Have you invested in a pedal chain and aren’t sure where to put your compressor? Maybe you are looking to adjust the order of your pedal chain and aren’t sure where to put the compressor?
Or are you curious about compressors and want to know more? Whatever reason brought you here today, we have the answer for you!
When it comes to pedal chains, we all know how important the order of them is. One wrong placement and your sound can be distorted beyond belief, or the quality squashed.
You can end up undoing all of your hard work, being left with an unclean, dirty, or uneven guitar sound that is drowned out easily by others.
So how do you get the order right? How do you know where the compressor should go? It’s quite easy to get overwhelmed when searching for the answer.
There are so many conflicting views out there, that it can be hard to find one to agree with and follow.
Well, no more! Today we are here to cut through all the voices and give you one clear answer to follow. Just keep reading to find out what a compressor is and where you should put it in your pedal chain!
What Is A Compressor?
Before we get into it, let’s have a quick recap for those that need it! A compressor pedal is part of your stompbox that adjusts the performance of your guitar.
If you are playing a song quietly, the compressor can boost the output, making it more audible.
Alternatively, if you hit a string with too much force, the compressor can dull the sound, creating a smoother sound overall.
A compressor also helps to boost a clean tone, making your guitar more audible over other instruments. If you find your guitar is drowned out by drums or bass, then your compressor can help here bringing the tone into focus.
It can also help to boost the high-end sound, which is fantastic for those playing country or western tunes. More commonly, we see compressors used with this genre, as they help deliver the higher sounds or funk lines.
Now that we have established what a compressor is, let’s move on to see where you should place it in your pedal chain.
Where To Put Compressor In Pedal Chain
Where you place your compressor is entirely your choice, and we think it is a decision that is best made yourself, as everybody’s compressor needs are different. However, we do recommend that you place a compressor early on in your pedal chain.
Most guitarists do this, placing the compressor first in their pedal chain. Why? Placing it here allows the compressor to compress the clean guitar tone before sending it to other pedals in your chain, like a phaser, delay, or overdrive pedal.
Placing the compressor after these effects means you can end up compressing the sounds of the effects, changing the character of those pedals, especially the delays and overdrives. This can impact your overall output, and leave you with strange effects that you don’t want!
If you intend to use your compressor to reduce the range of your signal, preventing any notes from jumping out, then the compressor should be first in your pedal chain.
It will help create a clean sound that country and funk players love. You get an even and clean tone without any harsh peaks, what more could you want?
Of course, where you place your compressor is entirely down to your preference. While it seems most people place it first, that does not work for everyone.
You might find that placing your compressor first leaves you with a sound that you aren’t happy with. And that is fine too.
When it comes to where your compressor goes, personal taste matters. If you want a more subtle compression, then you might place it after you have adjusted the sound through phasers and delays, just remember that it will dampen any of the work those pedals have done, leaving you with a more equal sound!
What Pedal Should I Put After My Compressor?
It is completely up to you what pedal you put after your compressor! You will want to consider the type of music you are creating and the sound you want to achieve as well as where your compressor is placed. Once you have figured out where your compressor will sit and the end goal for your sound, it becomes far easier to decide what pedal to place after it.
Commonly, people start their pedal chains with their dynamic pedals. You will start with your compressor, filters, pitch shifters, and volume pedals. Once these have been put in place, people tend to follow them with their overdrive pedal.
The overdrive pedal also impacts the dynamics of your signal, removing the difference between any quiet or loud notes. It is always better to place the pedals that can dramatically change your music first so that any adjustments other pedals make aren’t impacted further.
After all, there is nothing worse than your hard work being undone right at the end!
If you aren’t using an overdrive pedal, you should follow the compressor with a distortion pedal. This also significantly impacts the sound of your music, so placing it next means it isn’t going to interfere with later adjustments.
The distortion pedal will work to clip your sound and works for most genres to create a more muddy sound.
After this, you will want to follow with any modulation effects and time-based effects. These include flangers, phasers, delays, and reverbs. You could also finish with a volume pedal if you prefer.
And there you have it! Your compressor should be placed at the start of your pedal chain. While the choice is entirely yours, placing it here means that any changes it makes will not be impacted by later pedals, giving you a clean and even sound to work with.