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When I first learned about the magic of compressor pedals, I knew I wanted to incorporate one into my music. As I began my search, I realized how many different models existed. Now that I know what to look for, I’m here to help you find the best guitar compressor pedal.
Finding the Best Guitar Compressor Pedals
How to Choose
Choosing the right pedal will be a unique process depending on what you’re looking for. One great thing about compressor pedals is that they work in any genre of music. Some other types of pedals, such as fuzz pedals or pitch shifter pedals, work best in certain genres and don’t sound great in traditional types of music.
If creating distorted, grungy, or robotic sounds is something that appeals to you, you might want to check out different types of pedals. If you play bass, you can read more about finding the right bass compressor pedal here.
Once you’re sure that a compressor pedal is right for you, you can start seriously searching. When preparing to purchase a guitar compressor pedal, the most important things to ask yourself are:
- How much you’re willing to invest
- The types of features you’re looking for
We get what we pay for, so keep in mind that the amount you spend on a pedal will often reflect the quality of your product. Sometimes spending a little more on a pedal can increase the quality by a huge amount.
That being said, there are many great sounding pedals out there for affordable prices, so just be sure to do your research. Since compressor pedals have a much more simplistic function than other pedals, such as distortion pedals, they might not have as many features.
Before you purchase a compressor, make sure you’re confident that you want a pedal with more subtle effects.
Advantages of a Compressor Pedal
A compressor pedal is a great device because of its versatility. This is a great pedal for almost any genre of music simply because the effects are supposed to be subtle and won’t dominate over the natural tones of your instrument.
Compressor pedals are basically signal balancing devices, meaning they’ll take your audio signal and balance it out. If you have a spike in signal, your pedal will compress and make that signal quieter.
Things to Look For
One of the most important things to look for when you’re preparing to purchase a compressor pedal is a company with a great reputation. If you buy from a trusted company, you’ll know you’re getting a product that will last you for years. A reputable company will sell products that:
- Live up to the company’s claims
- Won’t fall apart quickly
Another important thing I always suggest is that you look for is a warranty. Warranties will vary depending on the company, but they often mean they company is confident in their products.
The Best Way to Use a Guitar Compressor Pedal
A compressor won’t make your sound stand out in bizarre or abstract ways, so the best way you can take advantage of these pedals is by enhancing a natural sound. This type of pedal is a great way clean up natural sounding chords and melodies.You can also create a chain of effect pedals if you’re looking to create a complex sound.
If you’re creating a chain that involves a compressor pedal along with other types of pedals such as distortion or reverb pedals, I’d recommend putting the compressor at the beginning of the chain.
This means your signal will be nice and balanced before it becomes distorted. When some musicians put their compressor pedals at the end of the chain, it means that any artifact caused by the previous pedals will be increased by your compressor’s output gain. Check out this article to learn more about pedal chains.
List of 5 Best Guitar Compressor Pedal Reviews
1. TC Electronic HyperGravity Compressor Pedal
TC Electronic is a great company to purchase a guitar pedal through. The HyperGravity Compressor Pedal offers four knobs: Sustain, Level, Attack, and Blend. The Sustain knob will be used to set how much compression you hear.
Your Attack mode will affect how fast the compressor will kick in. The Blend control will allow you to blend wet and dry sounds, which is great for musicians who don’t want a fully compressed sound.
You can then play around with the intensity using your Level knob.You’ll also have three other TC Electronic HyperGravity settings: Spectra Mode, TonePrint Mode, and Vintage Mode.
These modes will allow you to maintain a great tone when you’re compressing your audio signal. Many guitarists have complained that compressor pedals take away some of the tone quality at certain settings, but that won’t be an issue with this model.
Some musicians have found that the Blend and Sustain set at below fifty percent can lead to a lot of low-end noise.
The amount of low-end noise you’re comfortable with will be a personal choice, so I’d recommend watching some demo videos to get a better idea of how this pedal sounds. Check out this video for more.
- HyperGravity compressor Toneprint setting produces great sound
- Spectra Mode
- Upper-end price
- Low-end noise
- May be too complicated for beginners
2. Xotic Effects SP Compressor Pedal
This compressor pedal is more simplistic in its design than the TC Electronic HyperGravity model and might be a better fit if you’re a complete effect pedal beginner.
This model is known for its great clean and transparent tone. You’ll have two knobs when you purchase this model: a Blend knob and a Volume knob.
The Blend knob will control the wetness or dryness of your signal. Wet/Dry signals refer to how much of your sound has been affected by the pedal (dry is natural).
Your volume pedal will allow you to affect how loud your sound is. One issue many musicians have with compression pedals is how much more quiet the signal sounds after it’s been compressed.
You can combat this issue with your Volume knob.Some guitarists have also pointed out that this pedal doesn’t work great with high gain amps, so make sure your amp will be compatible with this model before making your purchase.
There’s no better way to decide if you like a pedal than listening to it, so check out this demo video to hear the Xotic Effects SP Compressor in action.
- Simple design (good for beginners)
- Great tones
- 3-Way Sustain/Compression toggle
- Not very complex
- Not for high gain amps
- More expensive than other pedals
3. Electro-Harmonix Soul Preacher Compressor Pedal
Electro-Harmonix is a great brand of effect pedals. This is a small pedal, so I’d recommend it to traveling musicians who are looking for something light.This model will give you a Sustain knob and a Volume knob.
Your Sustain knob will allow you to choose how compression you’re putting into your audio signal. Your Volume knob will affect your output level. You can experiment with combining both of these pedals together to get your ideal sound.
You’ll also have an Attack toggle switch, which has three levels of attack: slow, medium, and fast. Your attack setting will allow you to choose when the compression will kick in and affect your sound.
You’ll also get up to 40 db of gain from the output, so don’t underestimate this pedal because of it’s small size!Keep in mind that this pedal is less complex than the TC Electronic HyperGravity.
This is a lower-end pedal, so you won’t get the same versatility, but you can still get a great sound considering it’s price.
Before you commit to this model, you’ll want to hear what this pedal sounds like, so check out this demo video.
- Great sustain
- Small size
- Not great for bass guitar
- Not as versatile as other pedals
- Less complex
4. Boss CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer Pedal
Boss effect pedals have been a popular brand for years. This compressor pedal is pretty affordable and will provide you with four control knobs: Level, Tone, Attack, and Sustain.
This means you’ll get more choice in terms of the sound you create than pedals with two knobs, like the Xotic Effects SP pedal.
This pedal is known to affect the natural tones of a guitar, so if you’re looking to preserve your tone as much as possible, you might want to consider the TC Electronic HyperGravity pedal.
The Level knob will allow you to control the volume. I’d suggest starting with this knob around 12 o’clock and then making adjustments from there.
Your Attack knob will let you adjust the punch in your sound (when the compressor kicks in). Your Sustain knob will then affect how wet/dry your sound is.
Your Tone knob will be a lifesaver when you increase the Sustain level. If you’re feeling like your tone has been compromised as you increase the Sustain, use your Tone setting to return to a more natural sound.
Other musicians have said that this pedal gave them a lot of feedback, so I’d recommend watching some demos before your purchase.
If you want to hear this pedal in action, check out this video.
- Tone knob allows you to adjust how wet the sound is
- Reliable company
- More complex than two-knob pedals
- Affects tone quite a bit
- Not the highest quality
5. MXR Dyna Comp Effects Pedal
Last but not least is the MXR Dyna Compressor Effects Pedal. This pedal also comes from a reliable brand and has been a favourite among musicians for about thirty years.
When you purchase a product with such a great and long-standing reputation, you can be almost certain you’ll be satisfied with its quality. The MXR Dyna Comp is really popular among country musicians, but it will also work well in other genres.
This device has two knobs: the Output knob and the Sensitivity knob. This simplistic design will make it a great pedal for beginners who don’t have an extensive background with effect pedals.
Your output knob will control your volume, so I’d suggest finding your perfect sound first, and then use this knob.
You should start with your Sensitivity knob, which will affect how compressed your sound is, and then adjust the volume once you’re satisfied with the effect.
Check out how the MXR Dyna Comp Effects Pedal sounds in this demo video.
- Simple design
- Affordable considering the quality
- Great sound quality
- Not as complex as other pedals
- Not as versatile as other pedals (best for country music)
Hopefully, this review helped you decide on the best compressor pedal for you. Compressor pedals are a great way to create a nice balanced tone in your music, which is something useful for almost any genre of music.
You can also put them in a chain of effect pedals to get an enhanced sound. Remember to ask yourself how much you’re willing to invest and what kinds of features you want your pedal to have.
This will help you narrow things down, and you’ll have your perfect compressor pedal in no time. Enjoy your new pedal!
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