So, I have just set up a rig which, along with other things, allows me to create theremin like feedback from my guitar, controlling pitch through various means.

It gets pretty crazy at times, which is how I want it, but sometimes the echo will start doing its oscillatey thing or some feedback pitch will come in and it will be of a higher volume than the general sound. I don't necessarily want to stop these oscillations or the pitch, I just want them to be more a part of the overall sound rather than overpowering it. So what I was thinking is that I need to put a compressor somewhere in the chain. I would set the threshold pretty high so that the normal signal and the standard 'theremin' feedback would not be effected, only this higher volume stuff which happens would hit that roof and be limited.

My questions are: is there a particular place that I should put the compressor? It would seem logical to put it after the delay so that the oscillations would be effected by it, but that is almost last in a long pedal chain, which does not seem to be the recommended place for a compressor. Is there any quiet pedal compressors that would serve this purpose without adding or emphasizing the noise floor too much? Any other solutions?

This is my rig:

  • Boss TU-2 Tuner ->
  • Electro-Harmonix POG2 ->
  • Electro-Harmonix Freeze ->
  • ZVEX Fuzz Factory ->
  • ZVEX Box of Rock ->
  • CBC Superfuzz ->
  • Fulltone OCD ->
  • Fulltone Deja-Vibe 2 ->
  • Empress Tremolo ->
  • Empress Superdelay Vintage Modified ->
  • Boss FRV-1 Reverb
  • Addendum: Current options: Boss CS-2, Keeley, Pigtronix Philosophers Tone (I only have space on my board for a pedal for something that is around the size of a standard boss, fyi)
    – Lucas
    Sep 24, 2013 at 1:14
  • 1
    Boy, I'd love to see the control-loop diagram for that setup in some tool like LabView :-) . Meanwhile - what do you mean by "theremin-like"? A theremin has no feedback. It operates directly on the spatial position of the controller (typically one's hands/arms). Sep 24, 2013 at 12:02
  • @CarlWitthoft - I think the poster is saying that he is getting feedback through his rig that sounds theremin-like in tone quality. Sep 24, 2013 at 16:22
  • Yeah, I mean't tonally it is like a theremin, I also have alot of control of it by moving the guitar in relation to the amp, which although not the same technically has at least a similar feel to a theremin ;)
    – Lucas
    Sep 25, 2013 at 0:25
  • You say the oscillations are too heavy, but you have the tremolo and delay at the end of the chain. Try moving them back so that they have a more muted effect.
    – horatio
    Sep 25, 2013 at 14:31

3 Answers 3


While I can't provide the answer, I can tell you that a compressor won't do quite what you're describing. When the compressor is triggered it will decrease the gain of everything going through the chain. So, if your feedback is overwhelming the mix and triggers the compressor, then everything will get compressed, making everything you want emphasized quieter. If everything is set just right you could use the compressor to reduce the amount of feedback you can get but again, you can't get the same amount of feedback and just have it be quieter. For example, at a specific volume (actual volume in the room) and at a specific distance from the amp, with a compressor at or toward the end of the chain, with the threshold set a little below the point of feedback and a high ratio (more than 5:1), when the feedback got too loud it would decrease the overall volume just enough to keep the feedback from going too crazy while keeping the rest of the sound close to its normal volume (volume without feedback).

The real problem you have is that feedback is generated by the loop of your guitar receiving what's coming out of the speaker then getting amplified again. If you put a compressor in the line, the undesired feedback will decrease everything running through the chain and therefore stop feeding itself. If you're willing to lose that feedback altogether, then a compressor might just be your answer. You could even toggle it off to allow for feedback at times.

I don't know of any multiband compressor pedals but you could get a rack mount one. That would allow you to compress different frequency ranges independently, so, if your undesired feedback is in a different frequency range and your desired tone isn't dependent on that freq rang, then you're in the money. You might be able to accomplish this with a de-esser, which is basically a single band compressor.

I would also look into using the effects loop on the amp and whether to have all of the pedals in the loop or keep some out of it. I don't know quite as much about that so I won't elaborate.


A compressor will not fix your issue. I would suggest either (in order of awesome)...

  • a delay pedal with either (or both) an expression input (to allow you to dial down the repeats via an expression pedal when they start to get out of control) like the very expessive Chase Bliss Tonal Recal. Different delay pedals allow expression to be linked to different parameters (ie delay time, mix level etc.)
  • a delay pedal with a self oscillation mode, again the Chase Bliss Tonal Recall will do this
  • Specialist feedback pedals such as the Digitech FreqOut but i fear your chain is already so complex it might just add to the problem rather than offer a solution.

Other pedals are available.


If you have a delay pedal where you can insert an additional pedal just for the wet signal as send return, you could insert the compressor there - this would only compress the wet signal then.

The empress echo system can do this (it is mono then, as the second in/out is serving as send/return).

As others have mentioned, an expression pedal controlling the feedback could be another option (this is available on your Empress Superdelay Vintage Modified).

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