Ease of Use: This is a kit put together for you to assemble on your own. I first came in contact with the guy that sells these on a "build- your-own-pedal-workshop" at the local music store. I immediately took a liking to the guy and his products. at that time I build one of his boost-pedals (that one is amazing!) and I bought the Compressor a couple of weeks later. The package includes all the resitors, capacitors, diodes, transistors, chips and one trimpot. One thing I missed was a manual, because of it's length and detail it's downloadable as a .pdf file from their webpage. The online manual was really good and informative.
The package has been revised and upgraded constantly since the first version was released. It has gone through a series of chip-and-transistors exchanges and on and so forth. The one I bought is the latest version, with 7 2N5088 transistors and 1 BA6110 chip. This combination has proved to have the longest sustain, warmest tone and best gain-response. And it delivers!
This pedal has 5 knobs and one trimpot. The knobs are: Sustain, Attack, Ratio, Level and Tone. These are really straight-forward and makes it easy to tune in your specific requests of a Compressor pedal. The trimpot is used to tune in the tone you want (i.e. the cleanest sound, as well as reducing the distortion it can create).
Concidering the technical skills (soldering, soldering, patience, more soldering and finally some skills with a screwdriver. Also, reading is a great aid!) it is not especially hard to tune the trimpot (just twist it until it sounds awesome).
It is rather easy to follow the instructions in the manual, but I must mention that it is seen as one of the harder pedals from BYOC. I believe that anyone with half a brain and some soldering skills could and should build one of these. It only makes it sound better, knowing you created it from a few (a lot of small!) pieces. // 9
Sound: Currently, I've been using what I have at hand, a Squire stratocaster and a Roland microcube. They're not bad, but I'll be using it with my LTD MH250NT and my -87 Kramer Pacer Custom 1 and Hges and Kettner Tour reverb halfstack. It really makes the squire sing. It is almost unbelievable how good it sounds. It can give a little more twang to the guitar, by turning up the tone (cuts the bass a bit) och just use the Original tone (tone fully counter-clockwise).
The knobs are really helpful in tuning in the exact sound you want and it's exactly what I've been looking for.
I haven't tried it with any other distortion than the digital one on the microcube (thus, lowering the score a bit), but I'm looking forward to using it with my Tonebone Classic distortion, I'm sure it will be as awesome as the cleans!
I really believe that with the amount of tweaking you can do with the trimpot, the 5 knobs mentioned and the number of mods available on BYOC's forum, you can (with a little use of the previously mentioned skills) get any sound you want from it. // 8
Reliability & Durability: I know that it is built with quality components and that the assembly has been supervised (oh, yeah, I love building stuff!). The die-cast aluminium casing is rock-solid and quality-made.
Although I haven't owned it for so long, I feel I can depend on it and it won't let me down in a time of need, as long as I don't abuse it (that goes for everything!). I would definately use this without a backup at a gig, but I want to feel it in a bit, before I accually do it.
Also, the guy in the store is a really nice guy, who helped me with picking out extra components for my moody-boost and with the layout of my mods. That alone is priceless. Of course, I dealt with him face to face, but I'm sure that if there was need, mail-correspondance it a suitable alternative. // 9
Overall Impression: I play anything between blues and jazz and funk and rock and all kinds of metal, and I think it suits everything like a glove. Because of it's versatility it is a really useful pedal, one that ought not to be noticed before it's gone. I've been playing for about 6-7 years and own a total of 8 guitars and 3 amplifiers. My main gear is the Kramer from -87 (it's older than me!) and my Hghes and Kettner. If I lost it, I would be heartbroken and buy one again as soon as possible. I love it's versatility and it's clean impression and feeling, the only downside to it is the assembly, but for me, that really isn't a downside, because it's so fun to accually get to know your gear on a different level. Assembling a pedal is something that everyone should do, because of the things you learn from it.
I compared it to the local music stores comressor pedals, the T-Rex CompNova and the Boss CS-3 and I think the choice was obvious right from the start, not only because of the prices (the Boss and the BYOC costs almost the same and the T-Rex is nearly the double), but because the BYOC sounds better than either of the competitors, not to mention that the BYOC features more control over it's sound.
From the guy I got it from, you can also get his own pedal kits (moody pedal kits) and get any pedal assembled and ready to go. // 10