Top 4 Choices For The Best Tube Compressor Pedal

I love a little “old school” in my guitar tone and I always choose tube gear over solid state. A compression pedal is no exception! Here are some great tube compression pedal choices to check out:

1. Maxon RTC600 Real Tube Series II Compressor

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The best compressors are rack units. I am always on the search for a good pedal compressor for my touring rig. I couldn’t wait to try the Maxon RTC600 Real Tube Series II Compressor Guitar Effects Pedal. This pedal is the closest things that I have found to a rack unit compressor in a pedal. Here are some of the highlights of the unit.

Real Vacuum Tube- The Maxon RTC600 Real Tube Series II Compressor Guitar Effects Pedal has a full-sized vacuum tube. Many other floor units have smaller mini tubes that aren’t as powerful. The tube helps provide more headroom through its + 30 dB gain boost. Maxon has also installed a heater that warms up the tube as soon as it gets power. The tube will also warm the sound when it isn’t in compressions mode.

Versatility – The RTC600 isn’t’ designed for just guitar bass. Its vast dynamic makes it useful with any instrument.

New Controls – There are some new additions to the latest model of the effect. The pedal now has attack and release parameters. They are both very powerful controls. The RTC600 can range all the way from “soft knee” to “brick wall” compression.

This unit is the closest thing that I have heard when it comes to getting studio quality compression in a pedal. It is extremely versatile and has an enormous dynamic range. Each unit comes standard with a digital power adaptor. It is a proprietary digital adaptor that can be used on any electric grid in the world.

Click here to check it out on Amazon!


2. Effectrode PC-2A Photo-Optical Tube Compressor

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Not all pedals can sound musical, natural, and quiet at the same time, but the Effectrode PC-2A Photo-Optical Tube Compressor does all this. This compressor is 100% analog and it passes its signal through a path with precision metal-film resistors, polyester coupling capacitors, hand selected photo-cell, and a NOS tube operating at real amp plate voltages. I recently used this compressor and here are some of its features and benefits.

The Effectrode is capable of producing outstanding sound quality with a fantastic dynamic range that creates warm and natural compression and preserves the attack characteristics of the sound. The PC-2A has a Limit switch that can be used to select limiter or compressor modes. The pedal adds smoothness and sustain to the signal of an amplified acoustic guitar, something that acoustic players will appreciate a lot. When set to Compression mode, the Effectrode compressor adds thickness and richness to an electric guitar, therefore, enhancing the quality of the tone. On the other hand, the Limit mode produces a compression that is heavier and that has a fat and squashed sustain effect.

Some of the features of this tube compressor include:

– Proper Side-Chain – This feature allows for the compressor to produce a much more natural and musical sounding tone when processing low-frequency material. This removes the excessive pumping effect that is associated with the low-frequency material being processed by the compressor.

– True Bypass – This compressor features a True Bypass system that has a foot switching circuitry that is sealed and has gold-contact relays. This system eliminates the possibility of the sound being degraded by dirty contacts.

– Photo-Optical Gain Control – The gain control attenuator of the Effectrode PC-2A Photo-Optical Tube Compressor is based on a CdS photocell. This system reduces distortion to its absolute minimum making sure that you enjoy quality sound.

Click here to check it out on Amazon!


3. Electro-Harmonix Black Finger

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There is now a tube compressor that provides the full power that other’s don’t. The Electro-Harmonix Black Finger Tube Compression Pedal gives players 300 volts of power while other analog compression pedals deliver less than half of that. I found my guitar has a new ceiling when it comes to sustain, thanks to this compression pedal.

There are two different sources of compression on this pedal. Two separate light displays power each one, LED and lamp. The Electro-Harmonix Black Finger Tube Compression Pedal is certainly the most varied analog compression available. Tonal options are almost limitless on it.

My favorite thing about the pedal is that I could control both the pre and post gain. Multiple gain options help me adapt the pedal to any amp or PA system. Of course, the most important knob controls the amount of compression. I was surprised at just how much compression the pedal allowed.

You may be surprised to find out that there are two tubes. Having two tubes considering the diminutive size of the Black Finger. It is also the reason that it is so powerful. They are both 12AX7 Vacuum tubes made by EH. Nothing beats proprietary power.

The Black Finger has a 1/4″ in and a 1/4″ out on it. It is just under 5 inches wide, so it’s not the biggest or the smallest pedal in the world. It should easily fit in your signal chain, though. It is certainly one of the best tube compressors for its price on the market.

Click here to check it out on Amazon!


4. Vox Snake Charmer Compressor

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I am a fan of the Vox Cooltron Series pedals. That’s why I couldn’t wait to try the Vox Snake Charmer Compressor Tube Effects Pedal. This pedal represents the next generation in great compressors designed by the legendary guitar amplifier company. Here are some highlights from my trial with the effects unit.

Very Smooth – The reaction of the tone controls as you move through their parameters is smooth and even. The lack of gradience makes it very easy to pinpoint the exact sound that you want on the spectrum. The smoothness is apparent regardless of what knob you are adjusting.

Five Knobs – Most compressions pedals don’t have this many different knobs. Usually, only compression rack units have this many options to modulate. The volume knob controls the amount of signal that the compressor will output. Attack determines attack and releases naturally controls the release. Pretty simple. The compression pedal decides how much compression the signal will have. Emphasis mixes the dry signal with the compressed part of the signal.

High-End Emphasis – The high-end feature on this pedal is ideal for guitarists. It can help you fine-tune your compression and EQ at the top end of your guitars signal range. This can help the guitar cut through a band very effectively when they are playing lead parts.

Vox has hit the mark with the latest version of their compression pedal. My favorite thing about the Vox Snake Charmer Compressor Tube Effects pedal was the LED display. Having visual feedback on compression can help dial it in in live settings.

Click here to check it out on Amazon!


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