Compressor for a player that hates compressors…


Ob.1 > Cali76 SE > Xotic SP > Cali76 > Suhr Woodshed. Pretty confident I’m done now. I missed the subtle simplicity of the Ob.1 and couldn’t find it again until the Woodshed.

(ETA: those are segues not greater-thans)
When I first read that I thought it was your SIGNAL CHAIN! Man, that guy really wants to squash that note!


Silver Supporting Member
Appreciate all the feedback!

I’ve owned the requisite Dyna Comps and CS-2s and etc numerous times over the years. I see the Diamond Compressor mentioned, which I actually used in the studio maybe 10 years ago? Lots of stuff I’ve never heard of in this thread though, since I don’t keep up with compressors :)

Taking notes of things mentioned and I’ll likely end up buying a few to try.


Silver Supporting Member
Carl Martin Compressor/Limiter. I tried a bunch and was never satisfied but the CM changed all that. I typ just use it to make chimed notes pop and add a tiny bit of sustain. It's not noticably least not like every other one I tried. And I was always thinking; "Stop squashing the attack!" with the other ones and the CM is tweekable such that it gives you the 'pop' to chimes and some sustain without crushing the attack.

EDIT: I mean the old one in the biggish box with power cable. I haven't tried the newer ones

Jess 1971

Silver Supporting Member
I had struggled with compressors over the years as well, trying a few of them but always finding it difficult to dial in a sound I like as well as keep the noise floor at a reasonable level.

When I got my Rickenbacker last year, I wanted to get another compressor that I could use for the jangle thing but that would also be more broadly applicable for better clean sounds, particularly for increased sustain. I wound up with the Empress MkII Compressor, and I've been really happy with it. I actually find myself using it much more than I ever thought I would. It has a blend control, but also significant eq control as well. More important, it's especially quiet, at least in my rig, and it doesn't color my core tone the way the Origin Effects compressor does.


This may have already been mentioned, but in case it has not, try the Source Audio ATLAS compressor. It has 4 different compressors built into one small unit.

The video on it was impressive.

If I were looking for another compressor, that would be my first choice, by far. It has all you will need.


I use the Xotic SP compressor specifically because it has a blend knob. I keep both knobs (level and blend) at noon and set the little toggle on "low." I used to have it always on, but not anymore. I just use it when I feel like I should. Zero complaints.


Once you realize that you’re actually getting more dynamics within the range established by the comp, it becomes more interesting !
That’s quite to the point- I rarely use a compressor, but when I do, I play within the range it offers. I vary my pick attack, the same as if I’m not using a compressor.


Strongly recommend the Suhr Woodshed. Great with single coils and humbuckers, clean or dirty. No mix knob needed. Also very quiet.
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Thank You Great Spirit!
Gold Supporting Member
If you are using it to play clean then you will need the Attack knob, or else you'll have an annoying clicking/popping sound on every note attack because most compressors simply aren't fast enough to squash it. The Blend control is extremely valuable, but I've never felt like a Blend knob can completely replace an Attack knob, even though that's not entirely what the Blend is intended to do.

The best Attack control I've used is the often overlooked and underappreciated Cmatmods Deluxe Comp or Deluxe Signa Comp, the ones with 4 knobs. And either can be found used online for $100 bucks. These and the Barber are the best bang for buck imo. The Xotic is good, and there is one from MXR called Dyna Comp Deluxe and one from EHX called Tone Corset that are both honorable mentions. That Dyna Comp Deluxe might pleasantly surprise you.
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Gold Supporting Member
I never found any compressor that I liked… not for decades. I just figured they weren’t for me.

Until - based on recommendations here - I took a flyer on a Mooer Yellow Comp (Diamond Comp clone)

Love the way it tightens the lows while fattening the highs… and adds sustain without squashing the tone


Platinum Supporting Member
I was never into compressors either, although that's changed more and more as of late.

The first one I got was a Keeley 2-knob. I went with the two-knob version thinking that it would be easier to dial in, so I could discover what the whole compression thing was all about. I hated it. It's actually a great pedal and I still have it, but it was the wrong style of compression for me at the time.

Then I got the Empress (the one that pre-dates the MKII). Mostly because of the VU meters so I could see as well as hear what it was doing. Again a very cool pedal that I still have, but no fault of the pedal it just didn't find it's way into my sound.

When I bought the Cali76 Compact Deluxe, that changed everything. By then I was getting better at knowing how to use the settings so that was was helpful. And it has an LED that changes color and gets brighter based on the amount of compression it's doing so it sort of has a meter as well which I like. But to me that pedal has some magic in it. The compression felt very very natural, not an effect. But it also added something really special. It's like a tone enhancer. Where the Empress is designed to be transparent the Cali76 does add some color in such a great but still subtle way.

I have a "small" board that I take out with a combo amp when I need lighter load-ins or am playing small stages, and I'll always swap things around on that board. Well the Empress made it's way onto that board recently (because I didn't want to take the Cali76 off the other board) and this time I fell in love it, so go figure :).

So I think all three that I have great. If you're not a compressor person I'd stay away from the Ross style circuits (which I believe the Keeley is based on) because that's more squishy and exaggerated IMO.

I WOULD get a compressor with meters so you can see what its doing. Really helps to learn how to dial it in and then your ear will catch up. For the most part I like the compressors kissing the peaks and doing 4:1 or 5:1 ratio, so not extreme.

Both the Empress and the Cali76 have dry blend as well. But I haven't played around with that much because in my setup I'm really trying to control the transients. Though that's an uncharted territory that I want to explore.

Lately I like to think of compression and the "distortion" of my clean sound. Makes it punchy and full instead of peaky. Sits in a mix nicer. Feels really good to play.
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As a fellow compressor hater, I would suggest anything with a blend, I only really use one when I'm playing a song known for the squashed tone like the intro to "shine on you crazy diamond". I'm using a wampler ego but the origin effects cali76 is a pretty popular option too

I also really like to use a colorsound power boost clone or king of tone set for clean boost, cranked as much as possible while maintaining the clean sound for a more natural compression. I like the power boost because its fairly transparent but still has good bass and treble controls.
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