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REVIEW: BOSS CE-2W CHORUS PEDAL

ce-2w_d_galJesse Delaney checks out the new
Boss Waza Craft CE-2w Chorus pedal

The ol’ Chorus pedal, eh.

Chorus has always been one of those effects that polarises guitarists.

There are those that love it, who will eschew a dry clean tone in favour of the thick, syrupy modulation that brings back the sounds of 80’s shredders and hair-metal power ballads.

Others prefer to use it as a way to thicken up their guitar 90’s style, reminiscent of Kirk Cobain’s schizophrenic sonic strangulations or alternative bands like Failure or Smashing Pumpkins who plugged into a Chorus to bring ethereal soundscapes into their huge riffs and lead breaks.

Other guitarists won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. These minimalist souls are those who may have been traumatised by commercial radio overload and much prefer the natural voicing of a driven vintage amp.

Whichever camp you may belong to, (or surreptitiously flirt between), there’s no denying that a Chorus pedal, used tastefully can really bring a new slant to your playing. There is also no denying that amongst the top vintage Chorus pedals which have littered pedalboards and studio shelves, both the CE-1 and the CE-2 can sit proudly on top as bona fide classics.

Enter the Boss Waza Craft CE-2w.

Before we look at the goodies that Boss have offered up in their latest ‘custom shop’ Chorus, maybe a brief refresh and revisit of what Chorus is..?

From a physics standpoint, (NERD!) “Chorusing” occurs when a signal is multiplied and played back on itself with slight pitch variations. As a result, the ear hears minute oscillations that add depth and shimmer. If one was to take a guitar and pitch the E note on the B string (5th fret) with the open high E string, you’d hear 2 notes of (roughly) the same pitch played together. Or, imagine two singers singing the same note, same pitch. They may go slightly out of tune with each other at times. This converging and movement within, or between, notes of the same pitch is perceived by the ear as an audible thickening or doubling. Sometimes it works. Other times it can sound bloody awful depending on the pitching variation between the constant and the variable note. Welcome to Chorus.

Back to the Waza.

Essentially, as with their other offerings, Boss have taken note of the fact that their classic circuits have gone under the soldering iron of DIY’ers, and sometimes have been…shall we say “re-interpreted” and sold. From this standpoint it is logical that the original manufacturer would want to regain some control and reshape their classic CE-2; however what Boss have done with the Waza version really is a step beyond reclaiming their signature Chorus. It’s basically been reinvented as pretty much the original unobtainium CE-1 and the CE-2 in one pedal.

And it sounds killer.

The first thing I noticed is that the CE-2w has Stereo outs; a wet mono (Output A) and a dry (Output B). This is awesome because, put simply, stereo chorus rules. The first time I repaired an old CE-1 and then plugged it into a stereo amp rig…well let’s say that I promptly lost a few hours. It really is that fun.

The second thing that I saw was the toggle switch, to select “S” (CE-2), and then 2 positions under “CE-1”, being Chorus and Vibrato (more on this in a moment). Having all three modes selectable from one mini switch just makes sense. Allowing one to go from the leaner, crisper 80’s style CE-2 mode to the thicker and wider CE-1 tone( heard in the late 70’s and again when it regained popularity in the 90’s) and then to that beautiful vibrato in one unit is just brilliant.

So, the big question. The functionality and layout is a just about perfect, but have Boss captured the mojo of the orginals? Is that magic sound and response really there?

Totally.

Again, whether into a clean amp (my old AC-30 or Mesa MKIV on channel 1) or with dirt (the AC-30 with a Rat and the CE-2w, or into my Marshall JMP set dirty), running the CE-2w up against my old CE-2 proved that the new one absolutely has got that sound. And in CE-1 mode, remember those huge originals didn’t have a Depth control, only an “Intensity” (speed) knob. Boom – more control with the new Waza able to govern both Rate and Depth both in CE-2 and CE-1 mode.

A beloved feature of the CE-1 was the ability to switch between Chorus and Vibrato. This basically kills the dry signal within the section that creates the variable pitching, leaving you with that modulating guitar sound. That rich, almost Leslie-like sound of the originals is nailed in the Waza version. It’s addictive, it’s a portal to creativity and it’s back in a much more pedalboard friendly format.

It really is quite amazing how much the CE-2w cops the sounds of the old versions. Looking at the prices in Australia for this, true, it is on the pricier side of the spectrum, however in my book the sheer sound of this thing tips the scales for me. Also, given the rising cost of the original CE-2’s (don’t even look up what the CE-1’s are going for – or make sure you’re sitting down if you do!) it’s actually not that far off the mark in terms of getting value in what you pay.

Once again Boss have come up with an absolute gem of a pedal here in their reinvention of their classic chorus sounds. I’ve personally been really impressed with the Waza Craft pedals I’ve tried, and I think this little blue guy is another total win.

The Sound – 5/5
Ease of Use/Control Layout –  5/5
Value for money –  5/5
Overall Verdict – 5/5

http://au.boss.info/

Jesse Delaney is the singer, guitarist in Melbourne alternative rock band Crying Sirens
http://cryingsirens.com/

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