[SOLVED!] Do I Need A Compressor Pedal: Answer


Quite a few guitarists at the moment consider effect pedals like the compressor to be indispensable in live performances. However, different people have different preferences so it’s not uncommon for novices to ask themselves: “do I need a compressor pedal?”. If the same question troubles you and you don’t know how to answer it, your salvation is here. By telling you everything about the compressor, our article will help decide whether you need it on the stage. 

A Summary Of Into The Compressor 

In case you don’t know, the purpose of compressor pedals is to even out the dynamic range of guitar signals. As compressor pedals balance all the signals, guitarists can achieve a consistent and sustain-rich sound. That being said, you should know that the use of compressor pedals is optional in most of the cases. Usually, if you struggle to nail the sound while playing guitar, the compressor is going to prove handy. 

Here is an example: it is hard to get a controlled and balanced sound if the volume is inconsistent (specific notes are louder/softer than others). Besides that, unwanted string noise and artifacts occasionally become more pronounced than usual when you make use of distortion/high gain settings. Those issues have a big impact on the clarity of the sound and compressor pedals can assist you in addressing them. In use, the compressor is going to increase the sustain, make the sound more expressive,  even out the volume discrepancies and so on. 

Compressor pedals give a good account of themselves in many applications but they work best in genres that require subtle volume and consistent dynamic range. That means if your live performances include folk, country, and pop music, the compressor will fit you. 

Shopping For Compressor Pedals: Suggestions


To put it plainly, all sorts of compressor types exist and each of them boasts unique characteristics. 

Presently, optical compressors prove popular for natural and smooth compression since they use an optical sensor and light to control compression. On the other hand, thanks to their Voltage-Controlled Amplifiers, VCA compressors feature fast and precise compression which let them work well in many genres. In the case of FET compressors, since they deliver an aggressive and colorful complexion, they excel in supplementing funk and rock songs. About digital compressors, they rely on digital signal processing to control compression so they have no competitors once it comes to customization. 


To avoid headaches later on, you should prioritize compressor pedals that have no-nonsense controls. Such models will permit you to tweak the threshold, compression ratio, attack, and release settings at your leisure. 

Transparency Vs. Coloration

Transparent compressors maintain the natural tone of the sound while others add coloration to the sound. Decide which one suits your music genre and look for the best one in the category.

Sustain, Noise And Artifacts

The improvement of sustain is one of the primary reasons for using a compressor so pay attention to the impact of pedals on the sustain. Since it’s not uncommon for compressors to introduce noise or unwanted artifacts into signal chains, you must confirm the noise levels, especially if you use high-gain settings.

Bypass Type

It’s strongly recommended that you think about the type of bypass provided by the compressor pedal. True bypass retains the pedal’s transparency outside of use while buffered bypass can help maintain signal integrity over long cable runs and complex pedalboard setups.

Best Brands Of Compressor Pedals

Xotic Effects

Xotic Effects is known for producing exceptional compressor pedals such as SP Compressor and the Ross Compressor-inspired Xotic Effects Custom Shop RC Booster V2. Keep an eye out for Xotic Effects pedals if you desire a solid compressor. 


The popular Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer is a classic choice for many guitarists. That model is also the proof that Boss is a reputable brand that offers no-nonsense effects pedals. 

Empress Effects

Empress Effects is known for producing high-quality compressor pedals like Empress Effects Compressor and Empress Effects Compressor MKII. If you care about versatility and sound quality, you won’t regret buying from Empress Effects.

Keeley Electronics

Keeley Electronics is well-known for its handcrafted compressor pedals, such as the Keeley Compressor Plus and Keeley C4 Compressor. Both models earn a shower of praise for their transparent compression and studio-grade performance.


MXR, a Jim Dunlop trademark, markets some decent compressor pedals like MXR Dyna Comp and MXR Studio Compressor. Once it comes to ease of use and dependability, not many brands can outmatch MXR.