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Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer Pedal

So you want to play guitar solos like Satriani or Van Halen and you play a note and hold it. Rather than the note beautifully sustaining it quickly goes dead. Well this was a major problem for me. Especially so with a < ahref=""> valve amp at low volumes. One possible answer to this is the Boss CS-3 – a compression sustainer pedal.

Basically, what it does is reduce the high input signals and boosts the low input signals. This means that if you play hard and loud the compressor will reduce the sound and if you play softly the compressor will pull up the sound. The resulting effect from this is that, without the compressor the note dies off quickly, with the compressor on, as the note starts to die the compressor pulls it back up to a normal level. Subsequently this equals sustain! Hoorah!!

Boss CS-3

But, and there is a big but, there are 2 major negatives to this which has meant I have decided to no longer use this pedal in my setup.

  • Noise – Due to the nature of the pedal if you have even the slightest hum from any of your setup prior to the compressor, which incidentally will go nearer to the front of your pedal board (nearest the guitar rather than amp) – then it will be boosted and you will have the most awful noise in any quiet bits of your playing. Now I may have been unlucky enough to have a slightly faulty pedal or lead somewhere but your setup must be absolutely perfect otherwise you will get hums, crackles, interference which really ruins the whole thing.
  • Dynamics – As stated previously the pedal maintains an even sound whether you play hard or soft – Us guitarists like to use hard and soft to breathe life into our playing. The compressor limits us from doing this. If you play without a compressor with an overdriven sound at full volume then turn down the volume on your guitar you can reduce the overdrive so much that you can go from a clean sound to an overdriven sound (and anywhere in between) just by using your volume control. With a compressor it limits you from doing this.

Now it is possible to only apply a small amount of compressions as there are settings to adjust the parameters and with a smaller amount of compression you can have it so you still have some dynamics in your playing and not so much noise although the main reason I bought the CS-3 was specifically for a lot if sustain.

So if you are looking for sustain and dynamics with little noise then I would not recommend this effects pedal. You can achieve sustain in other ways such as a loud valve amp, a quality guitar or even some solid state amps will produce the sustain required.

A way I got around the noise produced by the compressor was to use a noise suppressor pedal – I will talk about this another time though……………..

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