Posts Tagged ‘ce-2’

I was feeling a bit nostalgic yesterday and put my BOSS CE-2 on my board. Though I’ll never get rid of the pedal because of its value – both vintage and personal – I have to admit that I hadn’t played the pedal in at least year; maybe more, as I had moved on to other choruses such as the TC Electronic Corona Chorus and the Homebrew THC. But after playing it at my solo gig yesterday, I think it’ll definitely stay on my mini board.

When I mentioned feeling nostalgic earlier, the CE-2 was my first chorus pedal. Actually, it was the first pedal I purchased back in the early 80’s. I had an original black label model circa 1981 or so (been awhile). I had purchased it along with an in-hole pickup for my Yamaha FG-335 and a Roland 15 Watt solid state amp, and actually put a lot of mileage on that pedal but finally traded it for another cheapo. For years, I could never recapture that tone, so I just went without it. But I never forgot the tone.

Back in 2010, I purchased a green label, MIJ model from the mid-80’s, and played it for several months until I came across my other two chorus pedals that I mentioned above. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work well with my Plexi-style amps, so I just took it off my board. It sat collecting dust until I played it yesterday.

It hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday that what made me fall in love with the sound was how it sounded with an acoustic guitar. The chorus is voiced a bit bright, so the deep voice of an acoustic balances out the potentially harsh tones. I was very much in tonal heaven yesterday as that pedal just added so much to my acoustic tone. I could set it to thick and liquid, to very subtle and it just sounded fantastic.

Here are a few clips I recorded this morning. I’m playing my Gretch Electromatic and outputting through my VHT Special 6. The amp is miked with a Sennheiser e609 positioned off-axis, at the edge of the speaker cone to pick up the lows. The first two clips are short comparison clips, while the third is finger-picked chord progression.

Very Subtle (Rate @ Noon, Depth @ 9)

Adding a Bit More Chime (Rate @ Noon, Depth @ 10:30-11am)

Liquid, but not over the top (Rate @ Noon, Depth @ 2pm)

No EQ was used on the recording. What you heard was a straight recording of the amp’s output. I did level balance a bit to bring up the softer, finger-picked tracks, but did no EQ shaping.

The thing about the CE-2 tone is that it is not a thick chorus tone, and it is not smooth. There is a definite emphasis on the mids and high-mids with the CE-2, which is probably why it didn’t sound very good with my Plexi-style amps, plus the fact that I was using Alnico speakers which tended to be bright. So the added brightness was just not too pleasing at the time. Mind you, that was for my live sound. I could always get a good recorded sound by simply positioning my mic in the right place.

So there it is. I’m glad I’ve found a great use for my CE-2. Not sure what I’m going to do with the THC. It too is a great chorus… I’ll probably keep it for awhile or put it up on CraigsList…

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If you’ve read this blog with any regularity, you’d know that I’ve lamented trading away my original BOSS CE-2 Chorus for a Multi-function DigiTech pedal. Hey! I didn’t know better at the time. The CE-2 was cheap when I got it new back in the early 80’s, and so I figured, what would be the harm in trading a cheap pedal for another cheap pedal, especially if the new cheap pedal was all-digital! Oh well, I’ve redeemed myself. I finally got a CE-2, and for a GREAT deal on EBay!

To me, THIS chorus sound is the chorus sound that defines the entire gamut of chorus pedals. Say what you want about the others. While they’re all good – and I’ve heard and played many – the CE-2 chorus is the sound I grew up with as a young guitarist. To me, nothing matches its warmth and the liquidity of its tones. This is pure analog Chorus goodness.

I did some really quick demos about fifteen minutes ago. All clips were played clean with my Squier CV Tele 50’s running into my pedal board and into my Aracom VRX22. Excuse the 60Hz hum from my Tele and the ambient background noise of my fridge. 🙂 Each clip starts with a dry version then the CE-2 is engaged.

First up is a little clean blues groove. The chorus, when engaged is set to 3pm on both Rate and Depth to get a sort of vibey effect:

Next up is a simple chord progression done finger style. The CE-2 has both Rate and Depth set to noon:

Finally, the last clip demonstrates how well the CE-2 plays with other modulation effects. It first starts out with my VOX Time Machine and Hardwire RV-7 Reverb. When I play it over with the CE-2, the CE-2 is set to my favorite setting, with Rate at noon, and depth at 2pm (some things are just etched in your memory):

Of course I realize that appreciation of tone is an entirely subjective matter. But even after all these years, I just can’t get over how much I love this chorus sound and thick and liquid it can get, but still be crystal clear and articulate. My CE-5 did a great job for real subtle chorus, but cranked up, it was unusable. But with the CE-2, there are usable tones, no matter where you set it!

I have to admit that I am absolutely emotional right now. I’ve got all these memories flooding through my head from almost 30 years ago when I first bought it: Memories of watching a young Michael Hedges work his magic on his acoustic; trying to cop Andy Summer’s tone; late nights in my parents’ house plucking away at my guitar; lots of memories, both good and bad. Wow!

This pedal will NEVER leave my board again!

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You know… For the most part, I have few regrets about my life. Yeah, I’ve made my share of mistakes, and have learned from them, but there are some things that just seem to stick in my craw, especially when I reminisce about gear that I’ve had.

Back in the 80’s, I was a big Michael Hedges fan, and must’ve seen him play live more than 50 times. I remember the day I saw him and he had added chorus to his chain. Mind you, he was an acoustic guitarist, and before he became widely known, it had always been Michael and his guitar, straight into the PA. Then he added a rather sophisticated EQ. But what struck me the hardest was when he added a chorus. For as much of a fan that I was, I don’t know which one he had. But when he came out with “Breakfast In the Field” in 1981, and used the chorus to amazing effect on songs such as “The Magic Farmer” and “Rickover’s Dream” which, incidentally, I had already heard live before the album came out, I knew I had to get a chorus!

At the time, I didn’t know an amp from a refrigerator. I was your classic folk acoustic player who happened to know cowboy chords. Be that as it may, I saved some money and went down to Guitar Center where I bought a cheap in-hole pickup for my guitar (which I still have 30 years later – it’s a Yamaha FG-335), a Roland 25 amp, and a Boss CE-2.

Even through all that cheap equipment, there was something special about the CE-2. It had just two knobs: Rate and Depth, and you could dial up incredible chorus tones with it! I can recall the warmth of the tone, and the magical way notes danced in the air. Hey! I sucked at the time, but I remember the feeling I got. Perhaps part of it was due to the satisfaction that I could cop some similar tones to Michael Hedges (though I could never play like him). Who knows? But that was one special pedal. And I traded it back in the late 80’s for some DigiTech multi-function reverb/flange/chorus pedal that I thought was “neat.”

Okay, hindsight is 20/20. Who could’ve known at the time that a cheap $79 pedal could define the chorus tone. I don’t care what other people say about other choruses that have since come out. I recall someone “correcting” me in the early days of this blog about the TC Electronic chorus being more of a standard. I was pretty new to the blog scene and didn’t want to piss anyone off at the time, so I didn’t really come back with anything. But had I more balls at the time I would’ve said, there’s a reason why people are paying for the MIJ green and black label choruses for over twice the price of the original. There was something extremely special about that Roland JC-120 chorus circuit. Everyone else who followed with their own version just did a tweak. Mind you, there are some GREAT choruses out there. But in my mind, the CE-2 had the goods!

EBay here I come!!!

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