Review: Fender Compugilist Compressor/Distortion Pedal

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Review: Fender Compugilist Compressor/Distortion Pedal

Words by Bridgette Baini

Fender Music Australia | | RRP: $299.00

Fender have been on a tear of late, releasing high-quality, attention capturing effect pedals that have had everyone wondering why they never did this sooner. After all, when you are responsible for the very framework of everything that we now recognise/associate/attach to the electric guitar, then what’s left to conquer? 

The answer is in high quality effects and it’s from an amalgamation of two previous stomping successes (the Pugilist distortion pedal and The Bends compression pedal respectively), that the new Compugilist is born. A compression/distortion pedal with an all-analogue design, true bypass, bass boost, independent switching, and all the considerate fittings characteristic of Fender’s designs, such as the fold out battery compartment, making changing batteries a breeze.

The Compugilist contains all the essential functions of both effects, crammed into one ultra-convenient, lightweight, and durable anodized aluminum chassis. It has two completely independent circuits packed in, making it easier to use the effects solo or stacked. The fact that the EQ function is not tied into the distortion means that you really are getting two separate effects in one pedal, making it a space-saver on the pedalboard.

It’s undeniable that the combination of compression and distortion is a classic one whether you’re just looking for that extra bite or playing something much heavier. Fender has ensured that this pedal is not simply a two in one, but a considerate collaboration. It has a high-current control path allowing to tame volume spikes almost instantly.

The EQ function seems simple enough with three knobs; recovery to ensure the notes don’t sound too choppy or too quiet, compression, and level for overall output. It could also just be used as a booster pedal. However, it’s the extra considerations that make this a valuable asset to your board with the level knob. The LED light labelled G.R. is the gain reduction which lights up when the compression grabs onto the signal which visual helps you adjust the threshold to get a really fine-tuned sound.

For distortion, you have the tone knob, gain and level, but you also have a bass boost toggle switch. When playing though a completely clean amp this function comes in handy, giving you a more natural sound by filling out the low end. I love the fact that this is an option because when incorporating distortion in amongst other pedals and stacking effects, it can certainly get very muddy very quickly, so having the option to turn that off when needed is great. It’s also something that is useful when looping, with the need for slight variance each loop for that extra dynamic. The tone control can be used to balance out amp settings such as bright switch, as it gives the extreme variants of bright and muted.

The tone of the distortion itself is rather warm, not too overdriven or tinny as you could probably expect from Fender as this is a low to mid gain distortion. This allows for heaps of versatility to stack more pedals such as an overdrive or fuzz if you really want to get busy, but honestly the distortion this pedal gives on its own paired with the right guitar and pickups is just so wonderful. For soloing, all you’ve got to do is turn on both effects simultaneously, turn up the compression, gain, and output through the level knob and watch as your guitar sings into the stratosphere.

If you can’t already tell, the Compugilist more than left an impression and it’s great to see Fender making their pedal range a focal point in recent times. Rest assured, the world of guitar tone is better when Fender are at the top of their game and thanks to the unique capabilities found on something like the Compugilist, we again see the most famous brand in all of Guitar contributing something unique and cutting edge into the canon. 

For those less concerned about the big picture, the Compugilist is an extremely versatile distortion pedal thanks to its compression section and handy features such as bass boost, will no doubt find its way onto many a pedalboard and record for years to come. Safe to say, it’s far too good to stay on the periphery.

Head to Fender’s website to find out more about the Compugilist.