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Compressor Placement

Q: Where should my compressor pedal go in my guitar effects chain?

A: As with pretty much all guitar pedals, you can place a compressor stompbox pretty much anywhere in the signal path that you want — you’re not going to hurt anything by experimenting with the order. So, our first recommendation is to try it in some different places and see what you think.

However, most players find that compressor pedals work best as the first item in the chain, or as the second item in the chain directly following a stompbox/bypassable tuner. There are several reasons for this. First, because a compressor manipulates your guitar’s dynamics, it generally is best to feed it the purest guitar output possible. Second, because it evens out the dynamics in the signal, a compressor tends to feed a good, solid signal to later pedals in the chain, which they enjoy. Third, compressors tend to increase any perceived noise in the signal, so it’s best to have it before any pedals (such as distortion or overdrive) that increase noise levels.

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