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Lots of people own this pedal, but few use it properly, as the Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer is marked with some very cryptic words. In this article I show you what the controls actually do and how I think they should be labeled.


I bought a Boss CS-3 Compressor Sustainer recently, but I was confused by the controls on it, as it’s marked with some very cryptic words. So after playing around with it and doing some research I found out what the controls actually do, and I thought other guitar players would appreciate knowing how to use this pedal properly.

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Coming from a studio background the first thing I would expect to see on a compressor is a threshold control. However, there isn’t one! This has a fixed threshold with a high ratio so the first control, Sustain, is actually pre-amplification into the pedal, to affect how hard you’re hitting the threshold. 

Guitars with humbucker pickups are a lot hotter than single coil ones so you’re probably gonna need a lower Sustain, or Pre-gain level on a guitar with that kind of pick up.



The next control is marked Attack, but it actually controls both the attack and the release. Minimum will give you a fast attack and a slow release. While, Max will give you a slow attack and a fast release. 

So what does that mean in practice? Well with a fast attack, you’re gonna start reducing the volume as soon as you pluck or strum the guitar. So this can help even out uneven playing on picked parts. 

Whereas a slow attack will let through the first transients, giving you more punch  and reducing the note’s sustain.


The Tone control at 12 o’clock does nothing, but it boosts high frequencies at Max, or cuts them at Min. 

Fast attack settings can make the sound feel thicker or more muddy, so you might want to use this to brighten it up to compensate.


Now the last control is Level, and this is make up gain, so after any compression has reduced the level you can boost it back up here.


Remarking the Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer

I think it would make much more sense if the pedal was labeled like this , so I added my own sticker to help me remember how it works

I hope this helps you figure out how this pedal actually works, now get out there! happy gigging!

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