Origins and evolution of Boss Chorus pedals
You’ve probably heard a chorus effect a million times, it’s probably in one of your favorite songs. But what is a chorus effect?
A chorus effect happens when individual sounds with slight variation of timing and pitch, converge and are perceived as one. While similar sounds coming from multiple sources can occur naturally, as in the case of a choir or string orchestra, it can also be simulated using an electronic effects unit or signal processing device.
The earliest use of an electronic chorus effect can be traced back to 1930`s on Hammond organs. The Hammond B-C is the earliest organ that specified a “Chorus Effect”. This model was made from 1936 – 1942. They achieved the chorus effect by using an extra set of tone wheels that were detuned.
After Hammond introducing the effect many synthesizers and organs manufacturers followed suite. The classic chorus sound that we know today was introduced in 1975 by Roland in their Jazz Chorus amplifiers. A year later the chorus circuit was available in a pedal format as the Boss-CE 1. This was the first standalone chorus pedal and the first Boss effect pedal. The CE1 pedal left a mark on countless records of that time and continued to be immensely used in the decades to follow.
The ADT (Automatic Double Tracking) effect is the use of a chorus effect to simulate multiple takes of the same performance being layered. Manual double tracking (recording the same thing multiple times) has been used since the 50’s. ADT was developed at Abbey Road studios on request of John Lennon while recording the Beatles revolver album in 1966.
Let’s take a look at Boss’s History with their Chorus Pedal range
CE-1 – Chorus Ensemble
June 1976 saw the release of the Boss CE-1, one of the first commercially available effect pedals. Coming from the same circuitry as the Roland Jazz Chorus Amps. Originally designed for the Synthesizer and Keyboard players, guitar player quickly jumped on to these pedals.
The CE-1 is a stereo chorus and also has a vibrato function which you can switch between. Both chorus and vibrato have their own controls. They were produced up until May 1984 in Japan.
CE-2 - Chorus
Released in October 1979 and much smaller than the CE-1, the first compact chorus pedal Boss CE2. Not being identical to the CE-1, the mid-range has been boosted on this pedal. The CE-2 has 2 knobs: Rate and Depth. They were manufactured until 1988 in Japan, this is when production moves from Japan to Taiwan.
CE-3 - Chorus
Big changes come with the release of the CE-3 in October 1982. Stereo output and 3 knobs which support the stereo output. With the 2 outputs this gives you the option of a chorused signal coming from output A and a direct signal at the same time from output B. With this, the signal can be panned from left to right which simulates the sound of 2 guitars playing at once.
This was the first metallic finish on a Boss pedal, metallic blue. Manufactured from October 1982 to 87/88 in Japan then manufacturing moved to Taiwan and they stopped producing the CE-3 in February 1992.
DC-2 – Dimension C
This guy is a little different from the past 3 we’ve been reading about. Released in December 1985 (just in time for Christmas!) and an analogue version with 4 different pre-sets you can choose between, no other way to change your sound, and stereo output. Similar to the Roland SDD-320 Dimension D (early rack mount effect) but in pedal form, the DC-2 chorus effect is where depth, thickness and sense of width, were added to the sound to produce a kind of 3D effect. Made in Japan until September 1989.
CE-2B – Bass Chorus
This is the first Bass Chorus pedal from Boss which was released in February 1987. The chorus effect is applied to the harmonics and not the original notes. The CE-2B has 3 knobs, which were changed to a “skirt knob”, later on changed to dome knobs with white tops when production moved to Taiwan in 1989. Production soon ended in February 1995.
DC-3 – Digital Space D
Following in the footsteps from the DC-2, comes the Boss DC-3. Released in May 1988, the 4 preset buttons have been replaced with 4 control knobs and the DC-3 now uses a digital circuitry. Adding less vibrato to the sound, than previous models, this cause the sound to be what is best described as dimensional, natural and different. The DC-3 finishes production in August 1993.
CH-1 – Super Chorus
Released in May 1989, the Boss CH-1 equipped with an EQ knob and extending its sound into the high frequency range giving you the option to stay true to the chorus sound or giving you the edgy chorus tone. October 2001, the circuitry changed from analogue to digital circuitry with surface mounted components. The CH-1 is manufactured in Taiwan and is still available.
CE-5 – Chorus Ensemble
November 1991 Boss release their 4th and longest running CE series pedal, the Boss CE-5. This time round with a high and low filter control. October 2001 the CE5 saw some changes made, where its circuitry changed from analogue to digital, just like most Boss pedals around the time. This pedal is still currently made in the Taiwan factory.
CEB-3 – Bass Chorus
5 years after the first Bass Chorus pedal CE-2B, Boss release the CEB-3 in February 1992. Fitted with a low filter control knob this enables you to select which frequency band where the chorus is applied to, helping you to produce a spacious chorus effect all without changing the natural tones from your bass. Like the other pedals October 2001 circuitry changed from analogue to digital and still currently made in the Taiwan factory.
CE-20 – Chorus Ensemble
In 2005 Boss release the CE-20, a dual pedal, programable digital delay. Featuring 6 modes; CE-1, Standard, Rich, Bass, Acoustic and Dimensional D. 2 new control knobs are also added, Brilliance to control the chorus “sparkle” and Ambiance to add reverb to the chorus effect for greater “spaciousness”. Production only recently came to an end in 2019.
CE-2W - Chorus WAZA
A little on the WAZA Craft series first: An official, complete redesigning of the original circuits by the original developers. By carefully selecting analogue components and refining the circuit, each pedal is a pinnacle of BOSS design and craftsmanship.
An example is the CE-2W, which includes sounds from past models. We were not able to acquire all of the original components and their alternatives, so we redesigned the circuit from scratch by using current components and adding our deep experience to reproduce the authentic original sound.
2016 Boss release the CE-2W Waza Craft chorus pedal, a combination of the Boss CE-1 and Boss CE-2 and the added bonus of being made back in Japan! The CE-2W and the other Waza Craft range is still currently made in Japan, get your hand on these guys or any pedal from the Waza Craft range because you won’t be disappointed!
DC-2W – Dimension C WAZA
Its back and better than before! Another Boss Waza edition, Boss DC-2W. A recreation of the 1985 DC-2 pedal also featuring the effects from SDD-320 Dimension D stereo chorus rack mount. Designed with its iconic 4 button look and delivering vintage analogue tones in s mode, the DC-2W is giving you a total of 20 built in sounds. Stereo inputs are a new addition, giving you the option of using this with stereo output instruments.
*These are my chorus pedals, wanting to get the Boss CE2W & DC2W and still dreaming about the day i can get an original CE1..