous was the legendary Jazz Chorus by Roland – as the name suggests, included a build-in chorus.  In fact, Roland still make the JC22, JC40 and the mighty JC120.

Who Uses Chorus?

In addition to a whole stack of Country Music from the 90s, one of the most famous songs that uses a chorus pedal is Come As You Are by Nirvana.

Contrary to popular belief, much of Andy Summers’ stuff with The Police used a Flanger (Electric Mistress) and not a Chorus pedal. You’ll see Message in a Bottle is often incorrectly attributed to a chorus. Saying that in later years he did use a Roland Jazz chorus amp

Other popular songs include:

  • Purple Rain – Prince
  • Paradise City – Guns ‘n’ Roses
  • There She Goes – The La’s
  • Welcome Home – Metallica
  • Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
  • Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House
  • Pull Me Under – Dream Theater
  • There is a Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths
  • Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others – The Smiths
  • Pictures of You – The Cure
  • Brass In Pocket – Pretenders


A chorus pedal can be a great addition to your guitar rig, but it is not necessary for everyone. You might even find that you can get a suitable chorus sound from a flanger – handy if you already own one. It really depends on the type of music you are playing and your personal preferences. If you like any of the bands mentioned in the list above then it’s going to be a higher priority purchase for you. I have to say though that they are great fun to play around with whatever style you are into.

Once you have your new pedal have a read about where to place chorus in the signal chain.

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Jason Barnham

Hi. I’m Jay, founder, author, and chief editor at The Vintage Guitarist. I've been playing guitar for nearly 40 years and I absolutely love owning and trying different guitars and related gear.