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Best Budget Compressor Pedals

Compressor pedals control the dynamics of your playing, smoothing out the overall level by squashing the loud bits and swelling the quiet bits. The result is a more balanced sound, increased sustain and, in some cases, added bite and attack.

Many guitarists play for years without feeling the need, or simply not understanding the need for compression. But once they try it, there's often no turning back. It really can give your tone the life it needs, especially if you're relying on cheap amplification. It's no coincidence that compression is a staple part of any professional studio and stage rig.

Take a look below for what are considered among many pro guitarists the best budget compressor pedals available brand new today.

Best Compressor Pedal Under $100

A faithful reissue of a studio classic the MXR M-102 Dyna Comp is the go-to pedal for many pro musicians, yet far from the most expensive. Ideal for guitarists who want that crusty, biting attack on their overdriven lead lines and smooth, balanced sustain on their cleans. It's not the most transparent of pedals, but then most people buy a compressor to enhance their tone.

MXR Dyna Comp Compressor Pedal

MXR Dyna Comp Compressor Pedal
Overall Rating

9 / 10


Ultimate Guitar - Harmony Central
JemsiteAmazon - Musicians Friend

Key Features
  • Balanced output signal
  • Adds depth and attack
  • Basic operation, easy to use

What users say

Typical, minimalist MXR configuration with two controls - Output and Sensitivity. Simply match the output level to your bypass/raw signal volume and tweak the sensitivity to taste. Push the output further for a pleasant boost.

Also typical is the robust, tank-like build, so there are no reliability concerns for even the hardest working musician.

The Dyna Comp can add a real punch to your pick attack. Users note how it brings your tone to life, surfacing and boosting those otherwise hidden away percussive dynamics. It's often described as the "clicky" sound you hear on professional recordings, the crisp edges of each note. Chicken pickers and jagged rhythm players really appreciate this pedal. It brings humbuckers out of the dark and gives single coil tones even more chime and brilliance.

So bear in mind, the M-102 is not just a leveller and sustainer, it adds depth and attack. Underneath the crust is smooth, balanced, singing sustain. Users who have been trying to tap or play serious legato stuff without decent compression feel a new lease of life. That's a confidence boost along with the tone! Runs flow more fluidly as the "roll" effect is enhanced. No longer will you need to crank up the distortion in an attempt to melt each note into the next.

The only issue that brings the rating down in a few cases is the noise, when coupled with moderate to heavy distortion. As experienced players will tell you, this is a common issue on compressors in general, especially with single coil pickups, but nothing a noise gate won't fix. Ultimately, noise is the price you pay for such a sweeping signal boost. Those who play clean or with a conservative twist of overdrive, however, will have less need to tame the beast.

Best Cheap Compressor Pedal for Tight Budgets

You can always trust Behringer for decent quality pedals at a ridiculously low price (we're talking less than $30). The reviews are a bit more mixed, but the overall consensus is that the DC9 compressor pedal is a capable and reliable addition to your board for those looking for basic compression. An absolute steal for the price.

Behringer DC9 Compressor Pedal

Behringer DC9 Compressor Pedal Overall Rating

7.5 / 10


Harmony Central - Ultimate Guitar Audio Fanzine - Amazon - Zzounds

Key Features
  • Basic compression under $30
  • Basic operation, easy to use
  • Robust and reliable

What users say

Overall gentler compression than the Dyna Comp, the Behringer DC9 does what your basic compressor should - equalises output, increases sustain and adds a little bite to your pick attack. Gear enthusiasts will tell you that the DC9 actually uses the same circuitry and configuration as the Dyna, just with cheaper parts, which is why it's often referred to as a "Dyna clone". Technically, perhaps, but there is a clear difference in sound.

The DC9 gives you a boost, but with a bias toward the treble. This can either be seen as a flaw (for example, some see it as an undesirable inbalance and/or loss of low end warmth), or an enhancement for those who want a tight but punchy funk effect. The increase in treble can always be compensated for through your amp or EQ if the compressor is always on.

The key thing is it doesn't SUCK tone, whether on or bypassed. You don't get that satisfying click of the Dyna Comp, but for those who simply want to smooth out their playing, limit any over indulged pick attack and generally tighten things up, it does a fine job. It'll also give your cleans that little bit of extra sparkle.

The pedal itself is solid and will withstand years of stomping, which puts the similarly priced Danelectro to shame (and no disrespect to Dan, they make a killer chorus pedal)!

The bottom line is, if you just want a basic compressor, save your money and go for the Behringer. However, if you're looking for some serious extra bite and sustain, or at least want the option for more heavily squashed sounds, it's worth saving that bit more for the MXR.

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