How awesome (or not) is a vintage CE-1 Chorus?


I've not played one, or even seen one in person, but Im on the hunt for an analog Chorus and this one is certainly popular.

How is it? What's as cool or cooler?

I've got one - it's amazing, in that it's a hugely inspiring and unique sound that's so timeless. Personally, I absolutely love it. Plus, it's stereo (well...seperates the Wet & Dry onto separate channels, so...kinda stereo) and has the vibrato mode.

But - the preamp is always active, so colours your overall sound even when the chorus is off. It's mains powered. It's noisy. It's not true bypass. It's f'ing enormous! And, nowadays, crazy money. There's a few pedal folks (Analog Mike, etc) who do mods to sort the True Bypass; and I've even seen some converted to accept a Boss-style power input. But also...they're old, they're prone to breaking down, etc. And if something inside it breaks, the resale value goes through the floor. Plus, you need to either modify it and replace the preamp pot or always give it a buffered signal to stop it shelving off all your high end.

A few people make amazing clones of it - Retro Sonic being one - with the 'issues' fixed. entirely depends if you want 'THE' unit, or just the sound. If you're a collector/vintage purist then yeah...track down an original. But if you're just after "an analog chorus" there's hundreds of more practical, cheaper & more versatile options out there. The Analogman Mini Chorus is the one I use on my board & the JAM Waterfall is also amazing, to name but two high-end boutique choruses.

But yeah...the CE-1 is epic! ;-)
Once you had the real deal nothing else will make you happy anymore. So, either you live with all the downsides the original (and vintage gear in general) brings with it or you look out for one of the really good clones.


Well, I'd venture to say that CE-1 is pretty damn good chorus, but it's far from something heavenly wonderful. As said before, mains powered, noisy, takes a hell of a real estate, costs sh*t-ton of money these days and needs some mods to be compatible with guitar.

If we are talking Boss choruses, I much prefer and old, analog CH-1/CE-5, because they are dirt cheap, provide also lush chorus tone for 80s stuff, are stereo (kind of, wet/dry, CE-3 has phase-flip "true" stereo).

Other than that, you might want to try MXR analog Chorus (very close, if not better than CE-2), or MXR Stereo Chorus.


My 2c... its great if you want "that" sound.

But I also like Boss CE3, CH1 analogue, CH1 Digital...

I didn't say CE2 because that's another pedal you will pay a lot if money for.

Unless you want to be the proud owner of a battered CE1 or CE2 with the price label hanging off the dials, get a ...

Strymon Ola or Mobius.. digital model.
RetroSonic Chorus
Boss CE2w
Any Boss Flanger
Red Witch Empress or any BBD pedal with a "delay" control.

The CE1 had an overdrivable preamp... cool. Get a cheap preamp or OD pedal.

The Chorus sound of the CE1 had a short delay time. Get a Boss Flanger and turn up the Manual control... same LFO. Turn Resonance to 08:00.

The CE2 had a slightly longer delay time... as per CE1, but set manual to about 11 O'Clock. Turn resonance to Zero.


A lot of people usually wind up comparing the CE-1 and CE-2, and for good reason because they are both awesome pedals. If you’ve played a CE-2 I’d compare them like this...if the CE-2 is a nice drizzle of syrup on your pancakes, the CE-1 is completely overflowing off the plate onto the table. The preamp can really drench the sound which can be viewed as a good or bad thing. I personally love it, and there’s really nothing else like it. That being said, the CE-1 falls more into the “one trick pony” category than it does into the “versatile” category, so if you’re seeking an analog chorus with options, probably best to look at some of the other suggested options. An added bonus is that the vibrato side is very very nice as well, so you’re getting two really nice sounds in one gigantic box with the CE-1.

Edit: To give you an idea how stupidly massive the CE-1 is, here’s a picture of a board I had years and years ago next to some “normal” sized pedals. If pedal board real estate is a factor for you, then maybe it’s not the best option.
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I had one (as well as a CE-2 - they aren’t at all comparable, IMO). It’s a killer sound (plus that Vibrato!) but for all the above reasons it’s just not all that practical to use.

IMO, the best chorus I’ve ever owned is an old Arion SCH-1. It has the warmth and thickness and 3D swirl of the CE-1 with none of the issues.


I have a Retrosonic Chorus and it gets that sound for a reasonable price. Even more reasonable on the used market. I like having the ability to switch between Chorus and Vibrato. If that doesn’t matter then the Waza CE-2 is worth a look too.