Best Guitar Compressor Pedals of 2021 – Complete Review

| Last Updated: May 6, 2021

As a musician, you always want to be growing and evolving, not only in your skills but your sound as well. That means looking for new gear and tools that will elevate your sound to new heights. One of the best ways to do that is by adding in a pedal or two to your set-up. One of the very first pedals every guitarist should invest in is a compressor pedal. They are easy to use and set-up but offer so much sound evolution you will be amazed.

Once you have decided to add this to your kit and begin your hunt for the perfect pedal, one thing that will stand out to you is the number of choices you have available. Choosing between these is the hardest part of this whole adventure, and that is why we thought we should help you out a bit. 

So, in this guide, we are going to discuss some key information that will help you in your decision-making process, and also take a look at some of the best guitar compressor pedals of 2019. So, tune-up and strap in for a crash course on compressor pedals.

What is a Compressor Pedal?

Compressor pedals for guitars are processors that help decrease the range of the input signal. This means that the irregularities of dynamic range that appears from natural means while playing are reduced to give the guitarist control over the final soundscape of their music. 

There are two types:


These pedals use analog circuitry to deliver the processing power needed to reduce the input range. This will leave the guitarist with more natural-sounding audio.


Digital pedals do all that by using new technology, which includes digital circuitry. This type of pedal actually helps reduce static noise even more.

What Does a Compressor Pedal Do?

‘It limits the dynamic range’ is easy enough said, but what does that mean exactly. That means that the inputted setting and sound will look at the dB of the sound and boost or limit it accordingly. The levels you set it at will depend on the type of music you are playing. 

Compressor pedals are also great to use in a chain or pedalboard configuration, as most guitarists do. They can be used to do the same thing to effects that you place in your audio, which will allow you to craft a unique sound all your own.

What to Look for When Buying a Compressor Pedal

Like with anything else, there are factors and features that you can consider to help you make your decision easier. With compressor pedals, these are the ones we feel will help you narrow down your search faster and leave you with a choice that will have you and your sound well situated.


You will want to look at what controls the pedal comes with. There are multiple different layouts and configurations that you can choose from model to model. Though do not be fooled, the more knobs do not mean that the compressor pedal is better; it just means it has more knobs. 

You will want to look for models that have, at a minimum, the following controls:

Volume: This controls the volume that your pedal will boost your signal to meet.

Sustain: This is how you control the compression ratio of your signal.

Attack and Release: Attack is how quickly the compressor kicks in, and release is how fast the compressor fades out.

Types of Compression

The next thing you have to decide is the type of compressor (for more on the individual types, see the section below: Types of Compressor Pedals). Every type is subtly different and offers no impact on your sound tone. Rather each style has a different effect on the response of the compression. 


Size really has no bearing on the performance of the pedal, but you still should consider it. Size matters when you are dealing with a small space or on the road moving from place to place. You must know how much space you have and find a compressor pedal that will fit with your dimensional requirements.

True Bypass or Buffered Output

You will want to look for one of the two options so that you have optimized sound quality. True bypass pedals have an impact on your signal, and a buffered output helps boost your signal. There are other options like hardwire bypass among others but to get optimal performance you want to choose one of the two options we are discussing depending on what you are looking for and the style of music you intend on playing.


Lastly, know what you want and what you are willing to invest in. There are excellent budget options available and some awful high-priced options. So really pay attention to the reviews and find one that fits in a budget that you are comfortable with.

Comparison Chart of the Best Guitar Compressor Pedals

  • Best guitar compressor pedal overall
  • Versatile control over comp, tone, and sensitivity
  • The built-in in-line compressor that evens out the signal
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  • Retains musical expression via mDP tech
  • Decreased noise from its high-quality digital circuitry
  • Built-in smart circuitry that adapts to your playing style
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  • Best guitar compressor pedal for the money
  • A high-quality dynamic compressor that is affordable
  • Multiple knobs that help improve your overall sound crafting capability
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  • Best guitar compressor pedal for electric guitar
  • Crafted with a wide range of controls for ultimate sound crafting
  • Designed with compression that is customizable to any style of music
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  • Offers a nice variety of compressions ratios (3)
  • Best guitar compressor pedal for acoustic guitar
  • Built-in capability to blend uncompressed signals
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Review of the Best Compressor Pedals

Now that you have a few ideas of what to consider when looking at compressor pedals for guitars, we can now get into the comprehensive best-of list that we have compiled below. Here are our choices for the best compressor pedals for guitars in 2019:

Best Overall:
MXR M102 Dyna Comp

MXR Dyna Comp Guitar Effects Pedal (M102)


  • Price is affordable
  • Pedal is easy to use
  • Tones that are warm and full
  • Optimized control over comp ratio
  • Knob to control volume is included in the build


  • Decreased options for sound crafting
  • Issues with tone quality when bypassed

What Recent Buyer’s Report

When you read the recent reviews from buyers, you find that though some find issues with a click that appears when at the end of a pedal chain, for the most part, this pedal is a great choice. Many love the clean boost and the ice sound quality of the signal after compression.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Everything about this pedal sings to us. But the reason it lands in such a prestigious place on our list is the versatility of control you have over all the qualities of your sound.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a great choice for any player, really, and that is why it is the best overall pedal on our list. However, if anyone were going to get the most from this pedal, it would probably be new players. It is easy to use and set-up and offers a superior ability to craft their sound, plus it is not too hard on the wallet either.

Bottom Line

The MXR M102 is one of the best pedals on the market in general, but when you look at against other compressor pedals, it just simply is a step-in front of the rest. With its wide range of tonal controls and its consistency, it is hard to find one that even comes close to this pedal’s performance.

BOSS Electric Guitar Pedal (CP-1X)

BOSS Compressor Guitar Pedal (CP-1X)


  • Easy to use layout
  • Built-in gain indicator
  • Value for money is excellent
  • Built with a wide range of settings
  • Allows for versatile control of all parameters
  • Comes with transparent multi-band compression tech


  • No tone controls
  • Battery life is a little short

What Recent Buyers Report

The lack of tone control of the output is the only problem that some of the recent buyer’s report. Stepping away from that, the rest rave about the adaptive controls and the overall sound quality.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This pedal is a fantastic selection for many reasons. The biggest thing that stands out to us is its smart adaptive circuitry. The inclusion of this technology makes this a perfect pedal for a versatile range of guitarists. The high-grade circuitry also reduces excess noise, leaving you with a clean and natural sound.

Who Will Use This Most

Because of the adaptive controls that can mold themselves to whatever music the guitarist is playing, this pedal is a great choice for the studio guitarist. They will be playing multiple styles of music with multiple artists and so having the ability of quick adaptation of sound is a must, and this pedal has it.

Bottom Line

This pedal from Boss not only lives up to the brand’s reputation but surpasses many of its peers. With its innovative circuitry and its outstanding performance, no guitarist could go wrong by making this they choose compressor pedal.

Best for the Money:
JOYO JF-10 Dynamic Compressor

JOYO JF-10 Dynamic Compressor Guitar Effect Pedal - True Bypass, DC 9V and Battery Supported


  • Good investment
  • Compact and durable
  • Comes with a clean boost
  • Built with a nice sturdy design
  • Decent sound quality with compression


  • Lack of controls
  • No color selection

What Recent Buyers Report

Not only do recent buyers love the price, but they also seem to appreciate the versatile play capability and great control over their sound. Some have had issues with the adapter not working, but other than that, this is a 5-star pedal for sure.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This pedal has a lot going for it, but the ease to dial in compression is the thing that stands out the most to us. With this capability, the guitarist has access to making sure they have the perfect sound for whatever music they are playing that gives this pedal a versatility that far surpasses its price tag.

Who Will Use This Most

A great price and even better performance make this pedal a great choice for all guitarists no matter what level of experience. Though because of the compact and durable build, we think that the musician that will get the most from this pedal is the road guitarist. It is easy to carry, and with the clean sound and price, it is a great investment. This also means it is a great choice for new guitarists as well.

Bottom Line

Finding guitar equipment that doesn’t break the bank is a nice bonus when you are building out your gear. With this pedal from JOYO, you not only get a high-quality pedal but a price tag that doesn’t leave you penniless too.

Best for Electric Guitar:
Wampler Ego V2 Guitar Pedal

Wampler Ego Compressor V2 Guitar Effects Pedal


  • Excellent sound quality
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Nicely designed and built
  • Excellent value for the price
  • Versatility of style capability


  • Issue with the battery life
  • Price may be too high for some

What Recent Buyers Report

This pedal’s recent buyers just can’t stop talking about the boost capability and highly adjustable nature of the tonal quality. Though some have had issues with the jack being a little too tight, all in all, this pedal rocks according to the guitarists that have purchased it.

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you want an organic sound with no coloring of tone, then this pedal is the one for you. This is why we chose it.

Who Will Use This Most

The guitarist that will get the most from this pedal is the traveling musician and the studio guitarist for vastly different reasons. The traveling guitarist will appreciate the compact and lightweight design. This will make it easy to transport from gig to gig. As for the studio player, the versatility of controls and adjustability will give the studio guitarists plenty of room to play in.

Bottom Line

The versatility of compression choice allows any guitarist to make their music sound the way they want. This also means that you are not stuck to one style, and that can be a great option for any guitarist.

Best for Acoustic Guitar:
Empress Effects Compressor

Empress Effects Compressor Analog Compression Guitar Effects Pedal


  • Great quality of sound
  • Comes with a blend function
  • Crafted with a sidechain input
  • Build is of good quality and durability
  • Versatile use with many styles of music


  • Lack of dedicated knob for sidechain
  • Left side input section is designed a bit crowded

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers have a lot to say about this pedal, and most of it is good. The one issue that some feel detracts from the quality is the lack of a threshold knob. In the end, the thing that makes this one of the best options according to previous customers is the stability of sound and the output controls.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The thing that stands out the most to us is the inclusion of an analog signal path. This may be difficult for some at first to use to optimize the sound quality of the pedal when dealing with an acoustic guitar.

Who Will Use This Most

This is a great pedal for those guitarists that switch between acoustic and electric on a regular basis. This would also be great for solo performers who play small venues.

Bottom Line

The ability to blend sounds while still having a high-quality compressor is nice, and with this pedal, you will have that and so much more. The Empress is perfect for any guitar but for acoustics, it shines the most.

Best for Bass Guitar:
MXR M87 Bass Compressor

MXR M87 Bass Compressor


  • Great quality of sound
  • Versatility in style capability
  • LED meter is nicely designed
  • Built with high-grade materials
  • Excellent control of sound crafting


  • Issues with battery life
  • Wide range of release time is difficult to use

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers love the punchy sound and the ease of use. Though some find the hissing noise that many report a little disconcerting, overall, this pedal only delivers quality and performance.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With consistent headroom and elevated attack, this pedal has a lot that we could say stands out. But when you look at it overall, what jumps out to us are the output controls.

Who Will Use This Most

Because of the elevated levels of attack, this pedal is great for many genres of music, but these heavy metal bassists will definitely get the most out of this pedal.

Bottom Line

This MXR pedal certainly holds the reputation of this amazing guitar accessory brand in the palm of its hands, and it doesn’t disappoint. The excellent build and outstanding performance are reasons that this is simply the best compressor pedal for bases hands down.

Types of Compressor Pedals

Above, we mentioned that one of the things you should consider when looking at compressor pedals was the type. These types vary very little, but each has its own niche that it works best in. 

So, here are the different types of compressor pedals for guitars:


Multiband compressors as plug ins in DAWs as well as pedals. These pedals will help craft a clean natural sound without adding any color to your audio. These carefully compress bands to make sure you have superior control for better sound crafting capability.


Otherwise known as Operational Transconductance Amplifiers. These are the oldest type of compression pedal. The only thing they really bring to the table is the ability to allow for organic sound quality to come from your guitar. They do tend to add a little color to your tone and therefore are really great if that is what you are looking for.


These pedals use a photoresistor to help attenuate the signal from your guitar. These, too, offer natural sound because of the decreased release time. This is a great choice if you are looking for a smooth sound with no coloration of your tone. 


This stands for Field Effect Transistor and is great to use in combination with a studio compressor. This pedal does add some tonal color but also helps with responsiveness and transparency.


These compressors offer a lot of warmth and tone to a guitars sound. 

Do I Need a Compressor Pedal?

In the end, this answer really comes down to your preference, but there is definitely some reason we highly suggest you invest in one.

  • Consistent volume output. By this, we mean that the compressor will begin to squash the highs and boost the lows so that you will be able to avoid spikes and dips in volume as you play.
  • Builds a tonal foundation. This can help with tone clarity when used in line with their effects. Even if you do not use an effect chain, you can still get a lot of clarity with a compressor pedal.
  • Creates a responsive connection between your amp and your instrument. By creating this relationship, you will be able to preserve the natural tones of your guitar and help make your sound crisp.

How to Use a Compressor Pedal

There are many ways to use your compressor. But when talking about setting it up here are some tips:

  • Decide where you want it in your effects chain. Traditionally you would place in the chain before modulation effects or any overdrive effects.
  • Then you will want to place the input/output connections into the right space.
  • Now you will want to adjust all the knobs making sure they are perfect for your musical stylings.
  • Now all that’s left is to turn it on and begin to play.

For more information, you should really check out this video:


Adding a compressor pedal to your kit is just a smart idea. No matter if you play guitar, bass, or acoustic, you will be able to find a pedal that worked for you and helps craft a sound you can be proud of. 

In fact, within our best compressor pedals list, there is an option for each of those categories. We hope that with all the in-depth information we have put together for you that you are ready to make that decision, and then get to rocking like we know you can.

Thalia has spent most of her life loving two things - writing and music. Thalia's passion for music saw her learning to play several instruments throughout her childhood and teen years. This passion also led to her earning two qualifications in Sound Recording Engineering, which she now uses by writing about musical instruments, studio gear, and the processes involved in making and producing music.