Most beginners think that compressor pedals aren’t as ‘flashy’ as distortions, overdrives, or delays (for example), which basically translates to ‘compressors aren’t that necessary’. We think otherwise – a compressor pedal has just about as much value as any other effect pedal if used properly, and of course, if you have a quality model in your hands.
We’ve scrounged the market far and wide in search of the best compressor pedals in 2020, and have come up with the review of only the finest models from both world-class leaders and underdogs. Without any further ado, let’s dive into the reviews.
Here are the best compressor pedals 2020:
- Wampler Ego Compressor V2
- Fender The Bends Compressor
- JHS Pulp N Peel V4
- Xotic SP Compressor
- EarthQuaker Devices The Warden V2
- NUX Masamune
- Boss CS-3
- MXR M102 Dyna Comp
- Caline CP-47 Pressure Tank
- Kokko FCP2
1. Wampler Ego Compressor V2
The best boutique compressor pedal
Let’s begin our review of the top-rated compressor pedals with Wampler’s Ego Compressor Version 2 guitar effects pedal.
Namely, this is an improved version of a compressor model that already proved to be absolutely amazing in terms of functionality, versatility, and value (the Ego V1). It even surpassed the Equator and Latitude models from the same brand which used to be some of the most popular effect pedals throughout the past couple of years.
First of all, let’s start with the basic knob controls you will be able to use. The Ego Compressor V2 features the ‘sustain’, ‘tone’, ‘attack’, ‘volume’, and ‘blend’ knob controls. It should be noted that the original Ego compressor had ‘tone’ and ‘attack’ switches instead of actual knobs, so it’s pretty safe to say that the second version of Ego is slightly more responsive and easier to use.
Some of the most notable benefits the Ego V2 compressor brings to the table include an impeccable level of versatility which would allow you to shape your tone very efficiently. This pedal is a welcome addition to any pedal chain due to the fact that it offers plenty of attack and sustain while being able to blend in the original signal output with its own ‘watermark’ of sorts.
The only thing people don’t like so much about it is the fact that it comes at a rather steep price. On the plus side, it boasts a huge value for the cash due to its well-rounded performance and phenomenal sound quality in general.
|Image credit: Wampler Check Price on Amazon||
The main ‘problem’ you might have when looking over Wampler’s selection of pedals is that they offer so much variety in terms of different designs, even when it comes to the same pedal type. The Ego V2 is certainly a true representative of their quality, although most beginners would easily shy away from trying it out due to its steep price.
Be it as it may, the Ego Compressor V2 from Wampler is our top pick mainly due to the fact that it offers a well-balanced performance which leaves little room for compromise. It’s the go-to compressor pedal if you know what you are looking for.
2. Fender The Bends Compressor
The best compressor pedal for metal
Our ‘runner up’ pedal comes from Fender, one of the biggest names in the vast world of guitar playing and guitar-based accessories. Even though they’ve earned most of their fame through premium-quality guitars and guitar amps, they also offer a huge selection of top-tier guitar pedals.
Just like the situation with Wampler’s pedals is, Fender offers some of the finest boost, buffer, chorus, delay, distortion, fuzz, drive, phaser, and reverb pedals. However, since today we are talking about compressor pedals, we’ve picked out their ‘The Bends’ compressor pedal for our review.
The first thing you’ll notice about this pedal is that it sports a very identifiable Fender housing. In comparison to, for example, Fender’s Bubbler Chorus, or the Pinwheel Rotary FX pedals it has a distinctively different design. Obviously, we didn’t label it as one of the best compressors for the metal genre simply due to its black color finish.
One of the main reasons why The Bends is so perfect for the heaviest of music styles is because it has a small ‘drive’ function which you can use to further muddy up your sound with a hint of overdrive.
Best of all, since this is a compressor pedal, you will get the chance to adjust the amount of overdrive you want to layer over your initial tone, as well as specify the amount of decay and recovery in your chosen settings.
Just like most top-tier comp pedals, The Bends feature the ‘blend’ button which, when left untouched, simply uses your dry channel as a pre-set default. Toggling it clockwise will utilize the ‘compressed’ settings over your dry signal.
The knobs are all backlit with LED lights, which means a world to a live performer who’s often placed in poorly lit environments.
On top of being the most metal-driven compressor pedal on the market, it’s also one of the quietest compressor pedals out there since it packs dual internal sound paths.
Last, but certainly not least, The Bends really excels in durability. It sports a magnetically latched and hinged door for the 9V battery and a robust metal housing.
|Image credit: Fender Check Price on Amazon||
Simply put, The Bends compressor pedal is the model you’ll want in your pedal chain if you’re blasting heavy, thrash or death metal. This pedal allows the guitarist to add even more distortion to the sound right before balancing the overall soundstage to accommodate the specific genre in question.
The core settings are fairly easy to use (level, blend), but some of its features require a bit of practice, trial and error. That’s the only reason why we recommend Fender’s The Bends compressor pedal to more experienced players.
3. JHS Pulp N Peel V4
The best compressor pedal for rock
We’ve just seen what Fender can do in terms of metal-oriented compressor pedals, so now we’re moving on to a bit broader music spectrum – rock n’ roll.
In short words, the JHS Pulp N Peel V4 compressor pedal is a strong pedal which rocks a ton of customization tone-shaping features and a petite preamp for an additional boost in your overdrive.
Needless to say, its sheer level of versatility allows you to use it for different music genres, such as pop, blues, jazz, bluegrass, and basically every guitar-driven music style. However, it sits best in rocker’s hands since it sports an innate low gain performance, making it perfect for Van Halen, Alice Cooper, and Oasis styled sounds.
First of all, let’s quickly run over the main controls onboard the Pulp N Peel V4 compressor pedal. There’s the ‘volume’, which is quite self-explanatory, and right next to it sits the ‘Comp (compression)’ knob. Right below the ‘volume’ knob you’ll find EQ (equalizer) and Blend control knobs.
However, the feature which makes the JHS Pulp N Peel V4 compressor pedal so good for rock n’ roll is the ‘dirt’ switch. Activating it will give you a subtle boost to your tone’s sharpness and brightness, without compromising the much-needed lows for heavier rock styles.
Last, but certainly not least, the Pulp N Peel V4 compressor pedal works just as great for bassists as it does for guitar players. Namely, it sports a 0.25-inch XLR output which allows you to sound accurate and concise even if you’re tuned way down low to the standard C, or even standard B tuning.
|Image credit: JHS Pedals Check Price on Amazon||
In plain words, the Pulp N Peel V4 compressor from JHS Pedals is a perfect pedal for rockers, metalheads, but it’s also well suited for technical jazz and blues. This is one of the best boutique compressor pedals you can get for the money, so if you’re looking for versatility, you’ve found it in the Pulp N Peel V4 compressor pedal.
4. Xotic SP Compressor
The best compact compressor pedal
The first thing you will notice about the Xotic SP compressor pedal is that it sports a tiny footprint. It’s one of the smallest, most compact comp pedals available on the market, so if you’ve been struggling to find space for your ever-increasing pedal collection on your pedalboard, this one might be the perfect choice for you.
First of all, the Xotic SP compressor pedal is not only small, but also very easy to use. It sports just two control knobs and a three-way switch (low, mid, and high) which basically allows you to use it at different frequency settings. It’s perfectly suited for electric guitars, acoustic guitars, and basses, so in a nutshell, you won’t have to worry about what you are plugging it in, it will sound amazing either way.
The ‘volume’ adjusts the signals’ strength output while ‘blend’ allows you a bit more flexibility when introducing this pedal to different combinations of pedals. That’s pretty much it – it’s small, easy to use, and fairly reliable.
The only thing that we didn’t like so much about it is the flimsiness of the control knobs. Namely, they’re made of plastic material, so unless you’re careful with how you use them, they will surely break in no time.
|Image credit: Xotic Check Price on Amazon||
Though it’s true that you’ll need to be a bit more careful when using the control knobs, the SP Compressor by Xotic sports a huge value for the money for guitarists who use a couple of dozens of pedals at every gig.
5. EarthQuaker Devices The Warden V2
The best optical compression pedal
For people who don’t know, an optical compressor works quite a bit different in comparison to analog compressor pedals. Basically, these little devices convert the given signal into ‘light’ which allows you to essentially ‘read’ the situation on the fly, which in turn means that you can make adjustments to your settings a lot quicker.
A perfect example of a quality optical compressor pedal is the EarthQuaker Devices The Warden V2. It might not be a perfect beginner’s pedal as it sports a variety of control knobs, but in the right hands, it’s basically a miracle maker.
The main control knobs of The Warden are ‘tone’, ‘level’, and ‘sustain’. The ‘tone’ allows you to shape the signal in a way that an EQ pedal would, which only means that you won’t need one while using this particular model. Furthermore, it also rocks the ‘sustain’ control knob allows your notes to linger or decay at adjustable speeds, which again means that you don’t even need a sustain pedal in your rig with The Warden.
Moreover, there’s the ‘attack’ and ‘release’ control knobs onboard which affect the entire soundstage – the lows, mids, and highs can ‘cut’ or get boosted up approximately 20 decibels.
That’s not all – the The Warden effects pedal is also a ‘boost’ pedal of sorts. The ‘level’ knob acts as a post equalizer platform which allows you to spice up your signals to five times its initial value, allowing you to sound well-rounded and louder at the same time.
Though you might get the impression that The Warden V2 is a complex guitar effects pedal, it’s only as ‘difficult’ as you want it to be. It’s incredibly versatile, which means that it can also be pretty simple and straightforward if you don’t want to ‘overplay’ with it while searching for your tone.
This guitar pedal isn’t a 5-in-1 solution that can replace ‘dedicated’ guitar effects pedals, such as sustainers, equalizers, and such. It just gives you the option to tweak your tone a bit in that direction rather than giving you total control over the aforementioned effects.
|Image credit: EarthQuaker Devices Check Price on Amazon||
Simply put, The Warden V2 from EarthQuaker Devices is one of the most all-encompassing effects pedals available for the money. It reaches into the spheres of sustainers, boosters, equalizers, and plenty of other guitar pedal types, but it’s still quite authentic and true to its ‘compressor’ nature.
We highly recommend it to skilled and professional guitar players due to the fact that it’s quite easy to get lost in the plethora of features and functions it offers.
6. NUX Masamune
The best analog compressor pedal
The next compressor pedal on our list is one of the best analog compressors out there, the NUX Masamune.
NUX is a huge name in the guitar world, and if you have been playing the axe for more than a couple of months, you have probably seen or heard someone use some of their flagship models, such as Mod Core, or Giga Max Metal Core distortion. Today we’ve picked out the Masamune – a top-tier boutique-level compressor with elements of boost, sustain, and drive in it.
First and foremost, the Masamune compressor pedal has a huge footprint, so it might be smart to plan for its space in your pedal chain ahead. Due to its ultra-high versatility, though, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, as it sports quality sustainer and booster which could easily replace dedicated booster and sustainer effect pedals.
The first fundamental feature of the Masamune is the ‘komp’ switch which activates the compression which can be tweaked via the ‘komp level’ knob. You can further adjust the dimensions of compressions in your sound with the ‘blend’ knob right at the very center of the pedal.
The second most important feature of this guitar effects pedal is the ‘boost’ switch, which basically activates the boosting feature, it can be tweaked with the ‘boost level’. The ‘boost’ has a green LED indicator that separates it from the compression, which shines red, allowing you to easily differentiate between them in dim-lit environments.
Furthermore, the Masamune guitar effects pedal is a perfect addition to any metal guitar player’s arsenal as it features a neat little ‘drive’ knob function. You can drastically spice up the sharpness of your sound or muddy it up on the fly with one little knob.
The only thing that people might complain about is that NUX’s Masamune takes up a huge portion of your pedal board’s space and its relatively confusing feature arrangement. In a nutshell, it isn’t very difficult to get a hang of it, but you will need a couple of weeks to find out the extent of the sensitivity of its knobs and how good they work in combination with one another.
On the downside, there’s not much you can do about its big footprint, so you will either have to make up some space by excluding one or two guitar effect pedals or get a bigger board.
|Image credit: NUX Check Price on Amazon||
Essentially, the NUX Masamune compressor pedal isn’t very difficult to use, but it does come outfitted with plenty of features that could distract you from its primary function – compressing your sound and stabilizing it.
It’s a boutique pedal, so most beginners probably will not feel too inclined to pick it up due to its high price, but it’s absolutely phenomenal for experienced players who can handle its outstanding level of versatility.
7. Boss CS-3
The best compression sustainer pedal
We’re slowly sliding down to the ‘medium’ price point category with Boss’s CS-3, which is basically a quality effects pedal with elements of both compressor and sustainer pedals.
Most pedals Boss makes look relatively similar, and the only thing that separates them from one another is the color finish. The CS-3 is colored in blue, but it doesn’t really have any outstanding knobs, switches or features that would make it exquisite and easily identifiable between other Boss models.
On the brighter note of things, you always know what you are getting with a Boss pedal. The CS-3 compression sustainer pedal has a small footprint and the usual 4 knobs with ‘min’ and ‘max’ stages. In terms of how it works, the CS-3 is very intuitive, perhaps even tailor-made for beginner guitarists.
The knobs located on the top of this pedal are pretty close to each other (which goes to show how small the housing is), and they are all quite, although not overly sensitive.
The order of the control knobs is as follows – there’s the ‘level’ located on the leftmost side, after which come the ‘tone’, ‘attack’, and ‘sustain’ in that order. The ‘level’ is basically equivalent to the volume function while the ‘tone’ is used for fine-tuning. Tweaking the ‘attack’ knob will shift your sound from sharp which cuts through the lower frequencies and sort of thumpy and bass-heavy.
Last, but not least, the ‘sustain’ knob adds or cuts the ‘extra’ sustain, although it will not take up even a millisecond from your guitar’s natural sustaining ability.
There’s just one more feature onboard the Boss CS-3 compressor pedal – the red backlit LED ‘check’ indicator on top of the pedal shines brightly when the guitar is ‘on’, regardless of whether it’s connected to the guitar, or if the guitar is connected to the amp for that matter.
The CS-3 compressor is pretty straightforward and is probably best used by beginner and somewhat experienced guitar players. It’s not particularly versatile, although it will allow you to shape your tone quite easily.
|Image credit: Boss Check Price on Amazon||
The CS-3 from Boss is easily one of the best sustainer compression pedals available for the buck. It’s very easy to use, and it just gets more and more intuitive as you grow with it. In truth, it doesn’t really excel in the field of versatility, but it packs a good punch in terms of tone-shaping ability. Overall, we highly recommend it to beginners and guitar players with a certain degree of skill and experience.
8. MXR M102 Dyna Comp
The best compressor pedal under $100
If you have spent most of your cash on fancy guitars and big, booming amps, you are probably out on the market looking for bargain effect pedals. If so, we have quite a treat for you – the MXR M102 Dyna Comp is our choice for the best compressor under $100.
Basically, there are all sorts of labels you can attribute to the M102 Dyna Comp – it’s one of the simplest compression pedals, one of the effect pedals best for immediate beginners, perfect for rehearsals, and so on.
The reason why this particular model is so great in those scenarios is because it only packs two control knobs, and, suffice to say, you don’t need any kind of skill to utilize the benefits it brings to the table.
The first control knob is the ‘output’, which practically absorbs the elements of ‘volume’ and ‘tone’ and blends it together. By using the ‘output’ knob, you will enhance the pedal’s signal strength and increase the ‘amount’ of compression. This, however, means that fine-tuning is almost impossible if you haven’t spent at least a couple of months with this pedal.
The second knob is ‘sensitivity’ which aims to compensate for more elaborate fine-tuning means. The ‘sensitivity’ knob adjusts the intensity of the output shifts.
Lastly, the MXR M102 Dyna Comp compressor pedal features a big bright red LED light right down at the center of the pedal which activates when you power the pedal up.
|Image credit: MXR Check Price on Amazon||
In plain words, the M102 Dyna Comp compressor pedal offers everything you need in terms of compressing your sound, but that’s pretty much as far as the story goes. You will need to compensate for its innately low versatility with other quality pedals. On a bit brighter note, it’s very easy to use, and it’s quite affordable.
9. Caline CP-47 Pressure Tank
A good budget choice
The Caline CT-47 Pressure Tank Compressor is one of the top-rated compressor pedals available on the market. Even though it wasn’t made by a world-class leading brand, it promises a lot in terms of quality and versatility while being available at a budget price.
It sports only three control knobs, including ‘level’, ‘EQ’, and ‘comp’, so it’s incredibly easy to use it. Due to the fact that it has a very simplistic outline of features, it’s best used by beginner guitarists.
The Caline CP-47 Pressure Tank Compressor guitar effect pedal is made like a brick house, featuring an aluminum-alloy shell.
|Image credit: Caline Check Price on Amazon||
If you’re on a tight budget, Caline’s CP-47 Pressure Tank is a perfect choice for a compressor pedal. It has all the basic features you need to shape your tone up, and it doesn’t cost all that much. Its value for the buck is absolutely huge.
10. Kokko FCP2
The best cheap compressor pedal
We’re wrapping it up with the Kokko FCP2, a mini compressor pedal. Basically, this effect pedal features a miniature footprint, a red LED indicator, and anti-skid rubber pads which ensure that it sticks tightly to the pedalboard at all times.
This pedal rocks three control knobs, including ‘sustain’, ‘level’, and ‘attack’, but it lacks ‘volume’ and ‘tone’ for fine-tuning operations.
Be it as it may, it’s a budget pedal that is absolutely adored on the market due to the fact that it’s very easy to use, affordable, and sufficiently versatile in proportion to its cost.
|Image credit: Kokko Check Price on Amazon||
Frankly, the FCP2 compressor does quite a bang for the buck, but it’s still just a budget guitar effects pedal. It can’t even begin to compare to Boss or Wampler compression pedals, but in comparison to similar models within its price range, it’s definitely one of the top 10.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of compressor pedals on the market in 2020, and finding the right one can be pretty challenging. Luckily, we’ve taken the liberty of doing the heavy lifting for you, so all you have to do is simply kick back, relax, and take your pick. We wish you all the luck in finding the compressor which suits you the best.
Marko is a writer, bassist, and fan of all things music. His passions include quality music gear, King Crimson, and sifting the web for the latest music updates.