In the modern day and age we live in, the tool of guitar compression has become a crucial factor for achieving that top notch tone we all yearn for. It has also become a bit of a controversial tool due to the so called loudness wars and the over-compressed nature of many of today’s recordings.
But in its essence, compression is a good tool, and you should have absolutely no doubts about it. Basically, compression takes your audio output and cuts down any sonic peaks that typically occur when you strum too hard, leaving you with a more well balanced tone.
So, we decided to sift through today’s market and see what it has to offer in the compression department, leaving us with these five picks for the flattering title of the best guitar compressor. Check ’em out below.
What is the best guitar compressor
To answer the big question, we have singled out the following five products – the strong Wampler Pedals Ego Compressor, the mid-range price master Boss CS 3 Compressor, the affordable Joyo JF 10, the simple yet effective MXR Dyna Comp Effects Pedal, and the mighty Keeley 4 Knob Compressor. More details in the following reviews.
Carrying an interesting name of Ego Compressor, this pedal seems to be the thing every lead guitarist out there needs, at least based on the name. But upon further inspection, we drew a conclusion that this dude really, really rocks, and is quite possibly the best item on the list in terms of sound quality.
Hand made right in the US of A, this compressor offers a set of resistors and high grade film capacitors that guarantee a superior sound quality and reliability.
There is a fully true bypass function, along with a blend control knob that allows you to get only sustain without any noticeable effect on the note’s attack, a very nifty feature for players who utilize guitar distortion.
In the sonic department, we’re talking very organic compression, and complete absence of any artificial, plastic vibe. The listed control knobs allow you to make all sorts of versatile adjustments, and make your guitar sound exactly the way you have imagined it.
You performance will become smoother, richer, and stronger, as the pedal will cut out every single sonic hiccup that stood in your way.
In the mid range price division, we bring you the trusty Boss, the CS 3 model to be precise. Featuring the company’s iconic packing, this item offers a top notch value for money, and pretty much everything the majority of players will ever need from a compressor.
Therefore, if you don’t need the high-end advanced circuitry and tricks, the CS 3 will serve you very well.
Apart from the input, output, and the big on/off button, the device packs a total of four knobs for different sonic adjustments – Level, Tone, Attack, and Sustain.
Each of the knobs is fairly self-explanatory, with Level controlling the total amount of the effect injected into the audio output, tone controlling the type of tone, and attack and sustain controlling those very two things – the punchy attack, and sustain aspect.
When it comes to sound, the device does a heck of a job. Once again, we have a very organic sound at our hands, and although some of the high-end aspects might be missing, those are in many ways noticeable by the most trained ears.
This is probably the item the majority of you folks out there is looking for – the best of compression aspect summed up in an affordable package.
In the budget friendly realm, we bring you the best cheap compressor guitar pedal – the almighty Joyo JF 10. Although it lags behind the high end products a bit, it is amazing how affordable this thing is.
From the right retailer, you will be able to get your hands on this pup for as low as $40, which is nothing short of amazing.
The device features a total of three controls – Sustain, Level, and Attack. You might think that the number of audio adjustments is a limited with just three knobs, but there’s a very good chance you will not be needing absolutely anything else.
The gizmo comes in an attention grabbing and quite pretty green package that’s not just about the looks, but a sturdy piece of metal that will not break easily by any means.
This means that the little Joyo is perfectly capable of taking a few punches during transport or due to frequent use without a hinge. The item comes with total dimensions of 4.6 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches, and a weight of 10.2 ounces.
In the audio output segment, the device does a very good job if you are looking to achieve a middle section fueled sound, packed with strong mids and punchy basses.
In this case, the pedal will cut out the unwanted peaks in the middle section surprisingly well, leaving you with a clear, yet super strong output. In other options, the pedal offers a solid performance, but it’s the mids-driven vibe that stands out the most for sure.
If you are in pursuit of a basic pedal that you won’t have to tweak too much, but rather just plug in and play, the MXR Dyna Comp is your pick. Coming with a rather fair and budget friendly price, the gizmo sports a sexy red casing, along with just two control knobs. It’s strong and reliable, making it another strong candidate for the best pedal of its niche.
The device is hailed as a Nashville studio standard, delivering a constant output signal through a compression circuit, guaranteeing a top quality tone. The gizmo is powered via a Dunlop ECB003 AC Adapter or a single 9 volt battery. As noted, the Dyna Comp features two control knobs only – Output and Sensitivity.
The output controls the amount of compression effect given to your sound, while sensitivity controls the delicate aspect of which frequencies are covered the most by the effect and when the effect kicks into your audio output in the first place.
Other standard features include input, output, and an on/off switch. The product comes with total dimensions of 5.8 x 4.5 x 2.8 inches, and a weight of 1.2 pounds.
Very, very clear, if we might add. The pedal strongly locks in with your instrument, and does an impressive job in cutting down the exact frequencies you have assigned it to cut, just with the help of two control knobs.
Whether you need to get your basses, middles, treble section, or all of them under control, this pedal will do a fine job in tackling them all with ease. It is especially useful for increased sustain effect with stable dynamics, so keep that in mind as well.
Finally, another high-end representative, and arguably the best compressor for guitars out there. It goes by the name of Keely 4 Knob Compressor, and it is truly a killer gizmo. Rich control, an incredibly organic and natural sound, great versatility, and a fair price for this lean and mean package.
And speaking of the package, the casing of this item is very strong and sturdy, meaning that the Keeley is more than capable of sustaining any amount of minor damage caused by transport or frequent use.
The device offers an internal attack control, input sensitivity control, and true bypass switching function. Apart from the standard input, output, and on/off button, the pedal features a set of four control knobs – Sustain, Level, Attack, and Clipping.
These allow significant control of not just the basic level of compression, but other important sonic aspects of guitar compression, leaving you with great versatility and the ability to suit your sonic output to a tee. The product features total dimensions of 10 x 8 x 10 inches and a light weight of 1.5 pounds.
Sound-wise, this little Keeley will bring you as close to perfection as you can get. The compression element is very natural and organic, while still leaving plenty of room for numerous sonic variations.
Granted, the price is significantly higher than some of the listed products, but the sound quality is equally stronger to say the least. You wanted the best, well, you got it right here!
Thus, in a nutshell, these five lads are all strong contenders for the title of the best guitar compressor on the market today. They all pack a heck of a punch and a killer bang for the buck. Perhaps most importantly, they all stand out as a rare type of product that you cannot regret purchasing.
All it comes down to are your personal needs, preferences, and spending budget. Once those items are figured out, all you have to do is make your pick and single out the item on this list that suits you the best. Highly recommended, a big thumbs up from here!