My dad always used to say, “Son, some
people drive Fords and some people
drive Chevys.” I have no idea what that
says about me and my rusted-out ‘68
BMW 1600, or exactly what he was getting
at, but my guess is it’s that many
things in life are divided into two camps,
whether it’s Fender or Gibson, Democrat
or Republican, or the raging middle-class
debate over – yawn – Camry or Accord.
Generally, life hands you at least two
choices, and compressors are no different;
the choice being sparkly or squishy.
Yeah, I hear you, keep the technical jargon
down, but it’s true. High-end, studio grade
stuff, like the Teletronix LA-2A, can squish
if need be, but its real forte is offering up
loads of pre-squash compression and adding
a gorgeous sparkle to the high-end,
while focusing the bass frequencies, with
most other studio-quality compressors
behaving much the same.
On the other side of the compression
spectrum, you’ve got footpedal compressors.
First becoming popular with the
masses in the ‘70s – just in time for the
then-current quest for clean sustain –
squishy compressors tend to lack that topend
sparkle, but also add crazy amounts
of sustain and a kind of rubber band pop
to the strings. This makes them popular
with the country set, where speed-of-light
chicken pickin’ is the norm and the resulting
cascade of notes can use some help
The EH Soul Preacher falls more in-line
with the squishy side of things, but without
the overt sacrifice of top-end sparkle.
With certain settings it can add a little,
but more importantly, it’s tough to find
any settings where it takes it away. It also
adds as much or as little squish as you
want, from let’s-wrangle-this-here-bottomend-
back-in-the-corral to full-on, Adrian
Belew-approved smoosh, all while staying
out of the treble frequency’s hair. Many
compressors in this price range don’t
offer as much usable tonal flexibility.
Adjusting the Sustain sets the amount
of compression and helps the Preacher
sound good with single coils and humbuckers
alike. I found single coils did well
with the Soul Preacher at pretty much
any Sustain setting, while humbuckers
started entering the point of diminishing
returns much past noon. The Attack control
comes with three very usable presets
labeled fast, med and slow, top to bottom.
The fast preset squishes the entire
signal, and I don’t know if it’s just due to
my point of reference, but this is where I
liked the Preacher the best, reminding me
of a particularly good, ‘70s type of compression.
The med preset lets the leading
edge of the transient through, then steps
on it. This seemed predominantly useful
for chordal work, or for getting some
crazy, Frippy sustain, even with clean
settings. Slow misses the initial attack
altogether, then comes down hard, and
when the Sustain knob is full up offers
a cool swell effect, giving credence to
EH’s suggestion of using this setting for
“funk chord comping or chunky rhythm
If you’re looking for a squishy compressor,
but dig your tone as is, the Soul Preacher
would be my first recommendation. The
fact that it’s affordable and made by a
cool company can only be a bonus.
Our expert has stated his case,
now we want to hear yours. Log on and share your
comments and ratings.