Posts Tagged ‘Chorus’

Danelectro DC-1 Cool Cat Chorus

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

DC1-CoolCat-ChorusWhat is it?
Danelectro Cool Cat Chorus, later 9V version, made in china around 1999-2000.

Earlier versions were fed with 18V supply and supposedly sound even better. My unit is the later one with standard 9V input, making it very common and easy to obtain chorus box.. Got it for a reasonable price a long time ago. Comparison between the two versions would be very nice thing to experince. Oh well. I guess i’ll just have to keep an eye out for the old one. The 9V supply is way more popular and easier for people to use. So i see Dano’s point in changing the supply for later models. By my experience (and due to not having played with original 18V version), this is the king of all choruses. Built to take a large hit from a large beaver. On the negative side, the box is big.

DC1-CoolCatChorus-guts1

The traces are sturdier than on most factory pedals in the same price range. Soldering is also neat with just a tiny hint of sloppiness around here and there.

The Danelectro way of building these things is admirable. Circuit boards stacked and cut to fit the enclosure perfectly. Techinally the designs is your standard 3102/3207 timed chorus with standard controls of LFO speed and width/depth, that is now called “chill”.

DC1-CoolCatChorus-guts2

By today, i still have not seen one of these units with a broken or non functional switch. Maybe i just don’t know about those cases, or they just last time way better than other similar plastic solutions. I have heard complains about the plastic jacks, but i’ve personally never ran into problems with those either.

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All in all, there are lots of similarities between the “original” series and later mini series, including the switching (which is not bad), the pots (not that bad either) and the jacks (not great, but not too bad). So the main difference between these and some of the mini series boxes is the metal vs. plastic enclosure.
This. Definite workhorse.

How does it sound?
Like a landmark for soft analog choruses. Doesn’t bend to extreme settings, but does the thing i expect it to do and does it really well. If i was to use a chorus on my board, this would be very high on the list. Did i already mention it sounds soft and pleasing on all possible settings? Guess not. But it does.

Danelectro CC-1 Chorus

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

CC1-ChorusWhat is it?
Danelectro CC-1 Chorus from Cool Cat series, made in china around 2004.

Got this unit used for a very reasonable price. That reasonability ended once i openend the parcel. Bottom was velcroed and the type plate was long gone. Those do not contribute to the sound in any way, but i’m usually after pedals that are in good or better condition (unless they are more rare and more collectible). As this series is not at the highest spot on my collector’s list, i think i can live with the faults. It is quite interesting how and why most manufacturers choose blue as a colour for their choruses. Dark or light, but most of them are blue. If not blue blue, then light or dark, but still blue.

CC1-Chorus--guts

The Danelectro method of creating effects has mostly been interesting. If you take a look at any board from the “original” series or from mini series, you’ll notice that the boards are designed and cut per the enclosure. Rather than making the enclosure to house the circuit. In this case the two stacked boards are really small and leave a room for a battery in the middle.

Next issue i’m  going to need to raise with these boxes is the switching. Danelectro had a long experience in electronic switching which wasn’t that bad at all. Only couple of the mini series boxes were reported to be sucking the bypassed tone, but when we leave the plastic momentary switch solution aside, the switching was (and still is) not bad. So the choice to go for sometimes unreliable 3PDT standard true bypass leaves me puzzled. Will it make the effect better than its electronically switched, buffer bypassed peers?

How does it sound?
Good with quite wide range of settings.  it has your standard depth and speed controls in addition to “mix/eq” control which acts more like a mix than eq. Nice cheap pedal. Nothing to shout about, but well working and reasonably good sounding chorus. Small footprint for pedalboards can be counted as a plus.

Nux CH-3 Chorus

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Nux-CH3What is it?
Nux CH-3 Chorus from Nux’s analog pedal series. Made in china, 2013.

There is something appealing in these super cheap new chinese pedals. I have no idea whatsoever what is the amount manufactured, but these are mostly well made and fine sounding boxes. I’m fairly convinced that china will be new japan in decade or two. After all, the japanese electronics were considered crap all the way up to mid 80’s. What chinese pedal industry would need now is tighter quality control for components and a few good graphic designers. Most Joyos and Calines with horrible graphics you can find on ebay are now even pricier than when they were first introduced. There’s not much appeal in those. At least not for me. So it’s good that we finally have a chinese brands that try. No comic sans as labels and Nux’s even have their own, reasonably stylish logo.

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Opening the box up shows the Nux standard designs idea. Two boards stacked and through hole components seem to have solid connections, but with residue as usual. Switch is standard 3PDT mini stomper wired as true bypass. There’s the same goo locking the 6mm top adjustment trimmers and the top board ribbon cable connection.

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3102/3207 pair is responsible for the chorus delay and TL072 is used for LFO. So it’s safe to say that the design is so far pretty standard analog delay chorus. The third knob, blend, adds a nice flavour. You can dial this to the max which by itself sound “out there”, but then you can blend it with the clean signal. More uses for ugly chorus sounds! Yay.

There’s again just one piece of bad news. I seem to be repeating myself, but i would have gladly paid 50 cents (or $1-2 even) more for these Nux units – if they just would have better quality pots. The pots just feel cheap and turn too easily. Bad decision to save money. Because of the poor feel on the pots, i suspect these units will never get the attention nor userbase that they would deserve. From electronical point of view i mean.

How does it sound?
Nice. Extra nice. From clear and mild signal widening to near flanger styled massive sweeping. Wide control range and you just can’t go wrong with 3102/3207 based choruses. Or you can, but not with this thing.

Ibanez BC5 Bass Chorus

Monday, November 4th, 2013

BC5

What is it?
Ibanez BC5 Bass Chorus from Soundtank series, made in japan in mid-to-late nineties. Serial number is in millions, so it’s safe to assume this is late 90’s unit.

To me it seems like the bass effects are mainly distortions, autowahs and lots of choruses. Bassists are left out on many things as most of the pedals are intended to be used with a guitar. For some reason almost every brand that sells guitar choruses also sell bass choruses. The difference between the two? Mostly just a cap job to let more of the lower frequencies through. There are couple of pedals in Soundtank series that are like broters and sisters. Reverse the colours on the top label and swap couple of caps. That’s it.

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Take a look at the board. It clearly has CS5 marked on the solder side. Although the board doesn’t look like the board on CS5 (that i covered very recently), it is the same board. The picture below shows that Maxon used the same boards for both units and replaced the label with a sticker – as seen on Soundtank SF5/FZ5 (that i covered a lot earlier). The components used are different. Where my specimen of CS5 has 1/8W resistors mounted axially, the newer board labelled BC5 has 1/4W resistors. The traces do not look alike. Those look much more modern on this unit, which makes me think that this is just newer unit than my CS5.

BC5-guts2

Topologically BC5 and CS5 are the same circuit. Some of the values may be altered, but i couldn’t find a schematic to confirm. And yes. I’m just too lazy to check this units component values against CS5. May it be whatever. These are well built units with lots of user value left in them. Swap the switch and you’re good to go.

How does it sound?
If there is any difference between BC5 and CS5, you’ll need to focus if you want to hear it. In fact i placed both pedals on my desk, tuned the delay time, width and speed to match each other and played away. Pressed both switches at the same time with indicator lights not visible to me. One out of every three times i guessed wrong which unit was active. The bass version sounds probably a hint thicker and fatter, but that’s it. The units are basically identical. So this might even be better for guitarists who want the fat with their cold , haunting gothic chorused guitar leads.

Ibanez CS5 Super Chorus

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Let’s have a full month of posting only choruses as pedal pots. Why? Because i can.

CS5

What is it?
Ibanez CS5 Super Chorus. Soundtank series unit in plastic enclosure, made in taiwan in mid 90s.

I may not be the biggest chorus user there is. I’m really not even sure how and where i would use one. Of course, i’ve used a lot of choruses while recording, but mainly for opening up some synth tracks, rather than using them with guitar. Choruses lie somewhere in the middle ground from vibes, phasers and flangers. There’s always an LFO that creates the modulation pulse. Which then usually controls the delay timer, which then controls the delay itself, creating sweeping chorus effect for the pre and post effect mixing amplifier.

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Ibanez CS5 Super Chorus is no exception. TL022 as LFO and NM3102/NM3207 pair for analog delay. 1458 takes of the mixer duties. Circuit is quite standard for a chorus, expect for the delay time control, which adds a lot of versatility and definitely is not as standard control as width/depth and LFO speed controls. Guess that’s what makes this Super. For those interested, the schematic is up at SchematicsUnlimited.com

CS5-guts2

To me, it looks like the design is very close to Ibanez CS9 Stereo Chorus, but with added delay time control. So in a way, this is better than its great predecessor.

Board, design, traces and components are well in line with the better standard boxes of this series. Only culprit is – you guessed it – the switch. After swapping it, this one runs like a very nice charm again.

How does it sound?
Good. With these controls, it is very versatile sounding chorus that can do both, hard and soft chorus from fast to slow, from natural to harsh. Basically the sound that makes this one very nice effect, even if it is housed in a plastic box. One of the greatest designs in the series.

Danelectro DJ7 Milkshake Chorus

Friday, September 6th, 2013

DJ7-Milkshake

What is it?
Danelectro  DJ7 Milkshake chorus from Danelectro mini effects series.

Not bad at all. The series is notorious for what it is – the cheapest possible way to come up with a guitar effect pedal. What Dirk Hendrik states on his site about plastic Soundtanks applies here too. I’ve never come across Dano Mini with broken enclosure. While one can criticize the series all he/she wants to, there are still  a lot of great designs available. This may not come as a surprise, but this one is one of the prime suspects for a rehousing job. Not too much of good information to go on. Maybe i need to tear this completely open one day.

DJ7-Milkshake-guts

I’m not going to rehouse this, unless i get another unit. But as Dano minis go, i wouldn’t make it true bypass either as there’s no real advantage in doing it. Now that i’m heading back to the heresy section, i can say that i’ve never had a problem with buffering eating up my tone with any of the Danelectro designs. Like with most minis, i’m left with mixed feelings. I can see why someone would disregard the whole series because of the box. I’ve even heard rumours that some folks may have had issues with grounding on these. Minis are without a doubt the ugly ducklings of the cheap pedal world. Switching seems durable. Most of the designs sound great. Bypass doesn’t suck. Prices of the new units are very high considering..  ..if you can find a new one these days.

How does it sound?
It’s reasonably good chorus. By the sound itself and not going deeper into tracing the unit, i would say it’s close enough to Boss CE-2. May it be far or close by design, you’ll still be able to get good chorus sounds with vintage feel for a fraction of what CE-2 costs.