A chorus pedal provides a remarkable way of creating thicker sounds from just a single signal. By doubling your source signal and slightly setting the second signal out of time and tune with the first, the sound of two instruments playing at the same time can be created by a chorus pedal. Based on the depth of the oscillation, the intensity or rate of the effect pedal is set, sounds that range from deep watery warbles to sparkling rotary speaker-like textures can be created.
What are Chorus Pedals Used For?
Essentially, chorus pedals are designed to divide your signal into two different parts and delay and detune one of them. They can be utilized to add understated modulations to your sound or can be used for more drastic effects in more radical ways. A chorus effect is created by way of an audio process in which a sound is re-sampled mere milliseconds following the playing of the initial note. By ever so slightly vibrating out of sync with one another, these sounds produce a textured effect and create the impression that a “chorus” of instruments is being played, instead of just a single one.
A simple chorus pedal can have just two knobs — the Depth knob and the Rate knob. The Depth knob controls the intensity of the modulation and the Rate knob is used to govern the number of milliseconds delay that is produced at any given time.
Additionally, this type of unit operates in mono, which means a signal in and a signal out. Typically, more modern units are equipped with knobs like EQ that are designed to control bass and treble. They also have an Effect Level control to decide the volume of chorusing that gets mixed with the straight sound of the guitar. In addition, there are usually stereo outputs that allow you to run into two amps simultaneously and create remarkably wide stereo chorus effects.
It should be noted that the pedal can still operate in mono if only the first output jack is used. In stereo or mono, you can set the Depth and Rate knobs low to add understated fullness to your sound or they can be cranked up to boost the warble and shine factors.
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Placement of Chorus Pedal in the Effect Chain
Chorus is essentially a modulation effect and therefore, its placement should be relatively late in the pedal chain. It should be placed after a wah, compression, overdrive and distortion pedals, but before the delay, tremolo or reverb pedals. Vibrato and chorus are virtually the same effect and as such, they can be placed in either order when positioned next to each other.
A mild buffer is included in some chorus pedals as a means of boosting the level of the audio signal of the guitar. Other similar pedals are “true bypass,” which is an indication that no such buffer exist. An authentic bypass tuner could be appropriate if your signal chain have very few pedals. However, players who have lots of pedals are likely to benefit from a mild buffer; if there is no buffer, a drop in volume will be noticeable by the time the amp receives the audio signal.
These days, the majority of modern amps are outfitted with Effects Loops. These enable you to attach your Modulation Effects via another set of jacks later into the amp circuit itself. This makes these types of effects sound a lot better as opposed to front-ending them. Additionally, it makes them less likely to be modified by the amount of pick attack or gain.
Are Pedals Really Necessary?
This depends completely on the type of music you are interested in playing. You do not hear a lot of effect action in roots music styles such as Classic Country or Chicago Blues. This is because the basic sounds of those genres were established prior to the time when effects units were frequently used.
However, if you play popular music from the 1970s, you will discover the usefulness of owning and understanding a few basic pedals and using them to reproduce the sounds you will be emulating. A chorus pedal is among the most essential, as pretty much every slow pop song and power ballad will have it in the mix.
If you are interested in playing a variety of music, you could benefit from putting a pedalboard together and learning to use each component. This will prepare you any gig that will come your way. Set the chorus pedals to low for a smooth sound and set them to high to be more colorful and intense. If you have an Effects Loop, do not forget to insert your chorus into it. Get this effect right and in short order you will sound like one of the pros. Keep experimenting and learning and you will become a master of the guitar pedal.