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

Ghast

Member
Could you elaborate more on CE-3?
I had a 1984(5?) CE-3 and found it to be slightly metallic sounding. Mind you, I didn't have a chance to try it on a really nice amp. I will say, however, that if you turn the mode switch to the right, you actually get a pretty nice vibrato mode, if you're playing in mono. That alone may be worth the small price of admission.

Last year I hunted down a new chorus. I've owned a CE-3, CE-20, CH-1, and compared the CE-2w, MXR Analog Chorus, SD Catalina, and Strymon Ola, and the Ola won by a landslide. I didn't expect to like it at all, and initially planned on buying the CE-2w, but the sound is undeniable. If you can try one, hop on it. Even Strymon diehards seem to be sleeping on this one.
 

P8t8r

Member
Strymon Ola [..] won by a landslide. I didn't expect to like it at all, and initially planned on buying the CE-2w, but the sound is undeniable. If you can try one, hop on it. Even Strymon diehards seem to be sleeping on this one.
I'm never afraid of tweaking, but when it comes to chorus or flanger I get lost if it has more than 3 knobs. Does Strymon require a lot of tweaking to get what you want? One of my fav players uses chorus from Mobius, but since I don't want the whole package, the Ola might be interesting.
 
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Tootone

Member
I would love to own a genuine CE-1... fact. Let's get that out of the way...

I don't have a CE1, so my endless desire to get that tone explored other avenues...

The Strymon Mobius is a kill many birds with one stone device.

I played with the chorus mode(s) which sound fantastic... and the CE2 is definitely in there.

But.... listening to the CE1 ... recorded examples... I had "deja-vue" on Flanger tones....

So I thought maybe I should try the Mobius Flanger modes to see how close they sounded to the CE1...

Well... definitely a Eureka moment to be had there. The CE1 had a MN3002 512 Stage BBD... so it was "limited" in the length of delay it could put on the wet signal... plus you couldn't adjust depth and rate independently. So it became a one trick pony (as somebody already mentioned) with a 'favoured' sweet spot setting on the dial... less was not enough... more was too much. Goldilocks springs to mind.

Limited "delay" puts the CE1 firmly in Flanging or "Comb Filtering" territory...

A little sleuth work and Bob's yer uncle... that Flanger you always thought just made hideous jet plane and hollow metal tube noises... is basically a dead ringer for a CE1. All you got to do is turn the resonance/feedback to "very low", maybe Zero. Then tune in the Manual Control until you get the CE1 Sound.

The Boss HF2, BF1 and BF2 will get you there in an instant.

The BF1 is the closest of the three with CE1 in its "clean" setting IMO... high headroom on the BBD, as per the MN3002. The BF2 will get you the CE1 starting to overdrive... the HF2 somewhere between.

My recent purchase of the very expensive ADA SAD1024 Reissue Flanger also coughs up CE1 on tap...

But you needn't worry... if you can live with knowing its a digital delay line... the Boss BF3 will nail the CE1 tone and wont cost you a fortune....
 

Steve Hotra

Silver Supporting Member
I own one, it was my first pedal ever purchased.
But I bought it to play with my Fender Rhodes.. killer sound of the 1980's.
I've retired it. But won't sell it. Too many musical memories with this pedal.
 

MoarGear

Member
Being that they're old, are there some techs in the US with a good rep who are know for working on them if a problem arises?
 

MoarGear

Member
One more question -

Size / Portability aside, if I got a Jazz Chorus amp that has the same circuit inside, is there any real reason to get the CE-1?

With the high prices of the pedals, maybe the amp is a better value and does more, for studio use? I could use the amp for a Keyboard amp too.
 

Tootone

Member
One more question -

Size / Portability aside, if I got a Jazz Chorus amp that has the same circuit inside, is there any real reason to get the CE-1?

With the high prices of the pedals, maybe the amp is a better value and does more, for studio use? I could use the amp for a Keyboard amp too.
portability, positioning in chain, use with a different amp.

I would check that it IS the same circuit. I think you might need a JC120 from the late 70s/80s.

The Boss CE-2w is very good or you can try the Flanger trick.
 

Ghast

Member
I'm never afraid of tweaking, but when it comes to chorus of flanger a get lost if it has more than 3 knobs. Does Strymon require a lot of tweaking to get what you want? One of my fav players uses chorus from Mobius, but since I don't want the whole package, the Ola might be interesting.
No, I thought it was easy. Besides, you have the favourite switch, so if you're worried about losing the perfect tone, just save it to the switch.

Basically, pick a mode (and remember that vibrato mode is only true vibrato if you have your mix maxed out, otherwise its just another chorus flavour), set your rate and depth, and you're pretty much good. The envelope mode isn't much use to me, nor is ramp and I keep the tone pretty much noon, so you really only have 3 knobs to worry about at that point.
 
But you needn't worry... if you can live with knowing its a digital delay line... the Boss BF3 will nail the CE1 tone and wont cost you a fortune....
If only it were that simple.

Yes the CE-1 has a lowish delay time compared to a lot of other chorus pedals, but it’s not as if every chorus or flanger pedal has an identical circuit and it’s the delay time setting that determines the tone.
 
Well... definitely a Eureka moment to be had there. The CE1 had a MN3002 512 Stage BBD... so it was "limited" in the length of delay it could put on the wet signal... plus you couldn't adjust depth and rate independently. So it became a one trick pony (as somebody already mentioned) with a 'favoured' sweet spot setting on the dial... less was not enough... more was too much. Goldilocks springs to mind.

Limited "delay" puts the CE1 firmly in Flanging or "Comb Filtering" territory...

A little sleuth work and Bob's yer uncle... that Flanger you always thought just made hideous jet plane and hollow metal tube noises... is basically a dead ringer for a CE1. All you got to do is turn the resonance/feedback to "very low", maybe Zero. Then tune in the Manual Control until you get the CE1 Sound.

The Boss HF2, BF1 and BF2 will get you there in an instant.

The BF1 is the closest of the three with CE1 in its "clean" setting IMO... high headroom on the BBD, as per the MN3002. The BF2 will get you the CE1 starting to overdrive... the HF2 somewhere between.

My recent purchase of the very expensive ADA SAD1024 Reissue Flanger also coughs up CE1 on tap...

But you needn't worry... if you can live with knowing its a digital delay line... the Boss BF3 will nail the CE1 tone and wont cost you a fortune....
You are probably right. I can attest to this, especially the flanger thing.
I have the A/DA PBF Flanger and it can sure get into CE-1 territory; I have actually made a setting very close to its vibrato. Granted, I've never owned the CE-1 but I have played Roland JC-120s for quite a few years and I am very familiar with the circuit
 
It may be a one trick pony but if you want that sound nothing really copies that except the Triungulo labs copy. Which is damn close but there is a wait list. But its really good. Better than my CE-2w. The secret it in the gain of the unit. With a Strat its John Frusciante all day long. I mean dead on. Cant get there any other way. If thats what you're after, an original or the Triungulo labs is the only way….with a micro amp.
 

Philhouse

Member
I've got a CE-1, it sounds bloody fantastic as everyone has said, but also has the same cons as described earlier.
For when I need that exact sound nothing can beat it, esp when plugged into two amps... but the cons present limitations and it's not practical to leave on the board all the time.

Otherwise, I find my DOD FX65 or an Arion SCH-1 can be set similar enough to cop the sameish CE-1 vibe (no pun intended), esp if I A/B the pedals with my usual CE-1 setting and match as best I can to ear.

Another option that works for me is running an Deluxe Elec Mistress (w/subtle settings) into a Chorus pedal (sometimes its just the MXR M134 Stereo Chorus) The subtle flanger into a chorus give it some more movement somehow and feels closer to the CE-1 - JC120 type chorus... to my ear anyway, not sure of the tech why, it just sounds closer with those effects combined than just one or the other.
 

Tootone

Member
If only it were that simple.

Yes the CE-1 has a lowish delay time compared to a lot of other chorus pedals, but it’s not as if every chorus or flanger pedal has an identical circuit and it’s the delay time setting that determines the tone.
Yes I know. But Chorus pedals (usually) have fixed delay "centres" and that would typically be more than the CE1... only by a few milliseconds but its enough to alter the characteristic of the interplay between dry and modulated signals. The longer the delay centre, the more pitch shift dominates and less "filtering" occurs. In a CE1 you can hear that more of that filtering... as per a Flanger.

So... especially with the Boss Flangers... because they all use the same LFO waveshape, you can dial in more of a CE1 Chorus sound than you could with any old chorus pedal.

Its not a trick... the CE1 is more Flanger than Chorus so it makes sense.

Obviously the CE1 has some secret sauce in its crunchy pre-amp, and I'm not saying the Flangers will mimic that.

The other thing about the CE1, when not overdriven is it's bell-like chimy tone... I understand that has a lot to with the "higher headroom" BBD's. The BF1 is closest tone wise, but its also a big beast, and likely to cost close to the price of a CE1.

That's why I suggested HF2, BF2 and BF3 which are all dirt cheap but still fantastic flangers which can pull off some extremely nice chorus tones.

The irony is... there are brands now bringing out "Chorus with adjustable delay" and charging more for the "extra control". All they are, is a Flanger with one control removed (the Resonance)... so they should really be charging less! ;)
 

monty

Member
One more question -

Size / Portability aside, if I got a Jazz Chorus amp that has the same circuit inside, is there any real reason to get the CE-1?

With the high prices of the pedals, maybe the amp is a better value and does more, for studio use? I could use the amp for a Keyboard amp too.
If it is the same circuit, I like that option. But those amps have gone up in price also.
 

fenderjapan

World Heavyweight Champion
Silver Supporting Member
Bone stock they are a bit of a PITA but as mentioned by others you can use outboard leveling/mixing/looping devices to compensate
 

Tootone

Member
I had a listen to these demo's again last night...




This is what I thought. If, you heard the CE1 Chorus sound on a blindfold test, you could easily be forgiven thinking it was a Flanger. But, that conclusion might only be possible if you were "familiar" enough with Flanger's to know they don't normally sound like jet planes or metal tubes (this happens only with the controls in extreme positions). Unfortunately, a lot of guitarists assume that "jet planes" are what Flangers do all the time (I blame countless crappy YouTube demos).

The big "mind-f*$#" with the CE1 is, it has a big label on the box that says "CHORUS"... Classic Red Herring.

It's like making "Raspberry Jam" and then putting a "Strawberry Jam" label on the jar.

"Hey, I really like this strawberry jam, but I can never seem to get my home-made strawberry jam to taste like this, and I tried all kinds of strawberries".

The other thing about the CE1 is it has quite a "jagged" waveform, which becomes more pronounced the faster the speed... you can hear the transitions quite clearly... because like a flanger you can hear a "filter sweep" through the delay modulation. The filtering/phasing is adding more harmonics which in turn are adding to the modulated mix (classic flanger swirl).

I think the reason the Boss BF1, BF2 and HF2 can do such convincing copies of the CE1 is... educated guess... they used the same LFO design philosophy, since they all came from the same stable.
 


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