Aria ACH-1

It’s not an impulse buy when you’ve researched the product, and find one at a ridiculous price. So when I broke down and got the Aria ACH-1 chorus pedal that was waiting patiently for me inside a locked case deep within a massive “recycle shop” near my job, I had no regrets. Made of plastic, this is the lightest pedal I’ve ever held but at market price of 2000 yen, it’s much better value than almost any plastic Behringer pedal.

After chorus being out of fashion for about 20 years now, why did suddenly I get a chorus this pedal? Pat Metheny. I read that he hates chorus pedals, and gets his big, lush sound using a stereo modulation delay. One half modulates down, while the other modulates up. So I searched for the cheapest chorus pedal that does that. This one doesn’t, but it’s outputs are out of phase with each other, yielding a very thick chorus with two amps.

Part of the pedal’s thickness is because of it’s Intensity control, which seems is really a poorly named “wet” control. It’s a great feature which so many other choruses seem to lack. I had mistakenly assumed this was a delay control, which is something else that would have been welcome for enhancing the stereo field, but I’ll have to save up for an 80s Ibanez SC-10 for that. In the meantime, I found another way to get close to the effect.

I happen to have two Fender Amp Cans (which sound a bit different from each other), and have been thinking for a while that it would be fun to use both outdoors. Spacial ambient effects like this and the Echo Park and Boss DD-7 I had for a minute (NOT like my Boss DD-3…later on that) really get the most out of a rig like this. My Boss DD-3 is a great ambient effect, but the direct/effect out scheme like so many stereo chorus pedals just doesn’t do it for me.

Finding a way to use a stereo chorus and stereo delay (both with MONO inputs) on my pedal board stumped me for a bit, but when I bent over to actually arrange the pedals, the signal-chain became obvious, following conventional signal chain flows like you see in books and multi-effects processors,  I put the delay before the chorus. However, I connected the delay’s Direct Out to a THIRD amp…like Pat Metheny.

Now I had a real-tube amp for my clean, and two satellite amps doing the chorusing with pre-delay. The results are hard to tell in my tiny practice room, but not bad. Setting the balance between all three amps is tricky, especially because the chorus outputs are out of phase with each other, one will be IN-phase with the clean/center, possibly cancelling out some of the frequencies. They key seems to be setting the right delay time to offset this.

Did I sound like Pat Metheny? Not even close, though that has more to do with the content of my playing and technique. If the rig sounded cold, it’s probably because the room, strings and my fingers WERE cold, but the three amps definitely got the cold air moving around me.  Obviously, to get the most out of a rig like this, you should be playing in a big room. Two small amps are more than enough for a small room.

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