The 80’s were a difficult time for music. Digital recording was taking over causing guitar tones to sound thin and underwhelming. One strategy to battle wispy guitar tones was the heavy use of chorus – If your guitar signal left you feeling underwhelmed you could always add chorus to mimic multiple guitars in hopes of fattening up your tone.
The only problem was that chorus pedals sounded awful, (and they still do).
The correct way to use a chorus pedal is to place it at the end of your pedal board, after your overdrive pedals, in your amp’s effects loop, adding a short delay to your entire signal chain creating the impression of multiple instruments.
However, if you place your chorus pedal closer to the start of your signal chain, before your amp’s natural overdrive, the multiple guitar effect will meet the distortion and create one cohesive tone. The space created by the chorus’ short delay is filled in by the fat tone of the overdrive to the point where the delay is less pronounced. The downside is your signal can become muddy very quickly so this works best with a gentle chorus into a subtle overdrive.
I certainly prefer it, but then again I was barely alive in the 80’s – Maybe chorus was cool back then?
Listen above to hear Kurt Cobain ignore his amp’s effect’s loop and use chorus pedals to create an iconic, post-punk guitar tone.
Note: Don’t put your chorus before a fuzz pedal, it’s too much.