10 Compressors That Balance the Subtle With the Squish

Need a pedal to smooth out the highs and lows? Start here.

Compression is an often-misunderstood effect. For some, it's more important to be felt, but not heard. Others prefer to perceive the stomp really working. Here are a handful of options to check out the next time you're looking to balance your dynamics.

Boss CP1-X

The latest iteration of the pedal giant's compact squish box uses multi-dimensional processing to help tame those frequencies. Along with the typical level, attack, ratio, and comp controls. it also features a gain reduction indicator.

$158 street


EarthQuaker Devices The Warden V2

Packed with studio-quality controls, this optical comp offers more coloration of your tone than VCA or FET designs. It's also powered by 18 volts internally for extra headroom.

$199 street


Jackson Audio Blossom

This standalone comp circuit is lifted from the green channel of the company's Bloom pedal. The optical limiting circuit gives a flat frequency response and can run with up to 18 volts of power.

$199 street


JHS Pulp N' Peel V4

With its fourth iteration, this compressor contains an XLR output, dirt switch, and an "always on" buffer to keep your signal tight. It can easily function as either a comp, preamp, or a simple DI.

$229 street


Keeley Compressor Plus

Robert Keeley is one of the founding fathers of comp pedals, and his latest takes his 4-knob setup to the next level with a switch that alters the attack and release settings depending on your pickups.

$149 street


MXR Dyna Comp Deluxe

This expanded version of one of the original pedal compressors offers increased control via the tone and clean knobs, in addition to an attack button that toggles between slow and fast modes.

$129 street


Origin Effects Cali76 Compact Deluxe

Built like a bomb shelter, this FET-style circuit can offer subtle squish or over-the-top compression via the internal 18V operation.

$339 street


Strymon Compadre

This dual-voice setup contains two separate analog compressors that cover the bases, along with two boost types, three boost modes, MIDI capabilities, and a TRS volume control option.

$299 street


Wampler Ego Compressor

A modern-day classic, this comp was one of the first to offer a blend control that mixes in dry signal alongside the affected tone.

$199 street


Xotic SP Compressor

Need a pint-sized squeeze box? Based on the classic Ross compressor, the SP features volume and blend controls along with a 3-position switch that moves through different levels of compression.

$140 street


Multiple modulation modes and malleable voices cement a venerable pedal’s classic status.

Huge range of mellow to immersive modulation sounds. Easy to use. Stereo output. Useful input gain control.

Can sound thin compared to many analog chorus and flange classics.


TC Electronic SCF Gold


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Photo by Chad Kelco

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