compression... a bass player's best friend or worst enemy?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by electricdemon3, Dec 20, 2000.

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  1. electricdemon3


    Jul 28, 2000
    I was just wondering what your opinions on using compression on bass. I personally love it. I compress it to the point which makes my softest attack is equal in volume to my hardest attack. I know that this isn't more "muscial" because I have no dynamic range in volume, however I play heavy music and I like each note to be equal. Is this cheating?
    Jian likes this.
  2. Mo' bass

    Mo' bass

    May 4, 2000
    It's YOUR sound.

    IMO you should practice without any compression to try and even out the attack yourself. When playing with a band you can dial in as much compression as is required for your sound/playing style/jump style.
  3. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I agree with Mo bass. The answer to the title queation is-it depends on who the bass player is. Some like it some dont. I have two amps one with a limiter and one without. I dont bother with outboard/pedals much so I just compensate.
  4. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    I also play heavy music with lots of compression. I use it mostly to get as much sustain as possible for a lot of long low sustained open notes.
  5. I personally don't like the sound of ultra heavily compressed slapping, but just a dab of compression sounds great. I agree pretty much fully with Mo'bass.
  6. personally i hate compression
  7. yeah i like compression IF used right. by the way whats a good compression that has a relatively cheap price? i havent really been able to find anything. maybe im just blind.... :p
  8. I use a bit of compression on my Trace Elliot SMC amp live to even out note volumes a bit and add some sustain (while still allowing for dynamics).
    the twin-band compression method (splitting the signal into low and high bands and compressing them separately) seems to work better.
    the Trace Elliot SMX twin compressor pedal is pretty good (it uses an 18volt adaptor though).
  9. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    I use a DBX 160A mono compressor. Its a single-space rackmount and works great!
  10. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    where's jimk ? he usually has a lot to say about this. :D

    i think compression is generally bad - i don't use it live and i use very little when recording except as a sound effect (joe meek sc2) on some songs.

    one of the biggest and most relevant aspects of bass playing is dynamics - intentional changes in volume for musical impact. this is something that is practiced along with other aspects of playing - dynamic control of one's strings.

    compression severely limits one's ability to play with dynamics, taking away an important ingredient for good playing.

    all in my opinion/experience, of course :D.
  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I've never used compression, but I've been thinking about it. Anyone use a SansAmp Bass Compactor? That's all.
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I can understand why some use compressors/limiters.

    OTOH I don't use it. To me it gives up some of the control I have with my hands. For me, learning how to play hard AND quiet was well worth the work. If I did use it, it would be as an effect, not as a normal part of my playing.
  13. electricdemon3


    Jul 28, 2000
    I agree with everyone who says that compression is bad and takes away from the dynamics of bass playing. However, I am in an unusual situation at the moment. I started out playing bass, but in my sophomore year of high school, I picked up the 6 string piccolo bass(not sure if electric guitar is a swear word at I got really good at it and unfortunately for me as a bass player, I got better at it than all my friends so when we formed a band, they all felt I should play the leads instead of the bass. So now I am in a band playing "that other stringed instrument" so most of my practice time is used up on it instead of bass. I still play bass when I do recordings but unfortunately my skills got a little rusty, so compression was just the thing to clean it up. So I think there are situations in which compression is appropriate even though most of the time it is probably cheating.
  14. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    hmmmm, i think i'll try going without compression and see what its like. Is there a better way to get infinite sustain?
  15. electricdemon3


    Jul 28, 2000
    try an e-bow for infinite sustain, Michael Manring style :)
  16. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    hey, you know, whatever works. i mean, i definitely have some strong opinions :D but ultimately, whatever works for you.

    my views on compression just come from my perspective - i don't like what most compressors - even really good ones - do to my sound. i tried recording my bass recently through our avalon vt737 - great unit, excellent for vocals - but i just didn't like the way the compressor affected the tone of my bass when i used it. personal pref there - i know a bunch of studios and producers swear on that unit, and i love it for the eq - might even use it as a preamp, but the compressor sorta squelched my sound.

    maybe i'm just too picky :D

  17. overuse of compression can take all the attack out of the bass tone as well as the dynamics- once I was recording with a band in a training studio, and the student engineer used a Urei tube compressor- despite bright roundwounds and an ebony fretboard and ceramic pickups on my (fretted) bass it ended up sounding like a fretless with flatwounds...GRRRRR.

    [Edited by The Mock Turtle Regulator on 12-27-2000 at 02:49 PM]
  18. jsutton414


    Sep 13, 2007
    Savage, MN
    Have you gotten e bows to work with basses? Every time I have tried the magnets in the bow weren't strong enough to vibrate the strings. Maybe it would work on piccolo strings since they are smaller gauge?
  19. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs

    Especially funny that this is the thread JS chose to exhume, since it's not about the Ebow at all, and there are dozens of much more recent threads that are about using the Ebow on bass. :D

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