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Strymon Compadre review

This boost and compressor might just be the missing link between your guitar and your amp

Strymon Compadre review
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Our Verdict

The Compadre shows real grown-up thinking with a practicality that could see it become the pedalboard essential in your rig.

For

  • Three boosts and two types of compression.
  • The dry blend control is typical of its practical design.
  • Small footprint for a twin-footswitch pedal.
  • Input for expression pedal volume control.
  • You can have presets.

Against

  • Nothing.

If you want a range of practical tonal options without getting too far removed from its core sound, there are two pedals that you can put before your amp – compression and boost that'll do the job.

Digitally controlled, with fully analogue audio signal processing, Strymon’s new Compadre offers this very combination, delivering separately footswitchable boost and compression sections that helpfully can be used independently or together.

The VCA-based compression section provides two different compressors, with one offering a vintage studio rack style of compression and the other ideal for the tight squeeze from classic stompbox formats. Meanwhile, the Boost section has no shortage of options for tweaking its frequency range. 

The Compadre has a facility for volume control that can be accessed by plugging an expression pedal into the dedicated rear-panel socket. This gives you perfect control over your volume and none of the the tonal degradation that be a risk when using some volume pedals.

Sounds

There’s nothing complicated about the compressor. It comes first in the signal chain, and simply choose your mode (Studio or Squeeze) the large knob will let you dial in how much compression you want – which it does by lowering the threshold above which compression occurs. 

The Level knob works as you would expect, adjusting the pedal’s output when the compressor is engaged. It can cut or boost the level by up to 6dB. The Dry knob mixes your dry signal in with the compressed and is fast becoming a must-have option on compressor pedals.

You can choose to have a clean boost, but you can also choose the Dirty setting for some soft clipping overdrive.

You can choose to have a clean boost, but you can also choose the Dirty setting for some soft clipping overdrive. (Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

If it's transparent subtlety you are after, choose the Studio. It's for those occasions when you are not looking to use compression as an obvious effect. 

If you mix in some dry sound to retain the natural feel of your note attack, you can keep your sound consistent, adding smoothly decaying sustain without being overly obvious. This is a classy tool for tone strengthening and conditioning. It doesn’t jump right out at you but you would certainly miss it if it wasn't there.

The Squeeze mode is also capable of subtlety and can even out your sound and enhance sustain, but it goes further into compression as an effect. There is an obvious clamping down on note transients that is just perfect for country players doing some chicken pickin’ and pedal-steel-style bends.

The Mid setting accentuates midrange frequencies and fattens up your tone. It is an excellent tool for dialling in a richer drive sound from an amp that’s already cooking

The Boost offers a generous maximum 14dB of boost with its EQ set flat. It has plenty of full-range amp-driving capability, delivering straight volume boosts. But the flexibility from extra EQ options is great.

Pushing upper mid and high frequencies and tightening up the bottom-end, the Treble setting is pitched in classic treble booster territory. The Mid setting accentuates midrange frequencies and fattens up your tone. It is an excellent tool for dialling in a richer drive sound from an amp that’s already cooking.

Switch the boost to Dirt mode if you yearn for something a little grittier. There's a rear-panel switch dedicated to switching between the clean boost and a soft clipping boost circuit. With Dirt engaged, the boost is conspicuously Tube Screamer-like in the Mid setting.

The Boost EQ switch offers three options for tweaking the boost's frequency response.

The Boost EQ switch offers three options for tweaking the boost's frequency response. (Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Strymon’s Compadre is nicely responsive to you touch. It feels very natural to play through, offering many options for how you might want to switch in the different sections when needed. It allows you to set up a sound that suits you with the intention of leaving it inline. Both the boost and compression sections mesh together extremely well. Together, they create a front-end that brings the very best out of your amp.

While the Compadre is a piece of cake to use – pretty much WYSIWYG, just tweak knobs as necessary – there are presets on offer if you don't mind connecting up some external gear to access them. Simply save the settings of all the pedal’s knobs and toggle switches, including the rear Boost Type switch, plus the bypass state of both Boost and Compressor.

As with other in the Strymon lineup, you can store a Favorite setting that can be accessed by connecting a Strymon MiniSwitch or another external latching footswitch. 

If you need more functionality, Strymon’s MultiSwitch Plus three-button footswitch is an excellent option, offering you access to three presets. But should you go down the MIDI route, you can not only access a full 300 presets but remotely control patch parameters, too.

Specs

  • PRICE: $/£299
  • ORIGIN: USA
  • TYPE: Compressor and boost pedal
  • FEATURES: Selectable true or buffered bypass, Class A JFET input circuit, 300 presets, MIDI control
  • CONTROLS: Boost, Compression, Dry, Level, Boost EQ selector switch, Comp Type selector switch, Boost Type selector switch, Boost footswitch, Comp footswitch
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output, Volume,
  • FAV/MIDI POWER: Supplied 9V DC adaptor, 150mA
  • DIMENSIONS: 102 (w) x 114 (d) x 44mm (h)
  • CONTACT: Strymon