Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone Review – Best Guitar Compression Pedal?

Reviewed by:
On August 8, 2013
Last modified:October 6, 2016



The mythical philosopher’s stone was able to turn lead into gold and was believed to be the true elixir of immortality. Attainment of the philosopher’s stone was the ultimate goal for ancient alchemists, representing the pinnacle of purification. Guitarists are alchemists in their own right, searching endlessly for that ever elusive perfect guitar tone. The alchemists at Pigtronix have toiled away in their lab to bring us one such relic purported to be the Magnum Opus of guitar tone: The Philosopher’s Tone. It it the best guitar compression pedal out there? Keep reading our Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone review to find out if this pedal will help you accomplish the Great Work.

As Within, So Without

One of the key mysteries of the Philosopher’s Tone that separates it from other guitar compressor pedals is that it doesn’t rely on a CA3080 chip like so many other compressors out there. Pigtronix sought out a new alchemical compression formula and claims that their design has more sustain and less noise than other compressors that rely on outdated CA3080 chip technology. This design is unique to the Philosopher’s Tone and promises to transmute your lifeless lead tone into golden singing sustain.


Grit control mixes in a smooth layer of distortion into the effect.

Sustain control sets the threshold for the compressor. Turn it up for more intense compression and sustain.

Blend control determines the mix of effected and dry signal.


Treble control buts or boosts frequencies at 2k.

Volume control sets the overall output level of the device when engaged.

Super compact form factor.

No noise operation.

Powered by included 18VDC 300ma negative tip power supply.

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Sound & Performance:

From the moment I opened the shiny box and first looked upon the Philosopher’s Tone, I had a feeling I was in for something special. This guitar pedal has already garnered a stellar reputation, but still, I wanted to try it for myself to see if it lived up to the hype.

I plugged my American Stratocaster into the Philosopher’s Tone and went for a full, yet flat clean amp sound. With the Grit rolled down and the Volume around 1 o’clock, I set the other knobs to noon and engaged the effect.

Before I even played a note, I noticed something very important…

The Philosopher’s Tone is dead silent. If you’ve ever played just about any other compressor on the market, you’ll already know that adding compression to your signal typically raises the noise floor. The Philosopher’s Tone is one of the most noise-free guitar compression pedals I’ve ever heard.

Silence is golden, but playing something releases the true power of the Philosopher’s Tone. Sustain is abundant… ah yes, glorious clean sustain. Chords and single notes ring out longer and with more clarity. The extra sustain induced by this pedal may make you never want to play without it. Seriously, you can just find a mild setting and leave it on all the time for the added sustain. It’s that good.

Finding a balance of compression with the Sustain and Blend knobs will help you craft your perfect tone. The Philosopher’s Tone is truly a master’s tool for the sonic alchemist. You can blend your dry tone to taste with the compressed sound matched with just the right amount of sweet sustain.

The Treble knob is also perfectly tailored to helped you sculpt the high-end of your sound. Roll it back for a warmer, vintage feel, or crank it for some country-style twang and bite.

The Grit knob is an interesting addition. This allows the Philosopher’s Tone to color your sound in a pleasing way, adding some dirt along with the sustain. Turn it up for some great saturation.

Want some searing tones for high-gain solos? The Philosopher’s Tone will transmute your distortion pedals into gold. You must try it in front of a high-gain pedal or distorted amp channel. Crank the Grit, Sustain, and Blend knobs for some truly over-the-top distortion and sustain.

It’s hard to find a “bad” setting when using this pedal. The controls are so well integrated and responsive that you will always find a use for this pedal. The Philosopher’s Tone may become your most cherished treasure. It’s simply that good. Of course, if you’d like a little something extra, check out the Philosopher’s Tone Germanium Gold LTD as these two pedals are siblings. Or if you want something just a little more simple, try the Philosopher’s Rock.

Let’s see the final result.



The Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone is a rock solid compression pedal with more versatility than most. This pedal adds a crystal clear sustain to your sound without adding unwanted noise like most compressors. If you don’t already own a compression pedal or even if you do, you may just discover the missing link to your perfect guitar sound in the Philosopher’s Tone. Whether you need ultra high-grade, noise-free compression, a punchy clean boost, or gritty saturation, the Philosopher’s Stone does it all with ease. If you’re looking for the best guitar compression pedal, see if this pedal is it for you. The Philosopher’s Tone is truly a Magnum Opus.

That concludes our Pigtronix Philosopher’s Tone review. Thanks for reading.


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