The original Arion SCH-1 Chorus pedal is a legendary guitar accessory. Coming to prominence during the 1980s, the SCH-1 became a staple on many professional pedal boards. Known for its deep, lush chorus sounds and tonal versatility, the Arion SCH-1 secured its spot in stomp box history. However, the SCH-1 has long since been discontinued by the Japanese based company, Arion, which today produces its modern brethren – the SCH-Z. Many tone freaks argue the superiority of the SCH-1 to the SCH-Z, citing circuitry, country of origin (the SCH-Z is made in Sri Lanka), and most importantly, sound quality, but most professionals will tell you that there is very little difference, if any at all. Save price of course – while a new SCH-Z is $50, the SCH-1 can easily fetch upwards of $100 on eBay. This discrepancy is most likely due to rarity, as vintage pedals are very collectible.
Still, with all its perfection, many players sought improvement to the Arion Chorus pedal. That’s where another Japanese based company, Engineering Work Store, comes in. Partnering with rising pedal stars, Xotic effects, E.W.S. has created their own Arion SCH-Z modification. Starting with an original Arion SCH-Z pedal, E.W.S. makes a series of modifications to improve durability and sound quality. They make the pedal True Bypass, add a brighter LED light, improve the tone adjustment knob, create a more durable foot switch, and most significantly, change the “Direct/Stereo” control switch to “Chorus/Vibe.” As opposed to having the option of producing a stereo signal, E.W.S. has created two different chorus options within a single pedal. “Chorus” mode is a more traditional, subtle chorus sound, akin to a Boss CE-5 or TC Electronic SCF. The “Vibe” channel is a deeper, more intense chorus, emulating the sonic phenomenon of a Leslie rotary speaker. Although you lose the option of having a stereo signal, you gain an exponential amount of tonal range and diversity. Plus, how many of us are really using a true stereo set up on stage anyway?
Overall, this is a flawless chorus pedal. From George Harrison-esque Leslie sounds, to Eric Johnson chorus sparkle, to Stevie Ray Vaughn styled blues chorus, to just plain far out, this pedal does it all – and well! A great blend of classic tone and modern technology, the E.W.S. Arion Chorus/Vibe Mod is a great purchase for anyone looking for a unique addition to their pedal board. At $195, this is a professional-grade pedal that will exceed your chorus expectations and last a lifetime – just ask some of the pedal’s biggest proponents, Joe Bonamassa, Scott Henderson, Oz Noy, and Allen Hinds!
Check out the E.W.S. website for more information on this pedal