The best guitarists can only do so much with bad gear. Of course, they would probably sound a lot better than average, but good gear translates to great sound in the hands of a great guitarist. One of the most important accessories that every electric guitarist eventually has to work with is a chorus pedal. This magic box adds depth to guitar playing by delaying the input signal by a few milliseconds, thus creating the effect of two or more guitar voices. If you are ready to expand your horizons, here are tips on what to look for when choosing the best chorus pedal for your axe:
Go Analog or Digital.
Chorus pedals of years past were analog but now, you have a choice of both analog and digital pedals. Analogs modify the sound when they receive the signal while digital pedals convert the sound into a digital format, add the effects, then convert it back to analog. Analog pedals can change the sound delay while digital chorus pedals are more consistent. As such, analog pedals produce a warmer tone while digital pedals offer a brighter tone. Which one you choose will really depend on which sound you like better.
Know Your Controls.
The controls on your chorus pedals allow you to customize the sound you make. In general, you can expect control knobs such as depth, effect level, filter/tone and rate. Most chorus pedals have all of these controls, although you will find a few models that may be missing one. Take your time to get to know the controls based on your preferred style of playing and music genre.
Know Your Team.
Beginner guitarists often play with only the chorus pedal on. However, as you progress in your skill level, you might want to consider adding other types of pedals. If you check out many professional musician’s stomp box, you will find three or more stomp boxes connected to one another to allow musicians to customize their sound. “Daisychaining” is quite common among electric guitarists and if you see this as a likely transition in your future, consider which types of pedals you might want to work with your chorus pedal.
Some of the most common pedals you will find include:
Distortion – create the high-gain sound that amps make and more, allowing you to produce drastic modifications to your music. A few good examples of musicians who use distortion pedal include Van Halen and Ted Nugent.
Wah – or wah-wah pedal changes the signal tone that almost mimics a human voice. The ‘wah’ effect has been put to good use by musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Slash and Steve Vai.
Flanger – takes the harmonic structure of the sound and produces a dramatic sound.
Delay – as its name implies, it delays the sound signal. Multiple sounds can be manipulated so that one sound signal is played ahead while the rest follows.
Compressor – normalizes the tone by compressing the sound signal, hence producing a clipped sound.
Once you have started becoming more skilled with an electric guitar, you will want to use different pedals to achieve different effects. You could consider buying a combination pedal, the kind that combines a chorus effect with one or several effects. Most of these multi-effect pedals can be programmed, so you can customize the combinations you prefer. Note that multi-effect pedals are digital. If you prefer to work with analog pedals, you might want to consider buying separate pedals instead.
Look for Functionality.
A stomp box should be comfortable to step on and must have a sturdy grip. It should stay in place when you push down. Check the pedal hinge for durability. If you want to get your money’s worth, the chorus pedal has to last long. Check the indicators for good visibility particularly in low light. There should also be no problems turning the knobs or dials.
What to Look For When Choosing the Best Chorus Pedal: Is Price an Issue?
Price may or may not have direct correlation with the quality of the chorus pedal you buy. Ultimately, it is how much you can afford that will determine which one you take home. Buy the best you can with the budget you have, but try it first with your guitar. An inexpensive stomp box that works in harmony with your guitar and your skills is worth way more than an expensive one that you are not comfortable using.