For over thirty years, the MXR Dyna Comp
has been a staple of many guitarists’ rigs
and has rightly earned its reputation at the
top of the heap of stompbox compressors.
Musical styles ranging from chickin’ pickin’
country to rock to metal have all made
use of the Dyna Comp, and we’ve heard
that tone on thousands of recordings.
Pete Townsend used one in his live rig in
the eighties and nineties as a boost for
solos, and studio guitarists have utilized it
to stand out in the mix since its introduction. And you’d be hard pressed to find
a Nashville session guitarist that doesn’t
have one in his rig… or at least a boutique
derivative. With the introduction of the
MXR Custom Shop version, Dunlop has
focused in on recreating an exacting replica of the 1976 script logo Dyna Comp.
because you don’t need to exert as much
pressure to get notes to jump out… it
does some of the work for you. It’s sort of
a “more-me” pedal, and it’s highly addictive. And because of the design, it’s near
impossible to wrangle a bad tone out of it.
and therefore the reissue pedal doesn’t
include them. Most pedals of that era
didn’t have those features either, and we
got along just fine without them. What you
get with the Custom Shop version is an
accurate replica with all the tone and style
of the original and that’s that.
According to MXR, the ’ 76 Vintage Dyna
Comp features the exact same circuitry
as the 1976 version—right down to the
component layout, silkscreening and handmade wire harness. But where it really
counts is in the original CA3080 “metal
can” IC that apparently offers quieter
operation, a more transparent sound and
increased dynamic range than current
issue ICs. Though these particular ICs have
been out of production since the eighties,
MXR has procured a batch of them and
is producing this limited run of pedals.
How many they will produce hasn’t been
announced, to my knowledge.
So what exactly does it do? Is it a boost?
Is it a signal clarifier? Is it a sustainer? In
a word, yes. The Dyna Comp is a device
that tightens up a guitar signal by making the quiet notes louder and the louder
notes quieter. By shaving off the peak
levels and bringing up the volume of quieter notes, you get a fuller sound that is
richer in harmonics and stands out in a mix
without necessarily being louder. Country
guitarists get that clicky and percussive
sound by cranking up the sensitivity level
so the effect is engaged faster to “grab”
the note. It also makes playing a lot easier
I tested the Dyna Comp out through a
variety of combo amps and guitars. With
a Fender Strat, I was able to get fantastic
sustain out of a stock clean sound on my
Legend Rock ‘N’ Roll 50 combo. Chords
rang out for days and had a rich texture
that simply didn’t exist without the pedal.
Cranking up the Output knob brought the
overall volume up, as well as a bit more
of the inherent grit the amp had hidden
inside. It definitely thickened up the sound
and gave it a rounder and smoother tone.
One thing that I noticed right away was
that although you could tell the notes were
being clamped down on, I never lost the
clarity of the attack. The notes were clear
but bold, solid but not overly aggressive.
Backing the Output down and pushing the
Sensitivity level up brought out that familiar
chickin’ pickin’ percussive tone with ease,
and made my Strat cluck somewhat like a
Tele. Switching over to a Les Paul and playing through the neck pickup, I could pull up
thick, cello-like sustain with a bit more gain
on the amp. Once again the Dyna Comp
let all the good stuff through yet added
more harmonic detail to the sound. It was
really inspiring to hit a note and hear it go
on and on and on. With the Sensitivity and
Output controls maxed out, you could hear
the “grab” of the attack being much more
pronounced, creating an almost backward
effect as the gain rushed to fill in the space
after clamping down on the dynamics—a
great sound even if just used for effect.
The ’ 76 Vintage MXR Dyna Comp is a fine
pedal that does a lot of heavy tone lifting
with minimal effort and a reasonable price
tag. It was addictive as all get-out to use,
and will no doubt become another tool in
my arsenal. And because there are limited
quantities of the CA3080 IC, it would be
a good idea to pick one up while you can.
You won’t regret it.
You’re a vintage buff who loves
classic MXR compression but
can’t find an original and want a
trouble-free modern equivalent.
You want modern conveniences
like true bypass, LEDs and an AC
When accurately recreating vintage electronics something to keep in mind is that
certain modern conveniences may not
have existed when the original piece was
made. In the case of the original Dyna
Comp there were no status LED, AC
adapter input or true bypass switching,
Head online to hear sound samples
of the pedal in action at
MXR Custom Shop
MSRP Street $175