The chorus pedal is having something of a resurgence in 2019. Ubiquitous since the 1970s, the humble chorus peaked in the early 1990s with grunge music, before falling by the wayside for nigh on a decade. Now, however, it’s returned with a vengeance.
Audible on almost all guitar-pop music that’s been released in the last three years, the chorus pedal’s renewed popularity goes hand in hand with millennials and Gen Z’ers penchant for all things vintage. Here’s our rundown of the 15 best chorus pedals available on the market today, in no particular order.
MXR M234 Analog Chorus
An all-analogue, bucket-brigade-based pedal, the MXR M234 Analog Chorus is a great option for anyone seeking classic, organic chorus tones. It adds a few tone-shaping tools to the package, too, like high and low filters to contour the flavour of its tone with a bit more granularity than some other analogue options on the list.
Thorpy FX Deep Oggin Chorus/Vibrato
A relative newcomer to the world of boutique pedals, UK-based ThorpyFX is the brainchild of Adrian Thorpe MBE, The Deep Oggin is a collaboration with Dan Coggins, formerly of Lovetone and Dinosaural, being one of the company’s first forays into temporal effects. The Deep Oggin’s circuitry is protected from the vagaries of expressive musicianship by an armoured steel chassis which sports five mini chicken-head knobs and, on the top, an input jack and two outputs allowing for twin-amp wet/dry use. The Deep Oggin doesn’t come cheap, but it’s quite simply one of the finest chorus tones we have ever heard, so it doesn’t have to.
Boss CE-2W Chorus Waza Craft
Part of Boss’ Waza Craft series, the Boss CE-2W is a fantastic option for anyone who wants to make a beeline for the classic chorus tones of the 80s. The CE-2W allows players to summon the circuits of the original CE-2 and CE-1 chorus pedals, and also features a vintage vibrato mode.
Danelectro Cool Cat
An extremely affordable chorus option, the Danelectro Cool Cat is a two-knob machine with few frills – but for many players, that’s a good thing. While no longer in production, these pedals still sell regularly on the used market, often with a sub-£20 price tag.
TC Electronic Corona
Similar in format to other popular TC Electronic pedals such as the Hall Of Fame Reverb, the Corona Chorus is a supremely versatile pedal that can cover just about any chorus tone you can dream up. Like other TC pedals, it also has a nifty ‘TonePrint’ function that lets you beam in artist-based presets via your smartphone.
Chase Bliss Warped Vinyl
While most modern chorus pedals are designed to modulate at a perfect pitch, the Warped Vinyl was designed to do something a little bit different, and a little bit more organic. As the name indicates, the Warped Vinyl was designed to emulate the sound of a warped vinyl record, with all the unpredictable chorus and vibrato effects that this entails.
As is the way with Chase Bliss Audio, the combination of analogue circuitry and digital control delivers a staggering amount of flexibility and options, giving you the ability to create chorus effects that you won’t find in either a fully digital or wholly analogue design.
Walrus Audio Julia
Fully analogue and packed with interesting features, the Julia is a one-stop shop for all your wobbly modulation needs. Key to the Julia’s vast selection of sonic possibilities is the fact that, unlike many combined chorus and vibrato pedals, you don’t have to choose which single effect to have on at any one time – thanks to the Dry-Chorus-Vibrato knob, you can blend just the right amount of wet and dry signal to give you the perfect effect for your needs. All this, combined with a Lag knob that lets you set the centre-delay time that the LFO effect modulates from, makes the Julia a wonderfully musical box to have on your board.
Mooer Ensemble King Analogue Chorus
Miniature pedal enclosures are seemingly increasing in popularity, and Mooer is right at the forefront of that growth. The Ensemble King comes in a format small enough to fit in your pocket, but due to its lush, warm analogue sounds its probably better off on your pedalboard.
With sounds shimmering and behaving subtley at lower speeds, it gets outright crazy when you crank that big rate knob. Similar to the Ibanez found further down this list, the Ensemble King features two tiny controls for Level and Depth hidden above a larger Rate control. With all this coming in under £50, you’d be hard pressed to find a better chorus at this price point.
Electro-Harmonix Small Clone Full Chorus
The Small Clone is EHX’s straight-ahead chorus option. Most closely associated with the guitar sound of Nevermind-era Kurt Cobain, the Small Clone comes in a few different-sized variants, including the pedalboard-friendly Nano Clone.
Fender Bubbler Analog Chorus
Fender’s new-for-2019 Bubbler is an all-analogue chorus stompbox with switchable slow/fast speed settings and independent rate and depth controls, allowing you to fine tune the sound of each section. Fender says it’s “a great way to add some dimension to your guitar tone”, describing its sounds as “thick, wide and rolling”.
There’s also a wave switch to toggle between sine and triangle waveforms, and a sensitivity knob that governs modulation rate change based on your pick attack. With stereo outputs, an aluminium enclosure and LEDs inset in the knobs that’s fast becoming a recognised feature of Fender’s pedals, this is not an option to be sniffed at.
Ibanez Chorus MINI
Based around Ibanez’s classic CS9 series, the Ibanez Chorus MINI maintains that analogue circuit while maintaining a small footprint. At almost half the width of a standard pedal enclosure, the Chorus MINI features three simple controls in Level, Depth and Speed respectively. The Depth and Level knobs are much smaller and almost hidden behind the larger Speed knob, meaning you can set and forget whilst toggling your speed on the fly. This pedal provides a smooth, sweet chorus sound, perfect for emulating the sound of the ‘80s or even to enhance your acoustic sound.
Old Blood Noise Endeavors Reflector
Three years ago, Old Blood Noise Endeavors introduced the Reflector Chorus to the guitar playing world. The Reflector V3 develops on that initial great pedal with the addition of a new reverb/chorus mode, accessible via the flick of a switch. Offering a weirder yet mature sound, the Reflector gives you access to the classic chorus tones of yesterday but also lets you run that old-school goodness into either a pitch-shifter, a reverb or a resonant filter for new jaw-droppingly delicious modulation that’s born of this decade.
Boss DC-2W Dimension C
A reissue of the classic and scarcely found Dimension C, this new Waza reincarnation features the same four buttons but now features two modes available at the flick of a switch, which now offer a total of 20 preset sounds, culled from the legendary lavender box and the Roland SDD-320 Dimension D rack unit. With added stereo out and Boss’s bomb-proof metal enclosure, this is a pedal that will easily take you back three decades without needing to build a Delorean.
Strymon Ola dBucket Chorus Vibrato
Faithfully recreating the sound of analogue, bucket brigade electronics whilst adding in the unprecedented levels of control associated with modern effects, the Strymon Ola is a do-it-all chorus and vibrato pedal. The ‘type’ switch lets you go from vintage correct tones right through to modern digital variations, whilst the ‘mode’ switch lets you control the wet level using your playing dynamics; set the Ola so that as you play harder the effect increases, or alternatively decreases. Strymon make some of the most sought after guitar pedals in the world, and this pedal is no different.
ZVex Lo-Fi Junky
Not a true chorus pedal as such, the ZVex Lo-Fi still warrants a place on this list due to it’s warm, warbling sound, reminiscent of a warped old vinyl. Skirting between a chorus, vibrato and leslie sound, the Lo-Fi Junky has won over the hearts of many pro players, not least for its unique sound and ability to set your tone apart from other chorus players.
With the added Comp/Lo-Fi control allowing you to blend between a compressed and vibrato sound and a three-way waveform toggle, this pedal is arguably the best vintage-styled pedal on the market.
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