The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride, Book 1) - page 31

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A chorus box, in theory, adds the illusion of two instruments playing the same things at the same time. In reality, they just basically make the sound thicker and more shimmery. Kurt Cobain used one a lot.

Technically what they do is split the signal into two parts and let one pass through unaffected (the dry signal), and the other side of the signal is detuned very slightly and has a very tiny delay added to it. (This is the wet signal.)

I guess the idea is that two instruments playing together can never, by nature, be absolutely tuned identically or played in an absolutely identical rhythm. They are always off, due to the physics of making a string resonate and such, a matter of fractions of a semitone, and off in time by a millisecond or so, even when played by the most adept human players.

Chorus boxes usually have two or three knobs : chorus (amount of detuning), mix (dry-to-wet signal ratio) and sometimes some sort of tone or volume knob.

Examples: The Chase Theory: "FM Radio." Third Eye Blind: Third Eye Blind (album) (1:05 into the song "Motorcycle Drive-By" and throughout the album). Edwin McCain: "I'll Be." Smashing Pumpkins: "Sweet Sweet." Nirvana: "Come as You Are."

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Volume Pedal

Like the wah wah, this is an actual pedal, not a box. It has a rocker pedal that is like the gas pedal on your car. It is the same idea as a wah wah, but instead of controlling a tone knob, it controls a volume knob. This can be used just to fine-tune your guitar volume, but better than this is to use it as an effect in its own right to swell the volume, and make the guitar sound more like a violin by removing the attack (beginning) of each note. This sounds extra cool in combination with other effects, particularly delay and distortion.

Example: Sarah McLachlan: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (album) heard all over in the guitars.

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A flanger is an electronic attempt to imitate the sound they used to put on records in the 60s using two tape recorders with the same signal, where you lean on one of the flanges or tape reels in the studio and get a sort of jet sound. The beginning of "And The Cradle Will Rock" by Van Halen is a good example of a flanger box on a guitar.

Flanging is even more noticeable on drums, and is often added with a rack-mount flanger in the studio.

Figure 4.6. Flanger.


Usually has three or four knobs : speed, flange, mix, and volume.

Jimmy Eat World, "If You Don't, Don't." Smashing Pumpkins, "Luna."

Gas Food Lodging Soundtrack ( J Mascis) (most of his score is with a flanger).

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Phase Shifter

A phase shifter (or phaser ) is an electronic attempt to imitate the sound they used to put on records in the 60s that was obtained by running an instrument through a rotating speaker cabinet, like the Leslie speaker that came with Hammond B3 organs and weighed more than an SVT bass amp. Leslies are sometimes actually still used, like on the guitar on "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden, but are usually only used in the studio because they are so heavy and kinda fragile. A phaser sounds a little like a flanger but is distinctly different.

Usually has two or three knobs : speed, phase, and sometimes volume or tone.

Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream , "Luna" (very subtle). Ivy, "Blame It On Yourself."

Jimmy Eat World, "Sweetness."

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