I have an admission to make. I am a bit of a compressor addict. I’ve owned 17 various pedal compressors and have been on my quest for the perfect one for years. When Origin Effects first released the SlideRig in big box format I jumped on it and loved it. However for me it was too big for my board and I ended up selling it. In came their Cali76 Compact, which again I loved but missed the dual chained compression of the original SlideRig so when I had the chance to get a SlideRig Compact I couldn’t say no.
The original modus operandi of the SlideRig was to bring the sound of a dual chained 1176 compressor (basically one of the most famous studio compressors ever) into a pedal format. This could then be used by slide guitar players to create much more sustain than is usually available, hence the name. Originally this technique was used by Lowell George of the band Little Feat to great effect and I recommend checking out their “Dixie Chicken” album for some great examples.
Straight out of the box the SlideRig is a handsome hunk of brushed aluminium. My initial impression was how have they managed to fit all of the controls of the big box version into such a small packaged. Luckily my fears were unfounded. Gone is the ratio control and the individual knobs for each compression stage. This has been replaced by In and Out controls and a blend section to mix each compression stage and your dry signal to taste. The inclusion of a dry signal is an absolute blessing. Being able to mix in various amounts of unaffected signal with the compression gives so much more life to the sound and makes it more useful when sitting within a mix.
As you would expect the SlideRig excels at slide guitar. The sustain even on the cleanest signals is huge and with hardly any noise, even when using single coils. Speaking of single coils, it manages to cope with any pickup type I throw at it, bringing out the subtle nuances of each.
However I was also pleasantly surprised at how well it copes with “normal” guitar playing. I play a lot of funky percussive guitar lines and by using stage 1 with an equal amount of dry signal gives my just the right amount of squish without being overbearing and loosing dynamics. The ratio is set to 4:1 and while it would be nice to adjust it they’ve managed to set the ratio just right so that you actually feel the need to fiddle. It really is a set and forget kind of pedal. I also like using it as a slight boost on already dirty amps to give me that lift to cut through on solo’s.
Noise can often be an issue when using a compressor. The nature of the effect means that it will amplify any noise, no matter how small, within the signal chain. I don’t know what they’ve done, whether they’ve employed miniature pixies to live in the pedal with pillows or sold their soul to the devil, but the Origin Effects have managed to make the quietest compressor I’ve used. Even when using a single stage on an already overdriven sound its quiet. Heck, using dual stage compression on a dirty amp such as a cranked AC30 should sound like white noise when not playing but even then its relatively quiet. You can run it either at the standard 9v or 18v like I do for a little extra headroom.
My only very minor quibble is that there isn’t a footswitch to switch between each stage of compressor. However that’s me being lazy, all it takes is for me to bend down and adjust the amount. You would need a larger pedal to add another footswitch which would defeat the object of having a compact design. Also I wish the screws on the underside of the pedal were flat and flush with the case and not rounded. I have a Temple pedalboard and it doesn’t quite sit flat to the board but thats more to do with their pedal clamping system than the pedal itself. Securing it with velcro on any other pedalboard would be absolutely fine.
All in all the SlideRig is a definite hit. For those of you looking at a Cali76 and thinking I may have a use for a dual chained compressor check it out. It can cover the whole spectrum of compression, from a light dusting to bring out clean passages to ultimate squish when playing slide.