WE TAKE A LOOK AT THE 11 BEST COMPRESSOR PEDALS THAT'LL HELP YOU NAIL YOUR TONE ENSURING EVERY NOTE RINGS LOUD AND TRUE
When you want to get serious about your sound, you'll want to find out what the best compressor pedals are so you can ensure each note rings out just like it should. Now, we know that compressor pedals are not going to be your first choice for guitar pedals. But it can really help improve your sound. But you're probably thinking "what does a compressor pedal do?"
WHAT IS A COMPRESSOR PEDAL AND WHAT DOES IT DO?
In summary, a compressor pedal controls the dynamics and overall level of your audio signal i.e. your guitar or bass. It makes the quiet sounds louder and the loud sounds quieter for a more consistent, equal sound. They also ensure that each string and each note is heard at the optimum level. This ensures there are no dead spots when you're playing. You've probably played a guitar solo or bass line where one note or string sounds quieter than the others or doesn't quite stand out with the rest of the sound. A compressor pedal brings all the levels to an equal playing field. They can also add extra sustain to your notes and even be set to add more attack to your strings - so they bite more and cut through the mix that little bit more. They are ideal for metal players who need their solos and riffs to keep up with the drums, funk players who want more attack with a clean tone and basically anyone who wants to hear every note correctly.
WHAT ARE THE BEST COMPRESSOR PEDALS?
In summary, we think the best compressor pedals are:
Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer Pedal
Fender The Bends Compressor Pedal
MXR M102 Dyna Comp Compressor Guitar Pedal
Boss CP-1X Compressor Pedal
Fender Compugilist Compressor and Distortion Pedal
Landlord FX A Cheeky Pint Optical Compressor Pedal
Boss EQ-200 Graphic EQ Pedal
Keeley Aria Compressor Drive
MXR M87 Bass Compressor Guitar Effects Pedal
Ashdown Studio Compressor
Boss BC-1X Bass Compressor Pedal
Read on for more info on these compressor pedals.
1. BOSS CS-3 COMPRESSION SUSTAINER PEDAL
We'll start out with an industry-standard compressor pedal. The Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer Pedal is a no frills-reliable and extremely important compressor pedal. In fact, it's easily a contender for one of the best compressor pedals of all time thanks to its ease of use, low price and precision compression. The key feature of the Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer Pedal is its ability to provide an even, “compressed” signal with a consistent volume, but it also gives you better sustain overall.
The pedal does this by lowering loud signals and boosting the weaker ones, all without adding distortion. This means you can enjoy lush solos even at quiet volumes, whilst still cutting through the mix. The easy controls over your Level, Tone, Attack and Sustain are easily manipulated and Boss' signature stompbox design means it'll probably outlive you.
2. FENDER THE BENDS COMPRESSOR PEDAL
Next up we have a relative newcomer to the guitar pedal scene, but a welcome addition to the world of compressor pedals. The Fender The Bends Compressor Pedal is an all-new, studio-grade compressor at a very affordable price - just over £80 in fact. The reason why we love the Fender The Bends Compressor Pedal, is the fact it effectively tames the unwanted volume spikes and volume drops, bringing everything to a respectable volume. However, it's got a couple of really great tricks up its sleeve.
The Recovery setting allows you to dial in the perfect amount of sustain, whilst the addition of a Blend lets you mix in your dry signal to maintain your natural pick attack sounds. The cool thing about this pedal is the Amp jewel LED which changes colour from white to pink whilst you're playing letting you know when the pedal is working its magic. Easily one of the best compressor pedals on the market today, that won't alter your tone. It's your guitar sound, but better.
3. MXR M102 DYNA COMP COMPRESSOR GUITAR PEDAL
Don't trust any best compressor pedals blog without the MXR Dyna Comp pedal in it. This thing is an absolute essential compressor pedal for beginners and those who just want to witch it on and leave it on. This no fuss, no frills pedal is a sturdy live and studio partner, offering an even signal from your guitar to your amplifier. The MXR M102 Dyna Comp Compressor Guitar Pedal will provide increased sustain with stable, reliable dynamics that will really help every note stand out.
The simple two-knob interface allows you to change the output and the sensitivity to your liking. This allows you to make sure your guitar parts have a consistent power to them and can add a little extra attack should you need it. If you want a plug-and-play option, this is the best compressor pedal for your board. There's also a mini version with an all-new Attack switch that allows you to toggle between fast and slow attack times should you need it.
4. BOSS CP-1X COMPRESSOR PEDAL
The team at Boss have stepped it up with this compression pedal. The Boss CP-1X Compressor Pedalmakes our best compressor pedals blog thanks to the Multi-Dimensional Processing (or MDP for short).
This processing actually analyses your playing in real-time and responds accordingly, adapting its output to your playing. This compressor pedal takes into account every aspect of your playing, like frequency, overtones, pickup response and dynamics for example. It even responds to how you play, taking into account playing characteristics such as note register, single notes vs. chords, amount of vibrato and bends and adapts in real-time so you get a smooth sound.
Play hard and the pedal will realise what's going on and add that extra attack you need. Back it off and the pedal will bring out the best in your smooth solos and guitar lines.
It's like having your own guitar sound engineer in a pedal.
You also have the easy to use Level, Attack, Ratio and Comp knobs to sculpt your sound should you need to make changes and the tough stompbox design that'll handle years of touring.
A compressor pedal for the discerning tone snobs out there!
5. FENDER COMPUGILIST COMPRESSOR AND DISTORTION PEDAL
Compression and distortion go together just like milk and cereal. They're a match made in heaven when it's done right. Thankfully the team at Fender know a thing or two about great sound, so have created the incredible Fender Compugilist Compressor and Distortion Pedal. It's a beautiful fusion of independent compressor and distortion circuits in a single, road-ready chassis.
This compressor pedal effectively fuses the Bends pedal we've already talked about with the renowned Fender Pugilist distortion pedal, allowing you to switch between the two or use them independently. This means you get that gritty Fender distortion thanks to the Pugilist, but the clarity and stand out sound due to the Bends working its magic. This is one of the best compressor pedals as it allows you to dial in your ideal tone in one simple pedal, rather than run a range of guitar pedals together.
6. LANDLORD FX A CHEEKY PINT OPTICAL COMPRESSOR PEDAL
The Landlord FX A Cheeky Pint Optical Compressor Pedal is the cheapest compressor pedal on this list, but it certainly doesn't suck. Nor does it suck your tone! At just £29, you get a high-quality studio and live compressor pedal with plenty of control as well as two different modes of compression built-in. We think its one of the best compressor pedals as you have the Half Pint and Full Pint modes. With the switch in the Half Pint position, you can enjoy a normal, healthy amount of compression.
However, if you want a different sound with heavier compression and more bite, flick over to the full pint. The fact it's an optical compressor is pretty impressive for the price as you get a clean, refined signal that doesn't colour your tone or change the feel of your guitar sound. The small, pedalboard-friendly size makes it easy to add to your board, too.
7. BOSS EQ-200 GRAPHIC EQ PEDAL
So it's not technically a compressor pedal, but the Boss EQ-200 Graphic EQ Pedal makes our list with ease. The Boss EQ-200 Graphic EQ Pedal is one for the tone geeks (like us) out there as it gives you an incredible amount of tone-shaping options, from simple compression to all-out EQ designed for your specific guitar changes and amp changes - should you need to switch it up in the studio or on stage.
We love this comporessor as you get two wide-ranging 10-band EQ channels as well as a graphic display to show your current EQ curve. You can also configure your sound for stereo, parallel, or even series operation and even patch in pedals for Pre and post EQ shaping. This is VERY useful in a live situation as you can choose your ideal tone, save it in the onboard banks and recall each sound for each song. You can use it to even out the frequencies on one track then completely go nuts with some crazy sounds on the next - all with the same pedal!
8. KEELEY ARIA COMPRESSOR DRIVE
Keeley pedals are well known for creating boutique guitar pedals that are reliable, hard-working and above all, consistent. Which is exactly why the Keeley Aria Compressor Drive has made our best compressor pedals blog with ease. This pedal fuses two highly respected Keeley pedals together; the Keeley Compressor and the legendary Keeley Red Dirt overdrive.
The Compressor circuit has independent Tone and Blend controls. This means you can which makes it easier to get an even sound when switching between Humbuckers and Single Coil pickups. The Blend control allows for Manhattan-style compression (also known as parallel compression), and the Tone acts like a treble booster. You also get the Red Dirt overdrive built-in which offers a world of grit and smooth creamy overdrive. You can also choose the order of the effects via a toggle switch and engage the effects in unison or on their own.
9. MXR M87 BASS COMPRESSOR GUITAR EFFECTS PEDAL
We haven't forgotten the bass players out there! The next few pedals are all the best bass compressor pedals we think should make it on your pedalboard. We think the MXR M87 Bass Compressor Guitar Effects Pedal is one of the best compressor pedals for bass available as it allows the full dynamic range of your bass to shine through until your signal hits the compression threshold. Only then will the compressor kick in. This CHT Constant Headroom Technology ensures a clean, precise performance and is only used when necessary.
Easy controls such as the Attack, Release, Ratio, Input, and Output knobs allow you to make changes quickly and the ten highly visual gain-reduction status LEDs let you see what's going on at all times. It's also packed into a conveniently sized pedal too.
10. ASHDOWN STUDIO COMPRESSOR
The Ashdown Studio Compressor bass compression pedal has been designed to provide studio-quality compression in an easy to use format. This works hard to not only level out your audio signal, but to preserve your dynamic range by giving you total control. You have the Gain control (signal level), Ratio (amount of compression) and Threshold (the level at which the signal limiting begins). Simple, yet effective. A low Threshold setting ensures your compression kicks in sooner before sending it to your amp. Set it higher and the compression will wait until it's needed.
This is perfect for those who want bass compression at certain parts of a song, as they can just dig in when needed and let the pedal do the rest, laying in wait for when it detects spikes in sound. This is a premium grade compression pedal for bass players that won't suck any life out of your bass. Easily one of the best bass compressor pedals from a brand that knows a thing or two about good bass guitar sound.
11. BOSS BC-1X BASS COMPRESSOR PEDAL
Last but not least, we have the Boss BC-1X Bass Compressor Pedal which has been specifically tweaked for bass guitar. This acts much the same as the CP-1X pedals, by responding in real-time. The Boss BC-1X Bass Compressor Pedal also helps preserve the characteristics of your instrument and captures every subtle nuance of your performance even at the highest settings. With some compressor pedals, you may have to change settings for each song depending on how you play - but not with this one! Just plug it in, find your ideal settings via the Level, release, ratio and Threshold knobs and let the pedal handle the rest. It will work with you to get the best sound at all times.