Whether you are a heavy metal rhythm player, neoclassical shredder, jazz virtuoso, or just a straightforward rocker, there is one guitar effect that you are going to need to make use of in order to get the fullest sound out of your guitar. That is the chorus effect. Chorus pedals and rack mounted units have been used for years by professional musicians to get the most out of their playing. Keep reading to learn what chorus is, how to use it, and how to achieve the sound.
Firstly, we’ll take a look at what chorus is. Essentially, it is an effect that will make your one guitar sound like two guitars playing in unison, thus creating a much fuller and more powerful sound. The processing units that create the chorus effect in pedals or rack units basically split the guitar signal they receive, slightly alter one of the new signals, and then feed it into your amp again as one signal. This creates a slight shift that will come out to a listener as the sound of a second guitar playing along with yours.
The degree of this effect can be very slight, which will or just beef up chords and add fullness to lead lines, or it can be used very heavily, which will create an almost harmonization-like effect. Whichever route you decide to go with it, it will certainly add to your playing. Lead players in particular benefit from the usage of chorus, because the doubled-up sound adds depth and power to high register leads that in their raw form would sound weak and solitary. If you need a listening example, check out some of the leads of Yngwie Malmsteen, which tend to use heavy chorus effects to produce his signature sound. Rhythm players can also benefit from using chorus effects, because it will create a more powerful rhythm section that will add an overall stronger sound to the piece of music. Remember, the rhythm line in the foundation on which the song is built, and adding power here will translate throughout the entire musical piece.
So how do you get a chorus effect? There are four ways. Number one is to use a pedal. Almost every pedal manufacturer has their own unique chorus pedal, and some more than one. Selecting one pedal can be very difficult, so I would recommend trying each pedal out for a while at your local music shop before you commit to buying one. Secondly, you can use a rack effects unit. While much more expensive, these units will give you greater control over the chorus effect, and will usually have multiple other effects included as well, giving you greater tonal versatility. Thirdly, you can use an amplifier with a built in chorus. This would be the least recommended method, as few amps really have a great chorus effect built in. However, for someone who is just getting started in the world of effects, a good modeling amp with several effects (including a chorus) is a great way to learn how to use them. The last method is to use a computerized chorus effect applied to your recordings after you have laid them down. This method comes with the obvious drawback of being useless for live playing, but will give you the most control over the depth and tone of the chorus when you’re in the studio.
So there you have it folks, chorus in a nutshell. I hope all of you will give this effect a try, because it will add a lot to your playing, and once you use it, you’ll never stop.