TC Electronic Afterglow Chorus Review
Afterglow Chorus Features
A chorus pedal can improve the quality of your clean tone when used the right way, or it can be abused like it was in the 80s. While some guitarists shy away from chorus pedals, it’s an excellent effect when used properly. The Afterglow Chorus by TC Electronic is a low cost chorus pedal with a simple set of features:
- Vintage style analog chorus
- All analog Bucket Brigade Circuit
- True bypass and top-mounted I/O
- Runs on 9V battery or external power
- Three control knobs: Rate, Depth, Mix
Ease of use
The three-knob style controls on the Smorgasbord of Tones range is about as easy to use as it can get.
The Rate knob controls the speed/rate of the modulation. The Depth knob adjusts the intensity of the effect from a very subtle and shallow sound all the way to a very intense vibrato-like effect. The Mix knob adjusts the mix between the dry signal and the chorus signal.
There’s not much else to say about how easy the Afterglow Chorus is to use. You don’t need to worry about controlling filter settings, switching between a chorus and vibrato mode or anything else like you see on other chorus pedals. This pedal is as simple as it gets and delivers the effect without any hassle.
My first impression of the chorus sound the Afterglow produces is that it’s subtle. You’re not getting knocked over the head with the cheesy 80s sound so many guitarists dread. Instead you end up with a subtle effect that enhances your tone. The chorus still feels restrained even when cranking the Mix knob all the way up. It was only when I cranked the Mix and the Depth knobs when it became overpowering.
To most guitarists this is a good thing as a subtle chorus can be more useful than an overpowered chorus. The fact that it’s hard to crank the effect to over-the-top levels means you have more control on the lower range. This is an all-analog pedal, so that may play a part in why the effect feels subtle.
It feels like the Mix knob doesn’t give you a full 0-100% range of dry/mix level. When the knob is cranked it feels like the effect is only 70-80% wet. For almost all situations that’s perfectly fine.
I found that when testing the pedal with a clean tone, I had to crank the mix knob to hear the Rate and Depth knobs and how they changed the effect. Once I found the ideal rate and depth, I simply lowered the Mix to the right level.
When testing with a driven tone, the effect can be more pronounced so it was even easier to dial in the right settings. Compared to some other chorus pedals I’ve tried (that weren’t worth reviewing), I felt the color the Afterglow added to my tone was a lot nicer. Like a lot of other guitarists I hate the cheesy 80s sound a chorus pedal can give you, so it was nice to completely avoid that sound with the Afterglow. At no point did I feel like it turned my clean tone into that cheesy sound.
The Smorgasbord of Tones range are nicely designed pedals. Each one is identical in build and size which means they line up nicely if you cram them on your pedalboard. They feel solid with a metal chassis and firm knobs. The I/O jacks are on the top of the pedal which can save you some space if you buy multiple pedals from the range.
It’s nice to see that both battery and external power is available for a budget pedal. You can power the Afterglow Chorus with a 9V battery or a 9V DC 100mA power supply. While the pedal states 100mA, the pedal actually draws 10mA.
Overall impression of the Afterglow Chorus
I have tried three pedals from the Smorgasbord of Tones range so far – the Forcefield Compressor, the Blood Moon Phaser and now the Afterglow Chorus. Each one surprised me in a good way. For a budget pedal, they deliver an excellent quality effect in a well designed pedal. The Afterglow Chorus is the most subtle effect out of the three I’ve tried, but still delivers a nice effect. The Blood Moon Phaser blew me away with it’s quality and versatility. While the Afterglow Chorus didn’t have the same impact on me, it has earned it’s place on my pedalboard and I find that I do use it quite a lot now.
While I would have liked to see a bit more range in how far the effect can be pushed, most guitarists will want to use chorus in a subtle way. The Afterglow Chorus is ideal for a subtle chorus to enhance your tone.
Afterglow Chorus Pros
- Great value
- Easy to use with simple 3-knob design
- Good build quality
Afterglow Chorus Cons
- Chorus may be too subtle for some uses
- Mix knob doesn’t seem to give a completely wet signal when cranked
Who is the Afterglow Chorus for?
Chorus is an effect that a lot of guitarists feel they don’t need until they try one out. Adding a subtle chorus to your clean tone can enhance it in ways you might not expect. Some guitarists prefer to use chorus on lead sections to give the lead tone a little bit of color. It’s a simple way to make a lead part stand out from the rhythm.
If you’re not sure whether you want a chorus pedal or not and want to try it out, the Afterglow Chorus is a very low cost way to experiment with chorus. If you think you’ll only use a chorus pedal on occasion or just want to have it available for certain songs, this is a great option.
Who isn’t the Afterglow Chorus for?
There are other chorus pedals that give you a wider range of sounds and allow you to control the effect far more than this pedal. The Afterglow Chorus is designed to be a simple pedal. If you think the three knob design isn’t going to give you enough control over the effect, you might want to look at a more feature filled chorus pedal such as the Corona Chorus.
This is a simple pedal for simple needs, so if you want something more complex this pedal might not be enough for you.
How to get the most out of the Afterglow Chorus
You get the most out of a chorus pedal when you understand how it works and how it interacts with other effects and drive. This Guitar Effects Course digs deep into chorus as well as all common types of guitar effects and how to use them.
Chorus is an effect that can be used in combination with other effects in a lot of different situations. It can be used for clean tones, drive tones and lead tones to add some color and movement. In the effects course you will hear examples of chorus combined with other effects as well as how the position of the pedal changes the tone.
Alternatives to the Afterglow Chorus
The Corona Chorus by TC Electronic is an obvious alternative to the Afterglow Chorus. Think of the Afterglow Chorus as a ‘budget’ alternative to the Corona. The Corona Chorus is a stereo pedal and includes the flexible TonePrint feature.
Another popular option is the BOSS CE-5 Chorus Ensemble. It’s been a popular stereo chorus pedal for a long time and also gives more control over the effect than the Afterglow.
Check out the Afterglow Chorus page on the TC Electronic website for more information on the Afterglow Chorus.