Compressor Help

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Medicman95370, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. Medicman95370

    Medicman95370 Guest

    Dec 29, 2017
    Hi everyone,
    I just purchased a MXR Bass Compressor and brother am I lost. After watching several YouTube vids I'm no closer to understanding this pedal than when I first hooked it up. I have a decent idea of what the knobs do but the problem is my ears just dosen't hear the subtle differences in the overall sound. I play in a three piece hard rock cover band. My live rig consists of a Hartke 500 amp, GK 4x10 neo cab, and a San Amp Bass Driver.
    My main Bass is a Fender Jazz with Seymour Duncan Apollo's. I'm looking for a sound that's heavy, mostly clear(not too much drive), that doesn't get lost in the mix. If any of you would like to share what your particular settings are or any advise in general it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
    LowActionHero and Zoobiedood like this.
  2. i had the same challenge. what helped me was playing with the compressor and recording via DAW. when you see how the waveform changes it helps you to see what you should be listening for.
  3. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once...

    Feb 24, 2013
    Remind me what was the problem you thought a compressor would fix...
  4. Medicman95370

    Medicman95370 Guest

    Dec 29, 2017
    The problems I thought it would help with are the usual compressor fixes. Making my finger playing volume sound more consistent. I have a tendency to play the stings pretty heavy. I also thought it would help me cut through the mix and have my higher notes be heard with more clarity. Maybe I have the wrong idea of what the pedal should do?? I've only been playing live for about a year so this stuff is still new to me.
  5. Medicman95370

    Medicman95370 Guest

    Dec 29, 2017
    Thanks. That make a lot of sense.
  6. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    Wellington, NZ
    Good thing about the MXR Bass Compressor is the meter. I had it for a while. When I used it, the meter would light up to the last green LED, -7dB gain reduction. I had the output and input settings at 12 o'clock, which is mild compression. Increase the output setting clockwise, and you'll get more aggressive compression. When you use the release setting, you'll see how slow or fast the LED meter will move back. That is how slow or fast the compressor will release the note you played. Attack is opposite. When you use the Attack setting, you'll see how slow or fast the meter moves up to the output setting as you strike the note.

    I just watch what the meter is doing. I struggle the hear what a compressor does.
  7. AngelCrusher


    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Cut through the mix? Use old school compression - Over drive. Overdrive is just a ton of compression on your instrument. It controls your peaks and cuts you through a mix. A light overdrive like a 5th Gear pedal will do way more for you in terms of clarity and cutting when it comes to playing in a live situation.

    I had the MXR. I used it as a limiter to control peaks from a filter pedal. It was not something I would use to cut through a mix with.
    Bassist4Eris likes this.
  8. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    The mxr is known for being transparent-sounding, so it might not make a really big difference to your sound.

    Between it, your rig and the Sansamp i’d say you should have all the tools for a solid live sound. I’d live with it for a bit and try tweaking your eq - boosting mids can help cut through.
  9. Ian McLaughlin

    Ian McLaughlin

    Aug 11, 2018
    Didja read this yet?
    MXR M87 Bass Compressor and M76 Studio
    That might help if you haven't.

    Do you have the BDDI before or after the comp? I was doing it before, but I switched it to after.

    I'm also learning, got a Keeley Bassist recently, my first comp.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  10. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    It's common for a compressor, set "well", to not have a big audible effect. You basically shouldn't hear it working, under normal circumstances/settings. As BBSam mentioned, you can see the results on a DAW. In that "most normal" situation, ideally you will sound better to the audience or the rest of the band, but it will be hard for them to say exactly why you sound better. If you're trying to get a more even level overall with wild finger action, then go ahead and raise the input on the pedal until all the LEDs light up while you play. From there you can dial the ratio to get a sound or feel that suits you.
    Logic_11, Tveg, Jesuguru and 12 others like this.
  11. minddrain


    Dec 17, 2018
    I don’t have the MXR, but I know it seems that the DarkGlass Hyper Luminal has to almost “warmup” like hear you play for a while, before it kicks in and makes a difference. For how long are you recording for the test?
  12. 73jbass

    73jbass Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2004
    As stated above,set it to where you have about 4 to 7 db gain reduction. Adjust output to compensate for the reduction. Attack around 11:00,release about 2:00. That will get you in the ballpark. If its set right, you wont hear a big difference.
    4dog and Medicman95370 like this.
  13. Seashore


    Jun 2, 2019
    Part of "cutting through" is emphasizing your transients (pick/finger attack). Turn your attack knob to the right to let more of them through (that's a longer attack time -- as in, more time before the compressor clamps down -- not "raising your attack" at all, but it will make it more apparent). Another part is letting your notes peak naturally so that sounds get louder when they're supposed to. Try keeping your ratio lower, especially if it feels like you're digging in too much and not getting any louder. Adjust your input to make sure you're keeping the compressor active (you can see this on the display) -- too much input and the compressor will squash everything in a weird-sounding way, not enough and it won't do much of anything. Play around with this until it feels like your sound is breathing the way it should. Adjust your output so you're driving whatever comes after it appropriately. Compressors make things that are too loud more quiet, so depending on how your bass interacts with other pedals and/or your amp, you might not need a compressor at all.
    Medicman95370 and Bassist4Eris like this.
  14. I run my Smoothie first in my chain, so it does its job without being influenced by other pedals or effects kicking on and off. And I dial the Smoothie in for the bass first, before anything else. When I've got it right, ghost notes, muted clicks and pops are balanced and focused, not buried under the louder stuff. I've started thinking of the compressor like the focus adjustment on a pair of binoculars. Once you get it right, the fine details are sharp. Adjust output to work with your other equipment.

    I'd suggest working with just the MXR by itself for a while. Does it have a blend or separate volumes for dry and compressed output? Try working with just the compressed signal and no dry to better hear how the compressor controls are changing your sound. I usually run the comp/dry mix weighted towards the comp side.

    It's easy to get into a tug of war with a compressor. You're digging in for more, but not hearing it, because the comp is all lit up doing everything it can to tame your enthusiasm. If your led meter is pegged all the time, you're fighting it.

    You need to find the balancing point for your style and attack.
    No compressor is going to fix wild variations in attack, but it can help. Set right, the comp will allow expressive, dynamic playing, but overall volume range will be limited. If you need to get louder, you'll turn up something else.

    Once you get it dialed, you'll really miss it when it's off. And that is likely to get you thinking about your right hand technique and attack.

    Some guys use the comp always on, some folks use it as a step up boost, some like it for slap. Mine is always on.

    Good luck!
  15. Medicman95370

    Medicman95370 Guest

    Dec 29, 2017
    I was just checking out overdrive pedals today in fact. Thanks
    AngelCrusher likes this.
  16. Medicman95370

    Medicman95370 Guest

    Dec 29, 2017
    I have the BDDI before the comp but I've seem a lot of rigs putting their stomp boxes after. I'll give it a try. Thanks for the link...very helpful.
    Ian McLaughlin likes this.
  17. Medicman95370

    Medicman95370 Guest

    Dec 29, 2017
    That sounds like a really good starting point for me. Thanks
  18. This video really helped me dial my compressor in:

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  19. Medicman95370

    Medicman95370 Guest

    Dec 29, 2017
    I have my comp on the back side on my bass driver. I always thought that's where it should be, kinda like a noise gate. But lately I've come to notice that a lot of players are putting it first in the chain. I'll try that. I leave mine on all the time to. I don't mess with anything once we start playing. I just roll back on the volume knob when appropriate. Thanks very helpful.
    Low Down Brown likes this.
  20. Medicman95370

    Medicman95370 Guest

    Dec 29, 2017
    Thanks for all responses everyone!! You've given me plenty of info to work off of.