Peter Cornish OC-1 Review


Less is more is a tried and true adage that certainly holds merit with just about anything Peter Cornish builds. Simple designs that rely on neither flashy graphics or slick advertising, these pedals are textbook examples of austere product.  They are, however, well known, not only to the basement jammers and boutique connoisseurs alike, but to some BIG names:  his products (and services) can been found in the rigs of none other than David Gilmour, Brian May, Tony Iommi and myself.  Because of this association Cornish pedals are considered extravagant and  pricey, but you get what you pay for: they are quiet, sturdy, and well built designs that all have exceptional tone.


Compressors usually fall into a small number of camps: simple tone enhancers with minimal controls that add “character” or complex processors with extended control sets capable of surgical-like signal correction.  Though there are exceptions to this, Guitar players tend to lean towards simple tone machines like the MXR Dyna Comp, often with the compression set to minimum just so the circuit itself adds its sonic signnature just from the compressor being active.

The OC-1 is a bit of a mix between the simple and complex, but the minimalist control set commands a straightforward aesthetic.  An optical compressor, it is claimed to be a proprietary circuit of Cornish’s design.  Besides the Sustain and Output controls there is also a “Blend” control on offer here.  These controls sit atop a very large enclosure that seems to be about 4X the size of a Boss pedal (but curiously half the weight!)

Hold Me, Squeeze Me

Without the Blend control added to the mix, the OC-1 performs like the usual lot of two knob stomp box compressors: while much clearer than a Dyna Comp, it retains a lively response that is both warm and present. This familiar voice does what it is known for:  it takes care of the compression duties, albeit in a very flattering manner.  This isn’t some ham-fisted Ross-Clone built from a $15.00 eBay kit: It’s a velvet glove subltly caressing your every note in a way that makes it part of your tone, not just an effect on top of it.  It’s transparent, but you know it’s there.


Adding in the Blend makes it even more subtle, until you turn it off and notice what it was actually doing to you signal.  You can keep your natural sharp attack and smoothly transition to warm silky sustain, and the OC-1 does this in a manner that would make you think you just installed a SUPER fresh set of tubes…or some other magical component(s) that simply makes your notes speak longer, smoother and more elegantly. While it may not be the go-to for a slap-funk bassist, there aren’t many simple compression duties that the OC-1 can’t cover. It’s smooth action is a delight compared to the usual suspects found on the everyday pedalboard. As a general compressor, it is simply amazing.

Keepin’ up with the Cornishes

As with just about any pedal Peter Cornish has offered, the OC-1 is simply meant for a rig that is on par with the pedal itself: top notch equipment for top notch tones.  If you are loud and proud about your rainbow coloured pedal connectors with moulded ends you might not reap all of the rewards that a Cornish pedal has to offer.  It’s like putting temp-a-spares on your Vette: you won’t get the maximum capability the sports car was designed to deliver.  Having said that, each increase of performance becomes that much more expensive…and rare.  Finding these used is getting bit easier, but if you want to beat Pete’s waiting list, you will likely pay a hefty premium.

And On and On and On and On…

The Cornish OC-1 offers quiet subtle compressor capable of elegant yet endearing tones that would be comfortable in many a high end studio environment…all within a tour-ready pedal format.   A heavy duty build and a heavy duty tone.   All this with only three knobs and a footswitch. And a buffer.  And a proprietary low-noise design.  And, of course, years and years of experience designing pedal board systems for large arena actscombined with input from some well known industry insiders.


Less is more…more or less.


Parallel Compression (A Simplified Explanation)

If you have ever used compression for what it was originally intended for, that is, levelling peaks in output to reduce distortion, you have likely found that due to the clamping nature of the effect that it would often modify or affect the initial attack of your note.  This is particularly more problematic for Guitar players than say, an organ player, whose instrument of choice already has a fairly compressed envelope. The sharp attack of a sting however can get lost or even induce a "PoP' into the note, which, musicians being musicians, often debate its desirability to the tone. As soon as you hit the note the compressor is just ready to clampdown on it. This can be adjusted on some compressors, but only to a certain degree.

Parallel compression adds the dry signal back into the output to be mixed with the compressed signal. This way your peaks or transients remain intact, and you can still indulge in the sustain that heavy compression has to offer.  This is a remedy (among others) that parallel compression can be used for.

If you are into Stratocasters this is the way to go: Responsive, snappy attack that quietly and covertly dissolves (or solidifies!) into long, chewy sustain that Gibsons come with built-in from the factory.  

"So thats how Gilmour does it!"





The Red Labels ?





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