Although modulation effects are commonly used by guitarists, it’s more of a rarity for bassists. Using a bass chorus pedal can produce some interesting tones and give your basslines a completely different feel.
The difference between a bass chorus pedal and one that is made for electric guitar is in the way the modulation affects the low-end frequencies. These pedals add a layer of warmth to a bassist’s output and make a worthy addition to a pedalboard.
The Best Chorus Pedals for Bass Guitar
1. MXR M83
The MXR M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe pedal brings a shimmering, smooth modulation to your pedalboard. Using sophisticated effects technology, MXR has designed a pedal that offers a variety of tone-sculpting possibilities.
The analog chorus effect ranges from warm undertones that color your bass guitar, or full-blown, glassy detuned double tracking for more extreme tones. Purely analog, the chorus produced by M83 has a vintage timbre.
Conversely, you can use the M83 to produce psychedelic flanging, instead. The dedicated Flanger mode offers thick, motioning modulation that sounds like it’s straight out of a 1970’s studio.
Another highly useful feature of the MXR Bass Chorus Deluxe pedal is its unique Crossover mode. When this mode is selected, the pedal rolls off the modulation at 100Hz, preserving the bass frequencies.
This mode is great for bassists who don't want to lose the low-end power of their instrument but still require some decoration, in the form of chorus or flanging, on the high-end.
It essentially acts in the same way as a signal splitter, but without the extra cables and hassle!
You might be aware of the Small Clone pedal popularized by Kurt Cobain and his chorus draped guitar. The bass clone pedal is the low-end equivalent of that highly popular guitar pedal, and it performs to the same high standard.
The differentiating quality between the Bass Clone and its guitar equivalent is the X-Over switch. When activated, this optimizes the pedal to bypass the low-end frequencies from the chorus circuit, producing a smooth, trebly warble.
In addition to the X-over feature, the Bass Clone also houses several other parameters. Bass control can be used to adjust the presence of your dry tone, without affecting the chorus effect.
Depth and rate parameters are located in the two top corners of the pedal, and these allow you to adjust the nature of the chorus.
When these controls are cranked to their upper limits, the chorus becomes extreme and highly detuned. Alternatively, when they are turned down, it dampens the effect and makes it less intense.
3. Boss CEB-3
Boss’ CEB-3 is a simple-to-operate bass chorus pedal that offers a range of tone-enhancing controls. Specifically designed to interact with the low-end frequencies of a bass guitar, this pedal adds expression to your rig.
Housed in the classic Boss stompbox chassis, the CEB-3 is robust and highly durable. It's the ideal chorus pedal for bassists who tour extensively or use their effects pedals often in a recording environment.
One of the common issues faced by manufacturers when designing bass-specific pedals is muddiness. This is caused by the low-end frequencies being overly processed, thus creating a messy signal that is hard to tame.
To combat this, Boss has added a low-filter knob. The function of this control is to adjust the amount of low-end that the chorus is applied to, essentially acting as a dedicated EQ especially for the chorus effect.
The range of chorus tones produced by the Boss CEB-3 is vast and wide-spanning. You can choose from subtle, warm tones, or crank up the parameters to create detuned, psychedelic effects.
After initially starting as preamp and pickup suppliers for bass guitars, New York-based Aguilar has gone on to create some outstanding bass effects pedal. The appropriately named Chorusaurus is their standout modulation offering.
The compact size of this pedal is deceiving – it is stacked with tone-adjusting controls and features. With all-analog chorus, Aguilar has created a pedal that delivers thick sounding tones and state-of-the-art inner components.
You can use the blend parameter to dial in the chorus effect and tweak the ratio of wet/dry signal that is present. The width control affects the overall feel of the chorus, and how harsh it is within the output.
On the bottom row of the pedal, there are two further controls. Firstly, you have the rate knob, which adjusts the detuning of the chorus. On the right side, there is an intensity control that adjusts how extreme the produced modulation is.
Offering smooth analog chorus for bass guitar, the Ampeg Liquifier transforms your tone into modulated thickness. Featuring dual chorus circuits that produce a plethora of modulation effects, this pedal is well suited to all styles of bass.
With true bypass switching, there's no danger of the Liquifier negatively impacting your clean tone. The high-quality inner circuitry performs reliably, even when the pedal is inactive.
Central to the performance of the Ampeg Liquifier is a trio of controls. Firstly, there’s the Rate knob, which affects the overall detuning of the chorus effect. Then there’s Depth, which alters the tone and frequency engagement between the effect and the bass.
The Effect level provides you with a quick and simple way to add or remove some of the pedal's output and is useful for blending your clean and wet tones. You can even use the Ampeg Liquifier with guitar or keyboard if you wish.
The Mooer Audio Ensemble Queen goes to all the extremes of the chorus and covers the more conventional, subtle aspects of the effect. You can choose from understated wavers or full-blown psych-inspired warbles.
Versatility is the best attribute of this bass chorus pedal. The four controls provide a wide-range of tone-shaping options. These consist of Level, Tone, Depth, and Rate.
True bypass switching removes the pedal’s circuitry from your signal chain when it is deactivated, and therefore, protects the integrity of your bass guitar’s signal path. This feature is highly useful, especially if you use multiple pedals in your rig.
Mooer has also installed an LED indicator to signify when the pedal is active. This is a lifesaver when playing on a stage with little lighting! Overall, the Ensemble Queen is a reliable bass chorus pedal that competes with pricier offerings.
Where to Position Chorus Pedals in Your Signal Chain
Once you've chosen the ideal chorus pedal to use with your bass, some further considerations need to be made. One of these is where to position the pedal within your signal chain.
When using multiple pedals in your bass rig, the results you get are largely dependent on which order you choose to place them. Although it may seem like a triviality, pedal positioning is hugely impactful on the overall tone.
There are indeed no set-in-stone rules to follow, and sometimes the most innovative results come from people ignoring commonplace advice.
However, bass chorus pedals are usually employed to create conventional bass modulation, and to achieve this, there is a formula regarding their positioning.
Next, come filter pedals, like wah. Distortion-based pedals, like overdrive or fuzz, come after filters. Then, we get to modulation pedals, which is the category that the chorus falls into.
Bass chorus pedals ideally should be placed after gain pedals, and before timing-based pedals, like reverb or delay. The reason for this is because the chorus pedal modulates the signal.
If it was to be positioned before distortion, then the distorted signal would be subjected to the chorus, causing it to become muddy and unpredictable.
Bass chorus pedals are great tools for adding some character to your dry signal. Sometimes, you need more weapons in your arsenal for certain parts or songs which require a little more color than your clean tone offers.
When searching for the right chorus pedal, it’s important to consider what sound you would like to produce.
Some are more simplistic and offer conventional chorus, while others are more sophisticated pedals that allow you to create wide-ranging bass chorus effects.