Chorus and Vibrato Pedals

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Vibrato has been part of music since electronic effects were even possible. Slightly moving a string while playing a guitar or violin creates a slight variation in pitch. The modulation of pitch is called vibrato. When thinking about effects pedals, don’t confuse vibrato (sometimes referred to as pitch vibrato) with vibe pedals, which usually combines vibrato or chorus with phase shifting.

Chorus also relates to a practical effect. When a choir (or chorus) sings together, their slight variations in pitch, volume, and timing create a dynamic and interesting sound. Chorus attempts to recreate this analog or digital electronics.

Chorus has been used in popular music with bass and synths, but is most recognizable as a guitar effect which rose to popularity in the '80s. Rush, The Police, Def Leppard, The Cure, Metallica Nirvana, and Warpaint are all notable chorus users.

What does a chorus pedal do?

Attempting to replicate the input signal with slight variations, chorus is actually a delay effect where the repeats sound shortly after the original signal and with slight variations in pitch. Like many effects, the result may not approximate its goal, but rather create a new, interesting timbre.

How do you use a chorus pedal?

Plug it in, turn it on, and start playing the intro riffs to “Come As You Are” or “A Forest.” If you have other guitar pedals, or an amp with an effects loop, the process may be more complicated. Modulation effects often sound very different before and after distortion pedals. Conventional wisdom might say to put your delay after your chorus or vibrato pedal, but modulated repeats could be your ideal sound.

Stereo chorus pedals, such as the Boss Dimension C, add an additional option, which often routes wet and dry signals into two separate inputs. Some musicians may always have their chorus pedal on, while others may choose to use it only for guitar solos or melodies.

What is the best chorus vibrato pedal?

One recent trend has pedal builders combining the two modulation types into one box. The Walrus Audio Julia is praised for translating analog mojo into a modern, compact form.

What is the best mini chorus pedal?

Following the demand for micro and nano-sized pedals and smaller portal pedalboards, many companies offer ultra-compact options for your chorus fix. The Ibanez Mini Chorus packs vintage CS9 sound in a cute pink package.

What is the difference between chorus and reverb effects?

Reverb is another (but different) naturally occurring effect. It's the way sound reflects and dissipates in a space or through materials. Most reverb effects and pedals emulate this effect. Many guitarists use chorus and reverb together for ambient or shoegaze tones.

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