I used to think compression pedals weren't for me, (owned the CS-3 for a while) but then I got the Keeley 4 knob Compressor+ and it is seriously my favorite pedal I've ever owned. It can be a great clean boost, it pushes drive pedals to the sweet spot, and it makes chicken-pickin and fast single note runs really pop. The blend knob on the Keeley is what makes it more usable than most other comps I've tried. It's my "always on" pedal and I don't see that changing any time soon!
A Keeley 4 knob compressor is my only pedal. It's not something I use all the time. It can even the level between strings, something very helpful for fingerstyle where the thumb rubs across the wound strings and the unwound strings are mostly plucked, making them louder. The compressor also adds a little depth to the sound of single coil pickups. To me, I'm using the pedal for modulation, not as an effect, with one exception. There is one jazz piece where I use the compressor for a little squish in a short intro lick and again for the outro. The sound I get is a little like the squish bassists use a compressor for but not nearly as extreme. That, in addition to the slight thickening of my tone turns my Strat into a perfect jazz guitar.
I have had a love-hate history with them. Swore off them for a long time.
I'm a "standard" guitar player but in my current busiest band I could "hear" slide parts on some songs. I'm finding a compressor pedal with the level raised just a bit over unity, and a bit of squish, very useful for making slide ring out on a guitar setup for non-slide playing, in a band mix.
When playing solo I find the compressor makes my sound a little muddy. But as soon as I try turning it off in a band setting, it immediately goes back on. It just seems to keep everything tight in the mix. It also makes me sound more "pro." I have an xotic sp comp, keep it on low with the blend around 2 o'clock. It's not a "fun" effect, but can definitely improve your sound.
I like a compressor. I've been using one since the original orange squeezer was new.
I was using a Keeley but it was too transparent ( That's a joke, actually I don't like the controls). I got a Moollon. It's more squishy.
Truth be told I need it less with the CPR than I used to with bigger amps, but I still like it.
It’s not a must but it’s nice once you kind of bond with one. It’s good for slide playing, finger picking with clean tone, funky stuff, country stuff, just clean tone in general. If you are running your amp hot you are already getting some tube compression however, if you are trying to make your amp feel and respond like it does when it’s loud at lower volumes it can help. If you have one with a blend control you can use it as a solo boost or overdrive because you can goose the amp with the volume and blend in alittle compression. Good overdrive is normally volume and compression anyway so the pedal is almost like overdrive without the extra harmonics and sludge. You can use it as a sweetener or more like an “effect” like the police with max compression. I wouldn’t feel the need to use one with a small amp but if I had an amp with endless clean headroom I would probably want a compressor pedal.