Another bonus round for the ’Pedal Primary Colour Wheel’ series - I kind of knew I would likely do this at some stage - the Boss Sky Blue influence on the Chorus format. Interestingly the original Choruses from Boss and MXR were somewhat dull grey boxes, and it wasn’t really until Boss’s CE-3 that the colour was properly locked down - the blue of the first CE-2 was typically a little paler and less saturated than the hue we’ve all become so familiar with now - or at least that’s my recollection.
You of course have a degree of variance around the exact hue of Sky Blue, but you can see they’re all of a family as such. This selection features a number of those I have covered before - with of course some colour-specific additions.
I have not acquired any of these yet - while the Boss CE-2W, JAM Pedals Waterfall and Paradox Futura Multiparametric Envelope Chorus are all riding high on my wishlist. Thus far I’ve made do with the excellent Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl as my principal chorus, and a couple of rotations from the TC Electronic Petrucci Signature The Dreamscape. I also have designs to acquire the Boss DC-2W which is not on altogether dissimilar lines, yet of the above selection I would say the 3 I’ve singled out for special mention - along with the Analog.Man Mini Chorus are probably the most interesting ones here.
Note that for this feature I’ve stuck to my favourite compact enclosure format, which means that I’ve left out some of the other great Sky Blue classics - including ThorpyFX’s Deep Oggin.
Pedals are listed in alphabetical ordered by brand as usual.
Based on The benchmark chorus pedal - the original compact Boss CE-2 - using the earlier Panasonic Japanese-Made MN3007 Chips. The version above features additional depth toggle-switch and optional Wet/Dry Mix knob - each option which adds $25 to the price - you can also go for stereo output for another $55 - but then loose the advantage of the top-mounted jacks. All of Mike Piera's output is excellent, I now have two of his pedals, and would not hesitate to recommend any of his productions. This particular chorus comes very highly recommended.
Boss is the originator of the pedal chorus effect as we know it via its original 1976 big box CE-1 pedal, which later morphed into the more compact CE-2 and essentially made the 80's! The earliest Boss's used the Panasonic MN3007 chips which some still consider superior - in which case go for the Analog.Man Mini Chorus above. This latest Waza version of the CE-2 uses more recent Panasonic MN3207 chips - but still sounds sufficiently glorious to most. Controls are the classic Rate and Depth knobs plus a Standard / CE-1 Mode switch - which gives you that slightly more flanger-like flavour of chorus that the original pedal was known for.
Another cool MN3007 BBD Chip based Chorus - this time with 4 controls - Width | Rate | Density | Mix. I occasionally overlook this one, but am reminded now how great this can sound. This often falls under the radar slightly in the current selection - it should certainly be on your roster for consideration - I've seen Paul Gilbert using this one every now and again which is a suitable recommendation.
This chorus is getting quite a lot of buzz currently - another great sounding one within the genre - utilising the same MN3207 chip as the more recent Boss CE-2W. You get 2 knobs - Depth and Speed, then a toggle-switch for Dryer/Wetter modes, and a toggle to switch between Chorus and (V) Vibrato mode. This pedal is as simple and elegant as these get and sounds suitably lush. As mentioned in the intro - it's one of a few I have up for consideration to supplement my CBA Warped Vinyl and TCE Dreamscape pedals.
This is Mad Professor's own unique take on the effect - and designed to appeal as much to those who typically don't like choruses. It has its own internal wave generator which works in such a way as to lessen impact on the core tone and signal - which means that you can easily switch from clean to distorted signal - without it going too fluttery and extreme. You get 3 controls to tune the output to your preferences - Blend | Speed | Depth - this is a significantly different type of chorus to the more pure-play BBD types typically listed in this category.
This is another BBD chip style chorus although the chip isn't specified and I can't find any reference to it - which based on the price means likely it's using one of the newer Chinese-made variants - so not quite up to the authenticity of the MN3007 and MN3207 types listed above. You get more tone-shaping here though courtesy of 5 controls - Low (LP Cut) | High (HP Cut) | Level | Rate | Depth. For sure a decent sounding offering with some unique features, and at the lower end of the pricing scale.
I've featured this cool lo-fi style chorus a couple of times on the site - it combines with Envelope filtering for even more interesting woozy textures. There are 8 controls here - 5 easy-to-understand knobs - Blend | Sensitivity (Filter) | Level | Rate | Depth - and then 3 toggle switches R|R+D|D (Rate/Depth), R Up/Down and D Up/Down (Swell direction). There are also two footswitches - where the second one activates/disables the Envelope. These are in rare supply this side of the pond - I believe there are a couple of mainland European distributors - but prices tend to be high as the deliveries from Mexico are somewhat pricey for whatever reason. I still want one of these - it's pretty unique for a Chorus, and I like most things which are musical but a little unusual.
This is another BBD chip style Chorus - again with unspecified chip, which likely means not the more rarified MN3007 or MN3207 varieties - although this is Japan-made so possibly this does have an original Japanese chip too! You have 4 controls at your disposal here - Depth | Speed | Mix - and a 3-position Deep mode switch which gives you slight variations on the depth of flavour. This is certainly a decent proposition, but possibly outmuscled somewhat by some of its better-known companions here.
Another relatively low cost compact option with simple controls - Speed, Depth and Vibe/Chorus mode selector. Also with unspecified BBD chip type variety - which cost indicates would be more likely one of the latter-day Chinese-made variants. This pedal gets quite a lot of love, but there is some very stiff competition here - including the MXR Analog Chorus from its sister brand. In this selection, I'm not sure either of those would make my final shortlist - but depending on budget, availability and other criteria they could certainly be the right choice for some players.
As mentioned, I already have a current favourite Chorus in the guise of my Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl MKII, and ably and very occasionally supported by the TC Electronic Dreamscape. I have a mind to add the Boss DC-2W and CE-2W to the collection, along with the Paradox Futura. And I'm heavily considering both/either the Analog.Man Mini Chorus and JAM Pedals Waterfall too!
I think many would be satisfied with most of these on offer here - while the real hardcore Chorus types will likely seek out those pedals powered by the rarer and supposedly more lush sounding chips. All here are Analog BBD type choruses with the exception of the Mad Professor Electric Blue - which uses some sort of smart wave-generator algorithm to create its Chorus - which has less interference and impact on the dry / throughput signal - meaning you can easily and rapidly switch from clean to distorted tones without getting those harsher chorus tones - which actually a lot of metal players look to create deliberately.
This is an off-shoot really to my relatively recent Compact Chorus Roundup which has mostly different pedals featured - and a slightly different outcome. Were I to do a more holistic current overview I would probably meld the two - to certainly include the JHS Emperor V2 and Neunaber Inspire. In any case there really isn't a lack of great choruses out there - it's more about what you like the look / sound of, and how accessible that is to you.