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Guide to guitar effects including chorus, flanger, vibrato, tremolo.


By Greigg Fraser
Greigg is a guitarist/songwriter from London Canada. Visit his web site.
Click here for more CleverJoe articles

Guitar Effects Primer
A guide to guitar effects including chorus, flanger, vibrato, tremolo.

As a guitar teacher I am frequently asked a variety of questions about effects by my electric guitar students, such as; What are they? What do they do? Which ones should I get?( etc.) With this article I will cover “pitch shifting” or “modulation effects”.

Chorus

Perhaps the most widely used modulation effect, is so called because it makes your guitar sound like more than one – thicker and usually a bit “sweeter” sounding. This is done by electronically “cloning” your original guitar sound and adding delay or “modulation” (which is shortening or lengthening the delay) to your cloned signal. Then this is mixed back in with your original signal. Although it can be used as a solo sound this effect is generally used for a clean rhythm sound.
Boss CH-1 SUPER Chorus Pedal CleverJoe Top Pick: Boss CH-1 SUPER Chorus Pedal

 

Flanger

As with the chorus effect, here the signal is split or cloned and a short delay is simply added to the cloned signal-then again mixed back in with your original signal. This delay has several repeats with the time of the repeats being lengthened and shortened at a steady adjustable rate. The resulting sound is usually much thicker than the chorus effect. Check out the Queen song “Keep yourself Alive” to hear it for yourself.
CleverJoe Top Pick: TC Electronic Stereo Chorus Flanger

 

PhaseShifter

Once again your guitar signal is electronically cloned modulating the phase of the cloned signal and mixing it back with the original signal. As a result certain frequencies are cancelled all together resulting in a “swooping or twisted” sound. Eddie Van Halen used this effect a fair bit on his early recordings.
CleverJoe Top Pick: Boss PH-3 Phase Shifter Pedal

 

Vibrato

With this effect the entire signal’s frequency is modulated creating a slightly “out of tune” sound at a steady and adjustable rate.
Danelectro DJ15 Chicken Salad Vibrato Pedal CleverJoe Top Pick:
Danelectro DJ15 Chicken Salad Vibrato Pedal

 

Tremolo

Similar to the vibrato where the entire signal is modulated, but this time the volume level of the guitar signal is what is effected – louder then softer, louder then softer etc….at a steady and adjustable rate. Check out the rhythm guitar part on Pink Floyd’s song “Money” for a good example.
CleverJoe Top Pick: Voodoo Lab Tremolo Pedal

 

Pitch Detune

Here again the original signal is cloned and the clone is electronically changed to another note all together, say a 5th of the original sound creating a “parallel harmony”. Listen to Trevor Rabin’s guitar solo on the Yes song “Owner of a Lonely Heart” to hear this effect.
Boss PS-5 SUPER Shifter Pedal CleverJoe Top Pick: Boss PS-5 SUPER Shifter Pedal

Modulation effects can greatly enhance your guitar sound and are a lot of fun to experiment with. You can get all of these and more in most of the multi effects pedal boards / units that are out there as well. Check with your fave local music store where you can usually try the gear out before you plant down your hard earned bucks.

 
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CleverJoe Guitar Effects Top Picks:

Boss RC-2 Loop Station Effect Pedal

Boss RC-2 Loop Station Effect Pedal
This is a very cool guitar effects pedal that is super easy to use. Fitting in nicely with other effects pedals, the RC-2 stomp box can record and store up to 16 minutes of audio, from an instrument or other external devices like MP3 players.
More product info here

 
 

Dunlop Original Crybaby Wah Pedal

Dunlop Original Crybaby Wah Pedal
Yep, this is the original. Still one of the most popular guitar accessories ever sold, loved by guitarists and Jimi Hendrix fans everywhere.
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Guide to guitar effects including chorus, flanger, vibrato, tremolo.