Whether used for funky tones, a gentle sonic sheen, or as gatekeeper for your rig’s volume, compressors are handy – and often misunderstood – pieces of gear. Fortunately, Donner’s affordable LAX Comp does several compression tasks well, and for less than a trip to the supermarket meat department.
While the LAX Comp is ostensibly inspired by the famed $5,000 Teletronix LA-2A studio compressor, that’s optimistic for an inexpensive stompbox. It’s better to think of this as a board-friendly, easy-to-use analog pedal. Its Sustain knob controls ratio, determining when the compressor kicks in to reduce volume spikes. Attack dials-in the speed at which each note recovers, while Level provides overall output; Limit lets you choose how heavy to make the “blanket,” and can markedly color tone, so use it judiciously. Conveniently, a center switch selects Natural or Bright settings, which is useful since compressors can darken one’s tone. A final feature – dime the Level knob and it will smack your preamp with snotty goodness, effectively making it a boost/overdrive.
The LAX Comp’s primary appeal lies in its smooth compression tones, easy operation, and a just-can’t-ignore price. Stomp it to add a professional sheen to your electric and acoustic guitars, or smooth your bass when you get slap-happy.
This article originally appeared in VG’s May 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.