Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble Pedal by Pale Pyramid
This review is about a Chorus effect that i have found to have a well earned reputation . The Boss CE-1.
If you do a quick search of the net you will find that he CE-1 is a talked about as a bona fide classic . The used market is the way to go if you want to discover if you agree . I picked mine up off of Ebay . They go for $400 - $600 (U.S. dollars) . I suppose the price reflects the sentiment of the current owner and the CE-1's condition . I use chorus on a number of sources in my home studio - guitar , bass , vintage analog and digital synths , a 200A Wurlitzer electric piano and even on vocals and old hardware samplers . I have found in the past that until I get into the box with plugins that my choices for an analog or digital chorus were either to present or to cold ... until now .
The CE-1. Is built like a tank . It is large and looks to me somewhere between a claymore land mine , a flying saucer and the head of a cartoon Disney robot . So , yeah it looks pretty cool . I really like the 1970's graphics as well . It's just a neat looking box to get your hands on and inspire creativity . It may take up some real estate on your pedal board . I personally would think twice about touring or gigging with it given it's age . I also have read that it can be a tone sucker when first in a daisy chain of pedals . I have used it for studio use only and my chain has been guitar to CE-1 to amp . No problem to report there .
This pedal was introduced in 1976 . It is the circuit from the Roland Jazz Chorus Amp . I guess It had a run of half a decade or so . The CE-2 followed in 1979 . It can be used in mono or stereo . There is a low and a high input switch . You also have a level control that allows you to dial in the correct amount of gain . If you go from single coil pickups to humbuckers and hotter pickups you'll find this useful . The pedals controls have an intensity knob for the Chorus section . The intensity knob sets your depth and your speed . The Vibrato section has it's own controls for depth and rate . There is a stomp switch to change from Chorus to Vibrato and back again and another switch to bypass the effects . It's not true Bypass . Sorry Charlie . It also has LED's to let you see on a darkened stage what your pedal is up to .
Full disclosure . I own an original Japanese CE-2 and a Taiwanese CE-2 . They both sound a bit different . They work or they don't on any given source . Cool but mushy and thick . The original signal can get a bit buried depending on how it's set . I also have a Juno 6 and 106 . They have a Roland bucket brigade Chorus . I find them to noisy and generally leave them off . I have also have a EXH Small Clone . When I play with it I can't help but think of Nirvana . It's more of an aggressive effect . I also own the UAD plugin version of the CE-1 . It's pretty good actually . But the sound of the real deal is a no brainer . There is 2D and then there is 3D .
So what distinguishes the CE-1 from the others ? The CE-1is like melting butter on your source or maybe a nice gentle hug wrapping around it . The CE-1 allows the original signal through but fills in all the gaps perfectly and effortlessly . it's simply the best Chorus I have yet to hear . Running the CE-1 in stereo through two amplifiers will make your head spin . It sounds fantastic in Stereo . Very analog and organic . Heavenly .
But wait , I'm not finished ! There is the vibrato section to get to ! I bought this pedal for the chorus . Vibrato was an after thought . I was expecting it to be a tacked on effect . On the UAD plugin I have never cared for the vibrato . That could also be my gain staging though . At any rate , the vibrato is amazing ! I'm tempted to say I like it more then the chorus . That may be because I wasn't expecting it to sound so good . When I really push it , the vibrato almost sounds like a analog tremolo . It definitely does that Leslie speaker thing when in stereo . Not 100% Leslie but still remains similar and very good . And .. no lugging a Leslie speaker around ! Which I have and it sucks , hehe ! This pedal is wonderful for both these effects .
This pedal is the pedal you read about . I would be shocked if it wasn't to any true fan of chorus pedal's liking . It is older though and some may need to be recapped . But it's truly cut from a different cloth were chorus is concerned . I think a Roland Dimension D maybe the only other chorus I'll ever want for .
You will want it for - It's sound . It's build . It's look . It's exclusivity .
You will pass on it for - It's size . It's price . It's age . Not true bypass .