Looking for a more swirling, brighter chorus sound? You've come to the right place.
By Craig Anderton
Avid’s Eleven Rack, a guitar-friendly computer interface as well as a live performance rack unit, is having a well-deserved comeback. Although originally thought of as Pro Tools-specific, it works fine as a general-purpose ASIO or Core Audio interface suitable for any Windows or Mac program. The one aspect that was Pro Tools-specific was an inability to edit presets other than with Pro Tools or via the front panel, but fortunately, that’s changed as Avid has now introduced a stand-alone editor for Eleven. Thank you!
One you can start programming, you’ll realize there are a lot of novel ways to combine effects that aren’t iinitially obvious For example, the stock chorus sounds like—well, a stock chorus that’s optimized for standard chorus speeds. However, I greatly prefer a much slower, more swirling/randomized chorus sound with a bright, “acoustic guitar” tone. While I couldn’t coax this out of the existing chorus, taking a different approach gave exactly what I wanted. (Note that this concept applies to other guitar effects devices, not just Eleven Rack.)
The secret is using a somewhat unconventional order of effects (Fig. 1): first Mod, set to C1 Chorus/Vibrato with Vibrato selected; then FX1, also set to C1 Chorus/Vibrato with Vibrato selected; and finally FX2, set to Graphic EQ. With this program, for the cleanest sound all other effects (and the amp/cabinet) are bypassed.
Fig. 1: The basic program. The effects in the Mod, FX1, and FX2 slots are enabled; everything else is bypassed. Note the Vibrato settings in the Chorus/Vibrato effect, and how the rate is synched to tempo.
As the Vibrato Rate control doesn’t go slow enough for my purposes, I synched both vibrato rates to tempo, with the Mod Vibrato set to dotted half-note sync and the FX1 Vibrato set to whole note sync. To obtain a more animated, swirling sound, it’s important that they not sync to the same note value. Depth for both vibrato effects is set between 2/3 and 3/4 of the way up.
Adjust the Graphic EQ to taste; Fig. 2 shows the settings I used for a bridge+neck humbucker setting, which provides a very bright, present sound designed to cut through a mix even when mixed in at a relatively low level. These settings also reduce some of the “meat” by pulling back at 370Hz and 800Hz.
Fig. 2: The Graphic EQ (FX2) settings used for this program. This is optimized for dry guitar going through a flat system, so if you end up using an amp, you’d likely need to change the settings.
Check out the audio example, and you’ll definitely hear the difference—the first part uses the stock chorus and the second part plays through my custom program. What’s more, the patch itself is available online, so you can load the same sound into your own Eleven Rack. Have fun, and don’t forget to tweak the Graphic EQ for a tone that fits your particular axe and playing style.
Craig Anderton is Editor Emeritus of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.