Next, I plugged the Compulator Pro into a 65Amps Tupelo combo. With the pedal off, I adjusted the Tupelo for a fat, clean sound and then stomped on the Compulator. With its previous settings, the pedal instantly made my sound thicker and larger. The tonality didn’t change—the Compulator simply delivered a better version of the same sound. Again, I found the pedal to be quite transparent at these settings, and I heard all the nuances of my playing being amplified and controlled in a beautiful way.

Switching to a Fender American Standard Strat, I was able to dial in some serious quack. Because the Strat’s single-coils have less output than the Les Paul’s humbuckers, I flipped the Gain switch to High and got all the signal I needed. I had the sense that playing my guitar was easier with the pedal than without it. Leveling out the dynamics made me feel like I was on steroids—everything was powerful and smooth.

To test out the Compulator Pro’s singing qualities, I kicked up the volume and gain on the Tupelo and let it rip. With the Compression backed down to about 3 o’clock, the pedal set to a fast attack and slow release, the sound turned into a wild sustain fest! Notes spilled effortlessly from my Strat and transitioned into blooming and very musical feedback. Switching back to the Les Paul was like letting the bull loose. I still had effortless sustain, but it was coupled with a thicker, more distorted tone. By backing off the Attack knob, I discovered I could create a reverse-guitar effect and a sucking sound that reminded me of a tape flipped backward. This pedal offers a lot of sonic variety.

I continued experimenting with various settings and different guitars. Ultimately, I found that while the Compulator Pro has more knobs than most stompbox compressors, it was hard to dial in a bad sound. Demeter has somehow found a way to give you options without making it difficult to get a great sound, and that’s quite a feat. My only niggle was that I found it possible to distort the pedal with high-gain active pickups. But this only happened on the first note—before the compressor had a chance to clamp down on the signal. And, again, it didn’t happen with passive pickups. (James Demeter says users who experience distortion because of high-gain pickups can safely operate the unit at 12 volts for more headroom, or they can send the unit in to be modified for less overall gain at no charge other than shipping fees. “As with all things,” he says “there was a compromise. The stock unit was designed for 99 percent of the guitars out there.”)

The Verdict
I won’t lie—I’m not usually a fan of compressors in my guitar signal chain. Most compressors tend to squash the signal in a way that sounds too obvious to my ears and diminishes my tone. The Compulator Pro is really the polar opposite of that. This pedal makes everything feel better, and what comes out of it is simply a bigger, badder version of what went into it. Armed with the Compulator Pro, you’ll never get washed out in the band. Just twist a few knobs, and you’ll sound loud and proud, with soaring lead lines and bristling harmonics. Highly recommended.

Buy if...
you want more of what you love in your tone.
Skip if...
tightening up your dynamic range isn’t compelling.

Street $309 - Demeter Amplification -