Those who are in a hurry and would like to know what the best chorus pedal is for bass, our recommendation is the Dunlop MXR M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe as the overall best option. Those who are new to bass effects pedals should read on for our recommendations in a variety of categories.
Bass players running the gamut of musical styles, from jazz and fusion luminaries like Jaco Pastorius and Victor Wooten, to rock and metal players like David Ellefson and Geddy Lee, have used chorus effect pedals to give their tone a full, lush sound. This is especially true of players who excel at playing in the treble register or use a lot of harmonics, where the thick, warm sound of a good chorus effect can make a world difference.
Among all of the effects available to you as a bass player, chorus may be the easiest to add to your current sound. Unlike more aggressive sounding effects, chorus has a way of smoothing out the rough edges in your tone, making your bass lines sing in a way that is smoother and more professional sounding than your dry signal all on its own. Though, like any effect, it can be overdone, when used well chorus tends to give your tone an elegant and sophisticated edge that will work in just about any musical context.
There are tons of bass effects pedals out there and no lack of product demos and reviews available online. How is a bass player supposed to wade through it all? No worries. We’ve taken a look at 7 of the best bass chorus pedals out there, and hopefully we will be able to help you find the one that’s right for your playing style, saving you a little time and money in the process.
Best Bass Chorus Pedal
The M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe from MXR offers a full featured chorus effect with an additional flange effect, making it like getting two pedals for the price of one — quite a good value for any bassist looking to save space on their pedal board.
MXR’s M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe is a true bypass, bucket brigade chorus pedal with separate bass and treble controls and a x-over (crossover) setting that allows you to isolate treble frequencies and leave low end frequencies unmodulated. This gives your treble fills and harmonics a lush and shimmering quality, while your fundamental bass tone stays smooth and unaffected.
Best Analog Chorus Pedal
Fans of all-analog pedals will love the lush chorus sound of the Hartke HC33 Analog Bass Chorus pedal. This solidly built stompbox offers easy to use controls with true bypass analog circuitry with no buffers to potentially alter your signal.
While the lack of EQ controls and a crossover filter function may give some pause, a little time with the Hartke HC33 Chorus pedal will reveal its exceptional quality in its pricepoint. Despite having no EQ and filters on the pedal itself, the bucket brigade technology allows low end frequencies to remain clear and distinct while treble notes and harmonics shimmer.
With its easy to use controls the Hartke HC33 makes it easy to dial in the perfect amount of modulation. The sturdy diecast construction is rugged and road worthy, making it a great option for working musicians who want lush, shimmering chorus and don’t have time to tinker around with a ton of settings.
Most Versatile Bass Chorus
The Boss CEB-3 is a solidly built bass chorus pedal that is packed with high end features at a very reasonable price point. Like all Boss stompboxes, the CEB-3 has a user-friendly pedal switch design that is larger and easier to use than most of their competitors and a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty which is impressive considering that they are designed to be ‘stomped on.’
The CEB-3‘s control knobs give you a high level of control over the chorus rate, depth, level and EQ, allowing you to craft a warm, lush chorus sound that doesn’t muddy up your fundamental low end tone. This is done by using the Low Filter which is a crossover control designed to put the chorus effect on higher frequencies so the lower tones remain clean and articulate.
Fans of the great Jaco Pastorius will love the split frequency stereo effect available on the CEB-3. Like Jaco’s legendary stereo rig, a second output jack (labeled output B) allows you to send a dry signal to a second amp resulting in a huge, lush chorus sound. With its 5 year manufacturer’s warranty, the Boss CEB-3 is built for long-term use whether you are gigging, recording or rehearsing.
Best Space-Saving Option
Space on a modern pedalboard can be prime real estate. Once you’ve put your OD, distortion, reverb, delay and modulation effects in place, the problem becomes how do you work a chorus into the mix. One solution is a miniature option like the Mooer Ensemble Queen Bass Chorus pedal which gives you access to the same features and lush chorus sound you would get with a full sized pedal in a space-saving, miniature design.
The Mooer Ensemble Queen delivers all of the features and sounds you would expect from a full sized bass chorus pedal, giving you the ability to blend your fundamental bass signal with a lush chorus effect resulting in tones that range from elegant and sophisticated to psychedelic.
Control knobs like depth and rate allow you to control and adjust the speed and range of the chorus effect, while the tone allows you to focus the modulation on treble frequencies, leaving your fundamental bass tone fully intact. As a true bypass pedal, you get noise free functioning without noise bleed-over from the pedal’s circuitry.
Best Digital Chorus
Most bass players choose effects pedals to coax from their amp speakers the sound they have always heard in their head. Most of the time it’s pretty close to the sound of their favorite performer. What if you could download the signature chorus sound of your favorite player? That is just one of the things that the TC Electronics Corona Bass Chorus allows you to do with their Toneprint software system.
However, before you go on to the next entry because you don’t want a pedal that duplicates the iconic sounds of legendary players, the Corona Chorus also has two other chorus modes that allow you to capture vintage and ultra modern chorus tones. With digital modeling technology, the Corona Chorus offers three distinct modes that you can access with a simple 3-way mini toggle, all of which offer thick, lush chorus tone.
With your Toneprint software you can actually download the distinctive tones of many of your favorite bass players, like the great Victor Wooten. While the TC Electronics Corona Chorus does not have a crossover effect, the models on which the digital chorus tones are based have the tone characteristics of this and other analog effects already built in, and the toneprint software allows you to shape the EQ and tone of your chorus effect digitally. This tone shaping ability also gives TC Electronics the ability to really simplify the pedals operations and scale down its controls, making it smaller and easier to fit on your pedal board as well.
Best Budget Chorus Pedal
The Electro Harmonix Bass Clone is modeled after the small clone guitar chorus pedal made famous by musicians like John Scofield and Kurt Cobain. The core circuitry is virtually the same as the small clone chorus, but other features designed particularly for bass make the Electro Harmonix Bass Close an excellent option.
This includes EQ controls (bass and treble), depth control and a crossover (X-over) switch that cuts the chorus modulation on low frequencies, giving that shimmering, lush quality of chorus to treble frequencies and harmonics. The best thing about crossover is the way it allows you to have shimmering high tones without losing or muddying up your fundamental low end bass tone.
Featuring a durable aluminum chassis and sturdy knobs and switches, the Electro-Harmonix Bass Clone delivers the lush chorus that bass players love in a durable package that can withstand the demands of the studio as well as the rigors of the road with equal ease.
Best Bargain Option
The reason this belongs among ‘the best chorus pedals’ is because the UC200 offers the best quality chorus you can get at a truly bargain price. There are several reasons they cost so little — their cases are made of plastic instead of more expensive aluminum and they are made in Behringer’s facility in China — but these facts don’t take anything away from the UC200 Ultra Chorus’ overall quality.
The Behringer Ultra Chorus UC200 is branded as an ‘instrument chorus pedal’ because it can be used for either guitar or bass. If you are looking for a truly good budget chorus pedal, the Behringer Ultra Chorus UC200 is an excellent option. While it does not offer the tone shaping features of more expensive chorus pedals, it is sure to give you the lush chorus effect that will round out your tone and deliver the desired sophisticated edge to your sound.
How Chorus Works
Bass virtuoso Jaco Pastorius was one of the first bass players to use a chorus effect to add an unearthly shimmer to his tone, as you can see and hear in this bass solo from the 1970’s. Playing both fretted and fretless basses, Jaco used delay effects to ‘warble’ his tone to get a chorus-like detuned effect that made his sound really distinctive. This was achieved by running his signal through two separate amps, one with the MXR rack mounted delay and the other set dry, resulting in a lush chorus sound that was featured in much of Jaco’s legendary music.
Chorus pedals work in much the same way as Jaco’s rig, splitting the signal from the bass and adding a slight modulation and delay. The effect is like multiple instruments are playing the same part at once just a tiny bit out of sync, giving it extra depth and a lushness that is difficult to achieve any other way. While chorus can distort or muddy up lower frequencies, it really makes the treble frequencies stand out, giving harmonics a rich shimmering quality that Jaco made famous and players have emulated ever since.
Bass Chorus Pedal Roundup and Conclusion
The clear winner of this roundup and the best overall bass chorus that we evaluated was the Dunlop MXR M83 Deluxe Chorus. In terms of sound, performance, and overall value, the Dunlop MXR M83 outperformed the rest, as you can clearly see (or hear) in this chorus shootout demo video. Of course, the sound of a chorus pedal is clearly subjective and there are certainly other factors that might play in your preferring another.
Bass legends like Victor Wooten and Jaco inspire us to find that elusive tone we hear in our heads every time we pick up a bass, but there are always other more practical factors that we must consider when we shop for the best chorus pedal for our music.
The practical factors that most of us contend with are price and space on our pedal board. In terms of price, many of the pedals we have surveyed are reasonably priced, the least expensive being the Behringer Ultra Chorus UC200 instrument chorus pedal. This pedal, coming in at around $30, offers a great option to those who are looking for a truly inexpensive chorus. However, if you are looking for a pedal made specifically for bass that is modestly priced, the Electro-Harmonix Bass Clone, coming in at under $90, is a great buy, probably the best budget chorus option on the list.
Of the chorus pedals we looked at, several offered a crossover effect (X-over or low filter) that allows you to clean and tighten up the low end frequencies while getting full, lush, shimmering chorus on the treble frequencies, and particularly on the harmonics. These pedals included the Dunlop MXR M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe, the Boss CEB-3 Bass Chorus, the Electro-Harmonix Bass Clone, and the Mooer Ensemble Queen Bass Chorus. Of these, the Dunlop MXR M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe offered the fullest range of features and represented the overall best value.
Those looking for a quality bass pedal to squeeze onto an already overcrowded pedal board should take a closer look at the Mooer Ensemble Queen Bass Chorus and the TC Electronics Corona Chorus. Both will provide you with lush chorus, but the Mooer Queen was made specifically for bass while the TC Electronics Corona Chorus was made for both bass and guitar with the ability to digitally shape the tone to your specifications. However, both of these options deliver full size capabilities in a miniature design that will fit even the most crowded pedal boards.
Those who love the capabilities of digital tone shaping should definitely look into the TC Electronics Corona Chorus, but those looking for simplicity and ease of use are probably best off sticking to the Mooer Ensemble Queen Chorus or the Hartke HC33 which is probably the pedal that would be best for effects novices and beginner bass players to manage. As the legendary Billy Sheehan has proven with his famous single-pedal rig, for some players sometimes ‘less is more’ when it comes to effects pedals.
Choosing the right bass chorus pedal for your rig is a completely subjective thing. Only you know the ideal bass sound that you hear in your head and only by trying out a few chorus pedals will you be able to find the pedal that comes the closest to that tone. Hopefully this article has given you a place where you can start to experiment with bass chorus pedals until you find the one that is the perfect compliment to your existing bass rig and gets you a little bit closer to getting that elusive ideal sound out of your head and coming out of your speakers.