Compressor pedals often drive players into one of two distinct groups: those who don’t want to touch one apart from the occasional tone-fix in the studio, and those who feel naked without one.
One aim of the Amptweaker PressuRizer compressor and booster is to lure more players from the first camp into the second by giving a great basic compressor additional (and practical) functionality. Indeed, the PressuRizer’s heart may be the juicy sound and dynamic feel of a good VCA (voltage controlled amplifier) studio compressor, but it’s loaded with features that make it surprisingly versatile—especially for its compact size.
The three main knobs in the PressuRizer’s top row are standard stuff: volume, tone, and sustain (aka compression). The tone knob is a dual function control, providing a mid cut when turned counter-clockwise from high noon and boosting highs when turned clockwise. A 3-way limit switch adds either soft or hard FET limiting at the end of the signal chain (or none at all, in its center position), while a 3-way bloom switch (also with a center off position) enables a fast or slow swell after ducking your attack under the compression.
A blend control is arguably the most useful bonus feature of all. It ranges from fully dry to fully wet, and delivers a sort of side-chain compression that enables unfettered clarity and attack when you need it. Finally, a rotary knob on the pedal’s right side provides gain boost
The pedal’s footswitch is a 3-way affair. You press once to engage the compressor or press and hold (about two seconds) to engage comp/boost mode, which then toggles between comp and comp-plus-boost with a standard quick press-and-release.
Amptweaker has given a lot of thought to the pedal’s utility, too. There’s a roll bar for knob protection, the clever bottom plate has both threaded screw holes and zip-tie holes for easy pedalboard mounting, and a single thumbscrew releases the plate to access the battery compartment and internal trim-pot adjustment for output gain. Sure, 9V operation is standard, but the PressuRizer will take up to 18V for increased headroom.
PressuRizer is one comp pedal for which it really pays to: a) read the manual (which is clear, with helpful graphics) and b) spend some time exploring and experimenting before you jump to any conclusions. I didn’t take the latter step initially. But just a little reading and tweaking revealed the PressuRizer to be much more versatile and sweet sounding than I might have initially guessed. And the pedal became more and more addictive the more I explored it.
The PressuRizer’s basic sound is rich, fat, and smooth, yet impressively clear (a characteristic that’s greatly enhanced by the blend knob). It hints strongly at vintage compressor pedal sounds, yet delivers greater articulation than most such circuits, with an appealing shimmer in the high end. The excesses are all here if you want them: major squash, total emasculation of your attack, and insanely unnatural chord bloom. But judicious control settings yield a superbly playable compression that was, indeed, difficult to live without once I’d switched it off. Do you get extra sustain without compression, as Amptweaker suggests? I heard that. But there’s also sustain with just a little compression at the front if you want it that way, and, of course, sustain with serious compression, too. They all sound great and musical.
The boost function proved extremely handy, too. The two-stomp process of activating it takes some practice, but if you’re playing with comp always on it’s easy to get there, and the added juice from boost mode gives a great kick to solo parts or rhythm jangle that needs a subtle nudge.
If you’re a compressor minimalist, the PressuRizer might look like overkill at first glance. In fact, it’s a clever and extremely versatile take on a ubiquitous effect, and a great tool for guitarists who want to use pedal compression creatively. For all the useful extras, though, there’s still a great-sounding, great-feeling compressor at its core.