For those who have a tendency to hammer their electric or bass guitars with a heavy attack, or can't play consistent rhythm parts throughout an entire song, a compressor might be the solution. A compression pedal might also prove to be very practical in many cases when you want boost the volume of your instrument or add sustain.
Compressors aren't always the sexiest, must-have pedal to show off to your friends. But they're often the secret weapon guitar players need to round off their pedalboard. For the clumsy soloist, they can help misplayed notes blend in, making your riffs sound more dynamically consistent. For the legends of funk who want that percussive attack to help their rhythmic playing pop out, a compressor could prove to be invaluable.
With so many compressors to choose from, where should one start? That's why we asked the loyal Audiofanzine community to choose their favorite compressors for bass or guitar. So without further adieu, here are your top 5 guitar and bass compression pedals.
MXR DynaComp: Simple and effective
As part of one of the five Dunlop product families, the Dyna Comp has been seducing guitarists across the globe since the '70s. It is greatly appreciated for its simplicity: one input and one output, a sensitivity control and a footswitch are enough to revive the attack and significantly boost the sustain of your sound. A must for guitar players, especially because its rather basic compression circuit allows it to be very reasonably priced.
Powered by a 9V battery or PSU (not included).
EHX Black Finger: The hybrid one
A pedal to warm up your sound, driven by two 12AX7 tubes in the pre-amp stage and an opto-compressor circuit. This dual type compression will please fans of warm harmonics in quest of attack based on vintage sounds. Despite the tubes, you have the advantage of keeping some degree of transparency, thanks to the optical circuit. But you still have a nice warmth reserve under your foot. It features a threshold pot, a selector for the optical compressor circuit (LED or lamp), which makes the attack vary, two gain pots (post and pre), a status LED, and a compression level LED indicator. It has one single footswitch and boasts a True Bypass design. Runs on included external 12V (1000mA!) PSU.
Celmo Sardine Can: The outsider
The Sardine Can is a compressor that has been enjoying increased success lately. Developed by a French company specializing in software products, this optical compressor has been the talk of the town among guitar players. It features a gain boost that makes this pedal an excellent rectifier. Thus, you can add a pinch of crunch to your signal path and boost the sustain if need be. It features compression and output level knobs, plus a filter section (high-pass and low-cut) and three different timbres to choose from. The connections are limited to the basics: an input and an output. The True Bypass pedal is powered with a 9V battery or PSU (not included).
EBS MultiComp: Bass in your face
This is the compressor that has been sending chills down the spine of bassists for two decades, making EBS's top seller. The MultiComp combines a compressor and a limiter in one single box, which is also coveted by guitarists, and offers three types of compression: tube simulation, multiband and normal. You have two pots at your disposal: ratio and gain. And, since it is aimed at bassists, EBS added an active/passive switch too. Plus, you can also adjust the Threshold with trimmers on the pedal's circuit board. The MultiComp has a True bypass design and can be powered with a 9V battery or an external PSU. Designed and developed in Sweden, it's been highly respected for its tone and transparency for some time now.
Boss CS3: Low cost
A benchmark among compressors that can be easily found second hand at ridiculously low prices. The CS3 is a compressor and sustainer in one. It features four controls (Level, Tone, Sustain, and Attack), one input one output and one footswitch. Just like the MXR DynaComp, the CS3 is not True Bypass. However, you can easily customize it yourself. It is powered with a 9V battery or PSU and is especially appealing to people who want to familiarize themselves with compression at a low cost.
Following the links below you can also find more information about all models included in the survey:
- Aguilar TLC Compressor
- BBE OptiComp
- Boss CS-3 Compressor Sustainer
- Carl Martin Compressor Limiter
- Celmo SardineCan
- Crazy Tube Circuits The Bulb
- DV Mark DVM Compressore
- EarthQuaker The Warden
- EBS MultiComp
- Effectrode PC-2A
- Electro-Harmonix Soul Preacher Nano
- Electro-Harmonix White Finger
- Empress Effects Compressor
- HomeBrew Electronics CPR
- Jacques Stompboxes Fat Burner V2
- Jam Pedals Dyna-ssoR
- Mad Professor Forest Green Compressor
- Malekko Omicron Comp
- Markbass Compressore
- Maxon CP101 Compressor Reissue
- Maxon CP9Pro+ Compressor
- MI Audio Compressor
- MXR M87 Bass Compressor
- Providence Velvet Comp VLC-1
- Red Witch Grace Compressor
- Rothwell Love Squeeze
- T-Rex Engineering Comp-Nova
- Wampler Pedals Ego Compressor
- Xotic Effects SP Compressor