Diamond Compressor Pedal Review

Diamond Compressor Pedal

In most of my years playing guitar, I haven't been a big fan of using compression. Most people I'd seen using compressors were country or jazz players, so I always thought they were only useful in those styles of music. I didn't think a compressor would do much to improve my tone (which is more of an alternative/indie rock sound), but I was wrong. A fellow employee encouraged me to try adding compression to my sound, so I tried several we carry here at Humbucker Music, including the Barber Tone Press, the Keeley Compressor, and the Diamond Compressor .  It didn't take long to see how much my guitar tone improved with quality compression.  I now believe a compressor would benefit any style of guitar playing.  Granted, different styles will require differing types and amounts of compression, but I think you owe it to yourself to look into it.  In short, I settled on the Diamond Compressor.  While all three are incredible compressors, I felt the Diamond accomplished more for my style than the others.  

The Diamond Compressor is very easy to use, with only 3 external knobs controlling compression, EQ, and volume and 2 internal switches, EQ in or out and a hi-cut jumper switch, which I will go over in more detail.  The Diamond Compressor does have a true bypass signal path, so when not in use it does not affect the original signal.  It also can be powered by a standard 9V DC power supply or 9V battery.
External Knobs

Compression - This knob controls the amount of compression that the guitar signal receives.  Completely counterclockwise adds just a touch of compression, and rotating it clockwise adds increasing amounts of compression.  Fully clockwise provides a very "squashed" signal for aggressive compression.  I noticed that the compression effect varies with the output of the guitar that is being used in the signal chain.  With humbuckers, I liked the sound with a medium amount of compression (from about 11 o'clock to 1 o'clock), while with single coil pickups I preferred to increase the amount of compression (from about 2 o'clock to 4 o'clock).   I would encourage any user to experiment with the guitar(s) in use to find desired settings in different applications.

EQ - This is a unique "tilt" style EQ control provided by Diamond, not typical with most compression pedals.  Most EQ controls simply add or remove treble to "brighten" or "darken" the tone.  While this EQ does achieve this characteristic, it also does more to affect the frequency of the pedal.  It works more closely with the mid-range frequencies to provide a more balanced sound, so the player is not just rolling off the highs or "brightening" the sound.  The result is a more subtle and gradual affect on the sound, one that sounds more musical.  At the 12 o'clock position, the EQ is completely neutral; moving it counterclockwise gradually increases bass frequencies from the midrange point and reduces treble; moving it clockwise gradually increases treble frequencies from the midrange point and reduces bass.  I got a lot of great, subtle tonal differences by adjusting this knob with different guitars.

Volume - This simply controls the overall output of the pedal.  After finding a happy compression setting, I used this to control the level of the pedal with the original guitar signal and the levels of other effects pedals in the chain.  This knob can become very useful if using the compressor as a boost pedal for getting above the mix for breakout parts or solos.

Internal Switches

EQ In/Out - From the factory, the pedal provides the tilt EQ circuit in the signal path.  Sliding this switch removes that circuit from the signal path, entirely bypassing the option of adjusting the EQ, giving the pedal a completely flat EQ response.  This is not a switch that will improve or worsen the sound by any means, it is just an option for differing preferences.

Hi-Cut Jumper - This is factory set so that the jumper is not in the signal path. Enabling the jumper places a filter between the tilt EQ and the volume control.  I'll describe how this can be useful.  If there is an overdrive, distortion, or other high gain pedal in use with the compressor, especially when running the compressor before the gain pedal, it's possible that some audible noise will be created in the process.  Enabling this jumper reduces that noise without affecting the tone of the pedal.  I would encourage users to try both settings to determine what works best with a particular setup.

What I appreciate most about the Diamond Compressor is how simple and musical it is. It was so easy to get great sounds from it as soon as I hooked it up to my board. It does a great job at keeping the original sound of the guitar and amp, something usually hard to find in other compressors, as many can color the guitar tone even at mild settings. I like to use compression to enhance the overall sound by fattening up single notes, making chords sound fuller and richer, and to give more sustain. The Diamond Compressor really does this flawlessly - single notes have more beef behind them (I don't worry anymore about parts being lost in the mix when I'm playing higher on the neck on the high E and B strings), chords have more individuality and texture (I can actually hear all the strings when playing full chords). It even works well with other pedals and I am able to leave the pedal on all the time, which is something I looked for in a compressor pedal. My delay and reverb sounds are bigger and have more sustain and my volume swells have more life. Since I'm leaving the pedal on even when using overdrive pedals, I enabled the hi-cut jumper and my overdrive sounds are crisper and more controlled. Chords with overdrive sound stronger and more even, giving a better balance to my sound. The pedal even does a good job when wanting to do some more extreme signal for country sounds by maxing out the compression knob and lowering the volume, notes and chords still being transparent and without tone loss. As stated earlier, I believe the Diamond Compressor would be useful in any style of music, as it only works to improve the tone of the guitar.

Josh Bates
Humbucker Music