Compression can be a touchy topic for guitarists, and for many, you either love it or hate it. Personally, I’m in the “always on” camp. Fender recently launched a new line of pedals that offer some intriguing design elements. One of these is The Bends—a cleverly designed comp that is out to keep the squish in check.
Once I’d plugged in, I was surprised at how modest even the more extreme settings sounded. In fact, The Bends never felt like it was offering a ridiculous amount of compression, which probably makes it a safe bet for those who don’t want to go full-on Lowell George. When testing comps, the first tone I typically chase is a warm, slightly overdriven Larry Carlton-inspired setting. “Room 335” anyone? The Bends did an admirable job of hitting all the bases that surround mid-level compressed tones.
I found the drive and recovery knobs most interesting. The former controls the amount of compression, and the latter adjusts how fast the signal returns to unity. The recovery knob was a joy because its response was so dependent on my guitar and amp. With P-90 pickups, I felt better with a quicker recovery. I suspect this was due to the pickups’ lower output, compared to humbuckers. Kudos to Fender for creating a value-packed compressor that doesn’t get in the way.
Test gear: Schroeder Chopper TL, Fender Modern Player Jaguar P-90, Gibson Les Paul Traditional, Two-Rock Bloomfield Drive, Fender ML212