Top 15 Best Guitar Compressor Pedals of 2016

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals

A guitar compressor pedal may seem like an expendable effect as they don’t typically alter your sound as dramatically as, say, a fuzz pedal or guitar synthesizer. But experienced professional guitarists understand the critical difference a quality ‘comp’ can make to their overall guitar sound. Our “Top 15 Best Guitar Compressor Pedals of 2016 – Buyer’s Guide” will help you decide if you need a compressor and pick out the best pedal for your needs.

 

What Is Compression?

Simply put, compression is dynamic volume attenuation. It makes loud sounds quieter, and quiet sounds louder.

 

Do I Need A Guitar Compressor?

A compressor can give you a more consistent volume output level. For guitar this means taming volume spikes (loud sounds) when you strum or pick hard. And it means increasing sustain by raising the level of decaying notes (quiet sounds).

While a compressor generally evens out playing dynamics and adds clean sustain, a great compressor can also contribute to the tonal foundation that’s fed into the rest of your effects chain. Even if you usually plug directly into a guitar amplifier with no effects pedals, adding a compressor in the middle can create a responsive, cohesive bond between your guitar and amp while preserving (or in some cases, adding to) your guitar tone.

 

Aren’t All Compressors Basically The Same?

In a word: No.

While compressors generally do the same thing – attenuate volume – there are many types of compressors with differing characteristics, and it’s important to select the best type of compression pedal for your setup and style of playing.

 

Types Of Compressor:

  • Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Ross-CompressorOTA (Operational Transconductance Amplifier) – The earliest guitar compression pedals, most notably the MXR Dyna Comp & Ross Compressor, are of the OTA type as are most compression pedals made today. They’re typically based around a CA3080 or LM13700 chip and have an organic quality known to work well with guitar. While the early designs are plagued by noise and have a reputation for coloring tone (regarded as tone-sucking or tone-enhancing depending on who you ask), some modern pedal builders have greatly improved these designs.
    Best for: general guitar compression, simplicity, color.
  • Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-dbx-160-Compressor-LimiterVCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier) – VCA (and FET) compressors are the category that most ‘studio-style’ comps fall into. VCA compressors sound very clean and are less likely to color your tone. They’re also very precise & responsive and often give you studio-style parameter controls (including Attack, Release, Ratio, Threshold, Knee, etc.) The dbx 160A is a noteworthy studio VCA comp.
    Best for: transparency, responsiveness, studio-style control.
  • Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-UREI-1176-Limiting-AmplifierFET (Field Effect Transistor) – Another type of ‘studio-style’ compressor, FET comps are similar to VCA compressors in terms of feature set. They can sometimes impart additional color on your sound, particularly if they use a power transformer or if you crank their ‘Input’ controls. (FET comps tend to have an Input control in place of a Threshold control, driving the input signal to increase compression.) The Urei 1176 is the most famous studio FET compressor.
    Best for: studio-style control, responsiveness, transparency or color.
  • Optical – Optical compressors rely on a light source and photo resistor to attenuate your signal. These compressors are very smooth and natural sounding with slower release times.
    Best for: smoothness, organic feel, slower release.
  • Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Teletronix-LA-2A-Leveling-AmplifierTube – Tube compressors are typically optical comps with tube gain stages and are known for their ‘toneful’ qualities. The most famous example is the Teletronix LA-2A, often regarded as the greatest compressor of all time.
    Best for: warmth, smoothness, color.
  • Multiband – Multiband compression is typically found in plugin compression software used within a DAW (like Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton Live, etc.). It separates your signal into separate frequency bands and compresses each individually for the utmost in carefully controlled dynamics.
    Best for: in-depth control, precise compression, transparency.

 

There are a few anomalies in pedal compression that don’t fit into these categories, but these types are the most relevant ones and those of the best compressors that made our list.

It’s important to note that these pedals aren’t listed in order from best to worst, per se. Each compressor pedal here has unique qualities that set it apart from the others, and each one has potential to be a better fit for a particular style of guitar playing. The best guitar compressor overall is ultimately to be determined by you!

Now here are the Top 15 Best Guitar Compressor Pedals of 2016!

 

Xotic Effects SP Compressor

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Xotic-Effects-SP-Compressor

Brand: Xotic Effects, Model: SP Compressor, Comp Type: OTA

I have a confession. While arguing for the merits of using compression with guitar, even I sometimes find myself reluctant to remove a more dramatic ‘effect’ pedal from my pedalboard in favor of using a compressor. But even when I find myself unwilling to squeeze in a larger compression pedal, at the very least I always make room for the space-saving Xotic Effects SP Compressor. Its compact size is one of the reasons why the SP Compressor has found its way onto my pedalboard more often than any other comp. The other reason? The Xotic SP Compressor sounds great!

The SP Compressor is an OTA comp that aims for the Ross-type sound. It has an incredibly simple-to-use control set that makes this a great ‘first compressor ‘ and perhaps the best affordable choice for guitarists who still want professional sound and performance in a space-saving pedal. A simple Hi/Mid/Lo switch and Blend knob let you dial in the compression while Level sets your output volume. It doesn’t get any easier. If you want more customization, 4 internal dip-switches let you set the Attack & Release and activate an Input Pad & High Cut Filter. There isn’t a more flexible micro comp out there that also sounds as good as the Xotic SP Compressor. It’s a great pedal for compression novices and pro guitarists alike.

P.S. Dear Xotic Effects, please consider releasing a special edition of the SP Compressor with a full range “Comp” knob in place of the Hi/Mid/Low switch. My ideal compression setting would be somewhere between Low & Mid. Thanks! ~ Gabriel

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Diamond Compressor & Comp Jr

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Diamond-Compressor-Comp-Jr

Brand: Diamond Pedals, Model: CPR-1 & CPR-JR, Comp Type: Optical

The folks at Diamond Guitar Pedals had an intriguing idea: what if there was a ‘guitar channel’ in a pedal that was similar to a studio-grade, rack-mount ‘vocal channel’ consisting of mic preamp, compressor, & EQ all in one? The result of the ensuing engineering mission was the widely acclaimed Diamond Compressor and its progeny, the recently released Comp Jr.

The Diamond Compressor (in standard or Comp Jr form) is your all-in-one stage and studio tool for adding a professional touch to your guitar signal. At its heart the Diamond Compressor/Comp Jr is a low-noise optical compressor that smooths out your signal while preserving signal integrity thanks to premium audio grade components. An EQ is applied post compression that lets you “tilt” the frequency emphasis towards treble or bass frequencies with the center position remaining flat in response for an impressively transparent sound. The Volume knob sets your output level like moving the fader on a mixing console. Brilliant in concept. Exceptional in execution.

Due to the overwhelming requests from devoted guitarists, Diamond released the Comp Jr for those guitar players who needed a smaller version for their pedalboards. The differences between the Diamond Compressor & Comp Jr are few but notable. Diamond made every effort to maintain the Compressor’s sound quality in the Comp Jr by using similar-spec high-quality components. The Comp Jr is smaller with top-mounted jacks while the original Compressor has additional options for EQ In/Out & a 4.8kHz Hi-Cut.

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Keeley Electronics Compressor Pro

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Keeley-Electronics-Compressor-Pro

Brand: Keeley Electronics, Model: Compressor Pro, Comp Type: VCA

Keeley Electronics has long been widely regarded for their top tier compression pedals hence having several entries on our “best compressors” list. For over a decade their classic 2-Knob/4-Knob Compressor has been hailed among pro guitarists as one of the top guitar compressors around. But Robert Keeley & Co. decided to abandon the tried and true “Ross/Dyna Comp” formula and go for a whole new level of “pro” quality, studio-grade compression with the appropriately named Compressor Pro.

The Keeley Electronics Compressor Pro draws upon the foundation set by Keeley’s own GC-2 Limiting Amplifier, particularly in that it’s also based around a premium THAT Corp. 4320 chip, giving this stompbox a high degree of audio fidelity and performance potential that surpasses most VCA compressor pedals. Not to mention you get a full range of controls akin to what you’d find on a compressor in the studio: Threshold, Ratio, Attack, Release, Gain. You can also select from a Soft Knee (for a smoother response) or Hard Knee (for tighter compression or limiting duties). The Auto Mode is a standout feature as this automates the Attack & Release depending on source material, and it sounds good enough to be your default mode. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this is Keeley Electronics’ best pedal to date.

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Wampler Ego Compressor

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Wampler-Ego-Compressor

Brand: Wampler Pedals, Model: Ego Compressor, Comp Type: OTA

Okay, we’ve gotta talk about the Wampler Ego Compressor. We simply can’t keep the ‘Ego’ suppressed. While there have been more attempts in recent years to create more studio inspired compression pedals, it’s the OTA design of the old Ross Compressor & MXR Dyna Comp pedals that originally defined the sound of guitar compression in a pedal. There have been countless clones and derivatives of the ‘ole Ross/Dyna Comp, but Wampler’s Ego Compressor is the current pinnacle of OTA compression design. It’s cleaner, quieter, and simply sounds more ‘full’ and ‘toneful’ than anything else.

While those early guitar pedal compressors had only 2 knobs for adjusting Sustain & Level, the Ego Compressor lets you dial in the Attack and also Blend in your original dry signal. The Tone knob is a real treat as it can roll off or accentuate your high-end while preserving your lows. Although the OTA compressors of old have a notorious reputation for tone-sucking and overly coloring your sound, the Ego Compressor retains the sound of your guitar, especially in the low-end department (where lower quality comps typically get congested and muddy). You can go for higher amounts of fully wet (non-blended) compression and still retain clarity and presence in the upper frequencies thanks to the carefully voiced Tone knob. It’s hard to argue that in terms of OTA design, the Wampler Ego Compressor is the best compression pedal around.

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Origin Effects Cali76 Compact & Compact Deluxe

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Origin-Effects-Cali76

Brand: Origin Effects, Model: Cali76-C & Cali76-CD, Comp Type: FET

The Origin Effects Cali76 took the guitar & bass playing communities by storm because of one reason: it’s essentially an Urei 1176 Limiting Amplifier in a stompbox. Not to mention the Cali76 was created by Mr. Simon Keats, an engineer and compression expert who’s spent years building & repairing Neve preamps, Pultec EQ’s, LA-2A’s, 1176’s, and even a Fairchild 670 (a $25k+ valve monster).

The Cali76 mimics the performance of the legendary 1176 while giving guitarists a range of flavors from its different incarnations. We could fill a list just comparing and contrasting the various Cali76 pedals that Origin Effects has released, and we sort of did in our original Origin Effects Cali76 review & Cali76 Compact/Compact Deluxe review. Quite frankly, they’re all absolutely outstanding in terms of sound quality and performance with each being best suited for different tonal and performance needs. The original Cali76-STD, transformer-equipped Cali76-TX & TX-L, Limited Edition “Parallel Compression” Cali76-TX-P & TX-LP, and Limited Edition Germanium Cali76-G & G-P all have a unique sound and tonality to make them worth considering (or picking up on eBay since all but the TX & TX-L are discontinued). But the biggest news yet for the Cali76 comes in its smallest iterations to date: the Origin Effects Cali76 Compact & Compact Deluxe.

The Origin Effects Cali76 ‘Compact Series’ solves the single ‘biggest’ issue with the original Cali76 pedals – they were huge! The Compact & Compact Deluxe are only 1/3 the size of the larger units while retaining the renowned sound quality and performance of the Cali76-STD. While the regular Cali76 Compact is a great budget choice for getting “the sound” in a feature-light package (i.e. less knob control), it’s the Cali76 Compact Deluxe that’s stealing the spotlight as it has a full parameter set and the ‘Dry Mix’ function from the limited edition “P” (Parallel Compression) units. If you wanted the Cali76 before, but couldn’t justify the huge pedalboard footprint, now’s the time to make some room.

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Effectrode PC-2A Compressor

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Effectrode-PC-2A-Compressor

Brand: Effectrode, Model: PC-2A, Comp Type: Optical/Tube

Speaking of legendary rack-mounted compressors, there’s one other unit besides the Urei 1176 that’s often regarded as the greatest compressor of all time: the Teletronix LA-2A Leveling Amplifier, a photo-optical vacuum tube compressor. And there’s just one stompbox (so far!) that attempts the Herculean task of capturing the LA-2A’s style of compression in pedal form: the Effectrode PC-2A Compressor.

The PC-2A Compressor isn’t meant to be a 1:1 replica of the LA-2A, but you might say it’s the next best thing or better if you’re a guitarist. While the familiar LA-2A control setup is in place (Peak Reduction, Gain, Compress/Limit switch), Effectrode designer, Phil Taylor*, made some particular refinements to optimize the PC-2A for use with guitar and other stringed instruments. Unlike on the LA-2A, the PC-2A’s Attack & Knee are adjustable via internal trimpots. The factory settings are great as-is, but there’s room to tweak for a personal touch or to adapt the PC-2A to bass or acoustic guitar. Also, the pedal’s tube gain stage comes courtesy of an audiophile grade Philips NOS subminiature triode vacuum tube. How does it sound? The PC-2A Compressor is one of the smoothest, warmest, quietest, and most natural sounding compression pedals you’ll ever play.

Thanks to Mr. Taylor’s unparalleled expertise in tube based pedal design (a reputation that causes Effectrode pedals to remain backordered and sell out quickly during their small batch production runs), the PC-2A will continue being as highly regarded in the realm of guitar compressor pedals as the LA-2A is among professional studio engineers. Effectrode calls their products “Audiophile Pedals”, and the PC-2A Compressor’s undeniable sound quality confirms this to be an accurate description.

*No, not David Gilmour’s guitar tech who’s also named Phil Taylor, although Mr. Gilmour, a true connoisseur of tone, does use a PC-2A Compressor in his current rig!

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Empress Effects Compressor

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Empress-Effects-Compressor

Brand: Empress Effects, Model: Compressor, Comp Type: FET

The Empress Effects Compressor is another true standout in terms of studio-style compression in pedal form. It’s an FET comp that is incredible clean, responsive, ridiculously fast, and incredibly versatile. It might be the most well-rounded all purpose comp on this list. This pedal could easily be used by any guitarist playing any style of music.

It has a parallel blending Mix control, Attack & Release, an Input for setting compression amount/threshold, a 3-position Ratio switch, and an Output knob for setting makeup gain. The Gain Reduction LEDs can also be used to monitor input level or both input level and gain reduction at once.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this pedal is the Empress Compressor’s dedicated Sidechain input. It’s a TRS input, so you could use it with an EQ or filter to compress only certain frequencies. But what’s really inspiring is using an external audio source (like a kick drum) to duck your guitar in the mix in realtime. Those classic dance style ‘pumping’ compression effects popularized by Daft Punk with the old Alesis 3630 and used in every form of dance music since (trance, house, modern EDM, etc.) can now be applied from your pedalboard. While certainly not something many traditional guitarists will find use for, a sidechain input is my personal most-wanted feature on a so-called ‘studio-grade’ comp, and I’m glad Empress Effects implemented this so well with their stellar compressor.

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Rivera Sustain Shaman

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Rivera-Sustain-Shaman

Brand: Rivera Amplification, Model: Sustain Shaman, Comp Type: VCA

The Rivera Sustain Shaman might just be one of the best kept secrets in guitar compressor pedals. First, while guitarists may assume at a glance that it’s yet another Ross-style comp with expanded features, it’s actually a studio-grade VCA compressor built with ultra-premium components. The familiar controls give guitarists with a pedal compressor background easier access to studio-style compression tones. If you’ve never bonded with a Ross-style comp, maybe because they’re too noisy or colorful, the Sustain Shaman may be what you’re looking for. It’s certainly quieter and more transparent than any Ross-style comp around.

There are several other key distinguishing factors to the Sustain Shaman. This compressor has 2 foot-switchable channels, each with their own controls for Attack & Sustain. What’s more, Channel B features Rivera’s unique Super Sustain mode which goes over the top to crown this pedal as the king of clean sustain. Seriously, kick this thing on for distorted leads and let it rip. You can even smoothly transition between regular compression and Super Sustain at key moments by switching channels. And let’s not forget about the Blend & Tone controls that will help you carefully tailor your compression sound. The Rivera Sustain Shaman is one of the more innovative and original compressors out there and is great for anyone looking for something modern and beyond the norm.

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Keeley Electronics GC-2 Limiting Amplifier

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Keeley-Electronics-GC-2-Limiting-Amplifier

Brand: Keeley Electronics, Model: GC-2, Comp Type: VCA

Over a decade after Robert Keeley & Co. released their all-time best-selling pedal, the Keeley C4 Compressor, the good folks from Edmond, Oklahoma finally released their 2nd guitar compressor, the Keeley Electronics GC-2 Limiting Amplifier. But rather than replacing or expanding upon their 1st compression design they went in a different direction entirely by abandoning the Ross influence in favor of a studio-style VCA ‘limiter’ pedal that draws inspiration from the classic dbx 160A Compressor/Limiter complete with a similar hard knee and 3-knob interface.

The GC-2 differs from every other pedal on this “best of” list as it focuses on a more prominent style of compression called limiting. While compression and limiting are generally 2 sides of the same coin and those words are easily and often interchanged, the GC-2’s particular strengths lie in it’s actual limiting applications. The GC-2 has a hard knee by default which gives it a slightly more abrupt and aggressive effect when the compression kicks in. This helps you apply a tighter squeeze on your signal when it crosses the Threshold. The Compression knob also lets you set the ratio anywhere from 1:1 (no compression) to Infinity:1, the latter of which lets you achieve a solid volume ceiling for ‘brick-wall limiting’ compression. Although the GC-2’s compression is among the most transparent around thanks to its THAT Corp. 4320 chip (a chip also created by former dbx engineers), these particular characteristics make this pedal also worth considering as an end-of-signal-chain option. I’ve had this pedal almost always on in my pedal review testing rig since I got it to prevent any surges in volume when testing and experimenting with effects. (For example, it helps rein in runaway trails on oscillating delay pedals.) Of course, the GC-2’s front-of-chain possibilities are also noteworthy if you’re seeking a hard-kneed, percussive comp. However, if you want similar capabilities with a little more flexibility, check out Keeley’s Compressor Pro above.

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Free The Tone Silky Comp

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Free-The-Tone-Silky-Comp

Brand: Free The Tone, Model: SC-1, Comp Type: OTA

The Free The Tone Silky Comp is another take on the classic Ross/Dyna Comp design. The Silky Comp expands the familiar 2 knob arrangement with an additional Attack knob, the key to dialing in the feel of this compressor. It’s arguably one of the most transparent and smooth OTA comps out there and accurately retains your guitar’s sound better than most other pedals of this variety. It’s also on par with the quietest Ross-style comps, so there are no worries in the noise department. The only issue is tracking one down as the Silky Comp is less common outside of Japan, but it’s well worth the effort if you’re looking for a great quality, functional take on this style of compressor.

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TC Electronic HyperGravity Compressor

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-TC-Electronic-HyperGravity-Compressor

Brand: TC Electronic, Model: HyperGravity Compressor, Comp Type: Digital/Multiband

The TC Electronic HyperGravity Compressor may change the way guitarists use compression forever. This digital compressor uses an innovative multiband compression algorithm to separate your signal into 3 frequency bands and apply differing amounts of compression to each one. This pedal achieves the ultimate in dynamic control while remaining affordable and highly flexible. In additional to the multiband Spectra mode, there’s a dedicated Vintage mode for very dark and colorful Ross-style compression. The TonePrint setting allows you to download custom Artist TonePrints to the pedal as well as create your own via the TC Electronic TonePrint Editor where you have complete control over customizing your own multiband compression settings. The HyperGravity Compressor is deep and well worth its affordable asking price.

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Seymour Duncan Vise Grip Compressor

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Seymour-Duncan-Vise-Grip-Compressor

Brand: Seymour Duncan, Model: Vise Grip Compressor, Comp Type: VCA

The Seymour Duncan Vise Grip Compressor is a rock solid, affordable VCA compression pedal from the legendary guitar pickup company in Santa Barbara, CA. It goes beyond most standard guitar compressors in terms of quiet and clean operation and can go from mild to extreme compression thanks to a variable ratio range extending from 1:1 to 20:1. The Attack control lets you tweak the response to suit your playing while Volume sets output gain or adds some clean boost. Interestingly, the Blend knob works reverse of most compressors, adding in your dry signal when turned clockwise. Also, the High/Mid/Full switch attenuates the tone of your dry signal (making it not exactly ‘dry’ when set to High or Mid). This lets you Blend in specific frequencies with your compressed signal for a unique sound and feel unlike any other compressor pedal. Very cool. The Vise Grip may just become your new vice.

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Keeley Electronics C4 ‘4-Knob’ Compressor

Top-Best-Guitar-Compressor-Pedals-Keeley-Electronics-C4-4-Knob-Compressor

Brand: Keeley Electronics, Model: C4, Comp Type: OTA

Here’s a classic pedal to round out our list of best guitar compressors. No list would be complete without paying some respect to the Keeley Electronics C4 Compressor (aka, the Keeley 4-Knob Compressor). This was Keeley’s first pedal and the one that solidified Keeley Electronics as one of the top names in guitar compression. The Keeley 4-Knob Compressor is still one of the best incarnations of the Ross-style compression formula. Some guitarists might go as far as saying that this pedal has achieved greater “classic” status than the pedal it evolved from. There’s no denying that the smooth warmth that the C4 imparts on your signal is still among the best compression sounds around. Thus, you still can’t go wrong by adding a Keeley Compressor to your pedalboard.

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That pretty much wraps things up this time around. Again, while there are a few other pretty solid compressors out there and a few quirky pedals noteworthy for guitarists looking for some decent comp sounds off the beaten path, the guitar pedals listed here should give you some great starting points for finding the best guitar compressor for your needs. Few would deny that these compression pedals are indeed a cut above the ones that didn’t make our list. But as always, tone is subjective, so use your own ears, play what you can, and discover for yourself which guitar compressor is the best for your playing and your music.

That concludes our Top 15 Best Guitar Compressors of 2016 – Buyer’s Guide. Thanks for reading.

 

Is your favorite guitar compressor not here?

Tell us your top compressor in the comments!

860 COMMENTS

  1. IMHO, the Boss CS-2 is the best overall compressor. However, if you’re playing a 12-string electric guitar, or looking for classic jingle-jangle, there’s no better choice than the Janglebox, specially the Janglebox Nano since it has a smaller footprint on my pedalboard, and it comes with a second switch for treble boosting

  2. The 4 knob Compressor, from BYOC. Easy to build and has great control over compression including a tone and blend knobs to bring the Jangle home. Very high quality parts and and low noise makes a great value and excellent boutique comp pedal

  3. The 4 knob Compressor, from BYOC. Easy to build and has great control over compression including a tone and blend knobs to bring the Jangle home. Very high quality parts and and low noise.

  4. The 4 knob Comressor, from BYOC. Easy to build and has great control over compression including a tone and blend knobs to bring the Jangle home. Very high quality parts and and low noise.

  5. Compression pedals are my favorite type of pedal, just ahead of OD/dirt pedals & fuzzes. I’ve used Dynacomps & Ross clones, but I like pedals that allow one the option of throwing a little dirt on top of the signal. My favorite right now is an older Rocktron Big Crush, an old OTA-style w/a 1030 chip. It’s worth noting that QA was notoriously lax w/these units, & many ended up w/noisy paper-weights whereas I lucked out/in.

    Less thrilled w/the Strymon OB-1, which is guilty of those exact crimes, w/the addition of a boost in the front end. This is a recipe for disastrous interference. The Dynacomp still occasionally gets used but I prefer something w/an attack control, even if it’s just a 3-way switch on an EHX Soul Preacher or dipswitches in the Xotic SP Compressor.

    I love the options available on my Pigtronix Philosopher King, really a Philosopher Stone Dist./Sust. w/ADSR. The EHX Black Finger is just too touchy, the only applications I would use are for box & keys. Wish I had purchased a White Finger instead.

    But… if I have to use an outlet, I’m going w/the grandmeister of cool squash, a 1980 MXR M143 Limiter. That thing is still the best in my collection. Of interest re: the pedals in this line up would be the unit from a few years back where 2 Cali Slide Rigs were put in one substantial box to create a magic sustainer for pedal steel-style players…

    • Yeah, Origin reckon their current effects are better, but I really would like to at least try one of those original Sliderigs. The only annoying feature was the internal dipswitches. I always reckon if a feature’s worth having then it’s worth putting on the top of the box, and it’s not like those early boxes didn’t have room.

      Re the EHX Black Finger, yeah, those pedals can be a bit obnoxious in a live setting, but I don’t think I’d want a Black Finger in trade for it. I’d rather pay the difference and get an Origin Cali or the Effectrode.

      Incidentally, in reference to my post somewhere below. Tried the TC. Didn’t like it. Using a Boss CS-2 instead.

  6. I find much less to argue with in this summary than I expected, there are 4 or 5 pedals in there that I would be considering were it not for ‘losing’ half my pedal collection (I may have mentioned this before, may the ears of whoever’s responsible be plagued by the sound of ‘The Sound Of Music’ for ever more), but as things stand I’m discovering a new respect for the Boss CS-2…

    I am in the opposite camp as far as your definition of compression. I’m on the side that says that compression doesn’t make soft sounds louder, it just makes them seem louder by comparison, if you then turn the volume up they become louder, and to do this a compressor pedal needs an expander working alongside it (‘Sustainer’ as it is often referred to). On my jazz/funk gigs I used an EFX Black Finger (Which I believe may have an expander inside it but I used it totally as a compressor) running into an Aphex compressor (A genuine compressor which simply turns loud sound, i.e. your guitar signal, down to whatever you’ve set it at) and then into a J Rockett Max pedal (Which seems to me to be a combined boost and aural-exciter pedal). Annoyingly the effects bag was stolen on a blues night where I was using the Max pedal alone as a solo boost pedal, and the EFX and Aphex pedals weren’t in there so I still have them, hooray, but they’re of little use without the Max, boo.

    Given the dosh I would be torn between the Keeley Pro, the Origin Effects (Although I’d want to try the Sliderig alongside it first), the Effectrode, the Rivera (Which I note, proudly advertises its sustainer), and the Free The Tone. The Empress would have been in there too but it suffered from coming straight in front of the Rivera. As things stand I might just give the TC the once over, thanks to your tip about the price.

  7. I have the Diamond comp (big size). Fantastic sounding comp and great eq as well. It really is a channel strip in pedal form. Highly recommended if you have the room on your board.

  8. TBone Demman says

    the John Suhr Koji Comp is very nice
    the andy Timmoms Carl Martin sounds very nice
    but i will tell you a problem ALL of these have except for the Empress
    there is a noise floor that comes and rides on top of the signal regardless of noise reduction
    its there when your playing clean and when you let your instrument fade out its very obvious on all of these
    the empress is completely free of these artifacts….i will tell you first hand…i own most of these comps here
    and what im telling you is inherent in most of them and cannot be rid of….sad ting …for live….probably wont hear it or hear what im talking about
    in the studio the noise is gonna print and after being maximized or re compressed your a dead duck
    but fortunately
    the EMPRESS WINS…koji is close…..very very little noise…a tiny bit…the Carl Martin sounds fabulous but the noise floor is terrible

    there you have it

  9. Going through a bit of a pedal renaissance over the last year or so.

    I’ve always used Boss CS-3’s. They’re rugged, affordable, and reasonably good sounding. But, I’ve also discovered that they have a midrange hump that’s good for some things, not good for others. Hard to make sound musical. Easy to start getting ‘thukky’. They hiss. Not badly but I wouldn’t go into a studio with one.

    Went back to the future and tried an MXR Dyna Comp reissue. A little harsh and ‘thukky’ in that it makes your attack mostly go ‘thuk-thuk-thuk’ and that’s about out it. But the real problem is – it hums. Loudly.

    Looked at a Wampler Ego one day and wondered what you get when you blow twice what a CS3 costs. Tried it and it took 10 seconds to answer my question. Quiet, musical, full, chunky, incredible. All knobs at noon! That’s the good. The bad is, there’s so much control that if you are trying to dial in the ‘perfect sound’ you spend hours getting frustrated and putting the thing back to noon. Then you stand there wishing you could find that little extra ‘sauce’ that would make your sound perfect. So great pedal that gives you so much control that its too easy to screw up with it.

    Xotic SP – read so much good stuff about them that I had to try one. Love it. Took about 15 minutes to get a sound I really like. Sounds GREAT clean. Knew I could open it up and flip some switches, but decided not to because it just works. Started with the knobs at noon and flipped the switch a few times to find what I wanted. Moved the knobs a few degrees and noticed that I get better treble when I back off the compression a bit. Most of that 15 minutes was playing away in amazement that a compressor should be this easy to use. Only problem – spent so damn much money on the Ego that I hate to brush it aside so the Xotic is part of my ‘grab and go’ rig that I take to jam sessions. Along with a trusty old CS3 that I just can’t give up on.

    Want to Try – Vise Grip. Dudes on YouTube demo-ing the thing sound awesome. The thought of having ‘another compressor for me to jack with’ – not so good. Keeley Limiter – mostly because of good reviews. Barber Tone Press – small green ones sound good, but older black ones can still be had and those have an amazing reputation.

  10. Interesting list of compressors. Good overview.
    My favourite compressor is The Warden from Earthquaker Devices. It has got enough options to tweak your tone to the ultimate. I have been using The Diamond bass compressor on my guitar and bass pedalboard. Can be used with both instruments without a problem. Great comp. also, but The Warden gives me for guitar more options.

  11. My favorite compressor is the FX Engineering RAF Mirage. Its transparency and ease of use with two simple controls make it a winner. I’ve used a few others, starting with a gray Ross, which I wish I still had – but the Mirage is the best I’ve used so far. Like butter – it makes everything you put into it sound better!

  12. Great list, thx for doing the work. I’m curious as to your opinions on the three compressors I have: Carl Martin pedal Compressor/Limiter (bulky but killer), EBS Multi-Comp (tailored for bass but works on everything), and my newest addition, Ninevolt Pedals 1927 Home Run King Comp – so far, it sounds great. (Curious about your feelings on Ninevolt Pedals in general, as well.)
    Cheers

  13. My current compressor is a JAM Pedals Dyna-ssoR. It’s a great higher end version of the classics, I love it ! What are your thoughts on this pedal ?

  14. Thanks very much for the very informative article. I never really understood the finer points of compression. I always thought it was just for Beatles music :)

    Much appreciated.

  15. Just played the Cali76 compact deluxe this week. Twenty minutes with it on your signal and you will never want it to be turned off again. Phenomenal.

  16. My favorite type of compressor for now would be the OTA type . I currently use the Wampler Ego compresson and the Xotic SP comp on my other board. I really like the options both of these pedals have and the tone / color they produce. The ego compressor fattens up your guitar tone really nice and the best part is that it has a tone knob to brighten up your compression .

  17. I have a TC C300 dual channel rack compressor for my bass. I use the first channel between my instrument and my effects for a punchy sound, and the second in my amp’s effects loop, so it correts the volume fluctuation that my effects may cause. I haven’t really used this setup on gigs yet, but it sounds great by itself! :)

  18. Very well done overview. Until a couple of years ago, I never messed around much with guitar compressors except for the occasional Dyna Comp. Then I picked up a used Pigtronix Philosopher King and have been hooked on compressor pedals ever since. I now have about 10 different compressor pedals. Personally I love to use them for driving amps & fuzz pedals into new levels of distortion. I have owned an Ego, and it was certainly a good compressor, but I chose the Origin Slide Rig & EarthQuaker The Warden pedals as my main weapons for compression. The dual channel Slide Rig is about perfect in its versatility. Would love to hear the Cali 76 as well-especially one with Germanium transistors for the make up gain amplifier.

  19. The Vox Snake Charmer is my favorite compressor at this point. I’m sure somewhere down the line I’ll try some random compressor that blows me away…but until then!

    I always have my eyes peeled for an affordable compressor that really gets the jobs done whether it be a guitar or synth, which makes the search twice as difficult in my opinion!

  20. Great selection. Though the Hyper Gravity is cheap and very attractive, I didn’t really like how it sounds on default presets. Wish it could propose 3 toneprints.
    My favorite so far are from Diamond and Effectorode. Seems that I prefer optical comp.

  21. It is hard to say, but I needed a century to realize that two main pedals for any acoustic or electric pedalboard are tuner and the best possible compressor.
    I would like to have one from the first league, like Cali….

  22. Origin Effects all the way! Best compressor I’ve tried. Compression is so important – I’m a total convert! It may now be my most important effect and the tonal foundation for everything that follows. :-)

  23. I would love to be able to play with a comp pedal. I just started my pedal collection with a Flashbackx4 and a WhammyV, & I can’t believe the new sonic worlds that have opened up to me and my band immediately!

  24. Thanks for this article, it cleared up a lot of questions I had about compressors. I currently do not have a compression pedal, but I definitely will be adding one to my collection.

  25. I’ve owned and used the Empress and Diamond compressors – great units for anyone! My current favourites are the FEA Opti-Fet and the Broughton Monocle. I’d love to try a Cali as well.

  26. This is a great way to sum it all up, my personal favorite that I’ve played is the ego comp. The blend knob is a life saver for not over powering your tone with compression.

    That being said, this list opened my eyes to a few Ive definitely got to check out!

  27. I use the “compresion sustainer” from Boss and dont have any complaints, but maybe i need to check out the reccomendations in the article !!

  28. This is a great way to sum it all up, my personal favorite that I’ve played is the ego comp. That being said, this list opened my eyes to a few Ive definitely got to check out!

  29. I’ve really only used the Joyo Dyna Compressor but I love it! Gives me a real Jason Falkner spank on my clean tone.

    I find cranking the sustain up gives it a really crunchy yet clean tone, great for my telecaster / vox combo. Would be interesting to see how these other compressors work!

  30. I’m not a huge compressor guy, but I was curious as to what all the hype was about, so I got an Xotic SP, placed at the very front of my signal chain, and now I can’t imagine not having it on (I leave it on all the time). I find that it adds more “life” to my overall signal, and especially my clean tones. I like to have a mild compression on the low setting for rhythm playing, but I’ll switch it up to medium for longer, sustained notes.

  31. I do a lot of multi pedal stuff using a parallel looper to layer them (it’s like a mixing board in my pedal board), this leads to balance issues quite regularly, especially with all my pitch bending stuff. The first big problem I ran into was the amount of headroom I had in my amp, while settling on (and being very happy with) a Fender Dual Showman and a Traynor as a back up, it could be hard to dial in the exact right balances on the fly during shows. Usually one layer would over power the others, always at least a bit, sometimes more. So I tried quite a few compressor pedals to be the last bit of processing before hitting my amp. A lot of them would end up over warming/rolling off too much highs and swallow up my pitch bent sounds. Out of this list the only one I tried was the Empress, and while it was very good (preserves your tone extremely well) but there was a lot of functionality I just didn’t need, and the price of an empress pedal is already prohibitive. For the life of me I don’t see an easy way of using that side chain that would make sense for a gigging band that relies on house sound all the time.
    But, while on tour I had the fortune of discovering a Guyatone Sonic Enhancer that a guitarist in a different band was using. He let me try it out on my set up, it did exactly what I needed to with minimal set up. I found one on eBay as soon as I got home (Guyatone has been out of business for a while) There are not many controls on it (4 knobs and a switch) and when I switch amps all that I need to do is adjust the color knob to taste and I’m set, truly a pedal you just set and forget about. Leave it on all the time, works wonders for my effected sound as well as simple clean. Still have to be thorough about how I mix my looper pedal, but it’s not nearly a precise process with the Sonic enhancer acting as a maximizer on my chain smoothing everything out

  32. I’m currently using the BOSS CS-2 Compression Sustainer. It’s not perfect by any means but it’s warm and it feels organic, if that makes sense. With compression, I believe you can go down one of two routes – to make it as studio-grade as possible, or to make it as musical as possible. Some pedals strike a perfect balance between the two while the not-so-good examples sound cold and sterile.

    I was looking forward to try the Cali76 and write a review about it, but the currency suddenly went south relative to the USD/GBP and so I’m having to wait a bit more.

  33. Love this website. Recently decided to sort out my pedal board; got all the usual suspects covered…tuner, drive, wah, delay, reverb, chorus…now on to compression :D !

  34. I’m elated over the possibility of “winning” something as cool as a quality emulation of an 1176 comp in a guitar stomp box!?! The 1176 is my favorite sounding compressor… I’d love to personally own a fet comp for its amazing color and fast attack/release characteristics! Fantastic offering by the crew here at Bestguitareffects.com If I win one, No one would hear the end of it… Seriously no one would HEAR the end of it! Cheers!~

  35. Reading this made me realize I did not know much about compressors. Just use my boss in front of everything, slow attack and long sustain, for lead parts.

  36. I purchased one of the compressors reviewed by Best Guitar Effects (Xotic Effects SP) and I appreciate the effort Best Guitar Effects puts into their reviews. It is good to know you can trust a web site to paint an honest picture of a given pedal.

    I dream about owning a Cali76-G, but could not afford one when I made the afore-mentioned purchase of the SP.

  37. A site that recognizes quality. How odd.

    The compressor on my pedal board is a Keeley Compressor Pro. This pedal purchase was quite a leap for me because the pedal had to defeat long standing opinions I’d had on compressors. I’ve played electric guitar since the early ’60s so I’ve experienced most of the latest and greatest as they’ve come into production. I’ve bought many and gained experience with others at music stores I’ve worked at or favored over the years. Favorites over the years included Ross, Analogman’s Comprossor, the Keeley four knob, Cali76, and …. more recently ….. the Empress and Rivera offerings.

    My two prior favorites ……

    slightly expensive … Analogman Comprossor.
    more expensive … Cali76

    I don’t believe you can make a cheap compressor. I tried to make a Boss CS-3 become usable during a period of total time wasted. Truly. A waste of time.

    Last year, after reading an article on a Joe Meek floor compressor, I decided to give a studio type pedal compressor a shot. These are quite a bit different from my older favorites but Hey! I’m getting old. Time’s a factor.

    I chose the Keeley Compressor Pro. I’ve never looked back. While it’s less organic it’s very precise. Dead on the money. You can tell Keeley brought much of what they learned while designing the GC-2 Limiting Amplifier as they designed the Keeley Compressor Pro. The thing’s immaculate. If you’re looking for a studio type compressor rather than a stage player’s compressor you’ll love the Keeley Compressor Pro.

    As an old style / long term guitarist I’ll always love and would be proud to own an Analogman or Cali 76 compressor. In this case I reached into the future and found the Keeley Compressor Pro.

    Rick

  38. There is a lot of good information here about the different types of compressors here, and after reading all of that and listening to them all, the Origen Effects compressors sound so good! I know that they have a lot of special circuitry, but whatever it is, it sure sounds sweet!

  39. I always thought that the newest Kelley Compressor Pro was the best one on the market today. but honestly, any one would be better than what I have.

  40. I haven’t really ever used any compressor pedals even if I tried a couple in music stores. I found Cali76s really good sounding ones as well but I haven’t tried them yet.

  41. I really appreciate the time and research you guys have done, I found out a great deal more than I knew before about the different types of Compressors that are made and are available for guitarists.
    I currently use one that is not on your list, Barber “Tone Press” , I leave it on all the time because it gives just a hint of compression and is very smooth.

  42. I’ve read a lot of articles and watched a lot of videos on compressors and have even played with a few, but I still don’t understand them – at all… I wish I did, I just can’t wrap my head around them

  43. Now that I’ve gotten more into chickin pickin I could really use a quality compressor. My mxr isn’t cutting it. Help me get the spank!

  44. I like the Keeley 4 knob quite a bit, is the Philosopher’s Tone really better? Guess I’ll have to check it out.

    Looking forward to seeing who wins!

  45. They don’t get much love but I really liked the Pigtronix Philosophers Tone. It worked really well for what I wanted in a compressor. Being able to mix wet and dry always makes it a little more usable for me.

  46. I’m going going, back back, to Cali Cali
    I’m going going, back back, to Cali Cali
    I’m going going, back back, to Cali Cali
    I’m going going, back back, to Cali Cali

  47. Great list. Being able to read about the different types of compressors and how they affect tone sure helped me with the tough job of picking the perfect pedal.

  48. I’ve played Keeleys, Dyna Comps, and Analogmans….look forward to trying out a Cali76 and also a Diamond comp. I’ve heard great things.

  49. Loved my Cali 76 big box tx with teles and strats…less so with humbuckers and P-90s.

    IME you really need the blend or dry control for hotter pickups to lesson the attack.

    The compact series looks promising in that regard.

    All other pedal compressors that I have tried were like toys in comparison to the Cali.

  50. This is my dream compressor, I play slide guitar, this would awesome to hear through, what a magic box,it’s been on my dream board list for a while! I ll pray to win this one!!

  51. Having used an old dbx 1/2 rack comp on guitar for years, I am really interested in the new Keeley VCA comps. I also would love to try the Origin and Effect rode ones. The vice grip also looks cool, especially for the price.

  52. Dying to try the Exotic SP.

    I’ve currently got the Fender Micro Compressor, which is great for the price of £35, but I’ve found that it adds a little grit to my clean tone (not what I wanted). Could well be my practice amp though; Marshall15W Valvestate VS15R..

  53. I currently use a MXR Custom Comp. It’s a lively compressor with a good amount of vibe, yet doesn’t seem to smash your tone in an unpleasing way. That said, after reading the list above it might be a good time to see how these other compressors would compare.

  54. i do alot of original songs recording and using a compressor is essential and i prefer it in a pedal on my pedal board rather than a rack type ,,,, CALI76 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  55. The Cali 76 wins hands down in my book. My second fav (which isn’t listed) is the Strymon OB.1.
    Also, I want to win the giveaway!!!

  56. I have never had a compressor on my board but I use one when recording vocals so I’m pretty intrigued by the possibility of using one to sculpt my guitar tone. I’d love to get that 1176 in pedal form from Origin Effects.

  57. I have the “Exar Bass Compressor”, handmade in Poland. It’s simple with only 4 Knobs (Attack, Sustain, Tone, Level) and one Input and Output. Not very flexible but the best for around 40 Bucks!

  58. My favorite comp currently is the Effectrode PC-2A. What it may lack in controllable parameters it more than makes up for with the character it imparts into your signal.

    A sleeper gem that didn’t make your list, but also very much worth checking out is the MXR Bass Comp. Probably the most neutral sounding comp I’ve tried (and there have been many). Works fantastically on guitar as well as bass.

  59. After selling off my Dynacomp, I did a lot of research and spent a lot of time playing with different compressors – Out of the ones I was able to play, I ended up on the Vise Grip. The “flavor” suits me well.

  60. compressors sound great in the right context and are pedals that most people will not even realise that you are using.These seem to be the cream of the crop,but hard to find in a shop to try yourself,so its good to read about them here.

  61. I’ve got a 1976 DynaComp that’s been in my Fx line since it was new. It ain’t new no more, and trying to find a REPLACEMENT for it has been an interesting journey. I’m only STUCK on the MXR until I find something I REALLY like.
    THANX for pointing me in a few directions I hadn’t considered yet.

    BillyC

  62. Compression is key to a good clean sound, and you don’t have to whole hog to get a great compression effect. Since 2015 was the year my Pigtronix Philosophers’ Tone decided to stop working, it would be so nice to put a Cali on my board, or a Keely Limiting Amplifier.

  63. I don’t really use much compression, but I have the GC-2 by Keeley – the best feature is the gain. It’s just the best ‘gain’ to use before fuzz pedals. I have tried many other ‘boosts’ to fuzzes, but this is it. Works well with ODs too. I don’t need compression per se, but I do miss my little Guyatone Micro – that was a great little compressor for chickn’ pickn’.

  64. I don’t normally compress, or else I use the compression on the recording console. But I am giving really serious thought to either a Cali 76 or a SlideRig. They seem to have the really classic sound that I like.

  65. Been interested in compressors lately and the Cali76 line seems to be the premium top-of-the-line for pedals although the Keely double-wide is also getting a lot of run. There are a few others that are in the running for my attention so it seems it’ll be almost as difficult to pick the right one for my sound as it is for every other pedal. Years ago I would’ve never even considered buying a pedal that costs the same as / more than some amps. Wow, times have changed…

  66. As a studio geek and bass player, I’ve been looking around for a “worthy” studio grade compressor to add to my board. As the UA 1176 is my go to comp on bass in the studio, I imagine the Cali76 would be the perfect thing!

  67. Wow! I cannot even imagine how I’ve lived for so long without a compressor pedal. I need it! It would definitely add the “something” that is missing on my tone. Please lords of rock ‘n roll, make me win this one.

  68. Maybe it’s because I play a cheap guitar but I like the compressors that color your sound. I had a CS-3 at one point and it did just fine.

  69. Every time I think I am ready to add a new pedal to my board you guys write another “best of” and make it an extremely difficult choice. Being on a budget is never easy and a compressor will probably be the most expensive pedal on my board. I’m really leaning towards the Hyper-Gravity, I have a few TC Electronic pedals and absolutely love them, plus the price makes it easier for me to get than the Keeley or Cali76.

  70. Have used a Joe Meek Floor Q and TC Electronic G-Major for all my compression.

    But who doesn’t lust over the Cali76 gear? Also, think TC Electronic HyperGravity may be a cool solution.

    Love the detailed reviews on BGE!

  71. I’m a fan of the old-school MXR Dyna Comp. It’s clean, it’s easy, and the tones are solid. But noise is always somewhat of an issue so I’m pretty excited to get my hands on a Philosopher’s Tone (based on your killer review here). Of course, I’m hoping the next compressor I get to try out is the Cali76 Germanium that I’m about to win…. ;)

  72. Finally, FINALLY started using something other than a Boss Comp, and it’s great to be free of that squishy sound. I have a Mooer Yellow Comp (I believe they cloned the Diamond Comp) and it is a great pedal, always on for most of my guitars (single coils). I have a lap steel with a humbucker – it doesn’t seem to pair well with that (at least in that particular guitar), so I turn off the comp when using playing lap steel. The blend/mix knob seems to be gaining popularity and is a welcome feature on compressors, IMO.

  73. Just realized the value and use of a compressor and I’m dying to get one.

    Probably going to go with SP for the small footprint, but I can’t help but want to try out one the heftier choices, like the Empress.

  74. I only realized the use that I would have for a compressor in the last week and now I am dying to get one. This list has been immensely helpful.

    I’m thinking I’ll go with the Xotic SP because it seems to be amazing while taking up less space than my old tuner, but I can’t help but want to try one of the heftier choices, like the Empress.

  75. I only realized the use that I would have for a compressor in the last week and now I am dying to get one. This list has been immensely helpful.

    I’m thinking I’ll go with the Xotic SP because it seems to be amazing while taking up less space than my old tuner, but I can’t help but want to try one of the heftier choices, like the Empress.

  76. I use the Xotic SP, it’s a great sounding compressor with a small footprint and it stays on all the time. Compressors all seem to have their own unique voice so would love to try any or all of the above.

  77. I need a comp with a blend control. Wampler or Seymour Duncan? maybe the Silky Comp from FTT. Maybe I should just win the Cali76-G? So many options, any thoughts?

  78. Nice Review. For me “Keeley is Killer” with both “4 knob Compressor” and the “Compressor Pro” in this list.

    I use a MXR Bass Compressor and this is one of the best i have used on my bass, very clear and transparent while maintaining the Dynamic range without noise.

  79. As always great reviews. For finishing my pedalboard, i”m looking for a compressor and it will be a Cali 76. Which one, I have to try. Please keep going with this beautiful website. I”m reading it for hours.

  80. Great review and a good comparison. Often underrated, the compressor is an essential part of everybody’s rig. Now you have me jonesing for a Cali

  81. I seem to like the way optical compressors feel under the fingers. I really enjoyed the original Diamond Compressor, that’s a really smart sounding pedal. One not listed here (although launched a year or two ago) is the Bogner Harlow. I have that pedal and it’s got a genuine character to it. Possibly too much for some, but as something that I like to leave on all the time, it adds something a bit special.

  82. The Diamond Jr is the one I am after next, having already got the Keeley 4, and the Keeley Limiting Amp.

    Cheers, and thanks for your very helpful site.

  83. These articles are so well thought out and written. I have now officially begun my search for the right compressor for my tone!!

  84. I’m very proud of Boss CS-3.
    It can have a very warm sound and it can have a really dark sound for cleans (regulanting the Tone knob).
    For high gain distortion I use it with 2 purposes:
    – The first one is use it like a booster for solos … it sounds great when previously you’re using a wah (it compense the volume lost in some frequencies of the wah).
    – The second one is in order to enhace nartural and pinch harmonics.

    Thank you a lot, you’re amazing! :D

  85. The only compressors I’ve used were built into multi effects units. Never really tried a stand alone pedal. Pedal should be better I assume. Will have to try one some day. Compressors are an overlooked effect by most but I know Eric Johnson gets great results using one.

  86. This article is a great starting point for someone starting out their search for their best compressor.

    Every player will have their own preference when it comes to compressor flavor, thanks for the great info.

  87. The MXR Dyna Compressor does everything I want it to, no bells and whistles, just does its job, and comes in at a good price as well. Would love the chance to try the Cali though!

  88. hi
    I’m looking for special effect devices to have my synthesizer be sounding more interesting and which gives me more creative flow,

  89. Tried a lot of comps. FEA Labs do good ones. Keen to try an 1176 variant as it has an interesting fixed threshold and preamp combo! Luckily there’s the origin fx G version competition running!

  90. Anytime I hear the word Seymour Duncan I get a smile. Not only for pickups, but this pedal too.
    The VCA Vise Grip Compressor is good for rock and metal.
    And I know and you should know that every seymour duncan product is good, especially if it’s with a giveaway!

  91. I wish they would elavorate more on the TC Hypergravity…
    Does it sound better than the SP or Ego? I don’t think so… But I would like to hear a more educated review on it…. I have it, and I feel it’s a joke of a compressor… Very DAW style, too digital with no magic mojo likethe sp…

    But I want someone to prove me wrong!!! Am I just not using it properly? I hope so!!!
    I might hVe to go back to my 37 dlls dynacomp clone :/

  92. I love the MXR DynaComp clone I built for myself! But it’s pretty noisy, and I would absolutely LOVE a monster compressor like the Cali76-G to give me both the tone and spank I love without as much hiss.

  93. My current favourite is the Carl Martin Compressor/Limiter.
    It acts like a very tweakable comp, limiting amp or a boost, all while adding magic to your original tone.

  94. Compressors are always in the signal chain when recording guitars.. Whether you hear the ‘work’ or not.. At least for me. Compressors are invaluable in pedal chains to provide a nice steady signal to hit certain effects.

    Having wonderful, flexible, transparent when it counts, and chock full of character at other times, compressors make my tracking, mixing, and performing worlds spin. Without em.. I’d be lost.

  95. The MXR Bass Compressor is another great option, and for not just bass. Can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. I’ve been using it for acoustic lately, sounds great. It’s modeled after the 1176, just like the Origin. But for a lot less scratch. Highly recommended!

  96. I used 2 Origin Effects Compressors on my board.

    One before the distortion to tighten the clean and the other after the distortion for a nice guitar solo tone. = )

  97. Great guide and explanations on the different types of compressors; I would’ve never guessed that there were so many different types. For someone who has a Whammy pedal, a Rocktron Banshee 2 Talk Box, a DigiTech Synth Wah, and a Joe Satriani Big Bad Wah, I think it’s time to go easy on the extreme effects and get something more subtle.

  98. First: great explanation of the different types of compressors!

    Second: I suddenly feel the urge to buy A LOT of compressor pedals – is that normal? ;-)

  99. Definately the most underrated effect of them all. I can easily get by w a a good single channel tube amp, Compressor & an echo. The Compressor can add all the boost & sustain for leads. In fact 2 Compressors can make the equivalent of a 4 channel amp.

  100. Ive never felt compression to be something I could leave on all the time. Not so with the Cali76!!! It sounds FAT! And who doesn’t love a bit of Germanium thrown into the mix!?

    The video demos have me getting all excited about the tones that THE MAN at Origin Effects is allowing us access to, without the need to carry an Urei 1176 about!

  101. So many compressor and so little time. I have a Dyna Comp 76 reissue which is lovely, but I sure would love to play around with something more hi-fi like a Keeley Gc-2, Compressor Pro or a Cali76. Lots of Love.

  102. I play bass and love compression. Depending on the style I may want a super squished sound, or something organic and natural to smooth out the peaks and valleys. I have the modified Boss CS-3 which is mediocre at best, and I’m torn between the two best (IMO) ones out there: the Keeley Compressor Pro or the Origin Effects Cali76. Both give the best range and performance, judging from reviews and demo videos I think.

  103. Just tried some of the TC Electronic material last weekend and never imagine it could make such a difference!! Great sound and variety with very few gadgets!! :D

  104. I have never managed to use a compressor to improve my sound. As such; i am very reluctant to invest in a top end model, however well recommended they are to me. So a win here would help quite a bit.

  105. As somebody who is new to guitar I found this site to be not only a wealth of information but a good source of inspiration too. Thanks guys for really helping me understand why I need to consider not only compression but many many more things, also a bit overwhelming too!!! :D

    Love the site, keep up the good work!

  106. I love my SideRig by Origin Effects. Even I don’t play with a bottleneck. I use it to kick my old OC-2 or when I use heavily “reverberated” sounds or just to get an amazing guitar tone.

  107. I have a tc electronics compressor which is ok but now built pedalboard around the g system, bk tube driver, 79 deluxe electric mistress, nova drive, big muff deluxe and a providence chrono delay, and all I need now is the Cali to have my perfect setup :-)

  108. My dream is for one of those Cali.’s they sound incredible. Thanks for the holiday chance. And thanks for all you have done this year.

  109. Compressors are the one type of pedal I haven’t really explored much yet, but it certainly is the next one on my horizon. I particularly think it will be helpful for my solos. I’ve noticed that when I click on a boost or another overdrive for solos, my volume doesn’t seem to increase (in fact it seems worse). I mainly only notice it live or playing with others. When it’s just me and a guitar, it’s fine. I’m not sure what would be going on, but I’m thinking a compressor could help.

  110. I have wayhuge saffron squeeze(original) compressor.

    It is sweetest sound compressor I ever heard.

    I’ve been looking at the Cali76 for a while. Compressors were never even on the radar for me before.

  111. I’ve owned the Empress and the Diamond, and can confidently say that you won’t go wrong with either of those. I hope to try (or have!) a Cali someday though!

  112. Thanks for this article, it helped solidify my next purchase. The Cali76 Deluxe seems like such a monster for it’s compact size…and I didn’t know the exact terms for the different type of compressors, and how that relates to what I’ve been hearing. Thanks again!

  113. Gotta love the Cali, I like the way it interacts with initial attack… I wouldn’t mind fittin’ one in my board this Christmas! =)

  114. Where to start! So many amazing compressors we truly are spoilt these days. The Keeley stuff is always a fantastic place to start but I’ve been really impressed with what origin effects are doing. I was lucky enough to try and a friends and it blew me away, so clean! And to top it off they’ve pinched the aesthetics of the old British rail! Check them out!

  115. Just upgraded from the Cali76 standard 1st version to the new Cali76 Compact Deluxe.
    I used the first version only for studio work, it was too big, but sounded amazing.
    The compact deluxe is unbelievable and the dry mix control is the plus.
    Hard compression settings with the dry mix at about 60% and you’ll have that spectacular heavy 3D clean sound you were dreamin’ of!

  116. Currently using a DVK Technologies “The Mrs” comp/boost. Not the best I’ve heard before, but it’s quiet enough and the boost function is useful. Would much rather have a Cali!

  117. The Cali76 is the compressor I use when playing bass. Although it’s a rather massive pedal, it’s built super tough. The controls are really intuitive, the lowest ratio (4-1) is generally all the compression I need for my sound, and the articulation of my notes is so much more clear with the 76 in the chain. I can only imagine what the 76-G sounds like!

  118. For me the best is Empress compressor. It is so because I like a clean, transparent comp that I can leave as always on all the time. It also have ine of the best metering option in the market today. Having said that, I am very curious to try the cali 76 for a little variation as I heard nothing but good things about them

  119. I really enjoy the simplicity of the Mad Professor Forest Green, there isn’t a setting that sounds bad with that one!
    However, if you are willing to tweak just a bit more, the Cali76 is very rewarding!

  120. I have honestly never used a compressorpedal on guitar. Bass a couple of times but being an engineer I mostly take care of the dynamics in the studio. Favorite so far most be the distressor, api 2500 and 1176. I like a bit of added color and grit and these give just that.

  121. I’ve been the Cali as a sustainer and it’s the best thing I’ve heard. It really improves your tone. It became the key component in my board.

  122. I wonder how these compare to a Jacques Fat Burner that I still have on my board (I bought it more for its Y – splitting and headphone out).

  123. My favorite compressor is the Mooer Yellow Comp cause it’s really transparent cheap and compact.. but i haven’t tried the Cali76 that seems to be a monster..

  124. I must admit I love all things with tube in the world of compression. The Effectrode PC-2A Compressor would be a dream pedal. Thanks for the reviews.

  125. I am just getting started using effects, so I don’t know much about them. Hopefully I can win a few to speed the process along, then I can offer a bit more insight on the blog.

  126. The one effect I cannot be without is a good compressor, but while I can make most work, the holy grail is still out there waiting for me to find. Maybe this is it!

  127. With such a high quality and variety I can’t decide! XD although it would be great to test that Cali76-G “Germanium”… seriously, it looks like the pedal of the future hahahaha :D

  128. I honestly didn’t know compressors get so complicated! I use a Dynacomp, does a simple job, I guess there’s more compressors can do than what I’m working with.

  129. Oh man! Cali76 “Germanium” has to be like the “Gom Jabbar” of compressors. That is just awesome. This is an excellent list! Thanks!

  130. I use a comp in my chorus loop before chorus &delay. Tryed many comps over the years, ceap & expensive devices, legends & unknown pedals. From my point of view a comp must supporto my playing style. Lots of comps force you into a fight to reach out your desired tone, hate that. My favorite devices are the OVNIFX Smoothie, the FEA Labs “Opti-FET Compressor” and the Rothwell Love Squeeze. Hard to beat the superquite noise level of a “Love Squeeze”. BUT – I guess that a Cali76 changed the world of comp users – so most wanted on my board -> Cali75 CD…

  131. germanium compression eh? sounds interesting. i live in the mountains & wonder what effects the variations in temperature might have. currently use a wampler or a dynacomp.

  132. I’ve read the reviews, these all seem great ,but here is the thing. I’m a new guy, that is, I know what I like but am not sure what I need. I like the lazy tones of BB king , the sounds of Daryl Halls band( his guitarist #2 I think his name is Paul) are great. Jeff Beck a song “Because We Ended As Lovers” is great stuff. Some of Larry Coryel’s licks ,jassie and old but nice Mellow leads that remind me of laid back small beach bands. As I practice I can only try to emulate the artists as I search for my own tone, my own style. Money’s tight so additions are purchased with care Please keep showing us the good stuff!

  133. I’ve read the reviews, these all seem great ,but here is the thing. I’m a new guy, that is, I know what I like bit am not sure what I need. I like the lazy tones of BB king , the sounds of Daryl Halls band( his guitarist #2 I think his name is Paul) are great. Jeff Beck a song “Because We Ended As Lovers” is great stuff. Some of Larry Coryel’s licks ,jassie is old but nice Mellow leads that remind me of laid back small beach bands. As I practice I can only try to emulate the artists I search for my own tone, my own style.

  134. I bought the Cali-76 TX-L mostly because of the reviews done by “Best Guitar Effects” and could not be happier. Sure it huge and takes up space but its perfect so it doesn’t matter:) “Best compressor Ever”

  135. There’s also the highly unconventional Instant Lo-Fi Machine from ZVEX, though I’d love something that could cut lows/boost highs.

  136. THANK YOU!! Having only used the compressor on a used DigiTech I had no clue what it REALLY was meant to do. I found that it would cut off my softer notes all together when cranked up at all. This article has schooled me on what it should really so……and now I WANT ONE!!
    Fingers crossed the Germanium comes my way!
    Cheers.

  137. I think the Bearfoot FX Pale Green Compressor is one of the best out there, and of course the Strymon Deco does its thing really well. I’m super impressed with the Origin Effects Cali line, though, and would love to add one of those to my arsenal.

  138. I’ve been looking for my first compressor ever. I heard that Cali76 is the gold standard, but because its a little out of my price range, I looked further. The Keely 4 knob seemed like an obvious choice, but I kept exploring, TGP later it seems that Diamond and Empress are also great. I also was checking out the VFE White Horse, and EQD The Warden, as well as Wren and Cuff Gold Comp.

    Ultimately I think I’ll go get the Empress or Cold Comp.

  139. I used to hate compressors for too many years. That was before I played a quality one. Now I have become a fan of good compressors!

  140. I’ve never used a compressor oddly enough. These reviews help in understanding what they do and what they can offer though. Thanks.

  141. well compression is really a love / hate thing. sometimes I don’t get enough, and sometimes i switched it off. that is really part of the sound, my next step is to try with/without more often to check what is better…
    good vibe to play on!!

  142. My first experience with compression was a cheap plastic pedal in the 80’s which seemed to add noise and not much else! I’ve since heard others using them, and tried a couple myself, which were very impressive. But it’s an expensive minefield trying to figure out which one to actually get! perhaps it’s near time to bite the bullet and just get one…

  143. I have the Xotic because I was looking for the Ross sound. I haven’t played with it a whole lot yet as I just got it, but it seems pretty easy to dial in so far, and I haven’t even used the internal dipswitches yet.

  144. I went with the Xotic SP… really really like it, but agree with you. It would be better if it had a comp knob instead of the switch.

  145. Great list. Good to see that the industry standard has so shifted away from the noisy 2 or 3 knob jobs. Would love to have the Cali76 Germanium!

  146. Excellent article that will help anyone searching for a compressor. Me? I have the Xotic SP and it is, INHO, hands down the best compressor on the market and especially since it takes up little space on your board. Thanks for all the great reviews! When I need an honest opinion about gear I always turn to you first!

  147. The compressor I use is the Fairfield Circuitry Accountant. I adore its size and fat sound. But the Empress is where it’s at for the tweaking abilities.

  148. Really a big fan of germanium transistors and their effect on my tone, would be absolutely over the moon to to land such a fantastic compressor. Thank you so much for everything you do with this site, it really is fantastic. All the best!

  149. I love compression effects. I go back and forth between rhythm and lead playing, and using a pedal is WAY easier than using the volume pot on the guitar.

  150. I use a Nashpedals Honkytonk Man Compressor, and I love it! A blend knob is a must for me when it comes to compressors. I also love the Walrus Deep Six.

  151. I use a Dyna Comp to thicken my tone a bit but also to create head room (I use a ton of fuzz). I also like using compression to add sustain to delay- I saw an old Edge from U2 setup where it went Memory Man/Dyna Comp/Memory Man, and I thought that was brilliant. I’m looking a lot at better compd than the DC lately because it does what it does, but I want a couple of versatile compressors to see what else I can do with my chain!

  152. I love these articles! It saves me from jumping around the Web for details. I’m in the process of building a second board of high end pedals for clean/FX loop effects. BGE.com is helping me narrow down my options. Thanks!

    -stew

  153. Hi,

    have absolutely no experience with compressor pedals. From what I read in your very nice article I realy want to have one. Think it would fit my playing perfectly! Very curious…

    Cheers, K

  154. The Wampler Ego Compressor is excellent as an always on and subtle compressor. I love it. I’m really interested in a full on hardcore compressor, like the Cali 76 and Empress Effects Compressors. Great list, btw!!

  155. Outstanding article. This was very informative and helped clear up some of my questions I had about compression. Well done!

  156. I’ve been on and off with compressors over the years. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I don’t. It usually depends what kind of music I’m playing, but I think the reason I’ve shied away from them is because I’ve never really gotten a good one. I want something that doesn’t change my tone and the ones I’ve played in the past have colored the tone a lot…..and not in a good way. All of the ones reviewed here seem better than what I had. Would love to give them a try.

  157. I’m a giant fan of the Empress Compressor. It’s incredibly flexible and sounds great. I’ve used it on guitar, bass, Fender Rhodes, synths, etc, and it’s been exactly what I needed on all of them. I wish it was a little smaller, but it’s worth the real estate (and price).

  158. I’ve never really used a stand-alone compressor before, only the ones built into those multi-effects systems. Would love to try out that Cali76.

  159. I’ve only used a few compressors. The blue boss and the right side of the Route 66 OD pedal. Personally I liked the rt 66 and I have it setup as a boost when playing single coils.

    Would love to try a Keeley or a Ross

  160. I like to use a compressor with single coil guitars in the front of the signal chain for the tone enhancement, volume levelling, and sustain, not the attach compression so much. I had a Ross Gray Compressor, it was awesome, sustain for days. I sold it unfortunately. Since then I have been listening to many different compressors, they’re all pretty good. I am using the worl’ds cheapest plastic case Dynosaur compressor, the attack knob doesn’t really work, but I’m getting what I need from it. I’ll probably put it into a metal case some day. Compressors are also good at the end of the chain for metal sounds, this usage is becoming increasingly popular. Lastly, I have an old Alesis 3630 stereo rack compressor, it has a nice sound.

  161. I like to use a compressor with single coil guitars in the front of the signal chain for the tone enhancement, volume levelling, and sustain, not the attach compression so much. I had a Ross Gray Compressor, it was awesome, sustain for days. I sold it unfortunately. Since then I have been listening to many different compressors, they’re all pretty good. I am using the worl’ds cheapest plastic case Dynosaur compressor, the attack knob doesn’t really work, but I’m getting what I need from it. I’ll probably put it into a metal case some day. Compressors are also good at the end of the chain for metal sounds, this usage is becoming increasingly popular. Lastly, I have an old Alesis 3630 stereo rack compressor, it has a nice sound.

  162. My MXR Dyna Comp is simple and functional adding to my sustain and evening out my attacks. It adds no noise, doesn’t break the bank, and does the job making it a good value.

  163. The Joyo Ironman Pipe Bomb compressor would have done well on this list. Under $100 and I think better than everything up to $200 and some above.

  164. I haven’t tried many, but the EHX Soul Preacher was very nice for a “cheap” compressor. It gave me loads of sustain!

  165. Having a lot of joy with my demeter compulator.
    Can’t recommend it highly enough, if it’s good for a certain David Gilmour, it sure it good enough for me.

  166. I’m a Professional Audio Guy and i couldn’t live without compressors. My all Time favourite Is The 1176.

    As a semiprof. Guitar Player. I would like the have an 1176 on my Board.

  167. Love the sound of some of these – it’s not something that has been on my pedal board before but I think it would be a great addition

  168. Very well written and comprehensive article on different compression options. I haven’t heard some of them (like the new Hypergravity from TC Electronic) but each has their own unique properties and applications depending on style and preference. Good stuff.

  169. Hello.
    I’ve never tried a compressor in my instrument , but I’ve heard other and I think it gives a very important contribution , and more in an electric bass.
    From what I understand are better compressor rack , but certainly with the quality they have pedals today , not remain nothing back ….

  170. I think the vice grip is the best on there, it may not be the flashiest but the tone it gets and the size is great for smaller boards.

  171. Nice review, I’ve actually learned quite a bit about compressors from this. I have to say, though, the Warden optical compressor from EarthQuaker Devices has to be my favorite.

  172. So, I certainly like the Keely 4 knob compressor, but I think may favorite would have to be the Warden, by EarthQuaker Devices. I really like the sound of the optical tremolo, and it doesn’t take up as much space on my board as the the Keely Pro, which is also a great compressor.
    @samplayskeys

  173. I have had the opportunity to try out all of Keeley’s compressors. The C4, GC-2, and Compressor Pro. I’ve always felt that the C4 was the best out of the 3 as it gave my amp a more warm touch sensitive feeling. It’s not as transparent sounding as Keeleys newer VCA compressors, but it’s transparent enough to suit my taste. Plus, it does was the VCA comps can’t do well… add a load of sustain. The VCA based compressors on the other hand, sounded too transparent like as if they weren’t even doing anything to alter the sound in a positive or negative way. The only thing I’ve noticed with a Keeley VCA comp was that if you turned the gain knob up all the way, it added dirt… that’s the last thing I want my compressor to do. If Keeley made the VCA-based comps with a super sustain switch or knob like the Rivera Sustain Shaman, it would be a beast of a compressor. I’m interested in getting a Sustain Shaman because it’s apparently a VCA comp with the warmth and sustain of an OTA comp thanks to its super sustain switch. The pedal seems like it would take too much room on the pedal board though. Origin Effects compressors look interesting, but I’m a bit leery of FET pedals as my amp doesn’t seem to take FET pedals well. I’m willing to give those pedals a try too. The 3 Keeley pedals would make perfect Christmas gifts for my fellow bandmates, and I may need the GC-2 pedal for other sound products besides guitar like my PA speakers, keyboards, recording gear, microphones, our drummer’s drum rig, our bassist, protect guitar amp speakers, etc. The list goes on.

  174. I had the Keeley Compressor (4 knobs) as my very first compressor. It was great, but I find the Barber Tone Press Compact more versatile for my uses now. I’d love to have the Keeley Comp Pro though..

  175. Hey – love your site!!!! Would also love and have been wanting a Keeley compressor!!! Thanks for keeping the guitar and gear community up to date and informed on all the fantastic gear you guys get your hands on!!
    R

    Ps pretty plz Keeley compressor – would be fantastic for certain dynamics etc!

  176. Love the way that a compressor pulls sounds out of a mix. I use mainly digital compressors on my tracks but have fallen in love with the sound that only a pedal box can provide. Im also an electronics noob and looking to learn more about circuit design to get the best audio sound out. Keeley seem to have made some impressive sounding boxes. Would love to own one!!!

  177. Hello! I’ve never owned a compressor pedal before, but I’m currently on the lookout for one. I didn’t know about the new Keeley. It looks really impressive. The hypergravity also looks interesting, because of the toneprint and the multiband compression.

  178. My ideal compressor would emphasize low crunch sounds on my 7 string to assist me in emphasizing the ideal rhythm tone I’m trying to create and get rid of high end sharp twang that just hurts my ears without sacrificing the tone..

  179. Really nice article!!!
    Is great to understand a little bit more about the different kinds of compressors out there!!
    I am the happy owner of a mxr dynacomp. It’s great to have some really squashed sounds. But you cannot tweak it in order to have some more transparent compressions.
    Let’s see if I can enjoy any of the compressors from the monthly giveaway!!!

  180. Thanks for this and the last one. Wish I could do a shootout like this in my local shop but they only have 3 compressors to chose from

  181. Currently using a Janglebox and Barber Tone Press, but not terribly happy about the latter. The Janglebox works a treat, if a little noisy – but hey, it’s a compressor. I would really, really like the Keeley Pro compressor pedal. Like really. Just saying :)

  182. I haven’t tried any of these yet, wanting to get my hands on the empress compressor as I’ve heard good things but I can’t get over the cali76 you guys reviewed last month. These keeley’s seem grand as well. My pedalboard is hungry for a good comp.

  183. I’ve found the Diamond compressor to be so transparent and clean. For a 3 knob compressor it’s quite natural without tone coloring.

    All I need now is some $$$ to have one at the front of the chain and one at the back!

    Thanks for covering the circuit design differences.

  184. I’m a gear head and love techie stuff. The TC Hyper Gravity appeals to me because it’s a studio quality 3 band compressor, so I can use it to boost my highs when playing slide, boost mid a little, and limit the lows. The toneprint software gives unmatched ability to customize the pedal, and as artists create their own toneprints, downloading through a cell phone into pickup is a snap.

    That said Keely is legendary and I was unaware of the Keely Pro until this article. I’d love to try them both out side by side..

  185. In the market to beef up my pedal board, and this has helped me narrow down the number of devices out there I have been considering.

  186. Wow, I am building a small board, and it already feels too small

    The depth of information is huge, and rather daunting tbh, I am going to have to find a way to try and work out a short list for investigating further, but what a great place to start

    Many thanks for the passion

  187. Play electric uke and desire more note sustain.So far Pigtronix Philosophers tone helps with
    sustain but I don’t need the overdrive. I’m watching bestguitareffects demos to find the pedal
    with the most pristine sustain. Maybe it’s the Keeley offerings?

  188. I heard about half of this list before and I got to know about Cali 76 from your review. Appreciate! I’m searching for the vintage compressor sound – keeley do their work

  189. I currently use a Boss C-2 Compression in my Humble home studio.
    Still in search for a Compressor that wont squash my overall volume in live situations.

  190. Very interesting article! I disliked the BOSS cs-3 and am very happy with the Diamond. Will go for the Jr. soon, due to space issues…

  191. Nice article… been toying with whether or not I really need a compressor on my board… seems like yes. Would be really fun to win one!

  192. I’m a fan of the Cmatmods Deluxe Signa Comp! Everything on the pedal interacts well with each other. I use it for that extra bit of fatness, usually always on.

  193. I’ve been using a “squeezy” from Chicago Stompworks…. its a clone of the Orange Squeezer. Pretty nice, but I’ve been looking for a little more control. Gonna have to check out one of these.

  194. My favorite compressor pedal would have to be the Signa Deluxe Comp. Awesome comp with good effects. A lot of popular guitarists use it

  195. After reading this I wanna comment on something the post doesnt do, the sound yo looking for and how each compressor can help yo. If yo going for that blues sound for example, yo would only want to catch the peaks cos yo know you want those chilly dynamics. If yo going for something like metal and wanna smash that fuckin guitar then yo know yo wanna compress it all. Also yo can control really well those dynamics with compressors with parameters like attack, ratio, release if yo are really finicky or if yo wanna get weird yo can also reverse pump that shit. Hope yo guys have a good one.

  196. I’ve been renting the Keeley 4 Knob for awhile now and am about ready to buy it. As a Bassist it’s done wonders for my fear of 10ths through large house mains. I can finally open up my tone for ballads and provide more balanced pads. It’s been lovely :)

  197. I love compressor pedals especially to make a solid funky clean sounds. My favourite is Keeley although I am still saving to get one of those.

  198. Ibanez CP-5 set to nuke after an early Rat reissue is my way to fake Fripp’s “Heroes” sound. Not dead on, but I could play that sound for days. Heck, you can almost play a note for a day with those two.

  199. Compressors seem to be appeciated again,after a few decades of being ignored.I like the sound of these new versions,but choosing may be difficult.

  200. I love compression as an effect,either clean for country/jazz or with a fuzz pedal to bring about total sustain meltdown.My main squeeze is an old but still mint IBANEZ CP-835 Compressor II(bright red and it has a rectangular switch button) which has basic sustain and level knobs.It’s old school but I love it and the big gain range on the level control can push an amp like an emergency backup overdrive.I’d still like a Keeley,though……..

  201. I”m thinking about getting a compressor. The article is excellent and will help me. This is not my favorite effect, but I think I may use it quite a bit, especially with a Mad Prof Underdrive to clean up my single channel amp. The Diamond is a fantastic sounding pedal. If it wasn’t for the price, I’d probably order one now. Maybe I’m a convert?

  202. I have to say I’m really struggling with the decision on what compressor to go with it seems like all of them have serious pros and cons

  203. Never knew there are that many types of compressors! I’ve used multiband compression in Logic before. Looking to add a new compression pedal to my live rig!

  204. I use to have the Boss CS-3 compressor/sustainer but it was kind of noisy at higher sustain levels and it was changing the guitar tone. Now I use the Marshall ED-1 and it is a lot less noisy and a lot more transparent. Its emphasis button lets you choose what frequencies to squeeze. It is a good choice when you’re on a budget.

  205. Fascinating reading! I never knew there were so many different types of compressors! I’ve used vocal compressors on my DAW, but I’m a total noob when it comes to guitar effects.

  206. Definitely a fan of the Keeley 4 knob and the Wampler Ego. Would really like to try out the TC Electronic Hypergravity though. All in all, great article!

  207. Very interesting article! I never had a real hardware compressor, so I can’t say witch one I prefer, but I use the “built-in” ones in Logic, and I generally prefer the ones that emulate a VCA compressor, and I just learned with your article that 2 of the Keeley ones are VCAs. That’s probably what I would be looking for !!

  208. I haven’t been on the live side for a while, so the compressors I have gotten used to are plugins or dbx live compressors. I have a boss compressor in signal chain, but it seems very limited. I’d love to have something new to learn!

  209. This article was timed really well. I’ve been doing a lot of research on Compressors. I’ve been leaning towards the classic “four-knob” Keely, in fact.

  210. I’ve been needing a compressor for a long time but none of the ones that i dig are anywhere near my pricerange. (since I always end up buying something out of impulse, like something for a specific sound) Been thinking of the sustain shaman since it has the A/B switch too, wich i need for different parts of songs and creating mindblowing variations of the sounds already in the same song and so on. The list is long. It comes down to me needing to get my thump out of my ass and get my self a great compressor.

  211. I’ve been needing a compressor for a long time but none of the ones that i dig are anywhere near my pricerange. (since I always end up buying something out of impulse, like something for a specific sound) Been thinking of the sustain shaman since it has the A/B switch too, wich i need for different parts of songs and creating mindblowing variations of the sounds already in the same song and so on. The list is long. It comes down to me needing to get my thump out of my ass and get my self a great compressor.

  212. So over the years I have grown very fond of compressors and what they can do to enhance sound. I have been a road guitarist and studio guitarist for a while. Anytime I go to a store I have to check out what they have.that being said from this list there are a few I like and here are my top 3 and why.

    1. Xotic SP- it’s simple and most people don’t realize that just because it’s simple doesn’t mean you can’t use it in more ways then just 1. This pedal gives you just the perfect amount of inhancment and when used right people just think you have excellent tone. That can be made more dramatic or less depending on the user. Also and I have witnessed this first hand it (like most other compressors can be used as a boost for doing leads or just kicking your sound up for that extra so thing special. So simple save space on pedal board. Awesome.

    2. Pigtronix philosopher King- I think a lot of people look at this pedal see a price and all the functions and run for the hills. But they are missing out. So many sonic boundaries have been thrown into a singl pedal and if I had to sit here and write all the ways I have used this pedal it would take the whole forum. Lol. Almost limitless with functions all centered around compression sustain and some out of the box ideas on what you can accomplish with this bad boy. And can actually save space even though it’s a big pedal because it can replace other pedals on the board. It’s a ompressor, sustainer, distortion and polyphonic amplitude synthesizer. that’s all I will say. Try one if you haven’t had the chance. Swells fades expression pedal or auto controlled. Just heck yes!

    3. Tc G-system (just the compression section) has the ability to do so much. I know tequnicly it’s a multi effects processor. But the compression and boost works so well on this platform then most. It can give and take away it can boost and sustain. I love TC and I know this system is slowly going out of style but the ability so get into the guts of effects and change them to your person extremely specific way in with you hear it sounding in you head is a rewarding process. And the added bonus of being able to set as many different presets just for compression settings as you want so you have exactly what you need when you need it with out having to tweak it after you have stored your favorites. Give you more time to rock on stage and less time bending over to switch something during your set.

    Ok that’s all for me. If anyone has questions let me know :) and as for these Keeley compressors I would love to get my hands on one. I have used a lot of there gear in the past for switching but never compressor. I would live to do a full rundown of how these things can work and sound over in my slice of sonic heaven:)

  213. While i don’t have a compressor the keeley pro one looks damn kick ass. It is something i have been wanting to get for awhile. i currently use a compressor through my DAW and it sometimes works due to my computer speed capabilities often crashing the whole mess. One of these would rock the guitar and even vocals i push through my other effects boxes.

  214. I have my sights on the K Compressor Pro. I’m thinking end of my signal chain. Help me keep my delays from spiraling out of control. Or maybe at the very beginning for more standard compression eftects? Can’t wait till I get a chance to try it out!

  215. I tried out a Dyna Comp the other day and thought it was great, Worked very well for clean(er) tones, started to get a bit lifeless during heavier distortion however.

  216. I think the Keeley Compressor Pro would be very happy on my pedalboard, with his brother Effectrode PC-2A (that is truly the warmest compressor I’ve ever played). The Keeley sounds very, very good. I hope I’ll win it !

    Thanks for the review & informations, that was very pleasant to read.

  217. I first bought the Wampler Ego and then the Xotic SP. Both are great but I love using the SP as an “always on” pedal just to add that “thing” that makes my guitars sound better.
    Now I have two Eventide H9’s that have compression too!

  218. My Walrus Audio Deep Six is definitely my go to compressor. Have heard many good things about Keeley and would love to try one.

  219. NIce reviews! There’s a DIY Compressor out there called the Really Cheap Compressor designed by Mictestor. You should check it out too. It’s a great simple optical compressor. And, I’d love to play with those Keeleys!

  220. I like a transparent comp with the option to get very squishy. I have yet to own a comp that does both of these things, but I’m enjoying my EHX Soul Preacher enough at the moment. I have a Joyo comp that absolutely kills for the price, but it’s getting a few tweaks and is on the shelf at the moment.

  221. I bought the Keeley Four Knob, and the GC-2, on the strength of your recommendations. I like them both. I like the way that the more subtle effects make me listen with more distinction to my playing. My ear is improving.

  222. Trying to settle on my first compressor very soon. Want something to even out my playing and add some sustain without getting too squishy. We’ll see what I come up with once I’m able to get to the music shop to play with some of them.

  223. I’m impressed that the Dyna Comp didn’t make the list. I don’t have a compressor but knowing how great some of my other MXR pedals are I thought it would of made it

  224. I currently only have a rack mount that I use in my little home studio. I’ve wanted one for my pedal board for travel so this article is good timing. I don’t know which I like the best I stress out on every pedal purchase forever before I decide. The keeley stuff is always intriguing to me though!

  225. Compressors, I needed some time to know how and when to use them in my guitar playing, now I would cry if I didn’t have one :__

  226. One of my favorite compressors is the now-discontinued Boss CS-2. It’s the Boss 3-knob compressor pedal. I no longer own one but I did like what it did to my sound.

  227. So many nice products…thanks for the review guys! The Keeley compressors have always been the go-to pedal. I have a CS-3 now that I like, but it’s dying. Need a replacement so the review is well timed!

  228. I’ve been using the boss compressor sustainer for years and totally love the tone! its noisy though.. And it’s not true bypass.. Soooo…

  229. I’m currently using a mxr super comp,I like what it does to my signal but I know that a one of these Keeley’s would knock the socks off of this super comp.

  230. PS: FEA Labs has some great comps!

    Dual Band Compressor-Limiter
    Opti-FET Compressor
    Dual Band SMX Optical Compressor
    Dual Engine Compressor Limiter

    *I have no affiliation with FEA

  231. Without a doubt, BGE has the best reviews I’ve found overall – thorough, extensive.

    Anyone else notice there seems to be a trend? Reviews of the original Cali76 series compressors; the Cali Compact series, and this extensive review of 15 compressors – not to mention all the compressor giveaways! – I believe it is a conspiracy by BGE to turn me into a full-blown compressor junky.

    My first compressor was a Punch Factory. I’ve since acquired a Diamond Bass Comp, an M5 (some good comps on it), a Boss LMB-3 and a Cali76-STD from BGE! Love the Diamond and the Cali, but still crave compression…

    Out of the 15 reviewed here, the Empress edges out the Keeley thanks to the monarch-monikered unit’s side-chain feature (very useful for bass). For my budding 1590a board, the SP is the natural choice, but… Does the SP lose low end when fed by a Bass? Perhaps BGE can start including some bass-guitar in its reviews?

    Nota Bene bass players! Most (but not all) Ross-based designs are known to lose low-end and should be avoided unless you’re going for “that sound”. For more info on bass related effects check out Ovnilab’s compressor page.

    In fact, for you guitarists as well, lots of good info there to supplement BGE’s: http://www.ovnilab.com

    Hopefully BGE will next review the new SolidGoldFX “Horizon” compressor!

  232. I use a couple of comps in my rig. I bought a C4 when they first came out, they are killer! Very smooth!
    I would love to have another!

  233. Thank you for a thorough, comprehensive primer on compressors. I never really understood why I needed to use one before, so I never have. That is going to change.

  234. I’m very excited for the release of the hypergravity. I do a lot of two handed tapping and heavy compression is an absolute must to keep all of that work at an audible level. Such compression always kills my highs though. So, hopefully tc electronic can solve that problem for me.

  235. I really want a compressor on my board! To able to get a more refined sound when recording and less need for edting would be such a treat. These kind of pedals are so underrated :D

  236. My personal favorite compressor is not here.It is actually the original Dan Armstrong “Orange Squeezer”. It was so simple but yet had perfect compression.The Keeley C4 & the Cali 76 would be my second and third choice respectively because of the quality and versatility of both of these pedals.Using a compressor helps give my sound a more polished and studio worthy quality.

  237. Thank you for yours reviews. almost never used pedals. I’m jazz guitarist. but jazz guitar has become a modern and contemporary. so you need to look for something new sound. yet I use ibanez tube screamer, mad professor mighty red distortion, hardware reverb. . It forms a very good sound.

  238. I LOVE my Keeley 4-knob, as a youngster ( metal guy) I never thought a compressor was a necessity. The older I got ( music taste radically different) I first purchased a MXR Dyna Comp and fiddled with it until I got the tone/compression I wanted. While playing a friends rig I discovered the awesome power of the C4 and have never looked back. I put the C-4 Second in my signal chain ( after my poly tune ). Lately I have been plating with moving it around my board and have even incorporated a Xotic SP mini as a Second comp at the back of my chain ( after Second delay and before my Second looper ) which makes for some interesting possibilities.

  239. Thank you for yet another great review on multiple pedals. My local music store doesn’t carry many pedals so I am very limited on what I can actually test on my own. This review was right on time as I just got done redoing my board and have come to realize that a compressor would be a great addition. I will definitely be getting one soon, I just need to decide on which one now.

    • I have yet to find a store that has fifteen different pedals in any category that I can test out. Usually they have two or three and it’s limited to BOSS, MXR, and if I am lucky TC Electronics. I have yet to find a Keeley or Wampler in a local shop.

  240. My ears love wampler and keeley products. A buddy has the Diamond comp and that thing rocks. I use a MXR dynacomp and I’m not really thrilled with it’s sound. It’s just not that transparent. I play country and worship, so it gets the job done to tame some flabbyness in the bottom end and create some great swells, but I wish I had something that didnt color my tone as much.

  241. This is one of the most precise articles that I’d ever read about compression. Thank you for this exhaustive work. Having said that, I would go for the Ross-style compression of the Keeley 4-Knob Compressor. I see it matching perfectly within a funky track; just nice and easy funky chops.
    Good work!