7 Of The Best Compressor Pedals That Can Get The Job Done

By Monica | Product Reviews

Aug 18
best compressor pedal

Some people may not be too familiar with compressor pedals. However, this particular pedal is the ultimate card for every touring and live-performing guitarists out there! The likes of James Burton and Jack White have been seen to use this pedal. So why would you not try it by yourself, too?

Of course, the wonders of compression can only be taken if you the best compressor pedal. After all, not all pedals are created to perform the same. Similarly, it is also safe to say that some of the effects pedals that you can see today don't have the quality that would satisfy seasoned players.

In this article, we will show you the top options for a compressor pedal. Moreover, we also prepared a simple but comprehensive guide that will teach you all the necessary things about this pedal. Let's get started!

List of the Best Compressor Pedals

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Compressor Pedal: What Is It?

Compressor pedals are common stompboxes that are used by professionals, recording artists, and live performers. They have been among the most important pedals up-to-date. Specifically, a compressor pedal somehow regular the sonic range of your rig. In short, it creates stability and consistency in the sound output of your instrument.

For example, if your guitar is quiet, this pedal will automatically increase its volume. On the same manner, it will also curtail the volume of your guitar if it is too loud in the mix. Of course, such capabilities is important, especially for live gigs and performances. After all, it is quite too difficult the dynamic range of your guitar during these occasions. There is a real tendency that you might overwhelm other playing instruments, especially that you are playing guitar.

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With a compressor pedal, you can have control to your overall output through the use of a threshold. This would limit the "power" of your guitar to an acceptable level.

A compressor pedal is among the least understood stompboxes today. Most of the amateur guitarists today would simply wish to get an overdrive or distortion pedal from the get go. But for those who know the actual value of this instrument, getting it is a top priority.

There are various reasons why you need to get a compressor pedal. Aside from normalizing the dynamic range of your instrument, a compressor pedal can also provide enhanced sustains to your signal. It somehow acts as an overdrive pedal, in short. If you can experiment with it, you will be surprised that it has a lot of uses. Moreover, they work on virtually any genres, too. But today, many players are using this stompbox for country songs.

Things to Look for the Best Compressor Pedal

While it is true that compressor pedals are somehow basic, choosing is not that straightforward. There are some things that you have to consider and to look out for whenever you are shopping for this particular stompbox. Don't worry. These are not some jargons that could make your nose bleed. We will just discuss a few important things that would help you choose this instrument.

Basic Parts

If you are going to choose for a compressor pedal, make sure that these following controls are present:

Threshold and Ratio - This particular component will allow you determine if the volume of your guitar deserves some tweaking (e.g. if it has to be lowered down or increased). The threshold is usually measured in decibels. Therefore, you should be able to grasp it easily.

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Attack and Release - The Attack and Release are two separate controls. The first one will enable you to modify the speed of the compression to take in. Meanwhile, the Release knob does the opposite. I will give you total control to the speed in which the compression should disengage.

Gain - Just as its name suggests, the gain will provide an additional boost to the signal of your guitar. Take note that the gain would eventually bypass the effects generated by the threshold. Therefore, you should know how to balance these two controls.

Built

The built of a compression pedal is a necessary factor to consider. In fact, you should always be wary of the construction and design of any guitar pedals that you will pick. Specifically, the pedal that you should choose must be durable and rugged enough to withstand constant abuses. They should not break or show any physical weariness even if you use them constantly.

Of course, such feature is very important. After all, pedals are not meant to be cradled. Instead, they are designed to be stamped and be subjected them to the harsh factors of playing. You could take care of them if you have a good pedalboard. But during live applications, such convenience might not be present. Therefore, it is quite crucial that you can get a device with decent built and ultra sturdy construction. In this way, you don't have to worry about the pedal every time you are playing.

The Price

Price is actually a determinant of the quality of a pedal. Normally, most of the expensive pedals out there has a comprehensive set of control, design, and features. They just brim with quality. You can use them in any occasions without worries that their performance would subside. In short, they will never make your regret out of your investment.

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But at the same time, this doesn't mean that they will become your automatic first choice. The reason why these high-grade pedals are expensive is due to their corresponding features. But if you are still an amateur, it is not necessary that you would start from the costly choices. Instead, what you might need is a practice pedal that will teach you the rope of a compression pedal.

Even seasoned players always have a spare pedal that they can mash entirely. It is like having the confidence of playing a particular stompbox without incurring any regrets if ever it will break. Of course, once you progress, you will realize that entry-level pedals are not sufficient anymore. That is the perfect time to invest in a high-end system that can accommodate your skills and playing style.

Best Compressor Pedals: Full Round-Up

We already have the essentials covered. Now is the right time to introduce all the top options for a compressor pedal. We have tested each of these pedals based on the number of recommendations they got from various guitar players and manufacturers. So far, none of them failed our ears. Let's start!

The effect called compression needs flexibility and versatility. In this case, we can say that the TC Electronic HyperGravity Compressor has all the power to modify the specific settings that define your rig. This particular compressor pedal comes with the necessary controls to change the dynamics of your sound. The standard knobs for Sustain, Attack, Release, and Sustain are all here.

Aside from these features, the TC Electronic HyperGravity Compressor has a switch that would let you change its mode. Specifically, they are TonePrint, Vintage, and Spectra. The first one, the TonePrint, will allow you to create your own curves of compression. You can achieve this through an external software that comes with this pedal.

The enclosure or case of this device is pretty durable and rugged. We can say that it can withstand any beatings while still running properly. It is a perfect choice for traveling performers as this one is compact and lightweight. It can easily fit on any pedalboards as well.


Pros:

  • Durable construction
  • Extremely versatile
  • True bypass circuitry
  • Affordable option
  • Capable of splitting your signal into three different frequencies

Cons:

  • Nothing off is noticed

Let's take a look at this product...

Sale
TC Electronic HyperGravity Compressor
  • Studio-quality Multiband Compressor
  • Vintage Mode for classic stompbox compression
  • TonePrint enabled - for a world of signature and customizable effects
  • True or Buffered Bypass

The popularity of MXR M102 Dyna Comp Compressor Pedal is quite undeniable, especially to the seasoned players. The reason for this is quite straightforward. This particular has been on the market since 1976. And up to now, MXR is still producing and revamping this stompbox, making it among the most reliable options that you can get. Therefore, you should not be surprised anymore if you can see pro guitarists having this on their pedalboards.

Despite its small size, this pedal is actually versatile and powerful. After all, you should always consider that is a product of MXR. The construction of this device is hard as a rock. In fact, we can say that it is among the most rugged compact-type compressor pedals today. It is also easy to use, as it only has two knobs for control. You don't have to worry about extra settings at all. Despite this, it will still give you the freedom to control the volume of your instrument through its Output knob.

Meanwhile, its sensitivity knob can modify the "intensity" and "presence" of your signal chain in the mix. If you can balance it perfectly with the output, your rig will certainly achieve a flawless performance. Adjusting these knobs are fairly easy, too, thanks to the presence of rubber caps on the knobs.


Pros:

  • True bypass circuitry
  • Easy to use (beginner friendly)
  • Ultra-durable construction
  • Price is on the "sweet spot"
  • Reliable performance

Cons:

  • Versatility is an issue, especially for advanced players

Let's take a look at this product...

MXR M102 Dyna Comp Compresor Pedal
  • In-line compressor "evens out" the signal to your amplifier
  • Useful for increased sustain with stable dynamics
  • Nashville studio standard
  • Power: Dunlop ECB003 AC Adapter or Single 9 volt battery
  • Constant output signal

Even if you are tight on budget, getting a quality compressor is still achievable. One of the most inexpensive options that you can have for this pedal is the Joyo JF-10. Despite its price, it is surprisingly good. It has a decent capability to change the overall dynamic range of your instrument with a few turns only. Many guitarists recommended us this compressor for a test. Fortunately, the results are way better than we expected.

It is an open secret that Joyo is known for copying the structure and circuitry of any mainstream pedals. However, the way they cloned the designs are so perfect that even seasoned players have nothing to say against it. Notably, the appearance of the Joyo JF-10 is not that compelling. Some people even made fun of it. Albeit this, we can say that its true value lies in its performance.

The Joyo JF-10 comes with the standard controls for a compressor pedal. It has the Sustain, Attack, and Level knobs contained in a mini enclosure. Therefore, augmenting the dynamic range of your instrument won't become a problem anymore. Some suggest that this pedal is only good for practice purposes. But for us, you can always take it on live performances!


Pros:

  • True bypass circuitry
  • All essential compression controls are present
  • Budget-friendly option
  • Great for beginners
  • Can work on recordings and live applications

Cons:

  • Durability is an issueIts design requires improvements

Let's take a look at this product...

JOYO JF-10 Dynamic Compressor Guitar Effect Pedal
  • A re-creation of the classic Ross compressor, with very low noise.
  • Use the Sustain, Attack, and Level knobs to find your ideal tone.
  • The Attack is especially designed for Bass or high-output active pickup.
  • True bypass design minimizes tone loss.
  • Package inclued: 1 * Effect Pedal

This list would never be complete without a Boss pedal. In fact, all of our pedal reviews have been studded with products from Boss. Well, it is not like we are receiving something from them (that would be great). Instead, it is a just a common consensus that Boss pedals are among the most reliable options today. For compressor pedals, you should always consider their Boss CS-3.

The Boss CS-3 will provide you the performance that is expected from a compressor pedal. Some people think that its features are too standardized and linear. But for us and for anyone who wants a compressor pedal that can do the job, this is a great choice already. The versatility is still there anyway, as controls for the Level, Attack, Release, and Sustain is still present.

Well, we can say that this one is not the most innovative option. However, its design is not flawed. Moreover, it is not complicated to use. Its parameters can suit beginners, which makes it a great practice tool. Of course, you can still use this on your live gigs and performances. Trust us. It is not a shabby compressor pedal at all.


Pros:

  • True bypass circuitry
  • Standard controls are all present
  • Durable construction
  • User-friendly interface
  • Applicable for live purposes

Cons:

  • Tends to create noise the moment you start it

Let's take a look at this product...

Boss CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer Pedal
  • The CS-3 Compression Sustainer pedal compresses louder signals while boosting lower signals.
  • Guitar Pedal
  • Boss

Xotic Effects SP Compressor Effect Pedal might be an underrated option. But when it comes to performance and quality, you should never ignore this one. Specifically, this compact compressor pedal is a replica of the original Ross Compression Pedal. Many manufacturers have tried to copy the latter, but only the Xotic Effects were able to craft it properly.

Among all the pedals that we featured here, the SP Compressor has the smallest footprint. However, you can still guarantee that it can generate the necessary compression effects. Specifically, it has a Volume knob that can go up to 15 decibels. It also has the Blend knob which enables the seamless transition whenever you are mixing the original sound of your instrument.

One of the good points of the SP Compressor is its three-way frequency control. Specifically, you can individually augment the levels of mid, high, and low signals with just the use of a switch. It gives you the playing versatility that you need to properly regulate your guitar whenever you are playing with a band.


Pros:

  • Small footprint and lightweight
  • Durable and rugged
  • Necessary compression controls are present
  • It is a versatile choice
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • It tends to get noisy when you crank it at higher volume levels

Let's take a look at this product...

Xotic Effects SP Compressor Effect Pedal
  • .
  • True Bypass
  • Powered by a standard 9 volt DC power supply or battery (not included)

They may consider the Wampler Pedals EGOCOMPRESSOR as a "boutique"  type of pedal. But during our test, its tone is nothing cheap at all. Yes, it is not the flashiest compressor pedal out there. However, we found out for ourselves that appearance is not really a good way to judge a product, especially if it is an effects pedal.

Once you connect this compressor pedal to your signal chain, you will certainly hear its quality. It is an extremely versatile choice, as it has multiple control parameters. You can get the standard compressor controls while having some additional tweaking options such as the Tone and Blend.

Specifically, the Blend will enable you to maximize the sustain without coloring the tone of the instrument. Therefore, you cannot hear any noticeable changes on the sonic attack of your instrument. Such feature is useful if you are playing a distortion pedal at the same time. Of course, this solid compressor pedal will assure its users that it won't break under constant pressure!


Pros:

  • Parts are hand-crafted in the United States
  • Extremely responsive guitar pedal
  • True bypass
  • No tone coloration
  • Rugged construction

Cons:

  • Generates unwanted noise when compressing high-volume distortions

Let's take a look at this product...

Wampler Pedals EGOCOMPRESSOR Essentials Ego Compressor Pedal
  • Model: EGOCOMPRESSOR
  • Hand made in the U.S.A
  • High grade film capacitors and resistors picked for their superior sound and response
  • Completely true bypass
  • Blend control allows you to get sustain only - no noticeable effect on the attack of the note (great for playing with distortion)

If you want a high-end compressor pedal that you can play with, you must get the Empress Effects Compressor. As its name suggests, it is an authentic analog pedal, which makes it a good choice for any "purist" out there. This is also the reason why this device has an expensive price tag. But of course, it is real to worthy to invest.

We had a chance to test this compressor pedal, believing that it was an ordinary device. But during our test, we have heard its intricate effects to the overall sound of the signal chain. The sound produced is genuine and unaltered. It is really an upgrade compared to some ordinary compressor pedals out there. It also features multiple controls that you can find in professional studios.

Specifically designed for country lovers, the Empress Effects Compressor is a fully transparent pedal. The way it alters and modifies is subtle, even on the sustain part. When it comes to design and construction, this compressor pedal brims with quality and durability. It would never look cheap at all!


Pros:

  • High-quality compressor pedal
  • Authentic analog design
  • True bypass
  • Complete with all the compression controls
  • Studio-quality output

Cons:

  • It is too big (won't fit small pedalboards)
  • Quite expensive

Let's take a look at this product...

Empress Effects Compressor Analog Compression Guitar Effects Pedal
  • All Analog Signal Path
  • Extremely Transparent
  • 3 Compression Ratios
  • Attack and Release Control
  • Blend uncompressed signal

Final Verdict

A guitarist will certainly need the help of a compressor pedal, especially during live and recording applications. This particular tool can easily regulate and normalize the dynamic range of your instrument. In this way, your guitar can blend in with the rest of the instruments without being too overpowered or unnoticed.

Among these options that we featured, we deem that the TC Electronic HyperGravity Compressor is the best compressor pedal. It has a simple construction, but its versatility and performance are truly exceptional. It has a durable case and straightforward interface, which can improve the convenience of usage. It works well for professionals. But certainly, beginners can get this, too.

Of course, you can also try the other options we featured here. You must test all the possible options and see which one of them works the best for you.

If you have any questions or clarifications, just tell us in the comment section below!

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About the Author

Hi everyone! Im Monica and I am an avid lover of guitars and everything in-between. My current profession is not really music-related. It is quite discouraging but I just don’t want to drop my zeal–especially not to guitars! I created GuitarTrance.Com so that I can keep up with my hobby. Of course, I want to engage with the community as well! Hope we can all get along!