MXR M87 Bass Compressor Review- Complex Bass Compression Made Simple

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The market for bass compressors is wide and you could go in one of many directions from big beefy units with every adjustable parameter under sun changed in tiny increments to simple single knob models. The MXR M87 is a nice go between these two extremes.


  • Tough build quality
  • Versatile
  • LED lighting makes it easy to see on stage


  • 5 knobs can be a little confusing if you’ve not used a compressor before
  • More complex models can be purchased for a similar price
  • No option for tone control

In my opinion he MXR M87 is an awesome mid-range bass compression pedal both in terms of price tag and features. A perfect addition to your pedal-board whether you’re just beginning to a gig or are a seasoned pro.


This unit comes in a tough metal case that is perfect for gigging and use in a studio. It seems like it is built to last and can be stomped on a lot of times without breaking. Much better than some of the plastic-encased models out there. It comes with an LED-lit gain reduction meter which makes it easy to identify the compression response time.

If something doesn’t sound right compression wise during soundcheck, I am able to tell if it has something to do with my signal or if its a problem that the sound guy has to deal with easily by using the aforementioned led display.


The MXR M87 comes out of the box with 5 knobs which can be a little intimidating if you’re new to compression pedals. Never fear though, a detailed instruction manual comes with the pedal. The knobs control;

Attack – How long from input until the compression starts activating

Release – How fast the input comes to its unaffected level

Output – Like a volume pedal, turn this up to compensate for the volume loss during compression

Ratio – This controls the intensity of the compression

Input – Controls the gain level from your bass as it enters the unit.

It may take a while to get the hang of how the pedal works but from my experience, I feel like it is as definitely worth it. It sounds great and once you do know what you’re doing can be relatively easy to adjust. It just depends whether you are willing to put the effort in or whether you are after something that you can just plugin and play with straight away.

Sound quality

The MXR M87 is not a pedal that is designed to heavily mess with the natural tone of your bass and amp so if you’re after something that has that capability you may have to purchase another pedal to accompany this one or to go for a different unit. However, the compression on this pedal sounds great and is extremely versatile. You can get a different sound from your setup with a few turns of the knobs.

This pedal could be a good choice for you if you want something versatile that will fit on your pedalboard and won’t break your bank.