When you are a beginner, you cannot help but wonder: does a compressor pedal do anything to your sound? What is all the fuss about? It is definitely one of those pedals that you have to plug in and unplug in order to see the difference it makes. But once you do that, you cannot go back. Compressor pedals change the quality of your sound so profoundly, that you will start contemplating how you survived without them.
I will confess, that I am guilty of being narrow-minded about these bad boys as well. Don’t worry, though, it is the kind of ignorance, we can all easily redress. I will make a bold statement here, but investing in the best compressor pedal was the best thing that happened to my sound. Now I will help you choose yours according to your music, preferences, and budget and give you all the information you need in order to avoid being taken in by retailers.
Table of Contents
- What’s The Best Compressor Pedal
- JHS Pulp ‘N’ Peel V4 Compressor/Preamp Pedal
- Wampler EGOCOMPRESSOR Compressor Pedal
- Walrus Audio Deep Six Compressor
- Boss CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer Pedal
- Xotic Effects SP Compressor Effect Pedal
- TC Electronic HyperGravity Compressor
- Electro-Harmonix Freeze Sound Retainer Compression Pedal
- Mooer MCS2 Yellow Compression Effects Pedal
- MXR M102 Dyna Comp Compressor Pedal
- Donner Compressor Pedal Ultimate Comp
- What is a guitar compressor pedal?
What’s The Best Compressor Pedal
|JHS Pulp 'N' Peel V4 Compressor/Preamp Pedal||(5 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Wampler EGOCOMPRESSOR Compressor Pedal||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Walrus Audio Deep Six Compressor||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Boss CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Xotic Effects SP Compressor Effect Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|TC Electronic HyperGravity Compressor||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Electro-Harmonix Freeze Sound Retainer Compression Pedal||(4.7 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Mooer MCS2 Yellow Compression Effects Pedal||(4.7 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|MXR M102 Dyna Comp Compressor Pedal||(4.7 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Donner Compressor Pedal Ultimate Comp||(4.7 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
What is a guitar compressor pedal?
Have you ever wished for a magic wand that would make your music sound just right? If so, I have good news for you my friend: the compressor pedal will do all of that and much more. Generally, compressors balance out the range of your tones. They enhance and boost inaudible notes, that tends to wear off and disappear and make sure that even the softest signals stand out in your music. Likewise, they detect any spikes when it comes to playing at higher volumes, and make your sound rounder and cleaner.
The majority of the compressor pedals increase sustain as well, which means that your tones will last longer. They diminish the need to constantly control the volume in order to get the tones right. This pedal is often overlooked since it does not add any audible effect to your sound. But in terms of sounding professional, the compressor knows what to do.
This pedal is especially useful for those, who play genres such as jazz, country, funk and acoustic music, since they require a lot of precision and clarity. But compressor pedals can be beneficial for everyone. They deliver studio-quality right at your feet without too much trying and effort. In short, the ability to balance your tone, gives you every possibility to improve the quality of your performance.
What else can a compressor pedal do?
Even though compression pedals are mainly used to cancel out any imperfections in your sound, they are rarely one-trick ponies. Apart from shaping your sound, they can be used for adding depth and thickness to your audio signals, as well as defining your tone and adding some dimension to it. A compressor can give you an array of different tones and will allow you to create those squishy notes.
Now, to express this more clearly, let’s dive into the styles of music and their interaction with compressor pedals. Firstly, they will make your tone shine through a mix, when playing quiet, articulate parts and will not let harp harmonics or tapping get overlapped by other sounds. If you are more of a rock/blues type of guy, compressor will provide you with great sustain, while keeping your sound nice and clean.
What is more, you might find that dialing in different tones of an arpeggio is quite a headache. If you apply different pressure while playing it, the ultimate sound will come off uneven, which is probably not what you are striving for. This problem can be easily tackled by using a compressor pedal. It will produce a uniform sound, despite the technique or the instrument you use.
Last but not least, a compressor pedal can serve you as a clean boost as well. If you adjust the controls appropriately, you will see that your overall output is enhanced without sounding artificial or distorted. This is a quality, which does really step up your game.
All in all, a compressor pedal will add a touch of everything to your sound. Not everyone will find it helpful, but those who will bless the day they first encountered this little device.
Downsides of a compressor pedal
Sometimes, those uneven frequencies, tones and the dynamics of the signal are exactly what you want to achieve with your music. If you are one of those players, you will not find a compressor helpful at all, since all the efforts you make will go up in the air. The core benefit of a compressor turns into a drawback in this case. However, it all depends on your ability to adapt the devices you use to the music you play. Even the most dynamic guitarists have used compressor pedals in their music, which means everything is possible with right determination.
But you should not get overboard though. Too much compression can ruin your tone and make it plain. It can deprive your sound of dynamics, higher and lower frequencies, which will result in a boring loud tone. Remember, the compressor’s ability to generate loud sound despite the range of the notes, can turn into an unappealing thing to hear. Nobody wants that, am I right? In order to prevent this from happening, do not overuse your beloved compressor pedal, because, typically, silver linings do have a perfect outcome.
Features of the compressor pedal and its place in a signal chain
Let’s be realistic, when it comes to compressor pedals, their features are limited compared to other pedals. But what they offer, is more than enough for fulfilling their function on a satisfying level. Typically, every single compressor pedal has Level and Sustain (a.k.a. Sensitivity) controls. As you already know, Level controls the overall output of the signal, while Sustain adjusts the amount of compression added to your sound. Many compressor pedals offer Attack and Release knobs, which let you modify the speed of the effect. Some of them even go further and come with EQ, Tone, and Blend controls. EQ provides you even with more balance, Tone alters the range of the tone, while Blend modifies how compressed you want your sound to be and blends your dry and compressed signals together. These features define the versatility and flexibility of the compressor pedals and give you a general idea of what to expect from them.
All these features will do nothing for you if you do not pay attention to the way you position your pedal in a signal chain. Generally, compressor pedals are placed before modulation effects. Some guitarists put them in front of distortion pedals to send a stronger signal in the effects “machines” and increase the output of the tone even more. If you want to boost your sound, you can place the compressor in the end of the chain. This allows you to display all the characteristics of your signal pretty well. But you should be careful with this technique because it will intensify any hum or hiss that is present in your tone.
An important thing you should keep in mind is that positioning your compressor pedal is completely up to you. These are merely suggestions that will guide you through you first steps, but when you start mastering your sound, your music will dictate how to arrange signal chains and what to do with compressor pedals in general.
In conclusion, guitar compressor pedals are those devices that you have to actually taste before forming your opinion. Sometimes, we reprimand things without getting to know their true capabilities. This is especially true for pedals and other musical apparatus. In order to find the best compression pedal, which will let your music display its characteristics, try out as many pedals as you can and experiment with their usage. When it comes to your music, you are the one who has the final say in the matter. The main thing is to have all the information needed and, hopefully, this task is successfully fulfilled at this point. Do not wait any longer and go get yourself a compression pedal.