Compression with fretless

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Fletz, Jan 28, 2014.


  1. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

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    I've started trying to play fretless full time with the rock cover band I am in - inspired by Tony Franklin (also the fretless bass I'm playing). My question is: am I right to assume that compression will help in the use of a fretless in a live environment? Any comments on the use of a compressor with fretless play?
  2. bassgod0dmw

    bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

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    What are you looking for it to help?
  3. Swift713

    Swift713

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    I find a compressor tends to make my fretless sound more like a fretted bass. I think it sort of squares off the attack and the sustain etc and takes away some of that woody acoustic feeling. So, it might help get a more electric/rock kind of sound.
  4. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

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    I'm looking to optimize the mwah when I do go for it and also keep the bass even from a presence standpoint. I find it drops a little more than fretted.
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  6. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

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    And - would it go first in the effects chain?
  7. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties Supporting Member

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    By "presence", I think you mean "sustain", do you not? Yes, a good compressor ought to be able to add some sustain, perhaps at the expense of a bit of attack - although attack is arguably not quite as important for a fretless anyway. :meh:

    As for optimizing the mwah, I'm not convinced that a compressor would have an effect either way. Mwah is primarily a function of the interaction between fingerboard and strings, so the most a compressor might accomplish is to help sustain whatever mwah is already present.

    MM
  8. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

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    Great insights, everyone. Thanks.
  9. Swift713

    Swift713

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    What's your effect chain? It's all a matter of context.

    Yes, Mwah happens on the fingerboard.

    What compressor are you using? A slower attack time will help keep your attack sounding natural.
  10. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

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    Chain:
    A little distortion (very little and used when I want to get a little dirty up), to chorus (used almost all the time), phase 90 (occasional use), to Big Muff Pi (for punking out on occasion).
  11. heavyfunkmachin

    heavyfunkmachin

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    my mwah factor increases with lower tension strings... my 2 cents...
  12. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

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    I think the sustain/presence thing is my main issue. The consistent "level" and spot in the mix. Mwah is great on this bass - just want to keep a "level" (volume and presence).
  13. bassgod0dmw

    bassgod0dmw Supporting Member

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    A comp very well may help you out with the sustain. A little chorus can also "enhance" the mwah IME, but I see you're using that as well.

    As for the chain, I'd run:
    Phase 90 first and the Chorus last. Try out putting the comp before and after all of the dirt to see which you like better. Do you want a compressed signal sent into the pedals (I prefer this)? Or do you want all of your dirt sounds compressed even further?
  14. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

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    I'd probably want to put a compressed consistent signal into the effects I imagine. Thanks for the insight all!
  15. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

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    Added an Xotic SC last night for rehearsal. Ran it post distortion. Going to try some variations tonight, but for now here is the chain (and it sounded pretty good).

    MXR Badass78 distortion (very light distortion - more for "color") ->
    Xotic SC compressor ->
    MXR Bass Chorus deluxe ->
    MXR Phase 90 ->
    Big Muff Pi ->
    Markbass MB mini boost ->
  16. Phagor

    Phagor

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    If you get a compressor with a release knob, try setting it short. Many people think that long release = long notes, ie. more sustain. In fact the opposite is true. A long release time will make the compressor squash the tail of notes more, making them seem to die away quicker.

    You are better off setting the threshold lower and using a shorter release time = more sustain.
  17. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the tip, Phagor! There are dip switches in the Xotic that I think I can mess with.
  18. Fletz

    Fletz Supporting Member

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    For the record, I a/b'd the Compressor first (before distortion) and second (after distortion) and I like it 100x more first in the chain.
  19. Swift713

    Swift713

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    You don't have to have them both on at the same time. Dirt compresses your signal all by itself.
  20. Knettgummi

    Knettgummi

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    Sep 28, 2011
    While a compressor can help you achieve more (consistent) sustain, if you're looking for more "mwah" you should consider an eq/mid boost. Somewhere between 400-800Hz tends to bring out that fretless "mwah" IME.

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