Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer

CS-3 Compression Sustainer, Compressor/Sustainer for Guitar from Boss.

All user reviews for the Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer

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Average Score:3.6( 3.6/5 based on 32 reviews )
 10 reviews31 %
 11 reviews34 %
 3 reviews9 %
 7 reviews22 %
 1 user review3 %
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yoTrakkz's review"Love it"

Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
The Boss CS-3 Compression is an analog compressor designed for use with the electric guitar, but is suitable for any electronic instrument. It has both a 1/4 inch input and output and has a specific power supply that will power it in addition to the battery compartment. It is a pretty sturdy pedal and is overall made pretty well. This is not a rackable piece of gear - it is a stomp box.


The make up of the CS-3 Compression is really simple and easy to follow as it has a series of four knobs that each will control a different aspect of your sound. From right to left it has knobs for compression, attack, volume, and emphasis, the latter of which is kind of like a tone knob. This is pretty much all there is to it and anyone with any sort of experience with guitar pedals or compressors won't have too much trouble with it. I don't have the manual for this pedal but it is easy enough to use that you don't really need it.


The sound of the CS-3 Compression is a bit above average and will definitely do what it advertises to do, which is compress your guitar signal in any way you see fit. I usually use this pedal with a Fender Strat and a 1976 Fender Twin Reverb and I'm always pretty happy with the results I am able to get. There is a good amount of control over your tone available, which adds to the overall number of sounds that are possible with this pedal. While I've used some better compression pedals before, the Marshall ED-1 Compressor is a nice pedal in its own right.


I first used CS-3 Compression guitar pedal about two or three years ago and since then it has always done well for me. I like the overall tone it has and the ease of use makes it a good option for players on all experience levels. The price is very reasonable if not downright cheap and certainly gives you some bang for your buck. While I prefer the Boss CS-3 compression pedal to this one, the CS 3 is a good pedal and will last a while if you treat it properly.
King Loudness10/13/2011

King Loudness's review"Eh..."

Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
The BOSS CS3 Compression Sustainer is the third generation compressor pedal by the company and it basically is designed to do what the name implies. It compresses the signal going into the amp to give it a bit more punch and sustain to the sound. Lots of country and other real tone gurus use them and so I figured I'd give this famed unit a try. It features four controls which are level, attack, tone and sustain. It's housed in the typical BOSS casing and is powered by either a 9v battery or a power adaptor.


Setting up this pedal to get tones happening is pretty simple. BOSS has a great way of interfacing their pedals intuitively, which is great for first time users. That being said, I don't care for the tone of this compressor at all in its stock form. It has a very dead and lifeless quality to it that I just cannot get into. It might have been my particular pedal but I just found it to sound fairly anemic and not add the punch that I assumed it was going to.


Perhaps I'm spoiled by the boutique and vintage pedal market, but I honestly find it rare that BOSS makes a pedal (with a few exceptions) that sounds legitimately good. As I stated prior, I really just found this compressor to sound pretty bland and dull. I didn't hear any real chime or sparkle in the clean tones, nor any real increase in punch or sustain. The drive tones lost a lot of clarity and definition and overall I just ended up taking the CS3 out of my rig after about a week of fighting it to get it to sound good. It actually turned me off the idea of using a compressor for a long time and that didn't change unil I tried and subsequently bought a Diamond Compressor. I hear the nodded BOSS Compressors sound better than the stock ones but I've never tried those personally.


All in all I advise you to stay away from the BOSS CS3. it really doesn't improve the tone all that much and when put next to a REAL compressor like a Diamond, Keeley or vintage MXR, it's all but totally outclassed. I would personally much rather save up extra and get one of the above three comps as they sOund far superior to this BOSS unit by far.

iamqman's review"Last comp"

Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
This is Boss's third and final installment of the compression pedal. They took what they weren't able to do with the Boss CS-2 and compounded upon that platform to create the Boss Cs-3. They have been producing this pedal since 1986 and is still available today. So in 25+ years they haven't updated this pedal.

The CS-3 saw a chip replacement during the early 90's. Early pedals used a voltage controlled amplifier (VCA) DBX1252 but it was changed to a THAT2159 some time in the early 90s. The pedal was modified for the PSA adapter in 1997.



Controls: Level, Tone, Attack, Sustain
Connectors: Input, Output, AC Adaptor
Current Draw: 10 mA (DC 9V)
Weight: 400g (15 oz.)
Recommended AC Adaptor: ACA (black label) or PSA (silver label)


The Boss CS-3 will compress high input frequencies and boost low input signals which will in turn give a much better sustain to the notes you on the guitars.. However, by boosting the lows of your signal comes a lot more noise in the circuit. This will increase the amount of noise you hear in the signal.

The compression pedal in general works best with effects such as choruses and delays. This give the needed boost in order for those repeats and lush chorus modulations to jump out in the mix much better.


This pedal is still around today. At new they come in at around $99. That is a good price for this pedal. Not really the pedal I would get for compression, but a decent one nonetheless. I prefer the Keeley Compressor. that pedal is probably the best pedal out on the market today.

denied's review"I'd pass"

Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
- Controls for level, tone, attack, and sustain

- LED battery indicator

- Easy access battery compartment

- Powered by 9v battery or Boss style adapter

- Solid enclosure

- Boss buffered bypass


Quite a bit of control actually. The volume knob is self explanatory, as is tone. Sustain lets you dial in how long you want your notes to ring. Compression dials in the extent to which you are squashing the signal volume, boosting lows, and bringing down anything loud.

The Battery change feature actually really nice, a lot of pedals require unscrewing the bottom of the pedal, this is quite a bit simpler.

Generally, I've found the buffer to be very low quality, and really does a horrible job of preserving your bypass tone.


To be honest, this is one of the very worst compressors that I have had the pleasure using. In a nutshell, it turns your guitar into a rubber band. Some compressors will do a pretty good job of retaining some dynamics. This one pretty much steamrolls your playing, you get one one volume, that is it. The higher up the compression and sustain settings, the more noise you get. And forget about using it with anything high gain, that will take you right into the land of feedback.

Very little that I like about the sound of this pedal at all. I found it to be pretty much unusable.


Save your money. Compression isn't really an effect that you ever want to cheap out on. It can destroy your tone far too easily. At this price point, look into the MXR dynacomp. For a little more, the Barber Tone Press is killer. And for a little more than that, the Diamond Compressor is hands down the best I've used, topping an $800 BJFE compressor in my opinion.

There really isn't any budget or setup that I would recommend this under.

Audiofanzine FR12/15/2008

Audiofanzine FR's review

Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
(Originally written by Marty62100/translated from Audiofanzine FR)
4 knobs:

Tone, Level, Attack, Sustain

9-volt operation.

--- EDIT ---

The pedal has been modified;


Quite easy but it's a compressor so you have to get used to the way it works.


I'm satisfied with it but I think I will test other models. Considering its price, you could even buy it just to get to know what a compressor is.

I find the effect pretty effective especially on the attacks. It's also possible to use soft compression.

It is more effective with a clean sound than with an overdrive. With distortion the effect didn't convince me at all.

But it does enhance clean sounds and balances the overall sound (especially when it comes to level, which is normal for a compressor), and it provides a wonderful color to the attacks. I find the effect excellent for blues and even better if you add a slight modulation. (a chorus for example, although I prefer a hi-band flanger). BTW, Boss even recommends doing this.

With an overdrive, the pedal softens the sound (I have a SD1 which sounds quite dry). With the right setting you can easily get a TS9 tone.

With this pedal I use mainly my guitar's neck pickup so my clean sound becomes rounder and nicer.

------ EDIT --------

I modified it today.

Now it's a killer pedal!! The sound changed radically: less noise, no feedback with high compression ratios. The tone is clean, rich and thick. The compression effect didn't change.

I can now play a clean sound with full compression... With overdrive the sound becomes thicker but not dirty. It's AWESOME!


I review this small compressor without having tested many others so I'm trying to be objective.

First of all, you have to understand how a compressor works (see forums and other information sources) if you want to make the best use of it.

I give it a 9 because I haven't tested many others.

--- EDIT ---

After I modified it, this pedals does deserve 10/10 or even a 12/10 considering its price and the cost of the modification. It's mind-blowing!!

songboy's review

Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
This is a Compression pedal only. They say compression/sustainer, but sustain is a standard option on a compression pedal. I believe this is all analog. There are no visible digital parts at least. This is not editable through a computer. Its is 1/4" audio only, and no it is not rackable in the traditional sense (as in you would have to mount on a drawer, then rack that).


The general setup on most stomp boxes is pretty simple, and this one is no different. The idea is finding a balance between the sustain and the attack. I would start my setting the attack first, and then playing with the sustain until it sounds just right. My only problem was I never found that tone I was looking for.
Its very easy to edit the boss pedals because all of the options are labeled and adjustable by a dial. That is the beauty of these pedals, they are exceptionally easy to use and therefore great for beginners.
I never consulted a manual because I got mine used and never got one. But again, most boss pedals are really easy to figure out.


Is this a good compression pedal, NO! Pair this one up with just about any other compressor out there and you will hear what I am talking about. Its not very transparent. Every time I clicked it on I noticed a reduction in the good tone coming out of my Parker Nitefly. If you want more sustain, wave good bye to even more tone, it starts to sound really cheap the more you add. I run my Parker through my effects and into a Fender Twin, and when this pedal is not in my effects chain, things sound way better. I can't say I liked this pedal with any of my instruments.


I used this pedal for about 4 months. I promptly sold it and purchased one of the finest compression pedals on the market. The Analogman Bi-compressor (check out my review on that). There really isn't anything good about this pedal. The worst thing about this pedal, besides the tone reduction, is when using it live, I would click it on and loose about 25% of my volume. I would crank that level parameter up and still nothing. I couldn't figure it out. Sometimes it wouldn't drain as much volume, but overall it was never consistent. Sometimes transparent (in regards to volume) and sometimes if was like someone turned down my amp. This was my first compression pedal and I bought it on a whim off of ebay. After doing lots of research I found the Analogman Bi comp and was very happy when I got it.
Honestly, there is no value in crap, so don't waste your money on this pedal.
The only Boss pedal I would ever buy again is the Tuner and possibly one of the Digital delays.

MGR/Bainesy's review"Boss CS-3 Compressor / Sustainer"

Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
I bought this unit from Mainstreet Music (Greensborough, Vic, Aus) and paid $230 for it.
I knew a little about compression at the time and I bought this pedal for use with my bass rig.

It makes an undescribeable difference to the music. It improves clarity, tone, adds punch and reduces huge dynamic changes. I have it set up for use as a limiter more than a sustainer. I consider it a part of my pre-amp now, it is almost always on and I would almost refuse to gig without it.

hmmm... nothing! Perhaps the cost. It's a large price for something that doesn't have an effect that stands out like a wah wah. A wah though, is a novelty unit, whereas this gives a more professional sound.

It's a BOSS. That is another way of saying that it is UNBREAKABLE. Sturdy as a tank and quality is guarenteed! (I think boss will even give you your money back if you're not pleased? or something like that.) the sound quality is immaculate, with almost no noise when used correctly.

A must for bassists, really. The pedal can be used for any instrument and work well, but I think it is more likely a 'requirement' for the modern bassist.

This review was originally published on

MGR/Anonymous's review"Boss CS-3 Compressor Sustainer"

Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
Purchased on eBay for $32.00. I needed a good quality overdrive that didn't sound like a cheap imitation from a multi-effects board.

First off, it's BOSS quality and is in a solid metal chassis. You could drop it off a building, soak it in your sink, drive over it with your truck, and stomp on it continually during a gig, and it'll still function great.

The overdrive sounds great and can go from very very mellow to very very hard core. I need the flexibility of both and am not disappointed at all. You can strum a hard rhythm and then go to light picking and it'll still retain the characteristics of your individual guitar.

The color looks pretty sissyfied to me. Pale yellow? Ack!

Solid metal chassis and legendary Boss quality.

Great purchase and a no-brainer alternative if you can't afford the Ibanez TS9. A super pedal if you need flexibility and great quality sound that other multi-effect pedals try to but can't imitate.

This review was originally published on

MGR/Ryan's review"Boss CS-3 Compression/Sustainer"

Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
i bought this for about $85.00 from Guitar Center..i bought it cause i THOUGHT it would be useful once i messed around with it...

hmm....have to think about this one....its good for playing a lot of legato..but thats about it....oh, and i guess if you like a low signal then its good for that....

Basicly the fact that i bought it pisses me off...i rarely play legato, and i like my pickups with a nice hot output so this thing does nothing for me but waste my money......i want it gone soon....

Well BOSS effects are tough as hell...but i dont know about the quality of this perticular one..ive found no good enough use for it...

If your thinking of a compression pedal..rethink it...wait and maybe consider it as some rack gear, but otherwise dont waste your money, you will be disappointed, you will have more fun with some modulation effects, such as a flanger : )

This review was originally published on

jamman90's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" To tame"

Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer
Standard compressor compatible guitar and bass.

Input / output, and standard 9V supply.

Very solid, as always the case for Boss

Placed at the beginning of string for me.


Operation is simple priori. I say a priori because as always, 4 knobs to turn around and set played.

The challenge is to find what we seek. For my part, I put a lot of time to understand how this pedal would come in handy.

At first I was very disappointed with the job she was doing and turned me follows. But one fine day, rewiring my pedalboard, I redo the tests. And finally I found my account and I used it as a boost coupled with a BD-2. Frankly, in this configuration the sound is excellent and boosts the signal as I want.

So finally, the use is not simple at all and editing is difficult when you have a clear idea.


For me, the pedal does its job, and has found its place in the pedalboard. I will replace probably out by a Wampler Ego Compressor but it is not for now.


Finally, I actually use it for 3 months.

The value for money is incomparable to the price of the occasion. I think this is a good pedal when you are in search of his own sound.

With experience and the current means I remake this choice