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Universal Audio UAFX Brigade

Chorus & Vibrato Pedal By Dave Lockwood
Published May 2024

Universal Audio UAFX Brigade

UA’s digitally modelled version of the Boss CE‑1 analogue Chorus Ensemble was first transplanted from their plug‑in portfolio back into hardware in their Astra modulation pedal, but it reappears now as part of the UAFX compact range. The plug‑in’s name, Brigade, is retained in the compact pedal and references the charge‑coupled devices, popularly referred to as ‘bucket‑brigade’ chips, used in the original circuit for the analogue delay line that was modulated to produce the chorus effect.

The CE‑1 pedal has the honour of being the very first unit to bear the Boss name, and made the distinctive modulation effect popularised by the Roland JC‑120 Jazz Chorus amp available in standalone form for the first time. The thing that made the JC‑120 combo’s chorus a bit special was that it was rendered as a ‘wet‑dry’ effect, using a separate power amp for each of its two speakers. The CE‑1 pedal retained that faux stereo with separate wet and dry outputs and would reward you with a similarly spacious effect when hooked up to two amps, but for many users, even just the mono output was exciting enough in the late ’70s.

Popular with keyboard players, guitarists and the odd bass player, the CE‑1’s chorus had just a single control, labelled Intensity, with the separate Depth and Rate controls operating only on the footswitchable Vibrato effect — this was a pitch‑modulated output with no dry signal mixed in. The input impedance of the CE‑1 was a bit low for passive guitars, so it helped to have a buffering pedal in front of it, and it was always hard to avoid a creating a bit of crunch from the preamp, to the point where it really just seemed like part of the effect. Brigade gives you the option to include or omit the distortion and coloration of the preamp when the pedal is in bypass, but it is of course always on when the effect is active. Anyone who had a CE‑1 will remember it as a frustratingly noisy pedal. In contrast, the Brigade is delightfully noise free, even when...

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