There was a time in my life as a guitarist where I thought compressors were more or less like can openers: they all do pretty much the same thing, are used on occasion for a limited purpose, and you really only need one of them. I’ve since matured. Yet the most evolutionary phase in my use and view of compressor pedals was sparked by one that itself represents the evolution of what a compressor pedal can be and do. Meet the PressuRizer from Amptweaker.
The PressuRizer hit the floor at winter NAMM 2017 and has generated a well-deserved buzz for its innovative approach and design. As its name suggests, this compact pedal packs a tandem punch, offering up both sustain for days and the option for added boost. On its own, the effective pairing of those elements in a single stompbox would be a point scored for Amptweaker—but it is the way these two effects are engineered to play together that signals how the PressuRizer truly moves to goal posts for all other competitors in the compressor pedal game.
As compressor aficionados will attest, while compressor pedals offer the right focused pinch to the signal at the mid and end of a note, that investment often comes at the cost of the frontal attack. Not so with the PressuRizer. What I immediately noticed when experimenting with the pedal was that the note was right there: regardless of intensity or dynamics of my attack, when I hit it I heard it. The compression and sustain was tight and lasting and never compromised the integrity, tone, and immediacy of the initial pick attack. One of the real assets of this design philosophy was that the volume, tone, and sustain nobs on board could be optimized straight away to sculpt my sound rather than tinkering with them to recover what I was missing from the clean signal. Any pedal that has an instant sweet-spot on the initial plug in is a win in my books.
The PressuRizer ventures further into uncharted territory with its innovations of “bloom,” “blend,” and “boost” functions. The first of these refers to a switch below the sustain nob that allow for bypass (off) or selections of fast and slow blooms. In effect, this is not unlike an automated mini-swell function that retains that authentic front end pick attack before rolling in the sustained signal on top of it at the selected variable onset. Regardless of the position of the bloom switch, the mid-ship “blend” nob allows you to tailor the mix of dry and compressed signals, which adds an additional layer of customization.
Finally, the “boost” section. I have to admit, this one caught me off guard. But, after a few minutes of toying around I caught myself thinking, “Wish I came up with that!” Like any stompbox, the footswitch clicks between bypass and active modes. Yet by depressing and hold the switch for a few seconds in the on position, it flickers from orange to green. This means that the compressor is now locked in as the new norm (i.e., always-on). Step on it again and the LED turns red, signaling you’ve activated the optional onboard boost, which adds subtle to sonic volume kicks dialed in with the side-mounted nob next to the input jack.
In short, is it a compressor, boost, or swell pedal? In a word, yes. That is a few words describing what the PressuRizer is but the most fun comes with seeing what it does.
I have no doubt you could swap the PressuRizer in for the compressor currently on your board and it would do many of the same expected tricks. Yet with its added features and functionality, where it outshines others is in how it performs in new musical spaces and across genres. Here’s a few uses and settings that had me coming back for more.
Since James Brown of Amptweaker is no stranger to high-gain overdrive, it’s perhaps not surprising that the PressuRizer worked exceptionally well as an “always-on” sort of pedal when partnered up with an aggressive distortion effect. For a chugging rhythm try setting the tone to 11:00 for a slight mid-scoop, the sustain to 2:00, mix at noon, and switching the “limit” and “bloom” to off. From here, you’ve got a reliable foundation for compressed rhythm yet can engage the volume boost to ensure your solos are front and center. The beauty of having the boost built into the same footswitch means you avoid the tap-dancing routine otherwise required by engaging a compressor then a boost at that pivotal moment when it’s your time to shine.
Regardless of music style, I found that the PressuRizer was a great fit for lines that require a blend of rhythmic strumming and momentary bursts of riffs. The most important assets here were the “blend” and “bloom” nobs. By tailoring the mix of the dry and wet sounds to about a 60/40 mix, the rhythmic sections retained their character and clarity with just the right amount of compression to tighten up the outer edges. With the “bloom” switch nudged to fast those momentary breakouts into riffs for color imbibed notes and licks with intensity as they sparked with the attack and burned on the sustain. Throw in some added variety with a whammy bar and you won’t turn back.
Since the PressuRizer has a built-in FET limiter/booster it is the perfect antidote for a lack-luster clean signal. Beyond this, however, it’s “bloom” feature can add unexpected depth for fans of washy, reverb-laden ambient tones. When partnered with a reverb and delay pedal, cranking the sustain and opting for the slow “bloom” added a crescendo-like contour to the fading repeats of the delay and gave new dimension to the elongated reverb decays. From here, you can dial in the “blend” to taste and explore how the EQ shifts of the tone nob can brighten up the sound or add a little shadowy mystery to your airy echoes.All in, the PressuRizer is not your average compressor. Sure, it’ll pinch your signal in just the right spot, but it’s the surprising array and combinations of sustain and boost on board that make it well worth a play.