Best Compressor Pedals [Top 5 Picks Reviewed]

Maurice Lundgren

I have decided to write a complete guide on how to buy the best compressor pedal in the market. I have written this guide based on my personal experience with compressor pedals, expert consultation, market research, and buyer feedback.

Different pedals have different effects and every guitarist has its own personal lineup that it uses to create the tones that he/she looks for. Everyone has its own playing style in the end and no two guitarists are the same. When a guitarist wants to enhance the tons of its guitar and wants to do a change, compressor pedals are not always the first-hand choice.

However, these pedals are excellent and play a great role in cleaning up your tones and shaping them up a little. Most frequently used by funk and country guitarists, these pedals will do a perfect job for you and I think they are worth testing out.

I will present you with the best compressor pedals in the market, the top picks which are all fail-safe and will deliver you a perfect value for your hard-earned dollar. Moving on I will provide some tips and things to know before buying a compressor pedal and answer some frequently asked questions about compressor pedals, so stay tuned! Now without further ado, let’s take a closer look.

The 5 Best Compressor Pedals

5. Wampler Ego Compressor

We are going to start this list strong with the Wampler Ego Compressor. This pedal will definitely allow you to control the compression in a great way and it is definitely one of the most well-made compression pedals out there, compact but super feature-packed.

It is super versatile in terms of performance as it delivers great functionality allowing you to achieve the sound that you want. It delivers a great smoothing and quality all over the tones that it delivers. I should mention that this beast delivers great transparency and True Bypass thanks to its great resistors.

The controls of this beast consist of the volume, sustain, attack, tone and blend knobs which work perfectly and on top of all that the footswitch is super sturdy as well. It delivers a great organic feel overall and I can say that you can shape your compression however, you want it. A must-try.

4. TC Electronic HyperGravity

If you want to get the most versatile package in the compressor market, you should definitely check the TC Electronic HyperGravity. This compression pedal is packed with tons of interesting features, for a pedal of its nature, such as its sturdiness, affordability and its good looks on top of its performance.

The TC Electronic HyperGravity comes in a super strong and durable turquoise metal body that is super attractive. It is of the highest quality and I wouldn’t expect anything else from the company. It has four control knobs, in and out plugs, a large footswitch, and the three-way tone switch which is super handy.

I should mention that the control knobs consist of sustain, level, attack, and blend, which when combined with the tone switch deliver a perfect amount of control over your tone. In terms of performance, this beast is definitely one fo the best and I wouldn’t miss it.

3. JOYO JF-10

Coming up next we have a compression pedal that will deliver you excellent value for the price the JOYO JF-10. On top of that this compression pedal is pretty versatile and super pleasant to play around with. It will definitely deliver a decent compression effect and it is super attractive despite being cheap.

The JOYO JF-10 comes ina bright green metal body that will shine even on dark stages, and on top of that, it also is super sturdy and can take a lot of abuse before giving up. It is super lightweight and compact as well and it is super attractive overall, with its three control knobs the on/off footswitch and the mono in and mono out plugs.

The control knobs consist of sustain, level, and attack which deliver a great performance overall. On top of all this, the JOYO JF-10 is pretty good at keeping the peaks and drops in check giving you a perfectly balanced tone. A must buy if you are looking to get the most out of your price.

2. Electro-Harmonix Freeze 

The runner up on this list is a compressor pedal coming in from one of the most prominent brands in the pedal market, Electro-Harmonix, the Freeze Sound Retainer Compression Effect Pedal. This pedal is definitely a strong favorite of many artists since it is extremely versatile and delivers plenty of performance. Let’s check it out.

If you know the company’s pedal lineup you definitely have heard of the nano line of pedals which are pretty small, light and compact but overall super attractive in terms of features and performances. I should state that this pedal is more of a sustain pedal than a compression one delivering some features of delay looper pedals of some pianos to deliver a great performance.

In terms of controls, it has one knob and a switch that lets you modify the effects with the help of the knob that I mentioned. First, you need to choose the effect and then adjust it with the knob to achieve the tone that you want. The performance is just excellent and it allows you to perform excellently. Clean and overall super attractive.

1. Boss CS-3

On top of the list for the best compressor pedals int he markets we have the Boss CS-3. If you know Boss you know that the brand delivers the definite best pedals in the market and this one is no different, delivering top-level performance with an affordable price, what more can you want from a pedal? This one is definitely worth your attention definitely need to check out how it sounds.

It has the classic Boss metal body that is built like a tank and is super easy to use as always, and on top of that, it has some funk to it. Before moving on I have to state that it is a mono device with one input and one output plug. It has an LED status indicator, a super huge footswitch which is pretty intuitive and four control knobs.

The four knobs consist of level, tone, attack and sustain, all of them are pretty responsive and deliver a great amount of control. In terms of performance, it will definitely cut the loud signals perfectly and enhance the lower ones with a slight boost, to deliver a balanced tone with tons of versatility. Super clean and fun to play around with, this Boss pedal does it all.

Things You Should Know Before Buying A Compression Pedal

a compressor pedal

What is the Compression Effect and What Does A Compression Pedal Do?

First off let’s look at the full name of this effect, which is Dynamic Range Compression, this will help us understand it better. The compression effect in a pedal evens out the signals in your soundwave, or simply explained it reduces the difference in volume between the softest and loudest notes. This effect essentially allows you to play louder without any overdrive to your amp or any sticking points in the mix.

The overall volume of your sound is compressed in the signal, and it is also most of the time pre-determined from the controls and modifications, that are present on your guitar pedal. It also helps increase your guitars sustain most of the time, due to the compression effect that increases the gain when notes fade away. In most compression pedals there are several controls that are present and those include threshold and ratio, which determine the compression threshold, for example at which point at the volume you want your sound to be narrowed up or down, and modifications of the similar nature.

There are also attack and release controls, which control how fast the compression effect engages or disengages. In the end, we come to the gain controls which add additional gain to your signal simply bypassing the compression.

Do You Need a Compressor Pedal?

I have to say that each artist has a different style and each one wants its tones to sound in a distinct way, to be honest, there is a guitarist who won’t try out a compression pedal even if their lives depend upon them. On the other hand, there are some who won’t play if there is no compression pedal in their pedalboards. If you delve into a discussion about whether one should or should not use a compressor, or the pros and cons, you will be lost if you haven’t actually tried one. The solution to this is to go out and give it a try. Plenty of music stores have one available for testing, or if you are feeling a bit generous buy a cheap one to get an idea at what it does.

For me, compressor pedals iron out the edges of your playing making it sound more even and in unison. Some might not even hear the effect of the compression on your playing, and in some parts, it will not even be heard but sometimes you will notice it. It is not an in your face effect like override or delay. But then again the whole effect will depend on how you set it up and what you want from it. I mainly use it to increase sustain without adding distortion or overdrive and to clean the sound when I am playing more intricate funk parts.

One thing I need to say about compression pedals, even though they are subjected to so much debate, each model of a compression pedal has its own distinct characteristics that make it really different from the other one. This means that not every compression pedal is created the same for example, you might hate a compression pedal but will fall in love with the other. So be sure to listen to how one sounds like, before buying, there are tons of youtube videos that will explain how each one of them works.

Similar Pedals You Can Take A Look At

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Should I Place a Compressor Pedal in the Signal Chain?

The most important thing you should know when using a compression pedal is the placement in the effects signal chain, and the placement will change how it performs. Let's start, since a compression pedal is used to even out any unwanted spikes and dips on your signal they are always placed at the very beginning of a signal chain. However, they should also be placed after a tuner pedal if you are using one, but other than that they are always at the start. It is pretty simple as to why it is easier to apply compression to a raw signal that has just come out of the guitar. If the guitar passes through different effects it would be pretty much impossible to compress the signal, it just won't happen. However, there are some setups that have been arranged for compression to be applied at the end of the chain after hot distortion, but then again it is pretty rare and specialized.

Should a Beginner use a Compressor Pedal?

As far as effect pedals go, the compressor pedal is mostly a specialty tool. It will depend on how you like to shape your tone if you aren't the most accurate guitarist or just aren't concerned with it than a compression pedal might not be the most useful tool to have in your arsenal. But on the other side of the pond if you are aiming for perfection and to hit every note accurately you will find a compression pedal a godsend. This means that if you are just starting out setting your pedalboard, you don't need to worry a lot. While it might be beneficial to you in your quest for setting up the perfect tones for your needs, it is not the most crucial. There are different pedals that you will need to buy before a compressor pedal, and after you are feeling confident about your playing and have created your style you may start looking at compressors.

Conclusion

That is all my fellow guitarists! Your guide on how to buy a compressor pedal, why you should and whether you need it or not. After all, it is always better to purchase something if you are informed with it rather than eyeballing something and hoping for the best. If you have decided to buy one you probably know what you want by now, and be sure to check out the top picks, which are all the definite best models in the market. Always remember to shop for deals and get the most for your hard-earned dollar. Until next time.