Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer

The Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer has been around for over ten years and has no doubt sold in its thousands as it is still a very popular pedal (head to ebay and you will find that pre-owned models sell easily with plenty of bidders). Why is is popular? Because as well as the Boss quality, reliability and tank-like construction, it’s a very good ‘mid-price’ compressor that can be used for both electric and acoustic guitars.

Why use a compressor?

If you have never used a compressor before you are probably wondering what all the fuss is about! When you consider that most gigging guitarists and all studio guitarists will have a compressor pedal (and the sound engineer/producer will add it on the mixing desk) it is worth trying one out. The effect may be subtle but chances are, you won’t turn it off again…

You can use a compressor to get more sustain out of your guitar, to clean up your sound and maybe as a type of boost. Either way its function is to boost quiet notes and reduce heavy signals such as chords, averaging out the natural differences. This makes picked passages sound smoother and gives more flow to clean lead passages., giving an overall fatter sound.


The CS-3 has four controls, which help you to sculpt the sound you want:

Level – this is the output volume
Tone – to give more top end sparkle if you want it or cut the treble to give a softer sound
Attack – this adjusts the intensity of the attack in your picking, softening or sharpening it
Sustain – increase or decrease the time length (sustain) of your note(s)

The enclosed one sheet manual with the pedal explains the controls well and helps you to set it up for your sound.

Using the attack and sustain knobs you can get adjust your sound across a wide range and turning the sustain up to maximum does result in a fair bit of noise, but to be fair the manual does tell you this may happen! You will need to find its sweet spot with your amp to get that ringing sustain. If you want to use it as a limiter and get your distorted tone to clean up, you can do that also. Either way you can get some great tones and it is versatile enough to cover most styles of guitar playing.

Verdict? A great pedal at a reasonable price (c£89.00 new) that will last you for years.


Compact compression/sustainer pedal with high-quality circuitry
Compresses loud signals and boosts softer signals for a smooth overall sound
Onboard Level, Tone, Attack and Sustain controls for precise tonal shaping
Low-noise design for super-quiet operation
Takes DC 9 V: Dry Battery 9 V type (6F22/9 V) – not supplied or AC Adaptor
Size: 73mm x 129mm x 59mm
Weight: 390g (inc battery)
Current draw: 11mA

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