Despite the overwhelming consensus that compressors are one of the most indispensable studio tools, compressor pedals can be one of the most misunderstood effects. Some players swear by them, others avoid them. But if you need sustain without distortion or want to tame aggressive peaks and even out dynamics, a good compressor is the ticket. And when guitarists think about compressor pedals, they think about a little red box called the MXR® Dyna Comp® Compressor.

Released in 1972, the Dyna Comp Compressor featured simple, straightforward controls—labeled Output and Sensitivity—to govern the volume and compression levels, respectively. Inside, it contained the coveted CA3080 metal can integrated circuit, which remains a key component to its sound and vibe.Load More

In 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience made its first major American appearance at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival. Jimi Hendrix demonstrated his almost supernatural mastery of the electric guitar, punctuating the performance by setting his guitar on fire, swinging it wildly around and smashing it on the stage floor. Hendrix had issued a manifesto in music form, ushering in the modern age of the electric guitarist.

His creative use of the tools at his disposal set a precedent for tone crafting and sonic texturing that countless numbers of players continue to pursue today. Hendrix was able to vary his tones in seemingly endless ways that fail to sound dated decades later. With equal parts sonic braggadocio and understated elegance, Hendrix used his hands, his instrument, his effects, and most importantly his ears to concoct a brilliant synergy of sound and song rarely, if ever, equaled.

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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hendrix’s Monterey performance, we’ve created a special edition run of his favorite effects featuring iconic imagery from legendary rock ‘n’ roll photographer Gered Mankowitz. Below we take a look at how Hendrix used those effects to change the face of music forever.

For all of the genres and subgenres that rock ’n’ roll gave rise to, distortion is one element that links them all the way back to the beginning. Just listen to the fuzzy tones on Ike Turner’s “Rocket 88” and Goree Carter’s “Rock Awhile,” which are widely recognized as the first rock songs ever recorded. Distortion introduced a whole new attitude to musical expression that attracted rebels and free spirits and free thinkers while disturbing the sensibilities of those who preferred an easy listening experience.

Like penicillin, distortion was discovered by accident. Players forced to use faulty, damaged, or cheap, poorly made amplifiers liked what happened when they plugged in and cranked up the volume. Before long, players were trying to get the sound on purpose by intentionally damaging their equipment—Link Wray is famous for having punched holes in his amp’s speaker with a pencil he found lying around the studio.

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There’s a ton of effects out there that do all manner of badass things to your guitar signal, generating everything from face-melting saturation to atmospheric soundscapes. It’s tempting to pack your pedalboard with these types of pedals, but there’s another class of gear—often overlooked—that you should seriously consider. We’re talking about utilitarian pedals. They’re tools more than they are effects—not fancy or flashy, but they can make your life much easier on stage.

Playing live is not the same as playing in the studio or in the practice space, where you have much more control over all the various factors that can effect the way you sound. When you play a gig, you’re at the mercy of the venue’s acoustics and sound tech.

Here’s a list of pedals that allow you to retain as much control over your sound as possible when playing live.

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Reverb is that sense of place and depth you hear when sound is reflected off of solid surfaces. Architects have been designing concert halls and other enclosed spaces to enhance this effect with live music for more than a hundred years. Recorded music, however, can sound flat and unnatural if it doesn’t sound as if it actually exists in a physical space, so musicians and producers have relied on a number of methods to recreate the sonic characteristics of playing in acoustically rich environments.

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