Strymon OB.1 Optical Compressor & Clean Boost Review & Demo

Alright, alright, alright. Yes, I hate compressors. Or have hated them. Because if you don’t like a guitarist’s opinion on gear, just wait a few days and ask him again. It will have changed. But this one I’m sticking by. I still do not like compressors. I do not understand spending hours upon hours and dollars upon dollars (mostly this one) getting an open, real-sounding tone, and then compressing the sweet mercy out of it. Luckily, the Strymon OB.1 is not a ‘compressor.’ It’s ‘compression.’ Yes, yes, I know I’m stretching things here, but cut me some slack…I’m trying to come up with a reason for why I like this pedal so much.

strymon ob1

But this makes sense to me! Compression itself is not a bad thing. And by the very nature of tube amps, all tone (see what I just did there? Linking ‘tube amps’ to ‘all tone’ like no other tone exists? Yep……and that is true) has some level of compression to it. And the right amount gives your sound focus and makes it less burly. But a ‘compressor’ per se, just makes me think of every compressor I’ve ever played (on guitar or recording equipment alike) that just splats all the life out of your sound. (I will say that I liked the Emma Transmorgrifier compressor. And the Analogman was very decent, as far as compressors go. But in the end, neither made the cut……the cut being that for me to keep a compressor on my board, it not only has to be a good compressor, but it has to convince me to use compression. This is a tall order…especially for someone like me, who once they have an opinion, really likes for that opinion to be right. I like myself. And that’s bad.) So, I knew that were I to ever use a compressor pedal, it would have to ‘lend compression’, rather than ‘compress.’ And ya, I’m totally aware that I sound like the worst of the worst of the self-affirmed gear wizards who spend more time reading about tone than using tone. Indulge me. Because I hate compressors, and love this compressor. I mean ‘compression.’ 😉

So, I was thinking the other night about compression (and about abominable snowmen, interestingly enough) and how nice it would be to use it push my overdrive pedals into their own respective overdrives, but compressed, for those times when I could really use a more ‘leadish’ sound, or a more ‘EL34-ish’ sound, or a more ‘Hiwatt-ish’ sound, or even…may you forgive me…even a Lin…nope, can’t say it. Or to put a mildness on my clean tone, or even for certain country sounds. (Yes, I know you hate country. And I can say ‘you’ to everyone, because most worship leaders do. But at some point, we’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that if we’re serious about ‘reaching people where they’re at’ like we always say, and being ‘culturally relevant’ like we always say even more (some would say all the blasted time), then we need to stop denying that probably at least 65% of the congregation’s radio stations when they leave the service and go back to their cars, are tuned to a country station.) But I knew that if I were to use a compressor, it would have to be a compression pedal; not a compressor.

Vince Gill
(Yep. This is what most people are listening to. Maybe not Vince Gill per se. But the whole country thing. Which I can dig. Now, he is a very fabulous guitarist. But the best thing about country music? You don’t have to dress like a rock star. Um……obviously. Although those 65 Amps in the background totally overshadow the plaid shorts. Yikes, I’m a girl. EDIT: I just remembered that my wife has told me that it is confusing to her when I refer to myself in this manner. So I’ll just go with ‘metro’.)

Enter the Strymon OB.1. Strymon is a relative newcomer to the boutique scene. They’re a division of Damage Control, and share all the same developers. Now, of course I have a very sincere love affair with the Damage Control pedals; so I figured if there’s going to be a compressor out there I like, it will probably be built by these guys. So I take this pedal out of the box, and I’m scared. Well, first I’m excited, because it’s this awesome indie-looking coffee shop muted gold/orange color, which is going to look great on my board. Priorities. But then the scared part comes in, as I notice that the pedal has no tone knob. Which is usually essential for me in getting the tone of a pedal to match as much as possible to the tone of my rig. So I plug it in. And whoa. I seriously can’t believe it. It doesn’t need a tone knob. It’s just my guitar sound, with compression added. I wish all pedals were built like this. And the compression? Beautiful. Not only that, it has an added boost switch that is switchable from a flat clean boost, to a mids boost, to a treble boost. Optical compression in a pedal, all analog circuit path, very well-built, inside and out. Awesome stuff. So I recorded.

Base Tone

-Prairiewood Les Paul (Wolfetone Dr. Vintage pickups)–>


–Melancon Strat (ash, with Lindy Fralin blues pickups)–>

–True bypass loop box–>
(–>Strymon OB.1 compressor–>
(–>Paul Cochrane Tim overdrive–>(loop engaged when obvious)

–True bypass box–>
(Damage Control Timeline delay–>(loop engaged when obvious)

–Matchless Spitfire–>

–65 Amps cab (birch, Celestion blue and Celestion G12H-30)

Possible Biases

–It is made by Strymon/Damage Control, and I like them. Very much so.

–But I tend to hate compressors.

–It looks so rad!

Interesting Stuff

Please don’t judge me for the U2 part.

And the Video:

So there you have it. A ‘compression’ pedal. Not a compressor. And I’m diggin’ it.

The Good

–Does not change your tone one bit. Wow. Not sure how they accomplished that.

–The compression is so ‘lax.’ I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s like a gentle massage of your tone, even at the high settings. Just gently focusing it, rather than squashing it.

–The compression sounds good at all levels.

–Works on just a simple 9 volt adapter, or even a 9 volt battery.

–The boost side makes this pedal extremely versatile. It really can take the place of a few pedals.

–It sounds really, really good.

–And Terry from Strymon jumped on the comments section here (which was pretty cool) and mentioned that when the compression knob is all the way off, the compression is physically out of the circuit. Which is awesome! So you can use this as just a boost if you like. And here’s the thing. I almost mentioned that, because that’s exactly what it sounded like! But then I thought, ‘No, almost no pedals do that.’ Guess I should have trusted my ears. It’s just that they’re wrong so often! 😉 But I’m so stoked that this pedal does this.

The Bad

–Not really a bad, but worth mentioning. The boost side is dependent upon the compressor side. So you can’t use the boost without the compressor. At times this is actually an advantage, as you can kick on the boost and compressor with one step; but it’s definitely worth mentioning as I’m sure I’ll get asked this. However, if you just want boost, as I mentioned above, the compression is completely out of the circuit when the compression knob is all the way down. You’d still have to hit the compressor side on to turn on the pedal as a whole, but at that point, just the boost is in the circuit.

–(This is sarcasm…just in case… 😉 )If you want to squish your tone into oblivion, this pedal won’t do that. I’m not sure why you’d want to do this, but I hear professional guitarists doing it from time to time; and I can only assume they want to. But no worries; there’s a great Line 6 compressor called the ‘Boa Constrictor’ or some other awesomely 1982 Spinal Tap glam rock name like that, that’ll do the squishing the life out of your tone thing quite nicely if that is what you prefer. I’m gonna go ahead and say no. But that’s just me.

The Verdict

I now have a compressor on my board for the first time in about 6 years. My world has been forever changed. And by ‘world’, I of course mean ‘tone’. I don’t think I should even have to clarify that.


120 thoughts on “Strymon OB.1 Optical Compressor & Clean Boost Review & Demo

  1. I’m buying a Barber Tone Press (compressor-compression). And like you, I hate the squished compressor sound that inevitably happens when you increase the sustain knob on any compressor.

    However, Barber has a made a parallel compressor (doesn’t reverse the phase which causes the squash sound). Level, Blend, Sustain controls. My theory is, any compressor without an attack or tone knob control must be a decent compressor.

    Oh and side note, I’m buying a Tim ASAP (which means selling the Fulldrive or Keeley Boss BD-2). And I just got my Vox AC15H1TV from eBay…fantastic amp!

  2. Hey all! long time reader first time poster.

    I too can’t stand compressors and recently gave away my comp pedal to a mate of mine who loves it, but this pedal has changed my mind about them as a whole (but not my MXR super comp which I gave away.)

    Thanks for the great Vids

  3. Wow. I’m surprised. I give the +1 to the Barber Tone Press… very natural, can be dynamic based on your settings and can squish the life out of the signal if needed (somewhat).

    Interesting stuff here bro! Ya gave in!?

  4. i have not used a compressor in my board and maybe it’s time to try out one (or two). i heard good things about the diamond compressor as well.

    btw, you didn’t just like this because it worked well with the U2 riff, did you?! :)

  5. Hey Karl,

    Love the site, man. I’ve spent days reading all of your posts and I just love it. This has been the best tool I’ve found for worship guitar playing in a long time. Thanks.

    Also, U2 is the greatest band of all time and if anyone disagrees with that they need to come to Jesus and be forgiven. :)

    Anyway, here is my question (and this is for anyone to answer). My rig is:

    Strat > TU-2 > MI Audio Boost n’ Buff > Barber Small Fry > Fulltone OCD > DD-3. I’m playing into a Twin Reverb (church provided).

    I pretty much just leave the OCD on and use my volume knob to clean things up…and I’ll use the Small Fry for a lead boost. I have a volume mod on the Strat which keeps my tone intact but I do lose some volume when I clean it up. What is your (or anyone’s) opinion on putting a compressor (minimal compression) after the overdrive and before delay just to keep my volume level even without affecting the amount of overdrive? I don’t want a squishy tone I just don’t want any volume drop. Will this work? Will this kill my tone?

    Side note – I’m looking at the Visual Sound Comp 66 because 1) I love the company 2) it doesn’t need to be the best compressor in the world 3) it does need to be subtle 4) I like the built in noise suppression if it’s going after the overdrive.

    Sorry for the long post…it’s my first. Thanks.

  6. yeah the compressor on my board, some marshall one, besides having the worst knob layout (all chrome knobs, practicially impossible to see the level markings) really just drains the life out of just about anything I might be playing. I spent a good amount of time trying to tweak the settings and playing different styles, but still can’t really justify it being on the board anymore. I have been able to use it for some of those more ‘strummy’ moments, where I’m just lightly strumming the guitar with my thumb, and that seems to be able to keep the volume pretty constant, but any kind of awesome definition is gone.

    I’m sure that there is some kind of trick to it, it might just be that I’m not playing with enough gain for it to be awesome. I am able to get more of a duck sound out of the neck pickup, strat style, off my humbucker guitar, which can be fun for a few minutes. Overall its just too much tone suck. I look forward to being able to view the video on a computer with sound.

    Which pedal is it that claims to mix your dry signal back in with the wet compressed signal? I thought it was a barber pedal, I just can’t remember now, does anyone have experience with that? It seems like a good idea, but then, the point of using the compressor I think is to change your original sound, so why mix it back in?

    • Yeah, the pedal is Barber. I have it and its great. The point is you have the compression ‘beneath’ the dry signal. I don’t know if that makes sense…. but it retains the dynamics of your playing (depending on how much you dial in).
      IN other words, when I use it with my acoustic, you can hear the natural pick attack of the acoustic without it staying squished, but when I play leads, it sustains a little longer than normal due to the underlying compression. Very little squish, only sustain. Sometimes you want to hear that tone you worked so hard for, but just want it ‘enhanced’ a little :)
      I also use it to level out and balance the overall sound as my current acoustic doesn’t have a preamp- only a volume knob.

      That help?

  7. I was looking at picking up the TonePress at one point. From what I could tell in my research is that I could keep my natural sound and add some squishyness (hehehehe) to the sound.

    But I like you Karl have not really found some compression that I like. My X3 has compressors on it, but I only really use it for boosting, not really to get the squashed sound. Even when I am kicking out some metal (rarely these days). I tend to like the more natural sound that I get from my rig. and like to go from subtlties to in your ear sounds from my pick attack then just getting a constant sound from compressing my playing alot.

    I originally was using an old Ibby, that has the pickups to close to the strings (long story) so I would use the compressor to add sustain, but with my new guitar that is not neccessary anymore (killer sustain! JS1200). So the only real us I have found from using a compressor is just for boosting, and semi squashing my leads.

    Maybe you guys on this can give me some good ideas on how to properly use compression? I don’t have any :(

  8. I can really simplify this for everyone. Buy a Robert Keeley compressor. It can do it all, smooth as silk and completely invisible to as squashy as you would want. Completely preserves your tone, you can leave it on all the time. It will change your life and all your wildest dreams will come true, seriously.

  9. Gary–right on! I’m inclined to agree with that theory! hehe And a Tim and a AC15HW? Sounds awesome, bro! I had the AC15HW for a while, and it definitely surprised me. Fine amp. :)

    Sam–great to hear from you, and glad the video could be of some help! And great comment on the Super comp. haha That made my day, bro.

    Larry–ya, I know! Guess I’m bored or something. hehe

    But honestly, I was actually looking for something that could push my overdrives for when I needed a more compressed lead sound, without having to go back to the huge and expensive Matchless Hotbox (even though it did look amazing, hehe). And I figured if someone’s gonna do a compressor right, it’s gonna be Terry from Damage Control. And then…compression. 😉

    Rhoy–haha Oh, man. I try so hard to stay away from U2 signature riffs in my demos. But every time I mention something about compression, people always ask how it works with the ‘Streets’ intro. So I figured I’d just throw it in and answer the questions before they came up! lol But ya…it’s really bad whenever I play U2, because everyone already knows I like them so much. hehehe

    Shawn–thanks for the kind words, bro. It’s great to have you here! And props on the U2 comment. hehehe

    As for the tone question, as a general rule, compressors will do terrible things to your sound if they are not sitting before your overdrives in your chain. However, putting it first in your chain might give the same effect of evening up your sound. But you’re really making me think here…lol. That’s an interesting way to run your rig. So you mostly play with driven sounds with that OCD always on, but when you roll back on the volume to clean it up, you also want your clean tone to be the same level as your driven tone? I’d say to get a clean boost pedal (RC Booster, Fulltone Fatboost v1) to put in front of the OCD. Then set them to the same levels, so that you can hit off the OCD, and hit on the clean boost. Then your clean tone and driven tone are at the same level. As an added bonus, if you ever need a quieter clean sound for low verses or bridges in songs, you can still roll of the volume knob while the OCD is on, and get that lower volume clean sound when you wish. And then for even another added bonus, you can also hit the clean boost on while the OCD is on for an extra solo boost.

    And if it were me doing it, I’d also pick up a Loop-Master 2 looper so that I could put the OCD in one loop and the clean boost in the other, and then control them with the two switches on the Loop-Master. This would allow control of the two pedals by two switches that are sitting right next to each other. Meaning, I could hit them both at once (with a big enough shoe, hehe), and then could turn one off and one on at the same time. (You could even go with a clean/dirty switcher, and have him customize it so that you could have a second switch to turn them both on at the same time.)

    Sorry for the really long reply! But let me know if you need any other clarification, or have another idea you think might work better. Cheers! :)

    Kenrick–I hear ya. Most compressors do just kill your tone. I don’t have experience with that Marshall one (besides what you showed at the workshop night), but it sounds like it might be one of those pedals that just might not be capable of the sound you’re looking for.

    The parallel mixers you’re talking about are made by a few different companies. Suhr makes one, Xotic makes one, and my personal favorites are made by Barge Concepts. I think their value comes when you have a pedal that kills and changes your dry signal too much. So with these boxes, you can actually improve the sound of the pedal by mixing more of your untouched dry signal with the effected signal of the pedal. Pretty cool idea. Although, a lot of the pedals really worth their mettle will do this already internally, and keep a lot of your dry signal untouched and mixed with the effected signal. :) It’s kind of your choice to maybe look for a new pedal, or see if a parallel mixer will do the trick.

    Shane–I’m right there with ya! I don’t have much need for compressors. I like my clean tone better without anything added, and I’m more of an open-sounding overdrive guy. But every once in a while I’ll need a mellower clean tone, or I’ll need to push my overdrives into a more Marshally or Mesa-type tone, and for that, I’m finding uses for a compressor. THis Strymon especially, because of the added boost section.

    Other than those uses, the other ones I’ll use it for would be when the worship leader wants a specific sound from a cd, where they are obviously using compression. But I’m still learning, as I haven’t had compression on my board for very long. I’m definitely not going to use it as an always on pedal, but this particular one is so transparent, I’m hoping to find some ‘effected’ uses for it that I’ve yet to think about. :)

    Matt K–lol Thanks, bro! Not sure if I can turn down my wildest dreams coming true. Might have to check it out. 😉 But you’re right, Robert Keeley is a very capable builder, who makes some fine-sounding products. Cheers!

  10. Karl, you always have the most beautiful ways of rationalizing your serious Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Now you have reached the edge–compression?!!
    I have had 2 compressors in my breif life-span, and both of them colored my tone signifcantly. And I wondered, “Why are these pedals even made?” I had a modded Boss CS-3, and now an MXR Dyna Comp (soon to be modded also). They are on my board only for special occasions–like if we have a very slow, melancholy church set. I’ll set the thing so the notes can sustain a while, then combine it with some delay, and it makes a decent substitute for the Ebow (they make you pay $80 for that thing???). I realized, too, that on those days, no congregant is sitting in the pews and thinking,”Dang, where did that squishy, compressed tone come form? Is the PA guy doing his job?” So, I can get away with it, and you never know when I’m gonna need to sell it so I can get another delay pedal…

  11. Matt P–haha Mmm…rational for gear. 😉 I love the delay thing you said! That is exactly the reason to have other gear. hehe

    Some people just love the CS-3. But I agree with you, I’m not to keen on it. And I agree with you that the people in the congregation will never notice if something’s wrong, or squishy sounding. But they will notice if something’s right, or great sounding. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to get expensive gear. A new CS3 is $70, plus $30 or whatever for the mod; but if you search a bit, you can also get an Emma Transmorgrifier, or an early ’80’s block logo non-led Dynacomp for less than that.

    And then yes, sell them for delay pedals. :)

    Mark–hear hear!!


    • I’ll defend the CS3 mod… lol

      I didn’t like it as a compressor— but as a weird effect, yeah! I really made the feel ‘spongy’ and I loved it for that. Great for slide sounds, or slide playing.
      Also, with a heavy duty battery or run on ‘sag’ at less than 9v, it distorted some with this crazy sustain that was beautiful. Its worth it just to play around with it!!

  12. As per usual, YouTube makes demoing a compressor a little difficult. hehehehhe… “Yeah.. I definitely.. do hear some compression there…”

    Anyway, this thing does sound pretty sweet (and looks awesome).

    On the subject of parallel compressors I wonder if anyone else has tried the Philosopher’s Tone? It’s a pretty new one, made by Pigtronix (who incidentally make a pedal called the ADSL or something like that I would definitely buy if I had the money and ‘board space to spare). Very clean and little-to-no noise. Pretty darn transparent to my admittedly damaged hearing. And there’s a distortion knob on it that mixes in a sort of garage bandy overdrive which I think is kind of cool (even if it’s not useable very often). Yeah. It’s definitely not for everyone but it adds more options. And I like options.

    Probably the biggest value of compression (for me) is using it to make sure my clean tones are even with my various drive tones. I have a 40-watt Traynor YCV and I play a Strat pretty often so the potential for “extremely frickin’ loud” and “excessive twang” is… very much there.

  13. Wow, add a bit of vibrato on that opening lick section and you got a bit of the Richard Thompson Grizzly Man soundtrack tone. Sweet!

  14. matt k is right on. there is a reason why the keeley is industry standard. mine is hardly ever turned off. if dialed in right it is an amazing tone enhancer. of course it can sound squishy if you are taking a trip to nashville, but it also can sound as matt put it smooth as silk.

  15. @rhoy – I’ve got the WR too! Good looking and sounding amp. If I get 300 shells to blow I might look into the extension cab. Oh wait, I don’t actually gig, I probably don’t need that.

    ….so yes, I might look into it 😀

    The band I’m with is kind of a.. eh.. our sound is like ’90s alt-metal except, uh, good? Actually for the last few practices I’ve had my Philosopher’s Tone (hereafter known as the PT) on all the time. I play a Strat some of the time and an LP or a Sheraton II the rest of the time. The combination of the Strat, PT, and YCV yields what I think is a really great clean tone (especially if I can crank the amp a bit–I always feel I’m risking additional hearing damage when I get past 4 or so though). It tames some of the more abrasive high end you get out of a single coil/Fender without effecting the overall tonality much otherwise. (Also, it makes my Box of Metal sustain for 157 years. Not that it needed much help.)

  16. I wouldn’t call the country genre one of my favorite forms of music but…..the Major and Major Pentatonic scales are used quite extensively in both PW and Country music phrasings. So….when I started playing PW I kinda found that reworking some of those country licks came in handy. Much more useful than more Blues oriented riffs (My bread and butter after years of playing rock and hard rock.). Very few PW songs written in minor chords. 😉

    Also, as a musician and an instructor, I think it’s necessary to push myself, as well as my students, to diversify as far as different musical styles are concerned. All the musical styles require different skill sets. As a musician, I don’t think you can ever know too much.

    It’s caused me to have some pretty eclectic musical tastes.

  17. Hi Everyone,

    This is my first comment post although I’ve been enjoying Karl’s blog for quite a while.

    I too am a huge skeptic when it comes to compressors. I’ve owned a vintage dynacomp for years and as many times as I’ve plugged it in, I’ve never enjoyed using it. One of our design goals was to create a more transparent compressor for “guys who don’t like compressors.” For that reason, we took our inspiration from some of the classic optical compressor circuits of the past. I’ve loved using the LA-2A and similar opto circuits in the past in recording situations and wanted to achieve that kind of very musical compression response with a guitar circuit.

    Many, many of the guitar compressors out there on the market are VCA based designs and many of those are simply ross clones. In my humble opinion, some of the manufacturers have added a “blend” control really as a workaround because most of the VCA designs add so much color and annihilate your signal on their own.
    The nature of opto circuits lends itself to a much more transparent and natural / musical compression knee.

    One more neat OB.1 feature to mention is that when the COMP knob is at zero the compressor is completely and physically out of circuit so that you can use the boost circuit on it’s own.

    Strymon Engineering

  18. great… now i’m gonna have to buy another compressor. thanks Karl…

    but in all seriousness, i like compressors personally. I have a modded cs-3 with monte allums opto+ mod. I used that for a long time. Maybe my ear is a bit suspect, but I personally like what that compressor does to my tone. Both clean and with overdrive actually. You can really do that country chicken picking thing with that comp, if that’s your thing. But what i like about it, is that it really smooths out chords. What I mean is that all the notes seem to have an equal intensity. Maybe it just covers up bad strumming… And with single note work, you can get lots of sustain.

    In the last several months, I’ve been using the Barber Tone Press. It seems to me the compression effect is different than the cs-3, or at least they seem different to me. I’ve been running the Tone Press with the blend at about half. But I’m gonna have to pull the cs-3 out of the gear box and throw it on the board to do a comparison now…

    • I took my parents to see him for the their anniversary a few years back. I didn’t expect to enjoy myself musically, but sucked it up for the cause. I’ll have to agree, the boy can definitely play. If he did more on his recordings of what he did live, I’d be throwing more money his way. :)

  19. What’s worse than a compressor? A model of a compressor :)
    I like the boost-comp (Micro Amp/Dyna Comp model) in the M13 but dial the compression way down.
    Don’t apologize for playing Streets – nice job!
    That box is beautiful and makes me wonder if they could take that industrial design and rehouse the Timeline. I would buy one!

  20. Larry–huh, interesting. So doesn’t really work in and of itself, but it can be fun as a weird effect? That’s pretty cool! Not sure I’d use it myself, but whatever sparks the creative juices is fine by me! :)

    Travis Norris–lol Comment of the day. Ya, if you strictly go by youtube sounds, then everyone who’s ever done a demo on there runs a compressor 100% of the time! hehe

    I’ve yet to try the Philosopher’s Tone. But you make a great case for it. Not a huge Pigtronix fan, but if it’s a s good as you say, then awesome! :)

    As a side note, you’re the second person to comment in this thread about using compressors to have your clean tones the same as your gain tones. I think that’s a very cool and interesting idea. Personally, I set my drives to be purposefully louder than clean tone, and than louder than the previous drive, and then if I need them level, I just level them by ear using picking dynamics. Allows me to not use so much compression. But I’m intruiged by your guys’ idea, and if it works for you, then right on! :)

    Rhoy–your Traynor does look really classy! :)

    Matt P–is that a good thing or a bad thing? hehehe

    RyanJ–really? You’re a comp always on type guy? Very interesting. I’ll go in stints. I used to be a comp always on, then nothing on, then clean boost always on, then nothing, then eq always on, etc. Right now I’ve been on a ‘nothing always on’ streak for a while. But hey, if this Keeley comp is so great, I might have to do a Keeley and Strymon shootout one of these days. :) And maybe an old script logo Dynacomp or something. Mmmm…gear.

    Travis Norris–“’90s alt-metal except, uh, good?” hehehe Nice.

    Mark–awesome comment! I totally agree. We should always be expanding. And country does have some great stuff! Especially they’re orchestrations and instrumentation. Very balanced and nicely mixed.

    And another vote for the Keeley. :)

    Terry–wow, thanks for posting! :) Stoked to have you here. I’m totally loving the OB.1. Hey, I almost put into the review that the compression seemed so transparent that you could probably turn down the comp knob and then just use the boost, if you so desired. But I left it out in the interest of tonal purity, thinking my ears just weren’t good enough to hear that there was still some level of comp. But now that you mention the compression is totally out of the circuit when the comp knob is down, I guess I should have trusted my ears! That’s a huge feature! I’ll add that to the review as soon as I get some time.

    Thanks again for the comment!

    Ryan–hehehe Yes, buy more gear! 😉

    So, another CS3-Allums deal, and another Barber. It seems those two and the Keeley are the ones that get brought up all the time. A shootout might be great! Although, as mentioned above, a compressor shootout, on compression-laden youtube, might not be able to be heard so well, but still. :) I look forward to your review on the CS3-Allums thing versus the Barber.

    And nice comment on Vince Gill. Ya, when I first heard him live, well on dvd, hehe, he really surprised me. :)

    Mark–totally! Live, he’s like a different guitarist. I didn’t expect so much sweet blues! :)

    Dan–lol Good form! That was awesome. So do you use it as always on, or just an effect?

    And thanks for the confirmation on playing a U2 riff. I felt kinda dumb; but it needed to be done. lol And of course, I love U2. But that’s why I felt kinda dumb. hehe If that makes any sense.

    And I don’t know if all the Timeline’s circuitry would fit in a box like that. But ya, if the Timeline was a little smaller, they would probably draw an even wider user base than it has now. I don’t mind the bigness personally…but it is big! hehe

  21. it is definitely on the majority of the time. i have it set up really subtle enough that it does the desired effect, but not enough to feel like its on. i hate feeling like a compressor is on, but love what they can do if used in the right way. im really curious about this one. maybe a shootout is in order.

  22. I use the Barber TonePress also. It’s a great pedal, the parallel compression is very cool.

    I run it between my two OD’s:


    +100 on the need for a shootout.

    Great Info as usual.

  23. Karl, you’re a freak. I say that in the most loving way.

    If you’ve got a minute, take a look at my new post on my blog, I’d like to hear what you think.

  24. I don’t use the boost-comp all the time but it sounds nice enough that I may have to go down the route of finding an analog pedal (Durham Electronics?) that has that same sound.

    I saw a gut shot of the Timeline a while back and it looked pretty full in there. I wouldn’t mind a big box if the outside looked as cool as the Strymon.

  25. RyanJ–right on. I agree that a good compressor can be a good ‘always on’ focusing tool. I’m just not on the ‘always on’ kick right now. But I’ll bet it’s giving you killer tone with that Matchless. :) And yes, a shootout should definitely be in order!

    TimH–thanks, bro. So you’re running a comp after an od? Interesting. Breaking all the rules. hehe 😉 But seriously, been hearing a lot of good stuff about the Barber comp.

    Colty–lol And you are correct, sir. :)

    And I’m checking your blog right now. I’ll let you know!

    Dan–gotcha. Ooh, good call on the Durham. Been meaning to check out more of their stuff.

    And a Timeline that looks like the Strymon? Oh man. Now you’ve got me hoping. lol The Strymon does look killer.

  26. Karl, what rules? 😛

    Putting the OD before the comp is a gain thing. It allows me to use the guitar volume knob to get more/less gain through the rig. The comp after the OD helps keep the volume constant. IMO, it’s nice being able to roll off/on gain, but not lose volume.

    However, if you have active pickups. this layout becomes a volume thing, not a gain thing.

    I think Keeley also recommends this kind of pedal order. Who am I to question him? :-)

  27. Very, very interesting. But you’re totally right about the rules. I’ve tried this with comps and never liked it. But if it’s working for you (and for Mr. Keeley, incidentally), maybe I’ll try it again! Good times.

  28. Hi,
    I saw Christian worship and pedals and had to check in. i have played on a couple of worship teams, but we are mostly acoustic , with a bass and electric drums. Personally, I love Compressors, I have a nice Ross variant now (think Keeley, Analogman), it is a Wampler Ego Compressor, 5 knobs.
    We do not use any od pedals or fuzz in worship.
    God Bless

  29. Hey, Jim! Welcome! Great to heave you here. And Analogman does make a great compROSSer, I think he calls it. haha And no od pedals or fuzz? Interesting. Always cool to hear about other styles worship teams are doing. What type of songs do you do? Cheers!

    In Christ,

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  31. @ Jim
    My church taught that distortion was of the devil (too much like the rock’n’roll that was the devil’s music). 30 years of worship later somehow it is now acceptable and even desirable for worship and even ministry time… Hmm, what has changed? LOL (we are such children sometimes!)
    God love it.
    Seriously, why are we regurgitating whatever style or sound we hear on the radio, CCM or what ever ‘stream’ is the latest and coolest? Many times when I go into a new (to me) church the worship songs are from a different ‘stream’, influence or label (Integrity, Hosanna, Morningstar, Maranatha, Word, TACF, Bethel, Pensacola, or whatever…). Many times
    I feel totally ‘out of the loop’ because
    I don’t know the song or words. If we are one body why do I feel like I don’t ‘belong’ there? Is this worship or something else? Why don’t we as musicians, song-writers and prophets just throw out the sheet music and pre-written song lists? Sing for the moment. Be creative. Sing a new song. Improvise. The Bible tells us to ‘…sing a new song to the Lord’ (Psalms, Isaiah etc…) Are we not inspired enough?
    In all seriousness though, let creativity flow. Let the Spirit direct the music and worship and prophecy on your axes! We need to blow up the boxes that we put God into and let all heaven break loose! God desires an intimate relationship with us. Read Song of Solomon if you dare…
    The church needs to discover the intimate presence of God (after all, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit…)
    God is NOT in a church building. It’s no holier than the local strip bar. We bring the holiness with us because He dwells in us. God, living in us, sees and hears everything we see and hear.
    Jesus taught: ‘I only say what I hear my Father saying in heaven and I only do what I see my Father in heaven doing’. What if we did this in our corporate worship, our personal worship and in our daily lives? That would be awesome.
    Ok. I’m done on that.
    @ Karl
    I really appreciate the review on the Strymon. It’s helping me pare down the list of comps I might be interested in upgrading to. Thanks for the in depth review.

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