An affordable, no-nonsense, straightforward compression pedal that does a great job without taking up much space.

Compression has long been a staple on bassists’ pedalboards, and if you know nothing else about how compression works, you know it can get complicated dialing things in so that it does its job but doesn’t negatively affect your tone. How you use compression depends on the genres you play, your personal attack on the strings, your goals with sound, and how often you switch musical genres within one set, to name just a few factors. So, when it comes to this effect, the more help the industry can give us in quickly dialing in our sound, the better. MXR’s new Dyna Comp Bass Compressor does just that. It’s based on the MXR Dyna Comp, first produced in the 1970s, which to this day remains a popular choice for compression, either for bass or guitar. The Dyna Comp Bass Compressor is a bass-focused version of the renowned pedal, contained in the increasingly popular “mini” housing.

I have been impressed with the pedals coming out of Dunlop’s MXR Bass Innovation division; their creations are always intuitive, bass-centric in all the ways that matter, and built to withstand real-world wear and tear — thanks largely to the input provided by bassist, producer, and all things low and groovy, Darryl Anders. As the bass product manager at Dunlop/MXR, Darryl stays personally involved with the research and design that shapes what the company produces, and my experience with the results has been that each is fairly intuitive, requiring little or no pre-use instruction. With that in mind, the day the pedal arrived, I took it out of the box, slapped some Velcro on the back, threw it on my Pedaltrain Nano, and headed off to a rehearsal for a singer–songwriter gig, all without trying it out in advance or referring to the manual.
Right away, the controls made sense to me. Like many MXR bass pedals, the clean control blends in the unaffected tone to your liking; output determines the volume, sensitivity gives control over the sustain (which is often why I use compression with singer/songwriting gigs), attack lets you choose between a slow attack and fast attack, and the tone control tweaks the upper mids (±7dB @ 1kHz). Darryl explains that they added this last feature because compression pedals tend to take a bit off the top end, and they wanted to provide an option to put it back. I added just a bit and found it adequate, especially while blending in the clean signal.

In all, it took me about 90 seconds to dial in what I wanted, and then I was back to focusing on the music. This pedal makes sense fast, and that’s an important factor — even more so with compression pedals. Also of note: The pedal is all analog, the circuitry is tailored to bass frequencies and the nuances of electric bass, and its diminutive size means it takes up very little space on your pedalboard.

I’ve often heard that if no one in the band comments on your compression pedal, then it’s doing its job. Kind of like playing the bass, right? If we do our job well, then people tend to just focus on the music. This pedal allowed me to do that myself. I dug how it evened out the volume and sustain of what I was playing behind the artist, which included a lot of long-held notes. Later, at home, I dove more into it on a funk and rock level, and it performed well there, too. Since I am a minimalist when it comes to bass effects (and the corresponding boards on which I mount them), this pedal’s tiny tract of real estate is perfect.

In the end, I found the Dyna Comp Bass Compressor to deliver on its promise to reproduce the classic Dyna Comp sound for bass players in a way that fits our specific needs, while keeping it simple. For Darryl Anders, that’s not an accident. “I see it as our job to support the foundation of music, so in designing this pedal, we kept the role and function of bass front and center,” he says. Yeah, I can get behind that.

Street $150

Pros All-analog, thoughtful features, circuitry tailored for bass players

Cons None

Bottom Line An affordable, no-nonsense, straightforward compression pedal that does a great job without taking up much space.

SPECS

Analog/digital Analog

Input/output ¼" jacks

Power source 9-volt battery or 9-volt DC power supply (sold separately)

Controls clean, sensitivity, output, tone, attack

Maximum compression 36dB