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Posts Tagged ‘boss ce-5’

Awhile back, I wrote a fairly quick review of this pedal. That was back in October of 2007. I bought it because I was tired of using modelers and software chorus in my recordings, and also wanted to use a chorus live, which I hadn’t done much of since I had sold my Line 6 Flextone III which has it built in.

At the time, I figured it couldn’t be a bad investment, especially since I paid something like $79 for it. So, after a couple of years, what’s the verdict? It’s a solid pedal, and there’s a reason I haven’t removed it from my board yet (I’m currently looking to get a vintage CE-2): I love the Roland chorus sound!

I suppose you use what you’re used to. For me, using chorus started with the old Roland JC-120. What a great amp, and the stereo chorus was to die for! It was thick and lush, yet ringy and vibrant. Since I didn’t have access to that amp all the time (it was my brother’s), I settled on the CE-2, which I kept into the mid-90’s when I traded it for a DigiTech multifunction pedal – big mistake. Oh well…

In any case, after awhile I needed to get a chorus pedal for my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. I didn’t even think about it what pedal I’d get. I knew it had to be a Boss. My thought was: How different could it be compared to my trusty old CE-2 which, after all, was a pretty cheap pedal when I bought it, and besides that, Roland chorus was the standard for me. I’d heard some great chorus sounds, but to me, the Roland chorus was where it was at, so I went to my local music store and purchased a CE-5

Well, to make a long story short, once I played around with the pedal, I realized that while it had that Roland chorus tone, the digital version was almost too perfect, and not nearly as warm as I remembered the CE-2 being. It seemed a little sterile. But I kept at the tweaking and was finally able to dial in some very nice, rich tones that came close to what I remembered. After all this time, here’s what I’ve come to observe about the CE-5:

  • The CE-5 doesn’t do extreme settings very well. In fact, they can be downright ugly; especially if you crank up the rate and depth knobs. But as they say, do things in moderation, and with moderate settings, the CE-5 can produce wonderful tones! The best operating range I’ve found for Level, Rate and Depth are no less than 9am and no greater than 2:30. At the high-end, you can get some very cool leslie effects by upping the depth, reducing the rate and upping the level. In general though, I don’t tend to stray too far away from 10 to 2 on the sweep.
  • All the knobs interact well with each other – almost too well – as minute changes on one knob really effect the others, making you have to compensate to keep the tone under control.
  • The Hi/Lo cut combo knob is killer – something I wish the CE-2 had. What they do is subtle, but very useful.
  • Even for as simple as it is, you really have to play with the settings before you find the right tones. I’ve had a few years with this pedal now, so I know where to set the knobs for the effect I want. But it did take time.

Given all that, don’t take it as a negative. My feeling is that hard work is rewarded, if you’re willing to do it. I took the time, and now that I’ve got the tones dialed in, I really like the pedal, which is why I’m not in a real big rush to replace it.

Here’s a clip I recorded with different settings. There are three sets of recordings, starting with my dry signal, then activating the chorus. The chorus sounds go from moderate-heavy to moderate to light in the final chord progression. I used my Gibson Nighthawk 2009 into an Aracom VRX22 amp. Here’s the clip:

I recorded the guitar completely dry, with the mic (e609) about 1/2″ from the grille cloth.

Granted, the Roland chorus sound isn’t for everyone. There are so many great ones out there, but for me, I’ll stick to the familiar. Rock on!

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