Boss CH-1 Chorus Pedal Review

Our first review of 2020, but does the popular chorus pedal live up to its popularity?

Cost: $119.99 new, or find one cheaper HERE from Reverb.com

How it Works and Final Score: 8.5

The Boss CH-1 Super Chorus is one of the most popular and reliable guitar pedals on the market. Built incredibly tough and resilient, like many Boss foot pedals, the CH-1 features 4 controllable parameters. Effect level controls the volume of the chorus effect while the EQ controls the high/low frequency contrast in your signal. Rate predictably controls the speed of the modulation, going from subtle to swirling chorus in no time. Lastly, the depth control allows you to shape the intensity of the chorus effect. Even better, the pedal has both mono and stereo outputs for shaping your tone through your live or studio rig.

Sound: 8.0

The Boss CH-1 certainly didn’t disappoint once I plugged it in. However, it certainly feels like a “safe” pedal, in the sense that it provides so many classic chorus tones, without the ability to descend into true modulation mayhem the way some newer, more pricey chorus pedals would. Everything from The Police to The Cult and even jazz and funk tones pour out of this pedal with a few turns of the dial. While I didn’t feel the EQ knob does much to drastically vary the tones, the depth, rate, and effect level controls give you a wide range of sounds.

Most importantly, the CH-1 is incredibly clear. The pedal adds all that muscle and harmony to your guitar tone without losing notes in chords or the full bodied tone of each note in a guitar solo. The CH-1’s ability to go from warm to cold at a moment’s notice is inspiring, even if it is limited in scope. For rock, jazz, or country players, the CH-1 is a perfect pedalboard partner, for more experimental players in the indie or shoegaze arena, perhaps looks elsewhere.

The Super Chorus has taken a place on my no-thrills pedal board.

Durability: 9.5

Just like any Boss pedal, this one deserves an almost perfect score. This pedals are simply built to last, which makes them that much more attractive to me. I love knowing that having this and DS-1 on my pedalboard means they will work today, tomorrow, and probably twenty years from now. The CH-1 feels exactly like every other Boss pedal I’ve played and I shouldn’t even have to say much more on this.

Value: 8.0

Value was a bit harder to judge for the CH-1 than the durability was. The $119.99 price of a new pedal seems a bit heavy for such a mass produced, simple chorus pedal, especially when many great Boss pedals like the DS-1 or Blues Driver are under $100. However, they can be found much cheaper used, in the $50-60 range. For the reliability and quality, “safe” tones, the CH-1 is hard to beat at that price point. For someone like me who uses chorus just to add a little thickness or dimension to their tone, there probably isn’t a better option at this price, as it beats out the vastly smaller and cheaper Ammoon pedal. Overall, it generally lives up to all the hype and popularity, though I wish it had just a bit more madness to it.

Where it all started just a short year ago…

Happy New Year!!

January and February 2020 are about to have more guitar reviews than all of last year, so now is a good time to make sure you follow us on Facebook or Twitter to stay updated! And stay tuned for our new Instagram page coming up the pipeline.

New reviews coming soon for products from Gretsch, Towner USA, Goldfinch Guitars, Schecter Guitar Research, Mooer, Harmony, and many many more!

NAMM 2020: Reverend Unleashes 3 New Models

Credit: Reverend Guitars

Reverend, like many companies, is getting the NAMM party started early with a trio of announcements. Two new models, the Roundhouse and Contender, and an updated model, the Warhawk, grace your eyes above.

The Warhawk Reboot

Credit: Reverend Guitars

Available in three configurations, the new re-launched Warhawk combines an offset body with a plethora of color options. The DA version comes with a P90 in the neck and a humbucker in the bridge, their popular “Double Agent” load out. The same guitar comes in the DAW package, just with an added Wilkinson tremolo system. Lastly, the 390 comes with three p90’s stacked into the body, providing a ton of sonic options.

The Roundhouse

Credit: Reverend Guitars

Announced just before Christmas, the Roundhouse is a Les Paul-like take on a Reverend guitar. Featuring a carved Flame Maple top and tune-o-matic bridge, the Roundhouse is a double humbucking machine.

The Contender

Credit: Reverend Guitars

Another trio of top shelf guitars, the Contender family brings an offset LP body style with a number of pickup configurations. Available with or without a vintage, bigsby-like trem system, the Contender also comes with either humbuckers, P90s, or Reverend’s new Retroblast Mini-Humbuckers.

Punk Rock Rig On A Budget: The Best Guide On The Internet

Punk rock’s finest performer: Joe Strummer of The Clash

Searching through YouTube videos, online magazines, and forums for advice on assembling your guitar rig was one of the biggest distractions my teenage self ever faced. However, I have set out to truly provide the most in depth guide to assembling a live ready rig on a budget you’ll find on the internet. One big disclaimer though, these choices are my preference and I feel that they will best serve you as a player. But, if you have a different piece of gear that you love or want or feel serves your needs, go for it! Assembling a rig can be as individualistic or as vanilla as you want.

The Rules

  • Each rig must be under $1000 in total cost
  • Each rig must be loud enough and reliable enough to be used at your first gig or show
  • Each rig will consist of 1 guitar, 1 combo amplifier or 1 head/cabinet stack, 3 effects pedals, 1 pedal board, 1 pedal power supply, all the wires and patch cables necessary to connect the rig

$1000 may seem steep, and there are certainly rigs you can assemble for $500 or $750 that could work, but I’m setting out to show you how to build a complete rig from scratch with affordable but reliable gear. As always you can save hundreds by purchasing used gear, and for each item I will recommend a used alternative for you to explore.

Your Guitar – Squier Classic Vibe ’50s Telecaster – $349.99 new

Want to buy a nicer model but still on a budget? Check out a used Fender Telecaster MIM!

I assume most people would expect to see a guitar loaded with P90s or Humbuckers listed here. But the Telecaster is probably the most versatile and reliable solid body guitar you could buy. In fact, some of the heaviest sounding riffs ever recorded by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin were recorded on his Tele. For punk you want reliable performance, punchy tones, and a guitar that is easy to fix after a night of stage diving, mosh pits, or rugged traveling.

Les Paul’s are a classic choice, but for the money, the high end Squier’s are the better value. Plus, both Gibson and Epiphone Les Paul guitars are infamous for having poor tuning stability and are expensive to fix should you snap a headstock or neck. The Classic Vibe ’50s are lauded for their rich and bright single coil tones that really shine with overdrive or distortion on top. With solid playability, classic looks, and tones that cut through the mix, maybe more punks should be looking at this affordable Tele.

Your Amplifier – Orange Amplifiers Crush 35RT 35 Watt – $259.00 new

Want a slight louder, nicer tube combo for live shows? Check out a used Blackstar HT 40 Club Combo to save some money.

After reviewing the Crush 20 earlier in 2019, I realized that these Orange Crush amps are one of the best values online. They sound great, capturing that classic Orange tube driven overdrive for just a few hundred dollars. Plus, the solid state design makes it a bit more rugged to hit the road with and keeps it lightweight and compact.

The Crush 35RT is no different, packing a ton of crunch and output needed for classic and hardcore punk tones. There is a reason of ton of well known punk, sludge, and hardcore musicians use various Orange amp models. Coming in just around $250, this amp should be loud enough to get you on the stage while still letting you turn down and retain high gain tones for indoor practicing or rehearsing.

Your Effects Pedals – Boss DS-1 Distortion – $49.99, Electro Harmonix Nano Clone Chorus – $45.00, TC Electronic Polytune 2 – $80.00

There’s really too many used options to pick from, but others to shop secondhand for include the Boss CH-1, Ibanez Tube Screamer, TC Electronic Polytune 3.

Finding great pedals for a punk rock rig is easy for two reasons; there is an absurd amount of great, affordable pedals AND punk usually requires very few effects to begin with. Keeping things simple is cost effective and perfect for your sound.

The Boss DS-1 isn’t just cheap but is probably the most popular guitar pedal of all time. And for good reason. While it may not match the rich tones of a Pro Co Rat or the biting tube sounds of the Ibanez Tube Screamer, it is a perfectly suited distortion for mid-gain tones. Especially when paired with single coils, it’ll add great depth and output to your tone. The Nano Clone Chorus is also super affordable but well regarded, popular, and made famous by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. It’ll add some nice texture and harmonic richness to your power chords or solos without taking up a lot of sonic space. Lastly, a tuning pedal is incredibly helpful for live musicians, making tuning easier, faster, and more discrete on the stage.

Your Pedal Board and Power Supply – Donner DP-2 – $48.00, Donner DB-4 – $56.53

This is probably the best place to cut corners, and going with a selection of import products from Donner makes sense. Despite the import status, they do usually make pretty great stuff for the price, and I enjoyed their cheap Strat and wireless system when I reviewed them. The DB-4 pedal board pack comes with a board, carrying case, patch cables, and velcro that will hold your pedals to the board surface. That’s pretty much everything you need in one package.

Even better, the DP-2 pedal power supply system will let you charge up to 10 pedals, giving you flexibility should you add new effects to your rig. It comes with all the wiring and connections you should need, meaning you just have to mount it under your pedal board, and you’re good to go.

Total Spent = $888.51

Coming in well under the $1000 budget, this leaves us plenty of room for shipping charges or tax based on your location. You’ve got a Tele, an Orange combo amp, and three essential pedals plus all accessories. When I used this gear, I was able to go from The Clash to Black Flag to Green Day with ease. Whatever your preferred punk tone is, this is an unexpected but affordable way to get a live rig you’ll need. No Les Paul Juniors, Ibanez super strats, or Tim Armstrong-inspired Gretsch needed.

Gear Of The Year: The Best Of Everything We Have Reviewed

As we wrap up the year 2019, the first year of Guitars For Idiots existence, I can’t help but reflect on all the highlights of year. Whether it was great gear, artist interviews, concerts, or partscasters, this year was a way bigger success than I imagined it would be. 2020 already figures to be even better with more gear scheduled for review in the first couple months than we did in all of 2019.

With our last post until 2020, let’s look back at the best gear in each category that we reviewed this year and hand out our “Best of 2019” awards. It’s been a fun year filled with awesome gear, see my favorites below!

Best Electric Guitar: Guild Jetstar

There isn’t much more I can say about the Guild Jetstar. It’s the best guitar I reviewed all year regardless of price. Sure, boutique offerings like the CMG Ashlee or DeMont Goldfinch are great guitars, and the Fender Ultra Strat is highly evolved engineering, but this guitar was the most fun to play. It has eye catching looks, a comfortable neck, and two killer “Toaster Top” pickups. Get one of these as soon as possible.

Best Amplifier: Blackstar Studio 10 6L6

In my opinion, small, tube combo amps are the best amps on the planet. Having the ability to crank the amp and get that natural, tube overdrive without busting through your windows is just fun. I get the some players want a larger amp like the CMG Jimmy for live purposes, but why not just put a mic in front of this little Studio 10 6L6? It sounds great, it doesn’t cost a lot, and it was a highlight for sure.

Best Pedal: JHS Muffuletta Fuzz

The JHS Muffuletta packs six classic fuzz tones into one pedal, making it one of the most versatile and fun pedals I’ve ever played. “JHS” and “Civil War” were the two best settings but none of them disappointed. The Muffuletta was well built, quiet, and produced tons of sounds that made me want to pick up my guitar, it sounded especially good with the Jetstar and my Telecaster.

Best Electric Bass: Squier Classic Vibe ’70s Precision Bass FSR

This bass wound up in my hands kind of on a whim. I had accumulated way too much gear from all these reviews and decided to trade some in to a local guitar store. While I should have pocketed all the money for real world expenses, I couldn’t say no to this surf green P bass. Even though it is a Squier, this is a perfect example of how far the high-end Squiers have come. It feels like a Fender, sounds like a Fender, and has top level craftsmanship.

Best Acoustic Guitar: Yamaha FG3

Last but not least, the Yamaha FG3 was the best acoustic I played all year. We didn’t review a ton of acoustics, something that will change for 2020, but that shouldn’t impact how you view the FG3. This is a true player’s guitar, it’s comfortable, resonant, and it just makes you want to play it. I loved it because I felt like this was the kind of guitar I would write a million songs on while it was laying around the house. The FG3 is just another hit in a long line of Yamaha’s acoustic success story.

7 Simple and Essential Tools I Use To Modify Guitars

When it comes to modifying guitars, building partscasters, or trying to improve the playability and tone of cheap guitars there are many essential tools you’ll need. However, most are incredibly easy to find, inexpensive, or both. Below, I’ll talk through the tools I use every day and my recommendations for budget friendly options. These products can help you on the fly in a live setting or in the comfort of your own studio or workshop to make your guitar play and feel better.

Cordless Drill – My Recommendation

Having a compact and reliable drill is one of the best tools you can have even for the most basic guitar jobs. Putting on a new neck? Unscrewing the many pickguard screws on a Strat? A drill is going to save you a lot of time. Some experienced luthiers or techs may have a high tech, super tricked out drill or drill kit, but if you’re just putting some Strats and Teles together like I do, don’t blow too much on a drill.

Tung Oil – My Recommendation

One of the best ways to upgrade the feel and comfort of a cheap dark wood fretboard (Rosewood, Pau Ferro, Ebony) is to condition it with some type of oil finish. It’s incredibly important to remember that you do not want to condition a Maple fretboard, that’s usually done with a satin or gloss finish instead.

These dark woods, common on affordable Les Pauls, Stratocasters, or other popular guitar shapes, are often un-finished, poorly finished, or dried out. Simply wipe some of this on the fretboard with a rag or towel, and let it dry, but be careful to try and not coat the frets themselves. If it dries uneven, feel free to sand it down just a bit, but otherwise it’s a really easy way to improve the cheap neck on guitars like the Glarry GST3.

Screw Driver Set – My Recommendation

While a cordless drill should do most of the heavy lifting, it’s super important to have a wide variety of sizes of screwdrivers to deal with any and all quick repairs.

Soldering Iron Kit – My Recommendation

This is an impressively well stocked soldering kit that won’t set you back a lot of cash. It’s definitely not the high end soldering kit that Dennis Fano is putting Novo guitars together with, but it comes with a lot of important stuff. Soldering iron, stand, tips, solder, current meter, and much more! Having everything you need in one package makes learning or getting work done a lot easier and less intimidating when it comes to wiring a guitar.

Strings – My Recommendation

Some of you may point out that I contribute articles to Stringjoy’s blog, but that is not why they are included here! I slap their 10-48 strings on all the guitars I own, from partscasters to review instruments to my cherished number 1 Stratocaster. They are reliable, crisp, sound great, and it’s supporting an American-made product. Replacing the cheap, often un-coated and aged strings on affordable guitars can go a long way to improving feel and tone. Check these strings out ASAP!

Guitar Polish – My Recommendation

While I do tend to cover a lot of my personal instruments in stickers, I do appreciate a clean, well-polished instrument when I see one. Polish and cleaner is not only cheap, but a really easy way to keep your guitar looking and feeling its best. It can sometimes make a huge difference when it comes to making an old, beat-up partscaster look new again.

String Winder/Cutter – My Recommendation

Probably one of the most important and useful tools ever is this D’Addario multi-tool that incorporates a string winder, string cutter, and acoustic peg lever into one. Peg winders make it way easier to change strings fast and I don’t know why I ever changed strings without one of these. Even players who never work on their own instruments need to own one of these to quickly change strings on the fly.

Harley Benton DC – Junior Guitar Review

Credit: Harley Benton

Cost: $184.00, from Thomannmusic.com

Overview and Final Score: 8.0

If you grew up a fan of The Clash like I did than a Les Paul Doublecut Junior with one dog ear P90 is like the holy grail of guitars. I even tried to turn my very nice, double P90 Les Paul Special into one with a decent amount of success (I always missed the double horn look though).

So needless to say, I was pretty pumped when Harley Benton announced they would be releasing a super affordable, sub-$200 version of the classic guitar model. The Mahogany body is paired with a set-in Mahogany neck and Amaranth fretboard that feels slim and comfortable. A single Roswell P90D Alnico-5 dog ear provides that classic, single pickup appearance that many have come to know and love. One important caveat though, the TV Yellow they advertise is almost more of a mustard color, which looks great, but simply isn’t that same, classic Gibson yellow you may be looking for.

Other great features on the Harley Benton DC-Junior include 22 medium-jumbo frets, simple volume and tone knobs, and the classic wrap-around style bridge. The C-shaped neck profile features simple dot inlays and the whole thing comes strung with some quality D’Addario EXL110’s.

There she is, in all her dirty mustard glory…

Sound: 7.5

Right off the bat one weird thing stuck out to me: this guitar sounds great but it sounds a lot like the bridge pickup of a Fender Telecaster. Now, that’s certainly a compliment as it sounded like a really nice Fender Telecaster, but the P90 has a surprising amount of slap and spank, making it excellent for chick-n-picking and country music. Even better, you could really shape the sound with the volume and tone pots, which had shockingly good sweep for such an affordable guitar.

While I was overall super impressed with the tones and sounds of the Harley Benton DC-Junior, I was also a bit disappointed that it didn’t really sound like that mid-heavy tone that made Les Paul Juniors so popular. The tones became a lot more rounder once I layered on the right amounts of distortion and overdrive and rolled the tone knob down. It just took some finding to get a real “authentic” DC Junior tone. However, did the guitar sound great? Hell yes and it’s a joy to play, so I can’t really knock it too much, just don’t expect this to replace a real deal Gibson.

Playability: 8

The slim Mahogany neck on this DC Junior is crazy comfortable and really fast. Those medium jumbo frets feel great, and the setup and action was great right out of the box. Overall, the playability is top shelf, only held back a little by the okay tuners. The tuning stability was by no means bad, but I have the say the tuners are probably the only weak spot in my mind. If you were to upgrade these to some type of locking tuners or more traditional Grovers, you’d have one hell of a guitar that sounds way closer to being $500+ than $100+. But, the DC-Junior has a fast, slim neck and the wrap around tail piece gives the strings a distinctly different feel, almost slinkier, than my Gibson Les Paul with the stop bar tailpiece set up.

Finish & Construction: 8

I had to take a few points off here mainly for false advertising. It’s not TV Yellow, it’s Dirty Mustard (which they even say once you read the guitar’s specs). Really it’s not a big deal, and I mostly knocked a little something off for the lower quality tuners used to cut costs. But overall, this guitar is about $180 and feels great, don’t over think it. Pretty much all the construction and wiring seems to be in great shape. Another obvious issue is that like with many big single coils/P90’s, this guitar has a ton of buzz. It’s not a deal breaker, and it’s even common on many Gibson’s with P90s, but it is something to consider.

Value: 8.5

For just under $200 the Harley Benton DC-Junior is a steal. This guitar is comfortable, fun, and looks great. Even better, it’s so lightweight I can’t wait to use it in a live setting. While the sounds may stray a bit from the traditional Les Paul DC-JR expectations, it still sounds like a well above average guitar for barely more than a Squier Affinity Series model. I’m very pleased to be adding this to my collection, and I would argue that upgraded tuners and maybe a Seymour Duncan P90 would have this rivaling a newer Gibson Les Paul DC (just not a vintage one). I love this guitar, plain and simple.

Check Out This Awesome New Finish On The Framus Idolmaker!

How can you not like that?

Framus got the news day started early today with the announcement that they will now be making their D-Series Idolmaker available in this stunning, Burgundy Blackburst finish.

The Framus Idolmaker debuted as a master built guitar from their custom shop but was so popular that they’ve made it a permanent part of their offerings going forward.

The D-Series Idolmaker features Seymour Duncan’s SH-1 and SH-4 pickups, 22 nickel silver jumbo frets, and an AAAA-flamed Maple top. That’s a just a few of the premium features loaded onto this guitar making it a must-try for anyone who appreciates a hand crafted guitar.

Check out their website for more great news and great gear from the Framus and Warwick brands.