Using the long-gone Ross compressor as a starting point, the RC-3 ($155 retail) is packaged in a smaller housing and sports three set-screw pots on the top labeled Volume, Sustain and Decay. The Decay control is more often called “attack,” but the effect is the same: it adjusts the amount of squash on the initial attack. An internal bass enhancement switch enhances the low-end response, and for $15 extra, Barge will install an external toggle switch to perform this function without having to remove the back cover.
I plugged in a Burns Steer with a splitable humbucker in the bridge and a single-coil neck pickup. Playing first through an Orange Tiny Terror head into a custom 1x12 bottom with an Eminence Texas Heat speaker, I found that the RC-3 was fairly transparent, trimming just a little high-end sparkle, but permitting the character of the instrument to come through regardless of the amount of compression. The Decay adjustment allowed me to emulate both Boss and MXR compression levels but with less tone loss. The bass enhancement feature is subtle but audible. Those seeking the original Ross sound, or who use hollowbody guitars that are prone to boom, may want to switch it off. Baritone players will likely appreciate the slight bass boost that comes with leaving it on. Whether your thing is classic country, ambient washes, or any other guitar style that requires compression, you should give this cool squeezebox a tryout.
KUDOS Clean, quiet, transparent compression at a reasonable price.
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