Chorus pedals can give you a lot of options, so it’s important to know what you are looking for before you go out and buy one. Even more basic, it’s important to know what those options are. To begin, a chorus pedal will multiply the sound of your guitar so that it sounds like two or more guitars playing in unison. All chorus pedals are not equal, however. Some are designed to give you an icy clean 80’s sound (such as the Boss CH-1), some can give a warmer, lush sound (Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress), and some can get downright psychadelic (such as the BBE Mindbender). Read up on your pedals before heading to the guitar store so you’re not just fumbling in the dark. Here are some other considerations:
Digital or Analog
You can just tell when a pedal is digital and when a pedal is analog. Analog pedals give a warmer sound, so if that’s important to you, its something to consider. Kurt Cobain of Nirvana used the Electro-Harmonix Small Clone, which is purely analog. Then again, many 80’s guitarists like the icy digital sound of a digital chorus pedal. Maybe you will need both, depending on your desire to play across different genres.
True bypass is important when you want to leave your pedal off, but keep it connected in your pedal chain for occasional use. When you have true bypass, the input goes straight through the pedal to the output without connecting to any of the other circuitry in the pedal, which might otherwise color your sound or add a bit of noise. In general, true bypass is preferable for the purist, although many people get awesome effects out of pedals that don’t offer true bypass, and may not even notice 95% of the time.
Some chorus pedals let you mess with other effects at the same time, which is, of course, cool. For example, the Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress lets you dial up the sound of Jimmy Hendrix, Pink Floyd, or the Police with some added flange. Keep in mind that not all pedals with multiple effects let you mix and match, instead forcing you to switch between one effect or the other.
“Built Like a Tank”
This is something to look for in all pedals, and chorus pedals are no exception. Boss notoriously makes pedals “built like a tank” that seem virtually indestructible. Other pedals might offer more interesting sounds, however. In the realm of chorus pedals, for example, the Boss CH-1 is built tough, but a more temperamental pedal such as the Electro-Harmonix Small Clone might dial in the sound you need for certain songs much better. If you’re travelling and gigging a lot, quality construction becomes much more critical.