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This article was originally published in issue #32
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Compressor pedals are tricky things - theoretically they're one of the more “basic” pedals, but in practice they're very hard to get right. It will be interesting to see if tone master Seymour Duncan, whose range of pedals seems to grow with every passing month, has cracked it. As always check out the video to see and hear the pedal for yourself.
The Vise Grip is a studio-grade compressor; “Designed for guitarists who want to take control of their sound, from subtle smoothing out of peaks and valleys to the most squished and pinched extremes and everywhere in between,” the company claims. So how does a humble compressor do all this? Well most standard compressor pedals will have very basic controls: Volume and Compressor Level. The Vise Grip has a few more up its sleeve, including Blend, Sustain, and mid/full/high controls. Basic pedal features apply, standard footprint size, 9V battery or standard power supply, and true bypass operation.
So what do all these additions bring to the compressor party? The Blend control allows you tailor how much of your original guitar tone you wish to have in the mix. Attack is a great feature where you can change how much attack the compressor has on your tone. Compressors take away your dynamic range but with some adjustment of this control you can bring it back, so the compressor kicks in after you have picked the note rather than straight away, giving you back the pick dynamics that many compressors remove. The Sustain control is self explanatory, giving you endless sustain at the top of the dial. The Volume control, although an obvious one, is something that's often overlooked. If you are after a great clean lead tone that cuts through the mix, this is where the individual volume control comes into its own, it also starts to give a little bit of break up into the mix too, coupled with a high blend and bit of sustain, so you end up with a top notch clean lead tone.
The High/Full/Mid switch is another great feature on this pedal - be sure to check out the video to hear the difference it makes. This one enables you to bring out the highs, ideal for that Country twang; the mids for a great choppy funk rhythm; or a full tone pallet for everything in between. This switch was the winner for me, in fact I would like to have heard a bigger difference with the Attack control, as you really had to go from one extreme to the other to hear it. But the switch really did have an effect on the tone.
Compressor pedals are often a point of discussion, some players putting a massive importance in them and searching out hand wired, ultra expensive ones, others just want to get “that sound”. Wherever you fall on the compressor importance scale, the Vise Grip is a great pedal, with a wide array of tones and colours available. The High – Mid switch is a great feature and overall the pedal just sounds top notch.