If you’ve ever listened to recordings from the 80’s, you’re almost guaranteed to have heard a chorus pedal at work.
Chorus was on everything at the time, to the point that musicians and listeners got sick of it. So it dropped out of the mainstream for a couple decades.
Chorus is starting to see a resurgence now, and those who love the effect (such as myself) or those who are new to it may wonder what chorus pedals do to your sound.
Let’s find out!
The Short Answer
Chorus pedals make it sound like there are more than one instrument playing at the same time. See where the pedal gets its name from, now?
This is done by splitting and duplicating your original instrument signal. Your original signal travels through unaffected (dry), but the duplicated signal gets delayed slightly. This delayed signal is then modulated by slowing down and speeding up the delay time back and forth by a few milliseconds, causing the pitch to rise and fall.
Playing these two signals, the Wet and Dry signal, together creates the effect we hear and know as Chorus.
Recommended Chorus Pedals
For more information and options on chorus pedals we recommend, check out our article on the best chorus pedals.
- JHS Pedals 3 Series Chorus – Best Under $100
- EHX Small Clone Chorus – Classic Studio Chorus Effect
- Boss CE2w Waza Craft Chorus – Best Overall
How to Use A Chorus Pedal
Knowing how a chorus pedal works can help you understand how to use the pedal to greater effect.
The typical controls found on chorus pedals are usually Rate and Depth at the least. My favorite chorus pedals also include a Mix control, giving the ability to blend the amount of wet to dry signal.
Rate controls the speed at which modulation occurs. Slowing the rate down results in a less pronounced, washed out effect similar to a flanger. Faster rate settings give you a much more intense effect that can border on Tremolo or Univibe depending on how the rest of your controls are set.
Depth controls the amount of delay time that is modulated across on your wet signal. The greater the variance in delay time, the deeper the modulation effect. One of my favorite settings for a chorus is to turn the depth up and the Rate down, for a wide spread and warm, lush sound.
Mix controls the amount of dry and wet signal. Most pedals without a Mix control with default to 50/50 mix. If you set the Mix to 100% wet, you will get what is known as Vibrato.
These are just the standard controls found on the majority of chorus pedals, but there are a lot more possible controls out there. These can include wave form shapes, lag controls, tone controls, even hybrid pedals that include flanger and phaser effects.
Chorus Pedals in Music
Now that you know what chorus pedals do and how to use one, here are some popular recordings that use a chorus pedal to get you inspired.
It’s not just for guitar (both distorted or clean), as these songs will show you. Chorus pedals sound great on bass guitar, as well as keyboards and even vocal tracks.
I hope this article has been helpful and that these songs inspire you to push the limits of what sounds chorus pedals make.
- “Come As You Are” by Nirvana (Guitar)
- “Continuum” by Jaco Pastorius. (Guitar)
- “46 and 2” by Tool (Bass)
- “Spirit of the Radio” by Rush (Guitar)
- “Soul to Squeeze” by Red Hot Chili Peppers (Guitar)
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Davis Wilton Bader is a professional guitarist/writer based out of St. Louis, MO. He plays in the bands Lumet and The Outskirts.