19 Best Chorus & Flanger Pedals for Guitar

After you’ve settled on your overdrive and gain tone, picked out your favorite delay, and bathed it all in a glorious reverb, you might start to long for something a little more interesting. Something that provides texture and interest to your notes. For that, we call on modulation effects, staring with chorus and flanger. When someone says it sounds “big,” it’s usually thanks to a combination of reverb and the doubling effect of a chorus. Dramatic use of the flanger was popular in the 80s, lending the jet-like sound to many a solo. Add movement and intrigue to your guitar tone with the best chorus pedals and flanger pedals, two related but notably different effects.

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Modulation is a type of effect that either subtly or wildly alters the original signal to introduce interesting textures to a guitar sound. In essence, most of what we think of as 'effects' is modulation of some kind, be it tremolo, phaser, flanger, or chorus.

Modulation effects are excellent creative tools, allowing you to either subtly or radically alter the sound of your guitar. If you're stuck in a rut, or trying to solve a particular songwriting dilemma, using one of these types of modulation can provide inspiration.

In particular, chorus and flanger provide a sense of movement as part of your playing, which can liven up even the simplest lick.

What is a chorus pedal?

As with reverb, and to a lesser extent, delay, chorus can be found in some form on virtually all professionally recorded albums. The effect creates a thick sound that gives any track a sense of lushness. Chorus effects seek to emulate that certain thickening of sound that happens when multiple singers, with their imperfect pitch and timing, all perform together. It's particularly effective for creating a big, slightly moving guitar tone.

Chorus works by splitting the dry signal and sending one half through a short delay, generally between 20 and 50 milliseconds, which is modulated by a low-frequency oscillator. The LFO smoothly changes the delay time from shortest to longest, which in turn shifts the pitch. When the two are recombined in the output, you get the distinct doubled sound with a sense of movement and organic variation.

What is a flanger pedal?

Flanging differs from chorus in two crucial ways: 1. the delay time is shorter, usually less than 20 milliseconds. 2. Part of the effected tone is fed back into the original signal, which dramatically increases the sound of the effect. Flanging was created by Les Paul in the 50s and originally required a two-tape set up that was labor and cost-intensive.

That work gave rise to this intense, distinctive effect that has been used in many applications since. The effect can be described as jet-like, zipper, or barber-pole, depending on the unit and settings. Flanger may be the least subtle of the effects on this list, depending on how its deployed.

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