1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Compressor and punchy bass

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by CaptainTuna, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    Hey everyone,

    I never used a compressor and I wanted to buy/try one to see if I could get my bass sound a little more punchier.

    I've read some articles and reviews about compressors, and about how making the attack slower can add punch to your tone.
    In particular, I checked ovnilab.com and saw that among the "cheap picks" only a few have the attack potentiometer. I'd rather get a cheap one before spending more money so that I can see if I like compressors or not.

    I was wondering if going for a pedal without this kind of control would just mean money wasted (not for the compressor itself, but for my purpose of adding punchiness), or if by default the compressor add a little punch on its own or if the amount of punch is controllable in some other way.
    What would you suggest?
  2. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Yes, a compressor will have an influence on the attack envelope, sustain, and decay...all components of the "punch" you describe. Given your circumstances, I would stick to one of the budget units suggested by bongomania. For that fact, I'm using one of the "slightly better" models, the now-discontinued Seymour Duncan Doubleback. You can find them secondhand on E-bay for well under $80. It does offer some flexibility as it has an attack control which simultaneously adjusts attack & release times.

  3. The Boss LMB-3 is a handy little unit, IMO ... For a cheap "test" , the Behringer BLE100 (now BLE400?). Is very similar, but flimsier.

    Compression isn't a magic pill... If used right, it just generally "tightens up" your sound a bit to make it stand a bit more firmly in a mix
  4. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    The most punch you can get will be from using no compressor, allowing the full dynamic range of each note. That may not be the punch you want though. For envelope shaping a decent compressor will work, you want attack, release, ratio, threshold, and maybe even knee. A great inexpensive rack unit that many bass players use is an old Symetrix 501. If you want a pedal then the Markbass is great and inexpensive used.
  5. funnyfingers


    Nov 27, 2005
    But going with a cheap one won't necessarily mean that you will like moving to an expensive one. A lot of people like what a compressor does to their tone even if it isn't just the pure compression aspect of it. I played with the MXR M87 which is a great compressor, but you might not like it because you don't notice it doing anything.

    Also I think that if you see something saying slow attack for punchy bass, it means use slow attack to keep your punchy bass and not get punchy bass. If you had a fast attack it would take away from the punch that you are giving it.

    For me punchy is in the cabinet, strings, finger attack (or pick for pick players).
  6. HeavyJazz

    HeavyJazz Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2013
    The 'punch' side of the compressor world inevitably steers you toward Orange Squeezer clones (in my opinion) of which there are several. Refer to the Ovnilab site for some recommendations.
  7. I feel like I great an amazing punch out of my Boss CS-2. You could get one for $120 used, they don't make them anymore.
    I have an empress comp on the way to see if I could learn a bit more about different types of compressors. I have tried a few optical (PWONZR, warden) and I like them, but not more than the Boss.
  8. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    Yep, long(ish) attack and short release with heavy ratio. I love my orange squeezer clone... for 6 string guitar. Hate it on bass. YMMV of course.
  9. jcasaspe


    Mar 14, 2011
    I have an Ibanez sr505 (with electronic changes)

    For punch, I use a compressor, but more important:
    more bridge pickup (attack, punch)
    and less neck pickup (for more boom sound).

    That works for me, with my bass.

  10. neuman


    Mar 24, 2009
    Denver, CO 'burbs
    I wasn't much of a compressor user until I got my Zoom B3; I have been experimenting with the different comps. Sometimes for transparency and sometimes as an effect. For me it is a good experimental tool. I can also save numerous settings for recall and comparison later.
  11. The BOSS CS-3.
  12. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    IMO, the Diamond BCP-1 Bass comp-simple to use and sounds awesome.
  13. Pork_Chop


    May 11, 2012
    Boulder, CO USA
    To add punch, I dial down the volume on my pots to two or three, and then raise the volume on my head to the appropriate level. I'm mostly finger style and come down pretty hard and aggressive. This makes for some good punch. Or it could be my Lindy Fralin pups. Not really sure.
  14. +1. Just go out and get the Diamond and be done with ever needing to worry again about what compressor to get. :D
  15. I want the Diamond so bad.
  16. Buying cheap can be a false economy.

    For example, say you've never tried bourbon. So you buy a cheap-as*terisk bourbon. You find it's sharp, burns and you decide "bourbon's not for me, I'd rather drink gasoline". You're at a party, and somebody offers you a really nice bourbon and you decline because of your first experience with bourbon – you lost out on a tasty expensive bourbon. Later, at the party, you're a bit drunk and decide "what the heck, I'll try a shot of this expensive bourbon – WOW it tastes great!"

    Buy a used Diamond Bass Comp. Use it for a while and if you like compression, done deal you have something quality and don't need to trade up. You don't like compression? Sell the Diamond on for what you paid for it (or nearly). The shipping and handling can be chalked up to "rental" fees to try out the compressor.

    Frellin Smesh likes this.
  17. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    Thank you for the replies!

    I am still a bit confused, but from the many replies it seems to me that you're saying that I can do well without the attack potentiometer, since many of the compressors posted so far don't have one.

    In the meantime I've experimented with a bunch of software compressors with which I could shape my envelope so that the intial portion of the note has a higher volume (slow attack, this was the punch I was talking about). The result is indeed more punchy.

    I am really confused by bkbirge's reply saying no compression would help with the punch (not saying this is wrong, just saying that I don't understand what exactly he means. maybe the idea of punch I have is just different).

    I am already playing some songs on the bridge with a light pick and a bit of foam too, but the Donald Dunn kind of punch () still seems quite far away from what I can get away with with no compression. Still have to try the low volume on the pots and high gain approach though.

    Had a look at the diamond, kind of expensive, and I haven't found a used one on the net so far. The CS3 has some nice mods from what I've seen and so does the orange squeezer(and clones). The big problem is that I can't even go to a store and try them since they say mods change them a lot.

    So...well, with so many replies I am probably more undecided then I was when this thread started :D
  18. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    If you are looking for the "Duck Dunn" type of punch, then you should use a heavy tube amplifier and no compression.
  19. CaptainTuna


    May 13, 2011
    Well that was really just an example. I'd follow your advice though, if I had more money. :D
    To be particularly precise, I'm looking for The Doors kind of punch.

  20. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    Ah. That was a Fender Rhodes piano. Copping that sound requires slow attack, fast release, high ratio, bright roundwounds or fresh D'Addario Chromes, low mid boost, and a fairly light touch. A great compressor pedal for this is the MarkBass Compressore.