Reverb Picks: Top 6 Compressor Pedals

The right compressor can make a big difference in your tone. Whether you're looking to squash your signal, increase sustain, or just fatten things up, there's a compressor out there for you. The right placement on your board can also help transform other pedals in your chain, providing a myriad of new tones to explore. Put it before a fuzz for a creamy boost or experiment with running it after a tremolo or delay for fiercer all-around flutter.

Here are some of our favorite compressors currently for sale on Reverb.


The Basic: Henretta Engineering Orange Whip

Based on the famous Dan Armstrong Orange Squeezer, the Orange Whip is a no-frills compressor. Just like the original, the Whip dons a single on/off switch with internal trim pots to control the amount of compression. These Henretta's and other repros cram a whole lot of tone boost into a tiny footprint.


The Classic: MXR Dyna Comp

The Dyna Comp is one of the most copied & modded pedals, likely because the circuits are so close to the coveted Ross Compressor (see below). There are a lot of boutique pedal makers modding these pedals, or have their take on the circuit with true bypass and chip upgrades—Analogman even has 2-in-1 Dyna/Ross & Orange Squeezer called the BiComprossor. But even before mods, these units are inexpensive and top-notch. Look for the script logo for a vintage one.


The Backup: Boss CS-1/CS-2/CS-3 Compressor Sustainer

Like the Dyna Comp, the Boss Compressor is another my-first-compressor pedal, and with good reason. On the CS-1, you can dial in has a whole lot of squashiness, so much that it edges towards a volume swelling effect. Boss toned that down in the CS-2 model, while the newest CS-3 —the one on Nels Cline's board—is basically the same as the CS-2 but with a Tone knob. Boss's are always great value, and always deliver.


The Pro: Keeley Compressor

Keeley's most popular pedal offered in 2- and 4-knob configurations with true-bypass circuitry and high quality components that Keeley is known for. There's also an internal attack control specifically useful for bassists with active pickups, and a sensitivity control which you can use with line-level signals. We see new and used Keeley's on Reverb every day, and they come with high marks from the Reverb staff.


The Modern: EarthQuaker Devices "The Warden"

With more knobs to tweak than other stompbox comps, The Warden can be a little daunting compared to an Orange Squeezer, but the extra controls make it seriously versatile. It's an optical compressor, meaning that it uses a light source to control the output which is cleaner and responds with faster attack and milder release times. Some describe the effect as more musical, but it's really just a different animal.


The Holy Grail: Ross Compressor

The Ross Compressor is a bucket-list pedal for a lot of players, but comes with a hefty price tag. The Ross is warm, full, and can color your sound. You can achieve uber-sustain with these, too (Phish's Trey Anastasio puts his Ross after two TS9's for infinite sustain). While some report that these are noisy, they do carry a lot of mojo. It's worth it to play through one of these if you can find one—luckily you're in the right place.


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