CS-3 Compression Sustainer Review

manufacturer: Boss date: 02/03/2011 category: Guitar Effects
Boss: CS-3 Compression Sustainer
The CS-3 compresses high-input signals while boosting low-input signals, giving you smooth sustain without degrading the quality of the original sound.
 Sound: 7.9
 Overall Impression: 8.1
 Reliability & Durability: 9.2
 Ease of Use: 8.7
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (7) 39 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8
CS-3 Compression Sustainer Reviewed by: Dave_Mc, on june 06, 2005
9 of 9 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 100.65

Purchased from: Matchetts Music

Ease of Use: It has 4 knobs: level (this is a volume control), tone (adjusts the low and high frequencies in your sound), attack (the delay between when you strike the note, and the compression effect kicks in) and sustain (how long the compression lasts for; at lower levels, this works more like a limiter, stopping notes getting too loud, useful for e.g. clean funk riffing). Compression basically evens out the louder and quieter notes in your playing, making them all the same volume. Use high attack settings with an overdriven sound for e.g. solos to make long notes sustain for ages, and a lower attack setting with a clean tone for e.g. clean funk riffing. The manual is ok, but doesn't give any sample settings (you can get some from the Boss website though). It's a reasonably easy pedal to use, but the attack know takes a little while to get used to 9 but this is the same for all compression pedals). // 8

Sound: It gives a pretty good natural sound. Of course, you can tell when it's on, but for the price, it's pretty good. I use it with an Ibanez RG470 through a Marshall AVT100. It is, though, unfortunately, quite noisy at higher sustain levels, when used with overdrive/distortion. I use a noise suppressor with it (pretty much a necessity), but assuming you use one, it's pretty good. // 8

Reliability & Durability: Like most Boss pedals, it's built like a tank. I've had no problems, but I haven't gigged with it either, so I can't comment on how gig proof it is. // 8

Overall Impression: It does what it says on the tin, and is reasonably tonally transparent, for its price. The only real downside is the noise, so I would recommend using a noise gate or something if you're going to use one with distortion. Overall, though, pretty good! // 8

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overall: 9
CS-3 Compression Sustainer Reviewed by: Elvendar, on december 04, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 89.99

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Ease of Use: Definitely one of, if not the easiest compressors you can find. The pedal doesn't make dramatic changes to your tone, all settings are remotely straightforward (and even more straightforward after experimenting with each knob with as few as two notes.) The manual tells you as much as it can, though it is rather small. // 9

Sound: I run this through a NS-2 Noise Suppressor, and have no trouble with it emitting any noticeable humming. The effect is great, and won't upset any material that you have written, and it may enable you to write some different stuff, too. The only problem here is the lack of range -- the compression is downright unable to seriously alter your tone. // 8

Reliability & Durability: It's a Boss metal stompbox with rubber grip. Everything about this pedal is sturdy. It could go head to head with an aluminum baseball bat and survive perfectly intact. It also operates on a very simple replacement of a 9v battery (no screwdriver needed) or an AC adapter. You shouldn't ever have to worry about replacing it due to IT breaking. // 10

Overall Impression: I play blues, jazz, funk, classic rock, and metal... this works great for everything. It's crystal clear and plays well with other Boss products -- like Metal Zone, Digital Delay, and Noise Suppressor. It also works great with my Dunlop Crybaby from Hell Wah. I'm playing on a Schecter C-1 Classic through a Crate solid state 120w 2x12" -- the result of this pedal has 'fixed' some of my pet peeve tone issues and I'm back to playing all the time just for fun. I highly suggest you get this pedal, you'll find it's a must-have for the board! // 9

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overall: 8.5
CS-3 Compression Sustainer Reviewed by: idontgiveafuk, on february 03, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 90

Purchased from: local music shop

Ease of Use: 4 control's level, tone, attack, sustain (decay) pretty self explanatory it's a very simple pedal to use, does get a bit of hiss when the sustain is cranked but this happens with almost all sustain pedals I've used it's the nature of the things but a decent noise gate will help sort this, pretty simple :) // 8

Sound: if your looking for a dramatic sound altering pedal that will make a big difference to your sound this aint the thing, it's a subtile effect, tho if you know what your doing and have used this type of effect before this is a pretty damn good one as far as compressor's go, it doesn't colour your tone or do anything other than what it's made to do and that's compress your signal (bring the lower volume levels up and the higher volumes down to match each other), with the attack up and sustain down you can achieve that country twang perfect for rockabilly and chickn' pickin' and can improve note definition in those shred solo's on the flip side it does get a a bit of hiss on the sustain side of things but almost all compressors do this (I've yet to find one that doesn't) it's otherwise great for long held notes (pariseinne walkways anyone?) the degree to which it can sustain a note ultimately depends on the guitar and how long the guitar resonates you wont get les paul sustain without a les paul but even with a bolt on it's pretty good at what it does overall there aren't many compressors better than this i've tried a few even the Keeley Compressor which seems to colour the tone a little and costs several times the price (euro 220+) and this just sounds better to me overall, and for the price it's a bargain I highly recommend it :) // 8

Reliability & Durability: it's a Boss pedal it's made of metal and very reliable, I've gigged this a good bit so I know it can take a fair bit of a kicking, it's never let me down so far and I would gig without a backup no problem, it's a highly subtile effect anyway so in the extremely highly unlikely event it did fail all I'd have to do it remove it from the pedalboard chain and i doubt anyone aside from myself would really notice a difference lol :) // 9

Overall Impression: I've been playing for over 11 years and play all styles, classical, metal, pop, country, funk, rock, blues, you name it and this is a useful thing to have for almost any style, that said a Compressor generally wont make much of a noticeable difference to your sound it just changes the loud/quiet dynamics and that's all it does! So if your a kid starting out that just wants to rock has to save money to get things (like I once was :)) and wanna spend your money wisely it's highly unlikely you'll find much use for one as it doesn't do much to your sound tho for the price it's possibly the best Compressor you can get so if you've tried a Compressor before know what it does and you know it's it's what your after this is defiantly a good one and I'd highly recommend it to anyone :) // 9

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overall: 6
CS-3 Compression Sustainer Reviewed by: slipsoad928, on january 28, 2005
0 of 36 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: Music Bum

Ease of Use: Ths pedal is very easy to use, it's used like a regular pedal just push down with your foot and listen to the difference, if you could notice a difference. // 8

Sound: Soundwise I'm giving this pedal a 2 because when I had it all setup and ready to go I noticed there was bearly a sound difference, it was just a little sound boost and very slight distortion, I guess it serves me right for not testing it out before I bought it. Very weak effects. // 4

Reliability & Durability: Sure this thing is durable and dependable but I wouldnt use it at a gig without a backup, I wouldnt use it at a gig at all because there would be no point. // 8

Overall Impression: Overall this thing sucks. I've been playing for 2 years and I play all different styles of music and this doesnt suit any of them. I wish I would have tried it out before I bought it because if I did I wouldnt have it right now. If I lost it or if it was stolen I would definitely not buy a new one, part of me even hopes this gets lost or stolen. This was a huge waste of money. // 4

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overall: 10
CS-3 Compression Sustainer Reviewed by: unregistered, on august 08, 2005
0 of 8 people found this review helpful

Sound: I use this pedal with a Boss SD-1 Overdrive, my weak Crate 15W amp, a Tradition G12 (Fat Strat copy), and an Epiphone Special II. With the Overdrive before it I can get a really awesome White Stripes tone. It's also good for boosting a signal or lessening it. I imagine it would be great for clean sounds as well. Takes a little getting used to having chords be the same volume as single notes, but it's a really interesting effect. // 10

Overall Impression: Overall, I really enjoy this pedal. It brings some cool tones and effects to the table and really lets me get close to being Jack White. I'd reccomend it to anyone who plays a lot of garage/indie rock, and of course anyone who loves the White Stripes. // 10

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overall: 8.8
CS-3 Compression Sustainer Reviewed by: Donkey Fly, on october 25, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 45.75

Purchased from: Ebay

Ease of Use: I bought this second hand off ebay so there was no box or manual but I know Boss pedals, and the manuals are always great so I assume the same for this pedal. Unlike one of the other reviews where the guy said there's barely a difference (he clearly doesn't know what the purpose of the pedal is), the pedal is really easy to work. there's four knobs, level which is for the volume, tone which is like a tone knob on your guitar, attack which levels out the volume of say chords and picked notes and sustain, which well, does sustain. This is upgraded from the CS-2. // 9

Sound: In my set-up (Jackson DK2M - EHX Metal Muff - MXR Dist+ - Morley Wah - Boss CS-3 - Marshall MG100) it is a bit noisy when put through distortion but this is nothing a noise gate wouldn't fix. The effect is great. Amazing sustain and the compressor works great. I know a lot of artists that use the CS-3 so it is quite popular. // 8

Reliability & Durability: It's a Boss pedal. It's built like a tank, this thing will not break unless you crush it with a tank or something. Seriously. The Switch wont break like dpdt switches and battery life is pretty good. I would use it without a back up for sure. You wouldn't need backup for any Boss pedal. // 10

Overall Impression: I play a lot of lead guitar in instrumentals and I'm in a metal band and a pop rock band. It works well in all styles and really improves your lead tone. If it was stolen I would probably buy another, or I would try the Line 6 Constrictor just to see how it compares. The only thing I hate about it is the hiss but I am going to Pick up a noise gate which will fix this. Very underated pedal. It'll take you a few weeks to like it but when you realise how good it is, you'll never let it go. // 8

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overall: 9.5
CS-3 Compression Sustainer Reviewed by: Duv, on november 12, 2009
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 60

Purchased from: PMT Birmingham

Ease of Use: A very simply designed and set up pedal, and thus very easy to use. Level knob - obvious enough, is essentially like a volume control. Tone - this has an effect on low/high end frequencies. When rolled up high you can hear more high end frequencies and it gives a crisper sound that feels like you can hear the contact with the string. Attack / Sustain - these two knobs I use in co-operation to achieve different sounds. With the sustain knob on a low setting the pedal acts as a limiter, while rolling it up high increases sustain and the length the effect lasts for. Meanwhile I adjust the attack value depending on whether I'm playing clean / overdriven. When at a low value the pedal produces a crisper and cleaner sound, while it allows more Drive when rolled up high. There is a manual which I didn't read so much. It tells you how to look after it and change batteries etc, but to be honest in terms of settings/how to use it and so on you learn more on the job or on these forums. That said getting used to how to use a Compression/Sustain pedal can be tricky and it took me some getting used to. That is nothing on the pedal which is great and it certainly made things easier to understand. Clean, elegant and practical design. No complaints. // 10

Sound: At the moment I use this with my Vox AC4TV, Ibanez TS9 Tubescreamer and a Boss DD-7 Delay pedal. The pedal is useful as a compressor/limiter most of the time for me when I'm searching for good cleans through my amp. By acting as a limiter and having tonal adjustment it is perfect for this. When seeking a more driven sound, the sustain function is again excellent and provides me with extended sustain, and again serves its purpose perfectly. Overall this doesn't massively change my sound, but importantly doesn't suck tone and is functional for what it's designed for. Ergonomics, utility and efficiency at its best in terms of what I'm looking to do whether that's clean arpeggios and stripped down/atmospheric melodies, Indie, rock or blues. // 9

Reliability & Durability: It's a compact little metal box with a very sturdy design. I can depend on it and it is very solid. I wouldn't want to test it but I'm sure that this thing could survive a helluva beating. // 10

Overall Impression: I play a range of styles from blues, rock, Indie, minimalistic music and it does the job. To be honest a compression/sustain pedal isn't suited to a particular style BUT in terms of what I bought it for - a limiter, or to increase sustain, change my output - this pedal does everything it should. It's easy to use, sounds great and doesn't suck tone. Perfect for what I want and does exactly what it says it should. I'm not sure if one should expect otherwise with a manufactured guitar pedal, but since this has become such a fundamental and necessary part of my setup, which I struggle to fault this thing has to get a high rating. // 9

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