The Pedal: Catalinbread Callisto
The Point: Analog Chorus
The Damage: $195
In a world of highly sophisticated digital effects, it’s nice to see there are still builders out there dedicated to making great analog effects. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are plenty of great digital effects out there too, and the line between analog and digital is being blurred with the combination of hybrid pedals. Still, the Catalinbread Callisto, a straight up MN3007 bucket brigade analog chorus effect, almost seems uncommon these days.
Chorus/vibrato is one of my favorite modulation effects. It seems though chorus has suffered a bad rap, perhaps due to the hair bands of the ‘80s. Used judiciously, it makes a clean tone seem richer and fuller. It can also be used on certain settings to emulate a Leslie-like tone, where it becomes a much more noticeable effect.
So how does the Callisto fare – is there still a need for a simple analog chorus pedal? In a word, yes.
Simple Yet Flexible Controls
The Callisto has four controls—mix, density, speed and depth. Together they will give you a plethora of tones to choose from. A few words on how these controls interact:
The width control lets you tune in the intensity of the chorus’ sweep, while the rate control adjusts the speed of the effect, from slow-and-subtle to very fast. Better yet, turn the speed up past noon and back off the depth for that Leslie-like effect. The Mix dial lets you dial in how much chorus you want to hear along with your clean signal. Turn the mix all the way clockwise for a 100% wet effect. Density adjusts the delay time, allowing a thicker or thinner effect.
A Few Settings to Try
· “Typical” chorus: Not often do I set a pedal with everything at noon and like it, but I did with the Callisto. From there, try adjusting each knob a little in either direction and see what you find. Adding more depth increases the warble effect while increasing the rate gives you a rotating speaker effect. Backing off the density lessens the overall impact, while turning the density up most of the way adds back some loss of low end you often get with a chorus effect.
· The Leslie: Everything at 3 o’clock, except the depth control at 9 o’clock. Adjust the rate for your desired speed.
· The Leslie Pt2: Rate and mix at 3 o’clock, density at 9 o’clock, depth around noon.
· The Fuzz Enhancer: Rate around noon, mix at 1 o’clock, density at 11 o’clock, depth at 10 o’clock—with the Callisto set to run before the fuzz. The point here is to set the Callisto to be a little more subtle, in order to enhance the main fuzz or overdrive tone. It can add some nice thick, chewy grind to any fuzz.
Unlike another analog chorus I own, the Callisto adds no white noise, even before dirt pedals, which allows you to experiment with its placement in your chain. Most chorus pedals seem to reside towards the end of the effects chain. However, I used the Callisto early in my chain, before dirt pedals, just to give them that extra grind or for that cool Leslie tone.
The Callisto does nothing new, yet it’s refreshingly straight forward. Take a common effect, give the user enough control to make a variety of tones possible, but not so much that you spend the whole time tweaking either. Make it sound great, with the ability to be used before or after dirt pedals, and you have a winner.