Let's dive into the world of "Modulation" pedals and explore what they have to offer. In this list, we'll be covering Chorus, Vibrato, Phaser, Flanger, and Tremolo pedals. If you're unfamiliar with these terms, don't worry—we'll explain them later. Similar to my previous "10 best" lists, all the pedals mentioned here are readily available on the market, so you won't find any vintage, rare, or discontinued models. As always, I'll provide a brief description and reasoning for choosing each pedal. Enjoy the ride!
10. MXR Micro Chorus
The MXR Micro Chorus, a remarkable pedal that entered the scene in 1982. One of its standout features is its elegantly simplistic design, featuring just a single knob. This streamlined approach makes it one of the most user-friendly chorus pedals on the market.
9. Boss TR-2
Tremolo effects first emerged in early tube amps like Fender and Vox. However, lugging around a vintage Twin Reverb or Super Reverb to a gig isn't exactly convenient. That's where the Boss TR-2 comes in, making tremolo accessible and portable. With controls for Rate, Depth, and Wave Shape, dialing in fantastic tremolo sounds is a breeze.
With the simple controls Rate, Depth, and Wave Shape it's easy to find great tremolo sounds.
8. TC Electronic Vortex Flanger
Really, ano of TC Electronic's modulation pedals deserve to be on this list. I had to pick one so I went with the Vortex Flanger. With controls for Speed, Depth, Feedback, and Delay Time, this pedal offers versatile flanging effects. It also features stereo ins and outs, and when combined with TonePrint technology, the sonic possibilities become limitless.
7. Strymon Flint
As mentioned earlier, vintage amplifiers were the birthplace of tremolo effects, and the Strymon Flint pays homage to those legendary amps of yesteryear. This pedal, which also makes an appearance on our "10 best reverb Pedals" list, offers three distinct tremolo types: '61 Harmonic, '63 Power Tube, and '65 Photo Cell. Additional controls for Intensity and Speed, along with a Tap/Favorite switch for tap-tempo, add to its versatility.
6. Empress Nebulus
The Empress Nebulus is the first Multi-Modulation pedal to make the list. Despite lacking digital readout screens, this pedal covers a vast sonic territory. It boasts nine different modes, including Chorus, Multi Chorus, Tremolo, Uni-Vibe, Vibrato, Rotary, '60s/'70s, and thru Zero Flange. Moreover, it features eight presets with individual LED colors, three tone variations, and three special voicings per mode. This pedal might just be the last word in modulation—well, who's to say?
5. Strymon Mobius
The Strymon Mobius is a modulation powerhouse. With its digital readout, twelve modulation types, 200 presets, and MIDI connectivity, this pedal is a true force to be reckoned with. It also offers stereo ins and outs, and its Right in and Right out can serve as an effects loop, allowing you to position the modulation effects pre or post drive pedals. The pedal surface features a tap-tempo pedal and bank up/down functions, making it remarkably versatile. With such an intuitive user interface, there's not much this pedal can't do.
4. MXR Uni-Vibe
Recreating an effect made famous by the legendary Jimi Hendrix is bound to drive guitarists wild, and the MXR Uni-Vibe does just that. While numerous uni-vibes flood the market, this particular model comes closest to capturing the original magic.
3. Electro Harmonix Electric Mistress
The Electro Harmonix Eletric Mistress showed up on countess police recordings, played by Andy Summers, and David Gilmore made use of it on Pink Floyd records as well. While original versions of this pedal fetch a hefty price, fear not, as Electro-Harmonix continues to produce them. The Electric Mistress features controls for Rate, Flanger Depth, and Chorus Depth, allowing you to shape its versatile and captivating sound.
2. MXR Phase 90
When people think of Van Halen, the classic sound of the he MXR Phase 90 is what they hear in their heads. A true classic that helped shape one of the most iconic hard-rock guitar tones ever heard. There are a few versions of this on the market today. The Script logo variant aims to capture the essence of the original Phase 90, reminiscent of its past glory. The Block logo represents the modern rendition, incorporating contemporary enhancements. Notably, Eddie Van Halen's signature version combines both modes, accessible with a simple press of a small button. The MXR Phase 90 remains a beloved choice for guitarists seeking that signature phasing sound.
1. Boss CE-2W
The final pedal to make the list—the Boss CE-2W chorus pedal. The roots of the chorus effects can be traced back to the Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus amplifier, where Boss, under Roland's ownership, first introduced it in pedal form. The initial incarnation was the CE-1 in 1976, a sizeable pedal with an attached power cord. Later, in 1979, Boss unveiled the CE-2, the world's first compact chorus stompbox. The CE-2W pays homage to these groundbreaking pedals by offering modes for both the CE-1 and CE-2. Throughout history, the CE-1 and CE-2 have been widely imitated, making them the most duplicated chorus pedals of all time. The CE-2W's enclosure closely resembles the original, solidifying its position at the top of the list.
If you have a penchant for all things warbly and immersive, you would do well to explore any or all of the pedals mentioned above. As guitarists know all too well, the allure of new pedals is irresistible, and the quest for the perfect sound is an ongoing pursuit. So, rock on and continue to expand your sonic horizons with these remarkable modulation pedals! because we all know there is no such thing as "just one more pedal". So, rock on and continue to expand your sonic horizons with these remarkable modulation pedals!