• YellowSquash Sound Labs Iron Fist Compressor/Sustainer review

    YellowSquash Sound Labs Iron Fist

    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.

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62 Responsesso far.

  1. Amedeo says:

    Hi Bjorn! Where I can buy the IronFist here in Italy? Even at Yellowsqush site isn’t available!

  2. Patrick Lester says:

    Do you think this could also help more sustain in use with a Buffalo Fx Evolution?

    • Bjorn says:

      Yes but the Evolution has tons of sustain so if you don’t get that with yours, I’d look at the settings on the pedal and amp and try to locate the issue. You shouldn’t have any problems with sustain with that pedal. Keep in mind that a compressor is a gain pedal so it doens’t just add sustain. It will also add gain or compression, which will raise the overall noisefloor.

  3. Carmen says:

    Thoughts on the Boss compressor sustainer cs-3? Would you say this is better than the Dyna Comp?

    • Bjorn says:

      It’s not bad but I’ve never liked it. It’s too bright and sterile for my taste. The Dynacomp has a more transparent tone and a nice sustain. Depends on what you’re looking for really.

      • Carmen says:

        I’ve only played the Dyna Comp and found that to be excellent. A lot of Boss’s pedals seem to have that bright/sterile tone to them, from what I have experienced. Thanks for your input.

  4. Ross says:

    Hi Bjorn, currently I have a MXR ’76 Vintage CSP-028 DYNA COMP, apart from the fact that is has no LED on-off & only runs on battery I’m wondering about changing to the IronFist to being a bit more user friendly in that department!
    I haven’t had a great deal of success in getting great results with Dyna Comp, kind of expected more!
    Just wondering if tonally you think it will be better to make the change to the IronFist & achieve the longer sustain this pedal seems capable of and the quietness of the noise gate?
    I’m using a Fender Strat with Custom Shop Fat 50 in neck, CS69 Middle & Seymour Duncan SSL-1C DG (Bridge) & full Callaham Bridge setup > Boss BD2 Keeley, Buffalo FX Evolution, Boss CE2, Nova Repeater Delay > Fender 65 Deluxe Reissue Amp – all Evidence Audio Cables!
    Thanks! Ross

    • Bjorn says:

      It’s two different sounding compressors. The Dynacomp is very transparent and you can get a very deep compression, which is great for adding a more twangy character to your cleans especially. I find it great for Muffs as well, as it add to the sustain and leaves the overall tone untouched. The Iron Fist is also very transparent but it’s more subtle, although you can dial in some heavy compression. It’s also more suited for boost. The noise gate works really well too. Depends on what type of compression you want.

  5. Norman says:

    I currently have a CS2. Would the ironfist be a better option.

    • Bjorn says:

      Different but not necessarily better. The CS2 has a slightly dark tone, still very transparent. The iron Fist has a nice boost, transparent tone, much deeper compression sweep and you got the noise gate. I love both but the Iron Fist may be more versatile.

  6. Jason says:

    I’ve decided that I’m gonna pick one of these up for my guitar board for sure!!! I’m also building a BYOC Beaver to triangle specs (because every board needs a muff ;-D), and I’ve decided to swap out my Keeley-model mod BD2 for an Earthquaker Palisades.

    I know you’ve said the YellowSquash compressor sounds good boosting a Muff-type pedal, but have you ever tried the Palisades? It has a dedicated boost switch and I’m curious how it’s gonna sound boosting a muff…

    • Bjorn says:

      It doesn’t actually boost. You can increase the volume and get some boost I guess but what I meant is that when you engage the compressor, it cleans up the Muff a bit. Adds a bit of bite and tope end. I haven’t tried the Palisades but it’s based on the Tube Screamer, which is not ideal for boosting Muffs.

      • Jason says:

        I guess cleaning up is what I should’ve asked. I knew what you meant. I have a Dingotone HZD boost which sounds amazing, but I’m trying to cut my board back a bit. So, even with your YellowSquash, do you still have a separate boost on your board for muff-boosting?

        I haven’t gotten the Palisades yet, but what I’m curious about is if the boost is separate from the gain part. If it’s an independent boost, then it COULD work I guess, but if the boost only works with the gain engaged, then I’d imagine it definitely wouldn’t work well with a muff if tubescreamers don’t work well with muffs.

        • Bjorn says:

          I use the Iron Fist with the 73 Ram’s Head from Vick Audio, which has a mids boost switch. I’m not using any other booster with that combo. The Palisades might work if the booster is on a separate Circuit but you need to check that. It’s not that combining Muffs and Tube Screamers are a big no no but my experience though is that blending Muffs with mids oriented pedals, often results in a dark and choked tone.

          • Jason says:

            I’ll probably try it, but you’re are almost always dead-on with stuff like that. Haha.

            But I’m happy to hear that you’re not using a true booster with it, just the compressor. I had a bunch of overtime at work last week, so I picked up the compressor thus morning!! I can’t wait to start playing with it!!

  7. nik says:

    Hey man, nice job on the demo. I didn’t hear much noise on it. I have the boss cs2 but I hate it because its so noisy. I don’t use gate or suppression. How’s this one In terms of noise.
    Nik

    • Bjorn says:

      Haven’t experienced much noise from the CS2s I own. Compressors can generate two types of noise. One caused by the circuit and one caused by the fact that it will enhance whatever noise is in your signal. The Iron Fist is very quiet and the featured noise gate will kill any noise caused by other pedals or interferance.

  8. james t says:

    bjorn , just wanted to add … I know the firebottle is a booster I just meant can you get Gilmour tone without like a buffalo powerboost into a red pig hoof …… again i love you your playing , your tone and youre an awesome producer .. may I have the link to buy airbag cd`s ? much thanks and respect .. james

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi James, sorry for my late reply. Thanks for your kind Words! Much appreciated! You don’t need to boost the red PH. It has a lof of gain and sustain on its own so pair it up With a delay and your favourite modulation and you’re there :) It can be just as good to add a bit of compression. That will smooth it out a bit and add a bit of sparkle. We don’t have a shop up at the moment but our albums are available through Burning Shed, Amazon and iTunes :)

  9. Pål Bonesmo says:

    The Ironfist compressor knob give litle compresson compair to PC-2A. The sustain and the noise gate are greate. What do you think about the compresson on the Ironfist?

    • Bjorn says:

      The Iron Fist has a much deeper compression, adding more twang to a Tele or Strat. The PC-2A is subtle and doesn’t do that much until you start to maximise the settings.

  10. james t says:

    hi bjorn .. got my callaham vintage bridge installed on my black mexi strat and my cs 69s w/ ssl5 … you were soooooo right about callaham ..my luthier said it fit perfect .. even unplugged it sounds amazing .. and loud with ringing sustain .. I read in a post where you said you were kind of getting away from using a muff … I really want an fx evolution and I think you said it works best with no booster or overdrive … how good would evolution sound with a firebottle and delay , buffer ,mooer mistress and compressor ? for this chain is yellow squash or electrode pc- 2 better ?.. using laney lionheart 20w combo …. love dsom and the wall … can I get authentic david Gilmour tones without muff & overdrive – booster ?…….. also please explain how you keep firebottle “on all the time ” while using other pedals … thanks again so much … coming soon .. spertzel tuning pegs ! …… your friend, james

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi James! Sorry for my late reply. Those Callaham systems works wonders! I think the Evolution works best without a booster. It has a lot of gain and you can adjust the mids as well. It’s a much more versatile pedal than a Muff and it will work great on Your setup. The Fire Bottle is perhaps better described as a tone enhancer. You can use it for boosting but I often set it to a neutral setting and leave it on just for adding a bit of life and presence. You can really hear that tube when it’s on.

  11. Hi Bjorn!

    Yesterday the Iron Fist arrived and it totally wakes up my tone! I’m using 97′ California Strat with stock tex-mex pups (soon to be upgraded to SSL-1s) and boy does it sound good!

    Thanks for the excellent review and now I have my very first Gilmourish pedal!

    Cheers!
    Reggie

  12. John Nebus says:

    Try it after the other effects but before an analog delay

  13. joao bicudo says:

    Hello bjorn!

    Witch of these 2 compressors pedals (boss cs3 and dynacomp both stock models) you advise?

    I play a strat with ssl5 and 69’s pickups thro a hiwatt t20.

    Cheers
    Joao bicudo.

  14. KEITH says:

    Morning to all, this isn’t about the review, I haven’t had time to read, and watch the review yet. I am writing to let you know that as of this morning, B.B.KING has had it publically stated that he is on home hospice care, and not expected to live. I’m deeply saddened by this news, and thought it appropriate to let everyone know, if they haven’t already heard. B.B. is 89 and has lived a long storied life, my thoughts are with one of the most iconic bluesmen to grace this planet, and has been an inspiration to SO Many players, not the least David Gilmour, but also Eric Clapton, and just about every rock n roll guitatist known, way too many to list. B.B., THE THRILL WILL NEVER BE GONE, MUCH LOVE TO MR.KING, AND HIS FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND A WORLD FULL OF FANS OF WHICH I COUNT MYSELF.
    PEACE, AND GOODWILL TO ALL, KEITH

    • Bjorn says:

      Very sad to hear. The latest news from him (or his management) is that he is recovering. Let’s hope he does.

  15. Is this available in the UK?

  16. Pete W. says:

    Considering your song choice, was there a reason you didn’t pair it with the Vick Audio Overdriver?
    Does it not match with it?

    Great review, and thanks!

  17. Matt says:

    Hi Bjorn. Thanks for putting this compressor on my radar. My question to you is which compressor, the Effectrode PC-2a or the Yellow Squash, would have the edge in front of a muff set on relatively high gain? And do you know offhand what the street price for the Yellow Squash is? It appears that the pedal is so new that they don’t even have a price on it on their website yet:) Thanks Bjorn!

    • Bjorn says:

      I’m not sure what the price is. I think the Iron Fist works best with Muffs. Both do but the Fist adds a bit of sparkle and increases the sustain quite a bit.

  18. Huy Tran says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I agree with you about the pedal’s graphics. It seems like a cheap marketing ploy to use the exact same setup as Wampler which is a pity as any boutique pedals these days make a name for themselves on the internet and most if not all purchasers of this pedal will know it isn’t part of the Wampler range. I am sure many won’t look too favourably on the complete rip off of the graphics.

    I hope they release this pedal with new graphics on it. i don’t know why I feel so strongly about this today. Must be grumpy (that and I attended a funeral of a good mate of mine yesterday who passed from cancer at the very young age of 29)

    Regards,

    Huy Tran

    • Bjorn says:

      Very sad to hear. My condolences. It’s not a big deal but they could have done more to come up with some unique graphics. I never like it when companies try to copy others or use Floyd images or symbols on their pedals. It kind of devalues it.

    • I appreciate the feedback! I wasn’t aware of the resemblance until it was mentioned here. I did not try to make it look like anything existing, it just happened. It made sense to me at the time. I was focusing my efforts on the functionality and the tone of the pedal and (apparently) not enough on the artwork. I will change it at the next opportunity, but I won’t be able to do it immediately as I already have a number of units built. I hope you still find the pedal interesting.

  19. Kris says:

    Hey Bjorn,

    Very nice review as usual. Appreciate all that you do in addition to your facebook pages, youtube videos, etc. Awesome sources of info and inspiration! How would you rank this in comparison to the Effectrode PC-2A?

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks Kris! They’re two different pedals. This one is a more conventional compressor made for guitar, like the Dynacomp and Boss CS2, while the PC-2A has a more studio quality to it. It’s not that it’s better it’s just that you can recognise the typical studio application and it behaves slightly different. The PC2A is more subtle and linear, while the Iron Fist has a wider span and offer harder compression and sustain.

      • Kris says:

        Hey Bjorn,

        Decided to get one of these, received it the other day. Been messing around with the settings. Do you have any favorite settings yet you could share?

        I’ve been trying the settings you had in your video along with my plexidrive and vick audio 73 ram. Also tried the settings you had on your facebook pic of your new studio board, but couldnt get much sound with the noise gate at 3:00 or so. By itself with a little delay the thing is dead silent. Placing it before my plexidrive/vick audio 73 ram I get a fair amount of hiss, have to turn up the noise gate to 1:00 or so to deaden it. Thanks!

        • Bjorn says:

          I don’t think it was set up properly on the pic of the studio pic. I usually keep the noise gate between 10:00-12:00. Unity level seems to be around 2:00 so that’s a good starting point. The comp should also be set to around 10:00 for a fairly neutral setting. Set the sustain as desired. There will be hiss when you add compression to gain pedals because compression is essentially gain and you’re also increasing certain frequencies so when you combine them you need to set the controls to match.

  20. Ian says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Great review as always. I’ve been looking into compressors more lately, and in particular, their positioning in an effects chain. I’ve come across an old article by Pro Guitar Shop where they did a fairly in-depth review of David’s Pete Cornish pedalboards, including the order of the effects. In nearly every instance, the compressors were placed late on in the pedal chain, after the drive pedals. Is this correct? I thought you have always suggested that David runs his compressors early on in the chain. I’m interested to know who is right before I re-arrange my own board!
    Cheers
    Ian

    • Bjorn says:

      It’s hard to tell on the older boards as we have no confirmation on the actual order of things. The layout however, suggests that the compressor was placed after the gains. It could have been that compressor pedals were new at the time and they had little experience as to where to place it. In a studio, you’d use compressors first in the channel strip but after the recorded, and effected, guitar signal. Could also be that he would only use it for cleans and therefore, there was no need to place it first. It’s been one of the first pedals on all his rigs and boards since 1987 though. Experiment and see what works for you. The “normal” way to do it, is to compress the signal first, then add gain or dirt, then EQ and then modulations and delays.

  21. Jason says:

    Damn Bjorn! That review just KILLED!! It’s fun watching the site and going through old videos and watching your playing get better and more natural looking. I look forward to a day when I can play like that :)

    Anywho, perfect timing as I’m kinda looking for a compressor right now. I’ve been eyeing both the EarthQuaker Devices The Warden (gotta love those top jacks!) and the Fairfield The Accountant, though I’m waiting to decide to try both out in person at my local shop, but this one may have just jumped to the top of the list. Tight, sustaining, and very warm, while still transparent. That hits all my bullet points for a compressor…

    Also, something I noticed from your videos… I know you’re a right-handed guitarist so I know it’s not a mirror-trick or something like that, but you have a ring that looks like a wedding ring on your right hand. Is that just a ring that you like, or is that a custom in Norway (wearing a wedding ring on the right hand)?

    Jason

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks, Jason! The Iron Fist was a big surprise. There are lots of great compressors out there and you can probably choose any of them and get a good result but what did it for me, was the transparent tone and its natural sounding compression. There’s no aggressive squeeze or tone altering at all. I’m also no fan of noise gates but this one worked really well.
      Yes, it’s a wedding ring :) Got married in 2009. We wear it on the right hand here in Norway :)

      • Jason says:

        Awesome!! It’s too bad that the company is so new, I’d really like to try it out in person, but I may still end up with that.

        Congrats on the getting married. That’s a really interesting custom. I’ve never heard of it. I kinda like it better personally. Left hand rings just feel weird to me :) Of course, I’m not even close to getting married (gotta meet someone first), hahaha.

        Thanks man!!

  22. Jeff F. says:

    Are you running the compressor before the Big Muff?

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