I guess the compressor pedal isn’t on the top of your list. It’s not a pedal or effect you’d prioritise if money is tight or space is limited but a good compressor can be a powerful tool on your pedal board. I recently came across the Iron Fist Compressor/Sustainer from YellowSquash Sound Labs. Here’s my review.
I rarely do reviews of compressors but they’ve been a staple in David Gilmour’s rig since 1976, starting with the MXR Dynacomp and later the Boss CS2 and Demeter Compulator. More recently he is spotted using the Effectrode PC-2A (reviewed here). I’ve always been a huge fan of compressors and find that if used right, they can do a lot to both enhance the tone but also double as a booster and sustainer.
Compression has been an essential tool since the early days of recording. Whether it’s natural tape or tube compression or compression applied with analog or digital applications, its job is basically to control and shape the dynamics of a sound. What most guitarists are looking for is sustain but also a fatter clean tone and the overall dynamics compression adds to your playing and tone.
YellowSquash Sound Labs is a new company located in USA. The Iron Fist is their first pedal. At first glance, the pedal looks like a Wampler, which makes me a bit sceptical. Not that I don’t like Wampler but they could have done a better job on the graphics. But, never judge the book by its cover. The Iron Fist sounds phenomenal.
The pedal runs on 9V battery or adapter and feature a bright stage ready led and true bypass switching. Controls are volume, which allow a considerable volume boost, sustain and last, comp, which controls the amount of compression.
The pedal also feature a very powerful noise gate. I’m usually no fan of noise gates because they have a nasty tendency to both alter the tone and cut the sustain but this thing works really well and it’s pretty handy having one on the compressor pedal.
The Iron Fist is super transparent. There’s no colouring of the signal at all. To me, this is crucial when I use compressors. I don’t want it to make my tone sound brighter or darker but rather enhance the signal and add to the sustain. The Iron Fist does both. To my ears, it’s got the transparent character of the Dynacomp and the smoothness of the Boss CS2 but with a warmer and smoother studio quality.
At milder settings, the Iron Fist tightens up your cleans and adds a nice sustain to the often dull notes. Increasing the volume also allows you to boost the front end of your amp. Paired with overdrives, the Iron Fist can be used to add clarity and sustain, giving your rhythms presence and your leads a long tail.
My favourite combo is the Iron Fist paired with a Big Muff. In a typical bedroom setup, Big Muffs tend to sound dark and flat but increasing the volume and sustain on the iron Fist to almost extreme settings, adds a bit of boost and a nice clarity and presence that makes the Big Muff nicely focused and tight.
Compressors might not be your first choice but don’t forget them. They can do wonders to your tone and bring life to a flat sounding bedroom setup. The Iron Fist, with its noise gate, is an excellent choice and I’m eager to see what YellowSquash will come up with next! Check out yssound.com for more details.