6 Best Chorus Pedals On The Market (Budget to High-End)

Best Chorus Pedal

Looking to nail the sounds of your favorite 80’s new wave band?

Want to thicken up your sound with a subtle doubling effect?

Or maybe you want to make your guitar sound like its stuck out at sea, giving your listener a sense of sea sickness.

The answer to all of these possible scenarios is the fabled Chorus effect.

In this article we will be looking at our top picks for this love it or hate it modulation effect.

Snapshot: Top 6 Chorus Pedals of 2020

  1. Boss CE-2w Waza CraftBest Overall
  2. Boss DC-2w Dimension CBest Analog
  3. Ibanez Chorus MiniBest Mini
  4. MXR M83 Bass Chorus DeluxeBest for Bass
  5. Rowin Analog Chorus Best Budget Option
  6. Walrus Audio Julianna Deluxe Chorus/VibratoBest High End Option
Best Overall
BOSS CE-2W Waza Craft Chorus Effects Pedal Bundle with Blucoil Slim 9V Power Supply AC Adapter,...
Best Budget
Rowin Analog Chorus Guitar Effect Pedal
Best High-End
Walrus Audio Julia Analog Chorus/Vibrato V2 (900-1011V2)
Best Mini
Ibanez Mini Chorus Guitar Pedal
BOSS CE-2W Waza Craft Chorus Effects Pedal Bundle with Blucoil Slim 9V Power Supply AC Adapter,...
Rowin Analog Chorus Guitar Effect Pedal
Walrus Audio Julia Analog Chorus/Vibrato V2 (900-1011V2)
Ibanez Mini Chorus Guitar Pedal
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Signal
Signal: Analog
Signal: Analog
Signal: Analog
Signal: Analog
Power Source
Power Source: 9V
Power Source: 9V
Power Source: 9V
Power Source: 9V
Features
Features: Buffered Bypass, Stereo Out, Vibrato
Features: True Bypass, LED indicator
Features: Momentary switching, Pulsing LED, Lag, Tap Temp, Stereo
Features: True Bypass, Red LED
Best Overall
BOSS CE-2W Waza Craft Chorus Effects Pedal Bundle with Blucoil Slim 9V Power Supply AC Adapter,...
BOSS CE-2W Waza Craft Chorus Effects Pedal Bundle with Blucoil Slim 9V Power Supply AC Adapter,...
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Signal
Signal: Analog
Power Source
Power Source: 9V
Features
Features: Buffered Bypass, Stereo Out, Vibrato
Best Budget
Rowin Analog Chorus Guitar Effect Pedal
Rowin Analog Chorus Guitar Effect Pedal
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Signal
Signal: Analog
Power Source
Power Source: 9V
Features
Features: True Bypass, LED indicator
Best High-End
Walrus Audio Julia Analog Chorus/Vibrato V2 (900-1011V2)
Walrus Audio Julia Analog Chorus/Vibrato V2 (900-1011V2)
Signal
Signal: Analog
Power Source
Power Source: 9V
Features
Features: Momentary switching, Pulsing LED, Lag, Tap Temp, Stereo
Best Mini
Ibanez Mini Chorus Guitar Pedal
Ibanez Mini Chorus Guitar Pedal
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Signal
Signal: Analog
Power Source
Power Source: 9V
Features
Features: True Bypass, Red LED

What is a Chorus Pedal and What Makes the Best One?

You’ve certainly heard chorus effects whether you know it or not. They were EVERYWHERE in the 80’s and early 90’s, from Prince, to Nirvana, to Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been a Cowboy”. It got to the point that chorus effected guitars practically defined the decade as much as synthesizers.

What followed was a swift aversion to the effect for years. This is what has led to my observation that people either love chorus effects, or they can’t stand it. Steven Wilson is one such modern artist that is famous for going on the record for disliking chorus (though he does love vibrato).

These days I think more people love it than hate it. I am certainly in that camp. Chorus is the only must-have modulation effect on my board at all times.

How Do Chorus Pedals Work?

While chorus pedals can vary greatly in their sound, most work in the same way. The pedal starts by duplicating/splitting your original guitar signal. While the original signal remains dry and unaffected, the duplicated signal is delayed. The modulation effect that you hear comes from altering the delay time by few milliseconds back and forth.

The modulation in delay time causes the pitch to go up and down.  For a greater depth of chorus effect, the span of delay time is made wider. Rate controls work by adjusting how quickly that delay time circulates.

Fun fact: The mix of Dry and Wet signal is what gives Chorus its lush effect. If you only use the wet, modulated signal, you get the effect known as Vibrato.

Picking the Right Chorus Pedal

As with any pedal, you want to make sure that the effect is physically well built, no matter what price point you’re looking at. Even the cheapest chorus pedal should be worthy of taking out on the road. This means the knobs should work smoothly (no scratchy noises as you change settings) and the effect should feel sturdy. Always look for build quality. Fortunately for you, all of the pedals on this list are built with a high quality.

When it comes to picking the right sounding chorus for you, it all depends on what you want the chorus pedal to do for you. I personally prefer lush, warm sounding choruses like the Boss CE-1. I also prefer a chorus that has the ability to blend in the amount of wet signal, just because I think having a 25% dry signal helps the guitar cut through the mix a little better. Finally, I also prefer chorus pedals that have a vibrato effect included. I love vibrato, what can I say?

These are just my preferences when it comes to chorus. Some choruses have faster rates than others or have deeper modulation effect, causing the pedal to sound really sea-sickly and in your face. Others can sound really close to a rotary speaker, an effect that is highly sought after by blues and fusion players. There are even some pedals that include phaser effects on board.

It really just depends on if you want a subtle, space filling chorus sound, or a more apparent modulation effect. If you want a warmer, more intense sounding chorus, go analog. If you like clean, crisp, subtler chorus, go digital.

For the purposes of this list, I tried to include some tried and true classics, some that have different budgets in mind, as well as one or two that are pushing the envelope for what chorus effects can do. Let’s jump right in.

The Best Chorus Pedals of 2020

1. Boss CE-2w Waza Craft – Best Overall

BOSS CE-2W Waza Craft Chorus Effects Pedal Bundle with Blucoil Slim 9V Power Supply AC Adapter,...
  • REPLICATES CE-1 VINTAGE EFFECTS - The special BOSS CE-2W Waza Craft edition authentically reproduces the CE-1's chorus and vibrato stereo sounds.
  • REPRODUCES CE-2 CLASSIC TONES - Aside from the vintage CE-1 Chorus Ensemble, the CE-2W pedal also faithfully recreates the legendary CE-2 chorus sounds.

I rarely start my articles off with my Best Overall choice, but I feel an obligation to start things off with a version of the Boss CE-2, because practically every chorus pedal that follows is somehow related to this circuit. As is always the case with the Waza Craft line, you get something special with this pedal that previous CE-2’s don’t have.

Build

The Boss CE-2w Waza Craft edition is a special version of the CE-2, as it not only perfectly replicates the CE-2 circuit, but it also includes a perfect recreation of the original and highly sought after Boss CE-1 circuit. This includes the vibrato effect! If you’ve ever heard the chorus effect out of a Roland JC-120 amplifier before, then you’ve heard the CE-1, as this circuit is built into the amp. The Waza Craft edition also features stereo output, a feature that the original CE-2 does not have. It runs on a battery or 9V adaptor and is housed in a traditional Boss enclosure.

Controls

Just like the original CE-2, the CE-2w has knobs for the Rate and Depth of your chorus effect. Rate controls how fast the modulation occurs, and the depth controls the intensity of the effect. The control worth noting is the little switch in the middle of the pedal. This lets you choose between the three different modes: Standard (S), CE-1 Chorus (middle), and the CE-1 Vibrato (Right).

Sounds

The CE-2w does the CE-2 better than the CE-2. The CE-2 has a sound all of its own. Even though it was based off of the CE-1, what resulted was a less thick, shimmering chorus sound, with a slight bump up in the mid-range. I would use this setting if I were in a new-wave or 80’s metal cover band.

For everything else I would opt for the CE-1 setting for its thick, warm and even slightly lo-fi quality. I find this to be a modulation effect that takes you to a different world, like you’re Scooba diving in the ocean. The CE-2w does the CE-1 thing even better than the original because it has the added Rate control that the original CE-1 didn’t have. At maxed out settings the CE-2 is still usable and a fun way to make your fusion or blues solos stand out. It also takes well to overdrives and adds some extra dimension to your lead tones.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Chorus/Vibrato
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 5.12 x 2.87 x 2.37”
  • Features: Buffered Bypass, Stereo Out, Vibrato

Two updated classic choruses in one

Final Thoughts on the Boss CE-2w Waza Craft

You just can’t go wrong with this pedal if you don’t own a chorus pedal yet. I honestly would recommend other pedals on this list to someone I didn’t know before recommending either the original CE-1 or CE-2 pedals. But with the Waza Craft edition, you get the best of all worlds.

2. Boss DC-2w Dimension C – Best Analog

BOSS WAZA Craft Dimension C Guitar Pedal (DC-2W)
32 Reviews
BOSS WAZA Craft Dimension C Guitar Pedal (DC-2W)
  • Premium WAZA craft pedal with all-analog audio circuitry
  • Standard mode provides the sound of the original dc-2 dimension C pedal

While the CE-2 takes up most people’s attention when it comes to Boss’ chorus pedals, the often overlooked Dimension C is a unique and easy to use analog chorus. As usual with the Waza edition pedals, you get a little something extra that makes this pedal especially worth getting.

Build

The Dimension Chorus circuit came in two forms: the Dimension C (pedal form) and the Dimension D (rack mount form). As I mentioned before, the Waza series gives you something special, and in this case it is both the Dimension C and Dimension D sounds in one Boss sized pedal. Unlike most pedals, the Dimension C doesn’t have any knobs, just buttons for each of the four modes (more on those later). This version is updated to include Stereo In/Out not previously available and it features buffered bypass to help you combat long cable runs.

Controls

No knobs? No need! The Dimension C has four buttons for each mode of chorus. As the number goes up, the depth of the modulation gets more and more obvious, creating a deeper chorusing effect. You can even press two buttons at the same time to get multiple stages of modulation, allowing up to 20 different chorus combinations.

Finally, there is a switch in the middle that lets you toggle between the S (Standard Dimension C) and SDD-320 (Rack Dimension D) voices.

Sounds

The Dimension C is not your typical sounding chorus, as it leans closer to phase than any other effect on this list, especially in lower settings. The two voicings offer a noticeable tonal change. To my ear, the Dimension C has a rich midrange with a rolled off top end, while the Dimension D is more hi-fidelity sounding with a more present hi end.

Overall, I think the pedal is a brighter sounding chorus than many others on this list and would make a fitting to pair with a Gibson 335 for classic Alex Lifeson tones. The buttons allow for nothing but usable settings and can easily be set to your favorite sound, and then left there. Whether you need subtle or obvious chorus, this has you covered.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Chorus
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 5.12 x 2.87 x 2.37”
  • Features: Dimension D, Buffered Bypass, 20 mode combinations

No knobs required for 20 great chorus modes

Final Thoughts on the Boss DC-2w Dimension C

The DC-2w has a voice that is sure to stand out on any recording and may have listeners wondering whether you are using a phase or a chorus. As always, the Waza series gives you the absolute best that Boss has to offer. This is a really unique chorus that is worth exploring for fans and sceptics of chorus alike.

3. Ibanez Chorus Mini – Best Mini

Ibanez Mini Chorus Guitar Pedal
  • Mini format pedal 100% Analog circuitry Speed, Depth and Level controls True bypass switching Made in Japan
  • The mini-pedal market has been booming the past few years, so Ibanez felt the time was right to offer some of their most legendary pedals in new mini housing! Ibanez is proud to announce the new MINI...

Just because you like chorus doesn’t mean that your chorus pedal has to take up a lot of real-estate on your board. This updated, smaller version of the classic Ibanez chorus is sure to deliver to working musicians you need as many effects as possible on a small board.

Build

The most obvious difference between this pedal and the rest on this list is the Ibanez’s small footprint, making it a great option for travel boards. Even though it is a small pedal, it is built like a tank and will stand up again road wear well. The effect is 100% analog and features true-bypass switching, located on an angled platform.

The Depth and Level controls are extra mini, but the Speed control is an enlarged knob that makes dialing in the rate extra easy, even with your foot on stage.

Controls

The Ibanez Chorus Mini keeps things straight forward in the Controls department, with knobs to control the Depth, Level (really more of a Mix control), and the Speed (Rate) of the chorus effect. These three controls alone give you a wide array of tonal variation.

While I’m not often a fan of the super small controls, the extra-large speed knob makes the trade-off well worth having. The bypass switch is angled, therefor protecting your control settings from potential toe bumps, which I always find to be a practical feature.

Sounds

There is a reason that the Speed control is the most prominent control on this pedal, because it has a massive impact on the sound of this pedal. With the Depth control up, and the speed all the way down, you can get a passable flanger effect.

Then just roll the speed all the way up for a really convincing Leslie or rotary speaker effect that sounds almost like it could have been used to record “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. Everything in between is a glorious, shimmering chorus effect if I ever heard one. Even though it is a true bypass effect, it sounds like it adds some volume and even a little compression at higher Level settings.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Mini Delay
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 3.85 x 2.5 x 2.4”
  • Features: True Bypass, Red LED

The best chorus to take on tour

Final Thoughts on the Ibanez Chorus Mini

Though not the only mini chorus out there, the Ibanez Chorus Mini is by far the most well built and is the best option for someone looking for a chorus to take on tour. It is a versatile pedal that is usable at just about any setting.

4. MXR M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe – Best for Bass

MXR M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe Pedal w/ 9V Power Supply and Patch Cables
  • Includes 9V Power Supply and (2) 6" Patch Cables!
  • A remarkably versatile bass chorus effect with genuine bucket-brigade technology

Just like when it comes to bass overdrive, MXR has you covered when you want to thicken up that bass tone with chorus. Whether you’re going for Jaco Pastorius or Justin Chancellor (Tool) tones, you can get it with this chorus made specifically for bassists.

Build

The MXR M83 is a chorus built by bass players for bass players. It uses bucket brigade technology to create its lush and natural chorus tones, with special settings that make the effect ideal for low frequencies. It includes an optional phaser mode, as well as an X-Over mode to cut modulation in the lower frequencies (100 Hz). All of this is included in a traditional MXR sizex pedal with turquoise finish and a blue LED.

Controls

The controls on the MXR M83 give this pedal more versatility and tonal control than even most guitar chorus pedals. This starts with the top two controls for Bass and Treble, which control how much of the effect is blended into the high and low end frequencies. Even as a guitarist, I find that many chorus pedals can over produce the high end, so having this kind of control is key.

In between these knobs are buttons for X-Over, explained earlier, and Flanger. The bottom three controls control the three primary parameters found on most chorus effects: Intensity (controls modulation in chorus mode, regeneration in flanger mode), Rate (speed of modulation sweep), and Width (Range of Modulation Sweep).

Sounds

What is most important for this pedal is how it allows you to dial in the amount of modulation present in both the low end AND high end frequencies. The X-Over is a simple EQ solution switch that cleans up your low end, while keeping the chorus or flanger effects present in the high end mix. The pedal can go anywhere from subtle to sea-sick, especially in the flanger setting.

Overall this is a very warm and round sounding chorus that would be worth experimenting with on bass, guitar, and synth alike.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Bucket Brigade Chorus/Flanger
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 4.5 x 5.5 x 2.5”
  • Features: Constant Headroom Tech, Flanger, 100Hz Dry signal

A chorus that preserves low end clarity

Final Thoughts on the MXR-M83 Chorus Deluxe

I have to admit that as a guitarist, I have often overlooked bass effects. I am finding it to be more and more apparent that MXR does bass effect superbly well, and this might just be my favorite from their line. I don’t see any cons to this pedal.

5. Rowin Analog Chorus – Best Budget Option

Rowin Analog Chorus Guitar Effect Pedal
  • 【PURE ANALOG CHORUS EFFECTS】Classic style chorus pedal,warm and clear chorus sound
  • 【3 FUNCTION KNOB】Level, Depth and Rate.Rich sound with wide range chorus effects adjustability

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to get a lush and immersive chorus effect. Case and point: the Analog Chorus from Rowin. This mini pedal has everything you need to get started in the world of chorus, for under $35.

Build

The Rowin Analog Chorus one of the cheapest chorus pedals available on the market, making me think that there had to be a catch. In terms of sound quality, there are few compromises. This is a very good sounding chorus.

I will admit that the build quality is what kept me from ranking this as the best mini chorus, as the Ibanez blew it out of the water in terms of stability and quality of the unit itself. That being said, the Zinc allow chassis is light weight and will work for practice. It is all analog and a true bypass effect.

Controls

If you’ve read about the other pedals on this list, then you will find the controls for this pedal quite familiar. It has controls for Level (essentially a Mix control), Depth, and Rate. All of the controls are quite small in order to help them fit onto the pedal. I find this a little cumbersome on stage, but when you have the luxury of taking your time in your own home studio, this is not so much of a problem.

Sounds

The sounds are what makes this pedal worth purchasing. For a pedal that costs 1/3 of even the second cheapest pedal on this list, the sounds are quite impressive. It is an incredibly warm sounding chorus, similar to that of the Boss CE-2 or even CE-1. Even at the highest settings the chorus effect stays in control and is usable in a fusion setting. There are few surprises in this pedal, but the sounds that one would think a chorus “should” produce are produced here.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Chorus
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 3.74 x 1.77 x 1.88”
  • Features: True Bypass, LED indicator

A small and cheap chorus that does the job

Final Thoughts on the Rowin Analog Chorus

My only true complaint of this pedal is the build quality, but that is more than made up for in terms of the sound quality and the price point. Compared to other budget chorus effects, it definitely sounds the best. If you are skeptical of if you could actually use a chorus pedal in a practical way, then I encourage you to start off with this great budget option. Just don’t expect it to survive too many gigs.

6. Walrus Audio Julianna – Best High End Option

Walrus Audio Julia Analog Chorus/Vibrato V2 (900-1011V2)
29 Reviews
Walrus Audio Julia Analog Chorus/Vibrato V2 (900-1011V2)
  • RATE – The Rate knob allows you to set the speed at which the LFO sweeps. From little to no movement at lower settings, to wild wackiness at max.
  • DEPTH – The Depth knob allows you to change the amplitude of the LFO. From no movement to deep sweeping modulation.

Brand spanking new from the folks at Walrus Audio is the new Julianna pedal, who they describe as the long, lost older sister of Julia. While the Julia Chorus could also hold this position as the Best High End option for Chorus, the Julianna has some new added features that make it especially exciting.

Build

The Julianna looks similar to the Julia in that it is housed in a traditional sized chassis and features a beautiful, custom paint job of an underwater sea temptress. It features a blendable chorus/vibrato setting, as well as a Lag control and Sine or Triangle LFO wave forms.

New features include Stereo In/Out, a Random wave form, Tap Tempo, Momentary Switching, and a Division setting. This pedal is packed to the gills with features (sorry about that one).

Controls

The Julianna is set up differently than most chorus pedals. The Rate and Depth knobs work as expected. The Lag control sets the center delay time, where lower settings offer and smooth and tight effect, and higher settings can get into detune territory. The fourth knob controls the mix, going from dry (D), to chorus (C ), to vibrato (V).

The tap tempo button (LED pulsates with tempo) lets you set the rate on the fly works in conjunction with the Div switch, which divides the time from quarter, to triplet, to eight note subdivisions. The shape knob controls what kind of wave form your modulation will occur in. Previous versions had sin and triangle, but this new one includes the Random wave for further experimentation.

The Bypass control can be held in conjunction with the Rate or Depth controls to set secondary modulations or drifting modulation tones as well.

Sounds

This has to be my favorite sounding chorus pedal, even in “traditional” chorus settings. As much as I enjoy the chorus tones, my favorite use for the pedal was for the Vibrato settings, which have a certain lo-fi quality to them that reminds me of a vinyl record warble.

While most chorus pedals try to create a retro or highly sought after chorus circuit, I think the Julianna has succeeded in creating their own sound. It’s a true re-imagining of what chorus can be and I can’t get enough of it. The drift tones are totally mind bending, but pleasing at the same time.

The normal chorus tones are lush and could fit in a decade gone by. Even under subtle settings this pedal could be used as an always on pedal to thicken your sound. I can’t say enough good things about it.

Spec Summary

  • Effect Type: Chorus/Vibrato
  • Signal: Analog
  • Power Source: 9V
  • Dimensions: 4.77 x 2.9 x 2.3”
  • Features: Momentary switching, Pulsing LED, Lag, Tap Temp, Stereo

Rethink what Chorus is with this pedal

Final Thoughts on the Walrus Audio Julianna

I used to own the Julia pedal, and I have often regretted getting rid of it. However, I’ve realized that I have that I now need to get this version. This is the kind of pedal that could set the tone for an entire record. Well done, Walrus Audio. Well done.

Is the Chorus Pedal Overrated?

Has the chorus pedal overstayed its welcome?

Did it get so much attention in the eighties that the effect has been played out?

My personal opinion is a resounding NO. Chorus is here to stay, and I am happy to hear it on any record.

There are so many uses for Chorus pedals, whether it is to thicken up a solo or to make a rhythm part sound full and psychedelic. It makes it sound like there is more than one guitar, and even though these voices are slightly out of tune, the sum of their voices is greater than either one of them on their own.

It is for this reason that chorus remains my favorite modulation effect, no matter what decade we are in.

Further Reading: