compressor before big muff- whats it going to do to my distortion tone?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by runmikeyrun, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. I bought a luthite Soundgear bass which is lacking on sustain. I've tried adjusting the pickups and replacing the battery to no avail. So, i've decided a compressor is probably the solution, but i don't know whats going to happen to my big muff's tone with a comp in front of it. I know ideally I would turn off the comp when I turn the muff on, but that would require three legs/feet and I only have two.

    I'm just wondering if I have the comp on all the time how it might affect my distortion tone. I don't plan on setting the comp to any kind of ridiculous setting.

    On a side note- what would be a nice, cheap compressor to get me some better sustain?

  2. I use an Aguilar TLC Compressor in front of my Rat II (Ruetz mod). That being said, I use very light compression. It brings out my attack and thickens the distortion up a bit when it is engaged. I actually prefer the distortion with the compressor on. How this will apply to your Big Muff I cannot say. The best thing about stomp boxes is you can experiment very easily. If you can lay hands on a compressor to experiment with you should have a better idea of how it will work. I really like my TLC Compressor but cheap it was not.
  3. Crater


    Oct 12, 2011
    Dallas, TX area
    A distortion pedal compresses a signal on its own, the main difference running a compressor in front of a distortion pedal is that it will change the "attack" or sound of the note when it's first plucked. So it might make the distorted sound a little bit smoother by toning down the volume spike at the first of the note. You'll just have to try and experiment on your own, my guess is the difference will be very subtle unless you dial in a LOT of compression, which isn't advisable unless you're going for a weird effect.

    Dial in your compressor to make your clean tone sound it's best, then just kick on the fuzz when needed.

    If you're lacking sustain, you might also try changing strings and making sure the neck bolts and bridge screws are nice and tight.
  4. alkanetexe


    Nov 30, 2010
    +1 to Crater's suggestion of seeing what you can do about the bass itself, but having a compressor can be pretty handy, so it wouldn't hurt to pick one up either way. Haven't used it myself, but I've read a lot of fantastic reviews of the MXR M87 Bass Compressor. If that's out of your budget range, I've been having a killer experience with some new Electro Harmonix toys from Christmas, so you might try out their Soul Preacher comp.
  5. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    I run the MXR M87 compressor in front of my distortion units. I'm not doing that because of how it affects the distortion, but I think it does affect it. Mostly just smooths it out, I think. It doesn't make it any less distorted, just smooths it out. Just like it does with the clean tone.

    I guess it depends on how you're compressing and how you're distorting. I suppose if you're compressing heavily and you're distorting lightly (breaking up only when you dig in hard) then you might run into problems where you're not able to trigger the break up anymore. But all you'd need to do is lessen the compression or play with the output level on the comp.
  6. thanks for the input everyone! Scott, I'd be running the opposite- heavy distortion with light to moderate compression. All your answers make sense, so I'm going to see what I can pick up to try and just see what happens.

    I'm also going to check the neck bolts and bridge screws. Thanks for that tip.
  7. StraightSix


    Nov 23, 2011
    Just digging up this thread out of interest...

    Has anyone else tried a Boss LMB-3 limiter followed by a Behringer BDI 21...?

    I'm getting great results :)
  8. This.

    I do that same just to make sure my bass tone it still has attack and defination when I play with two distorted guitars.
  9. jumblemind

    jumblemind I also answer to Bryan Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2011
    No, but similarly I used to run an LMB-3 in front of an ODB-3. Tamed the high spikes and warmed up the distortion a good bit.
  10. StraightSix


    Nov 23, 2011