Magnatone Giveawya

September 2014
more... EffectsNovember 2009BarberElectro-HarmonixEmpressFuchsGranvilleKashaMXRMad ProfessorMaxonModtoneMountainkingPedalworxPigtronixRed WitchRockboxStrymonT-RexWhirlwind

Stomping Grounds: 25 Pedals Reviewed


COMPRESSOR

Pigtronix Philosopher's Tone

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The Philosopher’s Tone (PT) packs studio-quality clean compression, sustain and more into a compact 4.4"x2.4"x1" pedal. Rather than running off a typical 9V battery, Pigtronix went the extra mile and powers the PT with the included 15VCD power supply for maximum headroom. Controls include Grit, Sustain, Blend, Treble and Volume, and are surprisingly easy to adjust considering how tightly they are packed into the case. Like most compressor pedals, the Sustain sets the threshold for the compressor, and the more you turn it up the more intense the compression effect becomes. The Volume obviously controls the output level, which can be used as a boost if desired. It’s the other three controls that bring the PT into bonus territory. Rather than settling for the compressed signal only, the Blend control lets you choose how much of the effect is introduced. This is great if you don’t want the immediate hit of the compressor sound, but would like to benefit from its sustain properties. The Treble knob is an active control that cuts or boosts highs, so the noon position is neutral. I found the range to be a big bonus for switching between humbucker and single-coil guitars. Finally, a nice added touch is the Grit control, which adds smooth diode clipping distortion to the signal.

I was blown away with how much clean sustain was on tap. Cranking the Sustain knob provided a near-infinite level of clean sustain—it was staggering. The PT is also incredibly quiet and articulate. You can easily go from long, sustained notes to Chickin’ Pickin’ tone with a twist of the sustain knob. Real fun, however, came in the Grit control which by adding in some distortion made the PT sound like two amps playing at once. Because distortion tone is so personal, it may or may not be the kind you like, but it does play nice with other overdrive pedals. Definitely a must-hear for compression lovers. – SO

Buy if...
you want studio quality compression in a pint-sized pedal.
Skip if...
you like it raw.
Rating...
4.5

Street $169 - Pigtronix - pigtronix.com


Strymon OB.1

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In my first years of guitar playing, I didn’t know what a guitar compressor was. It was only after I plugged one in and heard what it could do to my sound that I truly appreciated it. A compressor smoothes out the dynamics of your guitar, limits the amount of variation between soft and loud playing, and can also provide additional sustain. The Strymon OB.1 can do all that, and even adds a little boost. This Optical Compressor and Clean Boost pedal features true bypass and a low-noise, all-analog signal path. Strymon has taken the greatest qualities of high-end, vintage optostudio compressors and made them available in this small package.

This compressor sounded great (and is most noticeable) using a clean sound, especially with fingerstyle playing. It definitely softened the strong attacks and amplified the weak attacks for a more consistent sound overall. You don’t always need compression with distortion since you’re getting it anyway through the distortion itself. However, some metal players use compression to get a more even volume, such as getting tapped notes sounding equal to picked notes. With a dirty sound, the OB.1 definitely gave my signal a boost and added more sustain to my lead playing. The Boost function is a nice feature of the OB.1. It has a separate footswitch, control knob and mini-toggle switch to choose between flat, mid and treble frequencies. Unfortunately, the boost can only by activated when the compressor is on, but if you only want boost you can simply switch the pedal on and turn the Compressor knob all the way down.

The Strymon OB.1 can definitely enhance your guitar tone. You can also save some room on your pedalboard since the OB.1 is a compressor, clean boost and treble boost all in one package. – GG

Buy if...
you play fair and want to treat all your guitar notes equally.
Skip if...
you don’t fully understand compression or don’t need it for your style.
Rating...
4.5

Street $199 - Strymon - strymon.net


Whirlwind Red Box Compressor

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Chords
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Whirlwind Red & Original MXR Comparison (Whirlwind, then MXR)
The new Whirlwind Red Box Compressor is housed in a small, sturdy metal box, just like the original MXR Dyna Comp pedal of many years ago. There are two control knobs: one is the Output knob and the other is the Sensitivity control. The jacks are on the sides of the unit, as are on the original, and two welcome additions to the new model are a 9V battery jack and an LED On/Off status indicator. The control knobs even look the same as they did on the vintage unit.

The first thing I noticed upon firing it up was the full rich sound, and its quiet operation. Additionally, the range of compression went from barely noticeable to a fat, sustaining, completely even tone. Through a clean amp, with the Sustain knob set at about two o’clock I was able to get classic country compression tone. Using it with a little bit of distortion and turning the Sensitivity control down a bit, the notes seemed to sustain extremely well, and using a guitar with humbucking pickups produced some pretty cool B.B. King tones. When using this pedal, you have to be sure the output level is set for unity gain so the front end of your amp is driven properly. Otherwise, you may experience an over-compressed sound. I found that, by comparison, the original MXR Dyna Comps were brighter and also produced a bit more compression in the maximum Sustain setting. It seemed a little harder to dial it in exactly where I needed to be, but the newer Whirlwind unit seemed to produce higher fidelity. – KR
Buy if...
you’re looking for a great, versatile compressor for all types of music.
Skip if...
compression is not an integral part of your sound.
Rating...
4.0

Street $149 - Whirlwind - whirlwindusa.com