CS-2 Compression Sustainer review by Boss

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Ease of Use: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (3 votes)
Boss: CS-2 Compression Sustainer

Price paid: $ 125

Purchased from: a friend

Sound — 10
I use the CS-2 in my regular rig- a Guild S-100 (Sorta like an SG body, built in 1970, a really solid rock and blues guitar) and a modded Fender Telecaster (humbucker in the bridge, active single coil in the neck, for a more modern, smoother pop/rock sound, over the standard twang). The CS-2 is first in the chain, followed by a DigiTech Synth Wah (monophonic guitar synth/envelope filter), a Morley Bad Horsie 2 Contour Wah, an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi, an Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 (full range clean boost- simple, but great), an MXR '78 Custom Badass Distortion pedal, a Boss GE-7 Equalizer (set for a slight high midrange hump, for leads), a Boss CEB-3 Bass Chorus (I like it for gutiar), a Vintage Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phase shifter, a Boss DD-3 Digital Delay (for lead echoes), and then a Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler (for sweep echo, U2-style dotted eighth rhythms, and reverse echoes). That goes into either a 1964 Fender Bandmaster (a Vintage Fender head, into a 4x12 cab), or a Carvin XV-212 (an old Carvin combo amp, all tube. The CS-2 is noisy, as are all compressors, but of all the compressors I've used (MXR Dyna-Comp, Boss CS-3, Visual Sound Route 66, etc) it's had the least issues with hiss and squealing. If the noise bothers you, buy a noise gate. Boss or MXR both make good ones. The effect is fairly subtle, but it's supposed to be- it squashes your dynamics, sustaining notes and evening your attack, which may be much more noticeable to you than anyone else. It also allows you to get good feedback, quickly and easily- and at lower volumes. I also use it in front of the DigiTech Synth Wah, to help increase the sustain of that pedal (the synth shuts off if there isn't enough signal being fed into it, so long sustained synth drones are impossible without the compressor) and in front of any overdriven/distorted lead tones for added punch and sustain. I also use it for clean playing, if I want better string-to-string definition. I love the sound of this pedal- it's warm, smooth, and keeps just enough of my dynamics intact for expressive playing. For all those who don't believe in a perfect ten, though, remember that sound is a matter of opinion.

Overall Impression — 9
I play blues, jazz fusion, and my own indie/pop, and this is one of the few pedals that I use for all three styles of music. It's a great match, because it gives the subtle squeeze I wanted, and the long sustain I need. If it were stolen or lost, I would hunt down another one, because I do think these old Made In Japan Boss pedals have magic in them. I compared this pedal to both of the new MXR Dyna-Comps (the standard, and the new script), the Visual Sound Route 66, the Boss CS-3, and both the Keeley 2 and 4 knob compressors. I liked it best, due to the warmth, and organic sound. The CS-3 is sterile, though I can't explain why, and the Visual Sound and Keeley were good, but just under the mark. I also loved the Dyna-Comp, but I think I'd hold out for an original script version. It's worth noting that I'd put a CS-2 AND a Dyna-Comp on my board, because they have two distinctly different voices (like Fender and Marshall, Tubescreamers and Bluesbreakers, etc etc).

Reliability & Durability — 9
As with all my Boss pedals, this is built rock solid. It's 30 years old, and besides some chipped paint, and a little loose rotation of the knobs it's in perfect condition. I would gig with it without a backup.

Ease of Use — 8
This is a stock CS-2, made in Japan in 1981. If you know how to use a compressor, it's fairly easy to get a good sound out of this, but even if you're new to it, it shouldn't take you more than fifteen or twenty minutes to find a good starting point. I don't have the manual for the CS-2, but it's fairly simple, with controls for level (volume), sustain (compression) and attack. The attack function effects how quickly the Compressor grabs and "squashes" the signal; if you set it high, you'll get that punchy, "clicky", country tone, and if you set it lower, you can get interesting swelling arpeggios. The sustain setting effects how squashed the signal actually is, which will determine how long notes sustain, how much/little of your dynamics come through, and how much outside noise will be amplified with your guitar signal. While you can get a good sound in a fairly short amount of time, you'll probably end up tweaking it a few times.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    To WH25, the picture is correct, a CS2 pedal. 3 knobs: Level, Attack and Sustain. The CS3 has got 4 in a row: Level, Tone, Attack & Sustain.
    I have had one since the mid-80s, and it's pretty. Much the only pedal that I. Use all the time. It makes your signal much more consistent, and can also help produce some pretty nice overtones. Couples with a delay pedal, it's really hard to sound bad, unless you really can't play. Buy one, if you get the chance.
    I've also got a CS2 from Japan and chained in the 2nd place after a Korg Tuner, followed (in this order) by a Astone OD (True by-pass) a Boss GE7 EQ, a Boss DD7 and a Digitech Reverb. The CS2 seems to generate a hum & hiss when used simultaneously with the OD at mid-high compression setting. Which would be the best way to mitigate the hum & hiss? A noise filter? a noise gate? I would consider an additional efect pedal that would combine the noise-reduction with something else. Thanks for whoever may reply.