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Guitars & Accessories

Best Guitar Compressor Pedal

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.

Keeley KCPro Compressor Pro Guitar Effects Pedal

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 Duncan Vise Grip Studio Grade Guitar Compressor Pedal

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.

Wampler Pedals EGOCOMPRESSOR Essentials Ego Compressor Pedal

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.

Xotic Effects SP Compressor Guitar Effects Pedal

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 CS-3 Compression Sustainer Pedal

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.

Sean Kramer
I'm a guitarist/music producer with 18 years of experience playing on-stage, in the studio, and everywhere in between. I have toured and recorded on projects both independent and major, in styles such as rock, pop, funk, hip hop, electronic, and more. My axe of choice is probably always going to be the Fender Stratocaster, but I've been known to pick up other guitars when the music calls for it. I'm a big fan of using a multitude of effects (both hardware and software-driven) to manipulate the sound and atmosphere of an instrument. In addition to playing on records, I have also contributed to the score/soundtrack for shows and spots on MTV and ESPN, as well as for a variety of independent films, web series, and television shows.
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