One of the most common effects pedals that you’ll come across is the good ‘ol chorus pedal. Guitar players can’t have all the fun either – in fact, there are quite a few models that were designed specifically for use with the bass.
Bass chorus pedals may be just the ticket to add a level of smoothness and sophistication to your tones that you can’t get with your dry signal alone. Chorus is typically not aggressive by any means, and it shaves off the rough edges that can give a sense of elegance when used tastefully and in the right context.
Yeah, you can whack out any bass chorus pedal and get some pretty weird sounds by pegging all of the knobs to the max, but that typically isn’t the intent here. But…if that’s your thing…by all means whack things to your liking!
As with pretty much any type of bass effects pedal, you may find yourself a bit confused when you’re shopping for one. For the most part the controls are fairly simple but some models may have specific features that would suit your playing style more than others.
I’ve taken a look at what I think are 9 of the best bass chorus pedals around, so hopefully I can help shed some light on things and save you a little time.
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Off to the races!
The 9 Best Bass Chorus Pedals Reviewed
MXR M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe
Simple yet elegant and effective, the MXR M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe is my top pick.
A big reason for that is because it’s really more than ‘just a bass chorus pedal’. That’s because it not only is a great sounding chorus, it also has a flanger mode as well (fyi – a flanger is very similar to a chorus). It’s literally buy-one-get-one (BOGO) bass pedal time…
In addition to the flanger mode, there is another one called the ‘X-Over’ mode. In this configuration (selectable with a simple push button), the M83 changes the level of modulation in those basement-swelling low frequency tones that are inherent to the bass guitar.
The result is a much smoother and even low-end performance.
Treble and bass knobs help to shape the overall tone, and Intensity, Rate, and Width controls let you modify both the chorus and flanger effects with a quick knob twist.
As with most pedals from MXR the M83 is built like a tank and is in it for the long haul, with a sturdy metal case and a durable foot switch meant to keep you switching for many gigs to come.
Boss CEB-3 Bass Chorus Pedal
Boss rarely – if ever – plays around when it comes to making quality effects pedals, and the CEB-3 Bass Chorus is no exception.
By far the biggest feature is the split frequency crossover. That lets you get just the right amount of modulation on the upper registers of the delayed chorus signal while keeping the bottom end of things from getting mushy.
The control set couldn’t be much simpler, with only four knobs: E. Level (the overall effects level; basically a dry/wet mix control), Low Filter (which sets the thresholds for the crossover), along with Rate and Depth settings to control the overall sound of the chorus).
And…it’s made by Boss. That means the CEB-3 features a top shelf design inside and out. Need I say much more than that?
Electro-Harmonix Bass Clone Analog Chorus
The Bass Clone Analog Chorus from EHX is another bass chorus pedal that may be short on fancy bells and whistles, while being long on doing what it was meant to do – provide a high-quality chorus effect that would benefit any bass player.
Four knobs is all it takes for the Bass Clone to create a sweet sounding effect. Aside from the typical Rate and Depth adjustments for the chorus controls, a 2-band EQ helps to shape your overall tone. The EQ is different from many other bass chorus pedals in that the Treble knob affects both the dry and wet signal, while the Bass control just takes the dry signal into account.
Right smack-dab in the middle of the knobs is a mini-toggle switch which activates a crossover feature. This focuses more modulation on higher frequencies while taming them a bit down under.
This feature (plus unique the EQ control) lets you get a bass sound where the chorus effect gets the most bang for the buck on the mid-to-high end.
Aguilar Chorusaurus Bass Chorus Pedal
Well, if you believe in dinosaurs (and who doesn’t, right?) then the Chorusaurus from Aguilar can be your own personal Jurassic Park.
This prehistoric beast uses an analog circuit design to produce a lush and full sounding chorus.
Controls are easy and uncomplicated: Blend is the wet/dry signal mix, and Rate, Intensity, and Width lets you play with the LFO settings to dial in anything from subtle smoothness to more extreme swirling effects.
A neat feature for those gigging bassists is the Gig-Saver capability. If you choose to use batteries to power your effects, you know what happens when you forget to change one.
The Gig-Saver lets the dry signal completely bypass if the battery dies, letting you get through to the next break between sets so you can change it out.
Mooer Ensemble Queen Bass Chorus Effects Pedal
Bass players are just as likely to contract gear acquisition syndrome (GAS) as any guitar player would, and one are where GAS is particularly contagious is with effects pedals.
That means you may have a pedalboard that’s stuffed to the max with little room to spare.
The Mooer Ensemble Queen Bass Chorus pedal may be exactly what you’re looking for in that case. It’s a fully functional bass chorus in a mini-pedal sized package, perfect for saving valuable real estate.
It may be small, but it has all of the features that the bigger units have (bigger isn’t always better), such as Depth and Rate controls for chorus tweakability along with a single Tone control and a Level knob for blending.
The Ensemble Queen also features true bypass for pure tone that isn’t altered in any way by the pedal’s circuitry itself.
TC Electronic Corona Mini Bass Chorus Pedal
The Corona Mini Chorus from TC Electronic certainly lives up to its name – this little bugger is tiny. It’s so small that it can be almost deceiving how big of a sound you can coax from it.
While being small can be a good thing in the right context, there are some obvious trade-offs.
Less size means less room for control knobs and switches. The Corona has only three knobs – Speed and Depth for the chorus and an FX Level for getting the base tone and the effects mix to your liking.
Being small can also mean nothing at all. In this case, being short in stature doesn’t keep the Corona from being TonePrint enabled, meaning you can load custom sounds from the free TonePrint editor software.
So is the physical control set limited? Yup.
Is that a deal-killer? Not if you take the TonePrint functionality into consideration.
MXR M-134 Stereo Chorus Pedal
While the M-134 from MXR is geared mainly towards guitar players, there certainly isn’t anything stopping you from using it on your bass. In fact, it has some features that make it ideal for that application.
The biggest benefit of the M-134 for bass players the Bass Filter push button. It’s essentially the same type of crossover function that’s found in many bass-centric chorus pedals.
When it’s enabled, the modulation effects that are shaped by the Intensity, Width, and Rate knobs is targeted to the higher frequencies that your bass produces.
And – this bad boy is a true stereo unit, with two output jacks. If you have never experienced using two amps in a stereo format before, you really should check it out.
It really can open your sound up and make it more expansive than the mono output into a single amp.
Carl Martin Bass Chorus Pedal
The Carl Martin Bass Chorus Pedal is a booteek model that may be a little pricey, but it does have some features that you typically won’t see on competitor’s units.
First and foremost is that when they say it’s a stereo chorus, it’s a true stereo chorus in the sense that there are two independent channels, each with its own set of Depth and Speed controls.
Where that really comes to be a big deal is when you realize how you can mix two totally separate chorus effects (for example, a fast one with high depth and a slower one that’s not so deep) to create soundscapes you truly can’t get from most other single pedals by themselves.
While that aspect of the unit is certainly unique, I can’t say that I didn’t wish there was some more flexibility with overall tone sculpting.
There are no level or EQ knobs, meaning that you can’t mix your dry/wet signals, nor can you shape the frequency presence to your preference. I suppose you could get around that by using a separate EQ pedal, but that may be a little inconvenient.
Ampeg Liquifier Analog Bass Chorus Pedal
Ampeg is a brand name that’s synonymous with the bass guitar, and their Liquifier Analog Chorus Effects Pedal fits right in the rest of their bass-focused product lineup (even though it isn’t marketed as a ‘bass chorus pedal’).
The Liquifier is among the most simple of the pedals that I looked at, with just three knobs to deal with. The common Rate and Depth controls are there, along with an Effects Level adjustment.
It does have two LED indicators, with one displaying on/off status and the other which flashes at the rate that’s defined by the Rate knob setting.
It’s all-analog signal path gives you that warm and full sound that may be difficult to get with a digital unit, and with true bypass you can be assured that your dry signal tone will be completely transparent.
What is a bass chorus pedal?
Before I answer that, let’s take a few minutes and discuss exactly what a chorus effect actually is…
Chorus is a modulation-based effect that is meant to simulate multiple voices of an instrument at the same time (hence the name).
In the most basic explanation, the effect is achieved by electronically making a duplicate of the dry signal, processing it with some sort of pitch shifting so it isn’t an exact duplicate, then playing it back with a level of delay.
The result is similar to two vocalists attempting to sing the same part at the same time – they will never hit the exact same pitch for every note, and they will typically be just a hair off time to each other.
This is what gives that sense of fullness you can get from a good chorus pedal.
Essentially, a bass chorus pedal is nothing more than a means to get that effect, with the circuitry being designed specifically to manage the lower frequencies that are produced by a bass.
Can you use a guitar chorus pedal with a bass guitar?
This is a pretty common question that relates to just about any type of effects pedal. No matter what effect you are looking at, you’ll typically find models that are geared, designed, and marketed for use with the bass and compared to the guitar.
The processing manner and how the effect is created is no different between a bass chorus pedal and a guitar chorus pedal. The biggest difference is that pedals meant for use with a bass have a different EQ profile; that is, they are intended to manage the low end in a more efficient manner, giving a more cohesive and pleasing result.
In the end it all boils down to a matter of taste, and my best recommendation would be to actually hook up and jam around on a few different types of chorus pedals – both those for a bass and those meant for the guitar.
You may find that the EQ balance of a guitar chorus pedal are more to your liking that that of a bass chorus pedal. If so, then you should go with what your ears tell you is the best. In fact, you’ll note that a good portion of the pedals I looked at in my top 9 are for the guitar, just for that very reason.
That’s because good tone doesn’t discriminate – what sounds good to you is good, regardless of the tools that you use to get it.
What are the best bass chorus pedal settings?
This is a question that doesn’t really have a good single answer. Why? Because what it takes to make a bass tone sound incredible is completely subjective, and it will vary from person to person.
I think a better viewpoint to take here is to go over the basic settings that are common to most bass chorus pedals, and explain what they are and what effect they have overall. That’ll help you to understand what you may need to tweak to get your ‘perfect’ sound.
Before we start, we need to briefly touch base on how a chorus works: the effect is created by one (or more) pitch-shifted copies of a signal being played back with a measure of delay. The pitch shifting is typically done by a low frequency oscillator (LFO).
Got it? Good – let’s move on…but I should note that while the theory behind how a chorus works is a matter is science, the pedals themselves differ.
You may not find the same groups of settings from model to model, and the setting names may be different as well – just something to keep in mind:
Rate and Width are also often called Speed and Depth, and they are the most common parameters that you’ll find on a bass chorus pedal. More advanced units, software plugins, and some rackmount models may have more settings to play with, but for the most part you won’t find a whole lot more than these three in a pedal-based package.
Yeah, this can be a bit ‘science nerd-ish’ and may not make a whole lot of sense, but the key is to spend some seat time with any bass chorus pedal that you are considering buying.
Mess around with each knob and see what the result is. Knowing what a parameter affects is one consideration, but the real proof is how your ears perceive things.
What does a chorus pedal do for the bass guitar?
The chorus effect isn’t one that is necessarily intended to go the extremes when you use it, unlike more dramatic effects like an aggressive wah or some sort of bass synth pedal.
What a bass chorus pedal does is to melodically enrich your sound. It adds a sense of lushness that you just can’t get from your dry signal alone, and that ‘chorus sound’ is a direct result of the multiple signal copies all coming at your headspace at one time.
In my honest opinion, the best use for chorus on your bass is when it is subtle enough just to sweeten things up. Not enough to be excessive, but just the right amount will make your overall tone much more sweet and smooth to the ears.
Can it be overdone? Of course it can, and the sound you get from higher parameter settings can be used to great effect (no pun intended).
That being said, effect levels taken to the high end can be seen as more of a novelty…almost a ‘trick’, if you will. Proper and tasteful use of a chorus – in an understated manner – is a great way to fill up and enhance the sonic space for your audience (even if that ‘audience’ is just yourself in your practice space.
Since it isn’t as sexy as some other, more intense effects, the use of a chorus can tend to be underappreciated. But really, that’s the whole point of using one in the first place. A chorus isn’t intended to take your head into an alternate reality…it’s more along the lines of smoothing and mellowing your way into an aural nirvana.
With a bass chorus pedal such as the MXR M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe, getting into that zone is super easy.
Having multiple modes is a big plus as it opens up a wider scope of possibilities. And, MXR gets huge amounts of brownie points for the crossover function that keeps the sound from getting all wishy-washy.
Some may say that chorus is dated, and that anybody using one is begging to be called a 1980’s throwback. In some cases that may be true, but if you use it with the ‘right’ amount of effect it’s a great way to subtly thicken your sound.
Personally, I believe a good bass chorus pedal is worthy of some of your valuable pedal board real estate.
What say you? It’s comment time – leave me some words of wisdom below and let’s discuss how using a bass chorus pedal has made a change in your world…