The guitar compressor pedal is an underrated tool in your average guitarist’s effects rig, but nonetheless a piece of gear that can subtly take the sound coming from the amplifier to the next level. The compressor pedal not only thickens and tightens a guitar tone by evening out the volume differences between separate notes, but can also increase the sustain of the signal which is a result that most guitarists normally lean on distortion for. In this case, distortion isn’t necessary, but a compressor can also be used in conjunction with distortion or overdriven signal to boost it further. Here are the best guitar compressor pedals, with each one we've chosen featuring knobs to control the amount of compression that is used so players can decide how extreme they want the effect to be, each pedal can be powered by a 9V battery, and they also provide little to absolutely no effect on your guitar rig’s signal when the effect is not activated.
The Keeley Compressor Pro guitar pedal is ideal for use in both the studio and live onstage. Building off the company’s two-knob and four-knob compressor pedals, the Pro offers a wider range of parameter controls that can also work well with other types of instruments besides the six-string. Read Full Review
Keeley’s Compressor Pro guitar pedal offers state-of-the-art studio-caliber compression in the form of a stompbox. Like most compressors, you’ll find the standard knobs dedicated to Threshold, Ratio, Attack, Release, and Output Gain. The Pro also offers an auto mode that automatically adjusts the envelope based on what you’re playing so if you’re not one for fiddling with knobs, this is good news. The pedal’s LED screen not only clearly signals when the compression is actually in effect, but also gives players a visual cue as to how much gain reduction is being implemented via a seven-segment LED ladder. The Compressor Pro is also a true bypass pedal, so the rest of your guitar’s signal will remain unaffected when this unit is not activated.
Seymour Ducan’s Vise Grip guitar compression pedal provides studio-quality results to increase the overall power of your guitar’s signal. Compact and clearly labeled, this unit is all analog and true bypass. Read Full Review
The Seymour Duncan Vise Grip guitar compression pedal offers a range of potential uses for guitarists looking to tighten up their tone. Four knobs control the pedal’s Attack, Volume, Sustain, and Blend the latter allowing players to create a mix of both the compressed signal along with the original sound. Players can totally squash their tones by cranking up the effect, or use it to achieve a more subtle compression. A 3-position Mid/Full/High switch also provides control over your signal’s EQ. And because the Vise Grip is a true-bypass pedal, the unit will never affect the guitar’s signal when it’s not in use.
The Wampler Ego Compressor guitar pedal offers such a wide range of tonal possibilities that sweeten the signal of your guitar, it’s entirely possible that you may never play without having this pedal turned on. The good folks at Wampler have created a pedal that not only mimics the minutia of classic compression circuitry, but also adds some great extra features, too. Read Full Review
Wampler’s main goal in creating their Ego Compressor guitar pedal was to provide an effect that strengthened/boosted guitar signal without leaving its mark in a noticeable way. They definitely were successful in that endeavor, as the Ego Compressor is transparent even as it is able to totally transform the character of the guitar’s signal. The pedal’s Sustain and Attack knobs are standard compression staples, while the Blend knob allows players to control the mix between the dry, original signal and the effect. The Tone knob provides some EQ sweetening that is just icing on the cake. And like any great compressor pedal, this one is true bypass so your signal will remain intact should you ever opt to actually turn this effect off.
Similar to the effect that the pedal actually produces, it would seem that Xotic compressed the size of your standard compression guitar pedal into a much more pedalboard-friendly shape with their SP Compressor. Despite its small stature, this unit packs a powerful sound with multiple amounts of parameter controls to allow players to really dial in the sound that they desire. Read Full Review
The legendary Ross Compressor pretty much set the standard for guitar compression, and that unit is exactly what Xotic was aiming to emulate with their SP Compressor pedal. The pedal’s compact design allows it to easily squeeze into most pedalboard spaces, even if the area is already crowded. The pedal’s output knob is capable of boosting signal up to +15dB, while the blend knob provides control over the mix between dry signal and the compressed sound. The pedal’s actual compression can be controlled via a three-way switch, and the unit’s internal DIP switches allow players to control four attack/release options to add extra punch to the effect. The SP Compressor can be powered by a single 9V battery, or by an optional AC adapter.
BOSS has always made it a point to provide simple, straightforward guitar effects pedals to the public, and with their CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer, the tradition continues. Not only is it capable of improving your guitar’s tone, but it’s durable and affordable like most of the company’s stompboxes. Read Full Review
The BOSS CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer pedal allows players to compress the signal of their guitar in any way they see fit. Compression can often be a confusing concept for people to grasp, but the controls on this pedal make the whole process simple. Knobs for Compression, Attack, Volume, and Emphasis (which functions sort of like a tone control) make it easy to dial in the exact amount of the effect that you’re looking for. Compared to many other compression pedals available on the market, this pedal touts a very affordable price tag, which gives it a leg up especially for those buying with a budget in mind. The way that BOSS manufactures their pedals makes their products extremely durable, so you won’t have to worry about causing any damage through routine use. And like most BOSS products, this pedal offers a five-year warranty.