A compressor may not be on the top of your list but it really is a powerful tool for enhancing and sculpting your tone. In this feature we’ll look at a handful of models and how to incorporate these in your rig, with David Gilmour’s tones in mind.

A compressor controls the dynamic range of a sound by making the quiet notes louder and the louder notes more quiet. Peaking transients will be smoother, making the signal to appear lower in volume. However, the amplifying of the lower frequencies, will make the overall volume sound more consistent and fatter and therefore, make it stand out more in a mix, with more mid range and sustain.

Compressors for guitar started to appear in the mid 70s, with the MXR DynaComp and Ross Compressor among others. These had two controls – sustain and volume. The sustain is basically one control for all the controls you have on your studio unit, while the volume can be used to compensate or boost.

Some modern units also offer more controls and often a blend function, which will retain that crisp attack of your picking and allow you to dial in the right amount of compression.

David Gilmour and compressors

David Gilmour has been using compressor pedals since early 1977, during the Animals tour. His first unit was a mid 70s MXR (scrip logo) DynaComp. The pedal seems to have been placed somewhere in the middle of his effects chain. Perhaps he mainly used it for cleans or, that they simply weren’t used to compressor pedals and set it up much like a studio unit, compressing the entire signal and the front end of the amp for a better balance and more headroom.

During the 80s and 90s David experimented with several different compressor pedals in his rigs for different tones and applications, sometimes using two or all three compressors at once, like the intro on Time. The pedals were now placed first in the chain.

On the recent Rattle That Lock tour, compressors are a dominating part of David’s tone. Using compression throughout the set and setting the amount of compression high, allow him to use less gain from his overdrive and distortion pedals and get a more focused and cutting tone, emphasising on the mid range. Read more about David’s Rattle That Lock gear in this in-depth feature.

What type of compressor should you choose?

There are mainly two types of compressor pedals. Compressors based around a transistor circuit, like the DynaComp, are often favoured by finger pickers, for their fast and aggressive compression.

Optical compressors, based around light dependent resistors, are smoother and more subtle, much like the studio outboard units. There are also FET and tube units although these are rare among pedals.

There are no rules as to what type of compression you should use for specific amps, guitars or musical styles. It all comes down to taste but I would recommend transistor units for single coils and finger picking and optical units for humbuckers and if you’re using a lot of gain pedals.

Compressor on the pedalboard

Compressors are usually placed first or in front of any overdrive, distortions and boosters. You want to compress the clean signal from your pickups into the gain pedals for an even tone. This also allow you to use less gain, which again means less noise and feedback.

Keep in mind that compression is gain, so combining a compressor with an overdrive, distortion or booster, will require some tuning of that dirt.

Complaints about compressors

Guitarists often dismiss compressors for being either too subtle or too dominating. A compressor may not be as exciting or instantly gratifying as a distortion or delay but knowing how and when to use compression can be the difference between a dull and awesome tone.

The best way to learn how a compressor works it to use it in a band mix or on a recording. A thin and mids scooped tone can have a hard time cutting through that mix but adding a bit of compression will make the tone fatter and reduce those highs for more mid range. Try a compressor in front of your Big Muff and hear how those harsh transients sound smoother and the low end gets more focused.

Noise is also an issue with compressors but compressor pedals are rarely noisy. However, and as mentioned above, a compressor is essentially a gain pedal, so when you add that on top of a cranked amp or a second or third gain pedal, like an overdrive or distortion, you get a lot of gain and it will be noisy.

Keep in mind that a compressor will also raise the noise floor when the more quiet frequencies are amplified. If needed, turn down the gain on your overdrives and distortions or roll down the sustain on the compressor.

All pedals listed below were tested on typical Gilmour inspired setups, including Stratocasters and Hiwatt and Fender amps. Please note that the pedals may sound and behave differently on your setup. All scores are purely subjective.

Boss CS2
Boss-CS2Sadly out of production but well worth tracking down, this classic sounds much like a mix between a typical transistor compressor, like the Dynacomp, and the smoother optical compressors. The CS2 is transparent, warm and fairly mild, which means that you can dial in pretty high settings without getting any nasty pops or too much squeeze. In addition to the usual volume and sustain controls, a third control, attack, allow you to dial in how fast you want the compressor to kick in. Some might find this to be just a bit too gentle but it goes especially well with hotter pickups.

Gilmour tones: About Face – PULSE score: 8/10

Boss CS3
Boss-CS3The current compressor from Boss sounds surprisingly different from the CS2, with a considerably brighter tone. It’s by no means a bad compressor, just different but I don’t think it sounds as smooth and musical as its predecessor. The CS3 also got a slightly more aggressive compression, which makes it great for those twangy Telecaster tones. A fourth control, Tone, allows you to cut or boost the top end after compression. Look out for the many mods out there for a warmer and smoother tone.

Gilmour tones: About Face – PULSE score: 5/10

MXR Dyna Comp
MXR DynaComp BlockThe current block logo model is very similar to the original script logo but lack some of the smoothness and warmth. It’s not as aggressive as the original, which might make it a better choice if you want the tone but not the super squeeze. In my opinion, there are other, better sounding clones out there.

Gilmour tones: Animals – Final Cut score: 5/10

MXR Custom Shop Dyna Comp ’76 reissue
MXR Dynacomp 76Like the ’74 Phase 90, this is a true replica of the original so-called script logo model from the mid 70s. Featured on countless recordings, this pedal is favoured by finger picking Tele playing country artists in particular for its super fast and aggressive attack. Some might find it a bit too overwhelming, especially with humbuckers, but it goes really well with vintage style, low output single coils and also with Big Muffs, for a bit of high end roll off and tightening of the low end. Mind that this reissue has no led, battery only and hardwire bypass, which will kill some high end but there’s plenty of mojo here!

Gilmour tones: Animals – Final Cut score: 8/10

Whirlwind Red Box
Whirlwind Red BoxThis is a clone of the mid 70s MXR Dyna Comp from the man who originally designed it. An excellent alternative, with all the mojo and tone and you got a led, true bypass and power jack. Again, highly recommended for single coils and David Gilmour’s late 70s tones in particular.

Gilmour tones: Animals – Final Cut score: 9/10

Vick Audio R-Comp
VickAudio R-CompThe Ross Compressor was a fierce competitor to the Dyna Comp in the late 70s and preferred by many for its even smoother tone and more dynamic compression. The R-Comp captures the tone perfectly, with a sweet twang and super smooth sustain. It also got a considerable output, allowing you to boost your gain pedals or the front end of a tube amp. Like the Dyna Comp, the R-Comp is a perfect match with David Gilmour’s late 70s tones and the Big Muff in particular.

Gilmour tones: Animals – Final Cut score: 9/10

Buyer's Gear Guide - Gilmourish PickYellowSquash Sound Labs Iron Fist
YellowSquash Iron FistThe Iron Fist is a transistor compressor but with much of the qualities of an optical unit. It has a super transparent tone, with a smooth musical compression. There’s lots of output here so it also doubles as a booster for your cleans and gain pedals or just the front end of your amp. The Iron Fist has three controls for compression, allowing you to fine tune the effect for specific tones and pickups. There’s also a super sensitive noise gate that comes handy when you pair the Iron First with hot pickups or gain heavy pedals. See my full review of the Iron Fist here.

Gilmour tones: Animals – Rattle That Lock score: 10/10

Demeter Compulator
Demeter CompulatorThe Compulator is an optical compressor, based on the old studio units of the 60s and 70s. It’s a classic among boutique pedals and compressors. Not only for the fact that it’s been David Gilmour’s trusted one since the early 2000s but countless guitarists depend on this one as a part of their tone for its studio quality and smooth operation. In addition to a compressor and volume control, the Compulator also feature a trim pot for adjusting the overall gain. Great for cleans and milder overdrive in particular but really one that you want to leave on most of the time.

Gilmour tones: Animals – Rattle That Lock score: 9/10

Buyer's Gear Guide - Gilmourish PickGurus Amps Optivalve
Gurus Amps OptivalveLike the Compulator and PC-2A, the Optivalve is based on the studio outboard tube compressors of the 60s and 70s. Designed much like Guru’s impressive Echosex, the Optivalve both look and sound amazing. Super transparent tone, smooth musical compression and a full array of controls, makes this possibly the ultimate pedal compressor for guitar and bass. A featured tone control, allow some fine tuning of the top end after compression and a 12AU7 tube ensure a warm tone and tons of headroom. Works equally well with cleans and overdrive and fuzz. This is something you want to leave on all the time. See my full review of the Optivalve here.

Gilmour tones: Animals – Rattle That Lock score: 10/10

Buyer's Gear Guide - Gilmourish PickEffectrode PC-2A
Effectrode PC-2ABased on the legendary Teletronix LA-2A studio tube compressor, the PC-2A offer a stunning sound quality, super smooth compression and warmth. Whether you want to add body to your cleans or smooth transients and add sustain to your dirt, this is something you definitely want to leave on for all your tones. Like its studio counterpart the PC-2A offer a simplistic design, with two controls for peak reduction (compression) and volume as well as a unique micro tube for that amp-like tone. The PC-2A is featured both in David’s new recording studio and his current stage rig. See my full review of the PC-2A Compressor here.

Gilmour tones: Animals – Rattle That Lock score: 10/10

Mooer Yellow Comp
Mooer Yellow CompBased on the Diamond Compressor, the Mooer Yellow offer great sounding compression, with the qualities of those classic optical units for a fraction of the price. Transparent tone, musical dynamics and, like the original, an onboard EQ allowing you to fine tune the tone after the compression. Works equally well with single coils and humbuckers, clean tones and gain.

Gilmour tones: Animals – Rattle That Lock score: 7/10

Feel free to use the comments field below and share your experience, recommendations and tips!

162 Responsesso far.


    BOSS CS 2 or Mooer Yellow Comp?

  2. Slava says:

    Thanks for reply :)

  3. Slava says:

    Hi! What you can say about Soul Preacher by ehx? Is it worth to buy?

    • Bjorn says:

      Depends on what you’re looking for. Costs very little and it sounds great. Clearly based on the old Klon, with a nice boost, mid range and gain character. Works very well with Fender, Vox and other “scooped” amps. Can be a bit overwhelming with Marshall and Hiwatt.

  4. Márcio Gasparin says:

    Hi, Bjorn .. have you tested the EHX Tone repair? Would it be a good fit for Gilmour’s sound? My pedals are: mooer phaser, vick audio 73, mooer black secret, tol, mooer chorus and canyon delay..Strat and Bugera v5. What does Bjorn tell me? Thank you.

  5. Paul says:

    In looking at DG Pulse effects – he actually has three Compressor pedals CE2, MXR and an Ibenez in his rack
    My question – did he use these in combination with each other ? If so, why ? Thanks Paul

  6. Ryan Duncan says:

    Did you ever get a chance to try the Wampler Ego? Do you normally turn off your compressor when going through higher gain stomps, like a muff?

    • Bjorn says:

      Haven’t tried it. You should be careful adding compression to high gain tones, because they’re already compressed but it always depends on what tones you want. Adding a bit of compression to Big Muffs makes them sound smoother and you can also get a bit of high end roll off.

      • Ryan says:

        Thanks. I was trying it different ways yesterday. I was trying to figure out how I could use it to reduce the amount of dirt. I definitely don’t like it in front of the 73 Ram’s Head. It kills the picking dynamic and makes the sustain drop off and sustain again in a weird way. I dig it in front of the ToL and the Plexidrive. Both of those are set either noon or just below. It also adds a nice fattening effect to my Hi Gain channel of my amp. I’ve got that channel set to a bluesy tone. If I start stacking the ToL, Plexi, or hitting the amp harder it just gets too much.

        Probably a second discussion, but I can’t seem to get a good sound stacking the 73 Ram’s Head with either of my other two pedals. It does sound good on its own if I get the level knob in the sweet spot going straight in my amp. My amp is set to clip only when I hit the strings hard or engage the boost on my Music Man Luke 3. The level knob seems to control the squareness of the muff sound. It rounds out as I turn it up. I just wish I could tame some of added clipping in upper frequencies. Maybe a touch of eq pedal would be better than trying to stack it with a boost?

        • Bjorn says:

          Stacking is always tricky because how you should do it or what fits depends on so many things. Also, I don’t think you should focus too much on the fact that David’s stacking his pedals. Keep in mind that his gear is very different from yours and it’s also been modified to meet his taste and demands. It’s also something very different to be playing huge arenas compared to bedrooms and clubs. You don’t have to stack or boost a Muff and the term boosting is a bit misleading since David’s not really boosting but rather blending effects for specific tones and character.

      • Arya Boustani says:

        Good point Bjorn. I should try compressor with different Muff pedals to see if I make the tone more balanced out and perhaps more widely usable. I was thinking a multi-band compressor perhaps gives more option to balance out the tone, something like TC Electronic Hypergravity. The blackbox Russian that I have has such a big bass that I imagine a full range compression would not sound good on it, but with tweaking the amount of compression for each band and adjusting the crossover frequency, that could potentially be a relief to find solutions to such unbalanced tones, and perhaps Fender amp users will appreciate using Muff pedals even more. Cheers.

        • Bjorn says:

          That might do the trick but you might also want to consider a EQ to better tame those frequencies. More efficient imo.

  7. Flavio says:

    Hey bjorn, have you tried boss cp-1x compressor?

  8. Carlo says:

    Hi,what do you think about Mad Professor green forest if you tried it?

    • Bjorn says:

      Haven’t tried it.

      • Carlo says:

        ok.Thanks.Anybody her even tried it?

        • Sergey says:

          Mad Professor Forest Green is an OpAmp based optical compressor. It’s a Mad Professor’s take on the BJFe/Bearfoot Pale Green Compressor. Same circuit except the Compressor/Sustain switch. The switch engages parallel compression mode in Sustain position. In Compressor position pedal is the same as PGC. I have MP Forest Green HW (Hand Wired) version. It’s a nice compressor. More versatile than PGC. Try it if you can. If you’ll need more details check review.

          • Sergey says:

            Some more comments:”The switch engages parallel compression mode in Sustain position.” In this mode some dry signal is blended into the output to preserve original attack.

  9. Peter says:


    I was thinking about a EHX silencer or similar noise gate,( my Boss BD2 is way too noisy) and a Compressor. I see the Iron Fist you recommend hase this function, as well. Do you think I can skip the purchase of a dedicated noise gate and trust the ironfist will do that job ?


  10. Andre Kovacs says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Have you tried the Carl Martin Classic Opto-compressor, or the Carl Martin Andy Timmons Signature Compressor?
    I found really good reviews of them, considering it’s low price!
    Best, Andre

  11. Tim says:


    What are your thoughts on the Pete Cornish OC-1?

    • Bjorn says:

      Haven’t had the chance to try it yet but based on the samples I’ve heard it sounds very promising. I would imagine it’s close to the Effectorde PC-2A with that typical studio quality tone and the ability to go from very light to tight squeeze, with the optical circuit.

  12. Brooks from Texas says:

    Bjorn, Have you taken a look at the new Keeley Compressor Plus? I was thinking about upgrading my Boss Compressor to the Iron Fist when I saw the Compressor Plus. Did some research and picked one up about a month ago. Its great, I didn’t realize how much of difference it made until a few weeks ago in the middle of a set I could really hear it doing its thing. I love it, check it out here.

  13. piazzi says:

    I have a mooer blue mood (clone of Boss BD2 with keely mod) that ued to sound OK on my Bugera v22. Just OK. It went the maybe-sell-them-at-some-point shelf

    got a mooer yellow compressor and, for fun, placed it after the mooer blue mood, set the blue mood knob to the best position I could on its own, then played a bit with compressor knobs, with compression knob around 10 o clock and volume and eq around 11. The mooer pedal came into life — everything sounded better defined, solos, strums, arpeggiated chords

    Tried it after mooer black secret — same enhancing effect

    It’s become an always on pedal in my set up

    and the mooer blue mood found a place because of the compressor, I use the blue mood with compressor after it when I want to strum chords. They work very well together

  14. Barış says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    What do you think about Seymour Duncan Vise Grip Compressor for Gilmourish sound?

  15. Igor says:

    Hello, Björn! What would you say about the DIAMOND compressor CPR1 COMPRESSOR ?? How would you rate him? There is a choice between Diamond and MXR Dyna Comp (script) CSP102SL. Thank you!

    • Bjorn says:

      The Diamond Compressor is optical and based on typical analog studio units, similar to the Effectrode PC-2A. It’s a smooth and subtle compressor although you can drive it pretty hard. The Dynacomp is much more aggressive and typically used for single coils, clean tones and finger picking but it works great with high gain effects too.

  16. Tom Dennis says:

    hi i was wondering what effects david used with his steel guitars ? im using a lap steel ona few songs and was wondering about how he got his tone

    • Bjorn says:

      Back in the 70s, he mostly used either a clean tone with delay or a Fuzz Face with delay for the heavier parts. These days it’s mostly a Tube Driver with delay and perhaps some compression. Check out the Album Gear Guides and click on the “songs and settings” banner on each album to see the setup for each song.

  17. Pauli says:

    Hei Bjorn! Have you tried the MXR M291 Dyna Comp Mini? It’s supposed to have the orignal CA3080 IC chip, same as was used in the vintage Dyna Comps, but obviously this doesn’t instantly mean it sounds the same. I was thinking of buying the script one, but then I came across this mini model, which would fit my already too crowded pedalboard. If you have tried it, please share your impressions! Always looking forward to your opinion.


    • Bjorn says:

      I’ve only had the chance to try it briefly and I’ve yet to do a proper A/B between the mini and the original script but the mini sounded very nice. Again, hard to tell for sure but to me it sounded very similar to the script model. Smoother and more headroom than the block logo.

  18. Mario says:

    What do you think of the Xotic SP compressor for David Gilmour

    • Bjorn says:

      It’s similar to the old Ross and MXR compressors but it’s got a few additional features, which makes it very versatile. Excellent pedal.

  19. Garry says:

    Hi Bjørn! what to choose: Demeter Compulator or Vick Audio R-Comp? what compressor is better at your look! I sit I listen and it seems to me that Demeter Compulator sounds is more melodious or I am not right?! I apologize for English, I hope you understood… thanks!

    • Bjorn says:

      Depends on what you want. The Demeter is more subtle and it’s got a nice boost. The R-Comp has a much more noticeable attack and, like the Ross and DynaComp, it’s great for those twangy single coil tones.

  20. Émile says:

    Hi there!
    When you’re using fuzz, do you also use
    à Compressor?
    I was wondering if I should put my before the compressor (ironfist). If you don’t, I bet there is no need to place the fuzz before or after the comp.
    Planned order: strat-> ironfist-> 73 ram’s head->{sun face? tree of life?}->Powerbooster-> vibe (like it after distorsion)->phaser->eleclady->nova delay->laney lionheart
    (Don’t own all of these yet but someday…)

  21. Michel Giroux says:

    Hello Bjorn,are you familiar with the Ross Gray Compressor?If so,how does it compare with the original MXR

  22. Adiel Ricci says:

    Hi! That’s a great post, congratulations. How about the old Orange Squeezer? Best regards!

  23. Ernie Botelho says:

    Hi Bjorn, I’m thinking about exploring the use of a compressor to use with my Tele thin line (single coils) and an old ’67 ampeg reverberocket ii that I am restoring. It would be mainly used for clean, slightly overdriven tones. I find that just plugged straight into the amp there is something missing somewhere and I think that compression might smooth things out a bit without the added color of an OD pedal. The dynacomp and whirlwind sound like they’d be good based on your reviews, but what about the exotic SP? Forgive me if you’ve already reviewed it somewhere. Thanks!


    • Bjorn says:

      You can get nice clean tones by plugging the guitar straight into the amp but it requires that the amp is set up properly and, based on my personal taste, I don’t think tube amps come to life unless you push the pre-amp just a little bit. That will create the compression you need. You might also want to roll down the guitar volume control just a hair to round off that sometimes harsh top end. Mind though that this does not work that well on solid state amps. A compressor allows you to have better control of the amount of compression you need but which to choose depends on what sort of compression you want. The intro of this feature explains some of the differences.

      • Ernie Botelho says:

        Thanks Bjorn. I agree the amp sounds much better when pushed, but I don’t have the opportunity to do that in my home that often. I guess my real question is will a compressor get me a similar response from the amp when I’m plugged straight in at bedroom levels, or would I be wasting my time? I’m not looking for overdrive but just a nice even, warm clean tone. Thanks again, your site is one of the best on the web!

        • Bjorn says:

          A compressor can compensate to some degree. You can create a similar effect to the compression you get from hot tubes and speakers that are driven hard but how a compressor ends up sounding, depends on your pickups and the voicing of your amp.

          • Ernie Botelho says:

            Ok great that’s all I needed to know! I will do a little more research as to which comp might be the best compliment to my Tele and this particular amp and take it from there, or maybe look for one that has a lot of versatility. Thanks again Bjorn, you do us all a great service!

  24. David Du says:

    hi, bjorn, I posted a question about mxr dynacomp, but it’s disappeared, anything wrong?

  25. Lui Sutil says:

    No Xotic SP or Ego by wampler?

  26. Arya Boustani says:

    Hi Bjorn, Thanks for your response regarding Demeter Compulator. I’m very happy with its attack, transparency etc. But I’m still looking for a way to thicken up the mids in the tone before hitting the overdrive circuit. Demeter has another pedal called mid boost. I’m trying to get that thick sustained tone of the DMG active pickup mid boost with my Fender 69 pickup. I imagine David Gilmore after using DMG pickup with that sort of hybrid of single coil and humbucker thick tone might have had a tendency to get some of that thick mid range character with his recent lineup of pedals after he switched back to Fender pickup. If so, which pedal combination would create some of that thick tone without sounding too compressed or too over driven so I can use it as a basis for tone building prior to my overdrive pedals? Thanks again and sorry if it is a bit off topic. However I think a mid band compression is part of the trick to get that thick DMG mid boost tone.

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t tried it so I can’t really tell. These kinds of pedals always depend on the pickups and amps you use them with. It can sometimes be a bit too much or too subtle. The Effectrode Fire Bottle is kind of similar, with a high end roll off option similar to swapping from single coils to P90s. It makes your tone sound warmer and darker but it’s not quite the same as boosting the lower mids, like the DG20s. For that you would need a band EQ, like the GE7.

  27. Mark says:

    Hi,i’m french ,sorry for my english.
    Ahave you even tried the Rockman Compressor (1/2 rack).I have one and i wonder what’s the différence beetween it and pedal compressor.

  28. Nicholas says:

    Hi Bjorn! I’m looking for a good compressor pedal to help me get a nice crisp tone while also smoothing out my distortion tones. I’d also like one that can get me into DG territory. Which would you recommend out of the Xotic SP Compressor, the Keeley C4, Diamonds yellow Compressor, the MXR Custom Shop script DynaComp, or Jam’s DynasSor? I use a Fender American strat with custom shop fat 50s and an Epiphone les Paul standard into a vintage Peavey Bandit. I have a blues driver and a TS808 and am going to purchase a Red Muck at Christmas. Hope that gives you some info as to what my rig resembles. Thanks and have a nice December!

    • Bjorn says:

      You could go for any of these but the Keeley C4 and Diamond are perhaps the most versatile and easiest to make work with different amps.

  29. Jake says:

    Hey Bjorn,
    What about these Baroni Lab pedals – have you tried Dave’s Comp from them? Hard to find anything on the internet about it!

    • Bjorn says:

      I have. Don’t know why I haven’t included it here but it’s one of the better compressors I’ve played. Very smooth and transaprent but it responds incredibly well to your playing.

  30. Antonio says:

    Hi everybody from Italy. A question about compressor. What’ s the best one for clean or semi clean lead lines (shine on you…. introduction) . Thanks to you all!!!!!

  31. Maciej says:


    Any chance for an update on the TC Electronics Hypergravity? :)

  32. Stephen Douglas says:

    How about the “Bi-Comprosser” from aNaLoGmAn?

  33. jimash1 says:

    I have used compressors since the original Orange Squeezer.
    For many years I used the Boss cs-1 .
    I wanted one that could delay the attack and ended p with a Belcat CMP 509.
    I really like it. It isn;t that friendly on a shared power supply, but it has a nice attack delay , tons of compression, and 3 times the output of the Boss.

  34. yaniv says:

    Hi Bjorn.
    i have hughes & kettner tubemeister 18. thanks to you i understood i should play overdrive pedals only using the lead (distortion) channel, because the clean channel is not compressed (and it works great!).
    is i’ll buy a compressor (lets say effectrode), and use it on the clean channel, can i play overdrive pedals on this channel (because now the sound is compressed)?

    thanks in advance (and its never obsolete to re-tell you your site is amazingly helpful),

  35. Hello Bjorn,are you familiar with the BYOC Classic Compressor?

  36. Peter Hutley says:

    Hi from Sydney Bjorn,

    I had a Moen Unicomp compressor on my board and never liked it. It seemed to suck out the bass and made the tone tight and squishy. I play in an Elvis tribute band (Telecaster into Fender Blues Junior) with a lot of clean stuff and wanted something to thicken up the clean tone without going into overdrive.

    I didn’t want to spend too much on a compressor as I was not convinced I needed one. Having looked at your article above I went off to a guitar shop looking for a Mooer Yellow Comp but they didn’t have any in stock. So I tried an MXR Dynacomp, another MXR Custom Shop that has apparently just been released, and a Boss CS3.

    Didn’t like the Dynacomp because it had the same issue as the Moen. The Custom Shop was better but over twice the cost. But once I heard the Boss I knew this is what I wanted. I can now produce a stronger clean tone with a little sustain, and I also use it to add sustain to my overdrive without adding dirt.

    I also have a BIg Muff that I use in one Elvis song and the CS3 just adds a touch more sustain to it for soloing as well as taming a bit of the sharpness.

    I guess I’m saying that for a fairly modest outlay I’m very happy with what the Boss can do.


  37. Max says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Do you have tested the Keeley Compressor Pro ? Looks and sounds great IMHO.
    Thanks for your fantastic job !



  38. Max says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Can’t wait for your review of the BUFFALO FX M1 … Meanwhile, did you have tested a Robert Keeley compressor ? The last “Compressor Pro” looks and sounds amazing :




  39. Hello Bjorn,
    The compressors David Gilmour used/still uses,(MXR Dynacomp,Boss CS-2 and Demeter Compulator),score 8,8 and 9/10 for Gilmourish tones??Doesn’t make sense to me.Since this is what he uses shouldn’t the scores be 10’s?

    I have a 1987 Boss CS-3 made in Japan,same circuit board as the CS-2 with the addition of a tone control.These are rare and cost more on the used market than CS-2 models of which plenty are available.I would think it’s as good or better than the CS-2.

    • Bjorn says:

      I’ve always said that the Buyer’s Guides are based on my personal opinion. Not so much what’s David’s using. There are clones of the Dynacomp that are, in my opnion, better sounding than the MXR and, I guess there is a reason why David’s not using the Dyna and CS2 anymore.

      • He’s not using the Dyna and CS-2 anymore;not at all?Is the Demeter Compulator his current and only compressor of choice
        If however,one wishes to reproduce ’70’s and ’80’s Pink Floyd tones wouldn’t compressors such as the Dyna and the CS-2 fit the bill,(as with other pedals he used during those time frames), notwithstanding the fact that pedal quality has increased significantly?

        • Bjorn says:

          As far as images from his studio and the current tour can tell, he does not use the Dynacomp or CS2 anymore. The Dyna was last seen on the Pulse tour in 1994 and the CS2 in 2002. He is now using the Effectrode PC2A, Demeter Compulator and Origin Effects Slide Rig. Sure, for the late 70s tones I would go for a Dynacomp or a similar sounding clone. For the 80s and 90s, you will get closer with a CS2. Still, that is not really the point with these buyers guides. If it where, I could just list whatever David used on the albums and tours, which I have done here, and you could buy that. The guides are my very personal and subjective reviews and presentations of pedals that I think sounds great for Davids tones. Some better than what he actually used. In my opinion.

          • Michel iroux says:

            Thanks Bjorn :)
            I’m still trying to sort things out before assembling my pedalboard.

            If a Boss CS-2/CS-3,(as a compressor and a buffer),is placed just before a Big Muff,(EHX Bass Big Muff for example),would it have an adverse effect on the Muff’s tone?I know you’ve addressed this somewhere else,can’t find it though.

            Does David Gilmour still use a synthesizer,(like in “Obscured by Clouds”)?Where would a modern synth like EHX’s Microsynth fit in the pedal chain?


            Michel Giroux

            • Bjorn says:

              Compressors usually goes first or at least before gain pedals. Be careful with compressing a high gain pedal such as Muff, as it has a lot of compression in the tone already. Synths usually goes first, and before compressors, to be able to track the guitar properly.

  40. Greg says:

    Want to experiment with smoothing out my Deluxe Big Muff & Vick Audio Ramshead gain leads. But These along with the Nova Delay I just bought drive me to keep cost not at high end. Would the Mooer or MXR Dyana Comp be good choices thru my Carvin MV3 & Orange tube heads?

    • Greg says:

      I play at moderate basement levels using the 7 or 15W settings on both amps simlutaniously (sometimes bedroom levels)

    • Bjorn says:

      I’m not that familiar with those amps but if you mean smooth, as in that typical violin-like tone, then a compressor won’t do much. It will roll off some of the highs and create some sustain, but the key to those silky smooth Muff tones, is mid range and high volume. I guess your Orange should handle that but I can’t tell about the Carvin.

  41. dave says:

    what do you thing about the Strymon OB.1?

  42. Andre says:

    R comp from Vick Audio is great !! Thank’s

  43. Omar El Faro says:

    What about Mooer Blue Comp?

  44. Deb says:

    Hey Bjorn, would you suggest the Diamond yellow compressor for DG tones (WYWH-Rattle) since you list the Mooer yellow comp on the list?
    Would you be able to suggest the possible DG setting for the original, by any chance, played through a Cub 12R?

    • Bjorn says:

      The Mooer is a great reprod of the Diamond, so yes, both are worth checking out. The Diamond is also available in a couple of different models. Compressor settings are hard to recommend because it depends so much on how it will respond to your gear. That’s the nature of the pedal. You don’t use it to sound like anything else but to enhance your tone. Start by setting the volume to unity and the compression low. Turn it up and hear how that effects your tone. You don’t want too much but enough to make the tone more balanced. How much depends on your amp settings, pedals and pickups.

      • Deb says:

        Thank you, Bjorn. Just picked up the Diamond comp (original yellow box, not the mini one). Haven’t had the time to properly give it a go, shall do over the weekend.

  45. Lee says:

    Hi Bjorn, thanks a bunch for this guide. I almost got my first comp based on the recommendations here (either the Dyna or the Boss CS3) but in the end I actually got the Warden by Earthquaker Devices. It did everything the dyna and the Boss did, but also much more and its dead quiet. Have you tried it?

  46. KEITH says:

    Hey there Bjorn, and all of you Gilmour heads! Bjorn, the gear guide update has been very interesting reading, and I keep going back to it, and the pedal selection article that preceded it for reference. You have a great ear, and write in a manner that even the newbies amongst us can understand. Your work is so greatly appreciated, and I applaud the seemingly endless energy, and devotion you put into Please keep up your great work, you help so many young guitarists, and have even taught an old guy a bunch of new tricks. My tone has never sounded better!!!
    Peace my good friend, KEITH

  47. Vinnie says:

    Hi Bjorn, thanks very much for this, amazing as usual! I have a burning question and I’m hoping you can help me with it. I’m on the market for a high end compressor but can’t decide between the Effectrode and the Cali76 Compact. Would you have an opinion on this? I know how much you love the Effectrode but everyone seems to say the Cali76 is the best out there.

    Many thanks :)

    • Bjorn says:

      Well, which one’s the best depends on your guitar, amp and what tones you want. I love the PC-2A but it doesn’t work for everything. The Cali 76 is similar but perhaps less subtle and you got the versions with more controls, which can be handy. You could go with either.

    • Ed says:

      Hi. I too have had this dilemma. So I bought both and will be returning one. But which one? At the time of writing I am in two minds. With some A/B testing I have realised that in order to do the clean and low gain tones I’m chasing, compression is essential but not much of it is required. Subtle is the way to go.
      For this, the Electrode is so well suited. It has an incredible musicality to it and makes the guitar breath and open out in a way that means that I’d leave in on all the time. It is slightly warming and at first I was concerned it was reducing the crispness of the pick attack but this smoothing seems less pronounced after some burning in time.
      The Cali is also incredible and is actually the better compressor. The preamp in itself is great irrespective of any compression you dial in. It gives real punch and clarity to the tone. I found that the blend pot was useful but I really liked a dry signal with a third wet mixed in. This is parallel compression and arguably is only a very modest use of the tool.
      So in this quest, I was finding that what I was looking for was getting more body and sparkle. Actual compression (in terms of signal compensation) was quite secondary. While the Cali is more versatile and gives you more control over the compression, I think that I just need mild compression but tone enhancement was the priority. And for this reason the Effecteode will be staying.
      Hope this was useful.

      [Levinson Blade RH4, with Klein S7 pickups through a Redplate Astrodust Duo.]

      • yaniv says:

        thanks for this Ed, it’s really helpful. based on what you wrote i think i’ll go for the cali76 copmact.
        i’m still saving money for it :-)

  48. Jakob says:

    hey Bjorn what do you think about the MXR JHS Dyan Ross Mod compressor thanks.

  49. Paul Kantor says:

    Thanks Bjorn, There is a brand new one out that does have the led: You guys are awesome by the way! Thanks Again!

  50. Paul Kantor says:

    Any opinion on the new MXR Script Dyna Comp Compressor?

    • Bjorn says:

      True to the original but, as the original, it doesn’t have led and true bypass. Check out the Whirlwind for the best replica.

  51. Steve says:

    How about the Wampler Ego?

  52. Excellent article Bjorn!
    Regarding the Boss CS-3 Compressor Sustainer,are you referring to the vintage early ’80’s model made in Japan or the current reissue made in Taiwan?I understand they are quite different,(different chip).

  53. Tom Robinson says:

    Had a dynacomp for ages but never felt it was doing that much so was on and off my board quite a lot. Then a while back after you reviewed a compressor i decided to try something different. Ended up getting a t rex comp nova second hand and its barely been turned off since i got it. Everything just sounds a little bit better with it on – not a huge difference but i do miss it when it’s not there, which i guess is the trick with compressors.

    • Bjorn says:

      Yep. unless you want a specific effect, compressors shouldn’t do much, but rather just sprinkle some icing on the cake :)

  54. Norman says:

    Hi Bjorn
    just a thought regarding the optivalve and for that matter, other pedals with valves in them. Do the valves ever need changing or does the pedal perform differently over time?

    • Bjorn says:

      Depends on how you treat them. All tubes needs to be changed eventually, but if they get the right powering, then they will last a very long time. Mind that the power tubes in an amp, often needs to be replaced more often. You will probably notice a change in the tone or, that pedal gets microphonic. Again, if powered properly, it will probably last a decade or even longer.

  55. Hyunil Kim says:

    Hey Bjorn! Thanks for another great reviews! Your pages are awesome!
    Have you tried RAF Mirage Handwired Pro? It’s definitely worth a try!

  56. Anthony James says:

    Cali 76 Compact Deluxe ?
    Very versatile and the ability to mix the dry signal with the compressed signal for the best of both worlds. Fortunate enough to know the guy that makes these and he supplies his slide rig pedal to Dave.G

  57. Hey Bjorn, long time no see! I eventually settled on the Xotic Effects SP Compressor. After seeing Gilmour live I realized that he changes all the time and since my first effect and maybe favorite is a compressor, I wanted to personalize this one. It’s all about the level of compression selector and the blend for me.

    For Gilmour compressor+overdrive tones I use “mid” compression and about half/half blend. If I want a squeezed clean tone, I flip it to “high mode”, blend more compressor in, and boost the volume (which there is plenty of). Also doesn’t take up much space. I recommend it to anyone who has cold feet about compressors that when on, dominate the input to all other pedals. I don’t think it’s very Gilmour inspired if you are looking for certain tones, but I’ve learned that Gilmour changes as well and since hearing him live I’ve realized that it’s all about what YOU want.

    Hope the band stuff is going great, good talking again Bjorn!

  58. Vicente says:

    Hi Bjorn! Great article! What do you think of the Keeley 4 knobs? Besides, I had the CS2 for a while and sold it. Even at its minimum of the compression knob the sound was very compressed, much similar to the Shine On You Crazy Diamond clean tone in the intro. Is this normal or was my unit faulty? Thanks!

    • Bjorn says:

      The Keeley 4-knob sounds very nice but I haven’t spent enough time with it to really explore it. How a compressor sound, depends very much on the gear you use with it. My experience with the CS2 is that it’s one of the milder compressors, but I’m sure it can sound overwhelming too, if it doesn’t match the rig.

      • Vicente says:

        Thanks Bjorn! I was using a fender strat plus with the Clapton mid boost kit mod into a Fender Supersonic 22 clean channel, just information in case anyone was thinking of getting a CS2.

  59. Kyle says:

    Hey Bjorn, great work as always. I do have one question though. What do you think of the Xotic SP Compressor?

  60. JSTN says:


  61. joao bicudo says:

    Hi Bjorn!

    Great job in your site!

    What is your thoughts about mxr custom shop csp202 ?
    I have the mxr dyna comp m102, the boss cs3 and the mooer yellow comp.
    Wish of this 4 pedals yould you choose?

    I play a strat with ssl5 and 69’s pop’s , mxr buffer, comp (normaly the dyna comp), vickaudio 73 rams head, sl drive, vickaudio overdriver, electlady, rt20, hiwatt t20.


    João Bicudo

  62. Arya Boustani says:

    Thanks Bjorn for putting this together. Would you be able to let me know which one is probably the best and 2nd best for the usual DG settings of the tube driver set at almost max overdrive? I found out that the high saturation of tube driver at high drive setting mixed with low-mid swell of my CS-2 has a tendency for too soft attack and too smooth or lacking enough definition situations unless I raise the CS-2 volume higher than unity and in that condition the tube driver is not as smooth sounding and become at the verge of choking for some mid-heavy notes. I like to see if there is a compressor that stays transparent and allows the attack to get out even in low volume setting and also has less low-mid swell or variable low-mid swell (tone control) so I can adjust it to my liking. I use it for tracking so I’m ok if I have to switch compressors when I switch from clean low overdrive pedals to tube driver high overdrive. I can use my CS-2 for low overdrive scenario and use another compressor for high overdrive TD and muffs.
    Thanks again for all your help.

    • Bjorn says:

      As you probably know, you should be careful with compressing a high gain tone, as there is very much compression going on already. Adding a compressor will only kill most of the transients and attack. What type of compressor and how it should be set, depends on what gear you use and for what purpose you need compression. The CS2 has a very smooth attack and mild compression, which I find works well with cleans and milder overdrives in particular. The DynaComp seems to work better with high gain effects and adds a bit of attack to the tone as well. If you want something super transparent and mild, then an optical compressor, like the Effectrode, might be the best choice.

      • Arya Boustani says:

        Thanks Bjorn. The idea of super transparent compressor is great although Effectrode with shipping and duty is almost 450 bucks. I can budget a used Demeter Compulator for 150 bucks. It is opto and it is DGs choice too :)
        Would you say it is also a transparent and mild enough compressor that perhaps work well with TD in overdrive setting?

  63. Diogo Martins says:

    Hey Bjorn! Finally, after much anticipation, a compressor guide! Tell me, have you tried the Joyo Dyna Compressor, the one with the horrendous scorpion? There’s much rave online, any thoughts?

    • Bjorn says:

      Haven’t tried it…

    • george says:

      Instead of the Joyo, get a Caline Hot Mushroom. Super cheap, super good.

      • Diogo Martins says:

        I went with the joyo, its a very mild compressor, akin to the CS-2. Actually, I think its a CS-2 clone despite having “Dyna” on the name, a green box and a horrible scorpion on top. It has a sustain, level and attack knobs, just like the CS-2 and it’s definitely ross-style. Dead silent and not squishy at all, not even with the sustain all the way up. Perfect for pairing with a bd-2 for those Division Bell tones, specially Cluster One, this thing really fattens up the cleans (if that’s what your into). Anyway, just my 3 cents (it cost me 30 euros though) :)

  64. Hershel says:

    Great to see a more in-depth look into compressors, Bjorn! I was wondering if you had any opinion of the to electronic hypergravity comp, and if not, maybe try it? I will also see about the iron fist comp and Demeter. As always, great work, love the new additions!

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t had the chance to try it out yet. I’ll have it in the next update :)

    • hd999 says:

      Hi there!

      Bjorn, thanks for sharing all your knowledge! It shows how great you are!

      About Hypergravity… I can tell you something, after using it for some months… forget about the “artists presets” that you can download and quickly install using your phone.
      Install the software – TonePrint Editor – and connect the pedal to your computer…. so you can set all the parameters according to your need and hear the difference.

      The pedal have 4 knobs… you can reassign them to perform other functions – internally it has all the controls a professional compressor should have: knee bend, attack, release, gain, blend etc. it has more than 50 itens… you won’t find that amount of options even on the Cali pedal… you can also do a little of EQ… yes, you can adjust some frequencies… so you can chose between setting the pedal to perform just as a “transparent sustain” or make it color just a little bit (boosting the mids while compressing, for instance, witch sounds good for me).

      Given all those possibilities, I bet that if you spend some time adjusting those parameters, you will certainly find the perfect configuration for you.

      I also have a Xotic SP compressor after overdrive / distortion… not using those for playing Floyd songs (mostly hard-rock) and I found out that in this position the compressor doesn’t cut all the dynamics you get by rolling your guitar’s volume… and it gives you that round, balanced, sound you hear on records – that is the same treatment professional producers and sound engineers apply after recording the raw sound, while mixing the tracks, in the studio production process… there’s a lot of compression going on.

      Sorry for the long post, just feel the need to share with you that I almost sold my hypergravity pedal… but I won’t do that anymore.

      Xotic SP adds a tremendous quality to what you hear, without that much options to twist, it’s totally worth trying.

      Bjorn, thanks for everything you done, you are a genius!


  65. Mauri says:

    Hey :D and Ibanez CP9?

    • Bjorn says:

      It’s been too long since I last played one, so I didn’t include it. It’s very similar to the DynaComp. Perhaps a tad brighter, with less low end.

Hey! How about a comment on this post?