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Compressor - must have effect?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by stoob, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    :help: Sorry if this has been answered before but I've tried looking...

    Can people with experience with compressor pedals tell me if I am losing out not havin one for live work? What does the pedal actually do?

    I am principally a funk and growl bassist, do I need one?

    Cheers :meh:
  2. Bongomania is THE man.

    Two thoughts spring to mind:

    1) if you don't know what you're missing, then you don't need one.
    2) if you slap, then my personal opinion is that you would benefit from correctly applied compression.
  3. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    Great site Nifty, cheers
  4. stoob


    Feb 3, 2008
    Horten, Norway
    The site you mentioned says that a compressor doesn't affect the tone, but it has to right? :meh:
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    No, it doesn't have to. You'd never know my compressor is on if I didn't tell you, yet I can tell it's working. Some do change sound, some don't. Usually the cheaper ones change the sound.
  6. agreed, the cheaper ones affect the sound more because you can't control enough parameters and the defaults are usually "over the top"

    if you don't want compression, at least get a limiter...these suppress the loud signals without affecting the soft...they're more gentle on the ear, IMO...
  7. shinobi


    Nov 24, 2007
    Aichi, Japan
    well, to me i'd like to think of it this way

    - a compressor pedal may not necessarily change the sound
    - compression WILL change the sound

    to me the term 'transparent compression', though i understand what the users were getting at and i HAVE used compressors which are considered transparent, is an oxymoron. whats the use of an effect that has no effect?

    the fact that compression is 'transparent' merely means that it is too subtle, or there's not enough of it to be heard

    and limiters are the same as compressors. they just have different compression ratios
  8. Swift713


    Dec 4, 2006
    Florence, Ma
    I'm a fan of fairly obvious compression. I can appreciate "transparent" compression as well but I like the sound of a decent compressor. It changes the way the instrument responds, the envelope I guess, without changing the tone (frequency response).
  9. Broadbent


    Mar 28, 2007
    Compressors suck. Let your bass breathe!
  10. Find Bongomania's threads on compressors (pedal and rack). I would guess your answer depends on playing style, amp and speakers. I think my SuperRedHead needs compression (I use the BBE Multi-Comp), but I have it set so it's very subtle - like Jimmy, you'd only notice it's absence. Not really an "effect," but something the SWR guys probably should have built into the amp. Bongomania (see his link: http://www.ovnilab.com/faq.shtml) truly is THE MAN wrt compressors.
  11. wazzel


    Dec 27, 2007
    Houma, LA
    You never need any effect. I like using a compressor, just to tighten things up. It is a "must have" have for me. My setting are for really transparent compression.
  12. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science! Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    As much as I love effects & use them often, no way - compression is not a must have! (IMO) I''ve been playing live shows for almost 20 years now (about 12 years as a full-time professional) & I bought my first compressor for live use about 3 months ago!

    For new players, I think it's a bad idea to use one. Compression can mask a lot of technique problems as well as prevent players from learning how to properly control their instrument dynamically. Also, compression must be used judiciously in order to complement what a FOH engineer is trying to accomplish.

    Compression can be great, but make sure your not using it to "correct" anything. "Enhancement" is cool, but it can be a slippery slope if you don't occasionally re-evaluate your tonal goals and ability to control dynamics naturally (with your hands).

    Now, if you're looking to use a comp as a "special effect", that's different. Compression can be extremely useful before certain od/fuzz effects. But, I'm not sure that qualifies it as a "must-have".

    Again, all in my opinion & based on my experience....:)
  13. bigtexashonk

    bigtexashonk Supporting Member

    Certainly not required. A properly set compressor is more of a sound sweeter more than anything and subtle if used properly. If you're getting audible squish it's set too high.

    The one I use is the Barber Tone Press along with the Barber Linden which is essentially the eq of an Ampeg B15 flip top. Fantastic old school tone even with an ultra clean modern solid state amp.
  14. I won't leave the house without a compressor pedal. It's an absolute MUST for me.

    Ask your soundman if he ever leaves your bass uncompressed at the board. I GUARANTEE you, he's got compression on the bass. Without at least a little compression, your very loudest notes are the only ones that are gonna be heard out front because your soundman has to keep your volume low to make sure you're not going to suddenly spike his signal.

    Compression tames your peak volume and enhances your more subtle notes, allowing more of your playing to get into the mix and makes the whole band sound better by providing a smoother, more consistent bottom.

    With all due respect, I think the players who don't like compression are more concerned with their own personal sound than that of the whole band. If you're a soloist, you can sound however you want. If you're providing the bottom for a band, you need to keep it as smooth and consistent as possible. That's what a compressor is all about.
  15. sk8


    May 10, 2007
    United Kingdom
    i had a few compressors culminating in an Opto Stomp on bongo recommnedations. Decided i didn't need it and that it wasn't doing anything so sold it. 6 months later i've bought an Opto stomp again to tame my bad technique. But like the others, its very transparent and you don't really notice its there
  16. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I tend to agree with you. I go back and forth. I think you can have compression and be dynamic and musical. I agree, you need to think about the overall sound and yes, I am always compressed in the FOH.
  17. 51m0n


    Jun 30, 2005
    +1 Good post, well articulated.

    This is especially obvious if you are a multi technique guy (going from slapping to tapping can be the trip most requiring compression help IME)

    Not to mention the fact that some tones cant be got any other way than a compressor. They may not be what you want always but can be a really nice addition to the arsenal IMO.
  18. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Where does it say that?
  19. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science! Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    Well,.... as someone who's mortgage depends upon keeping my clients happy (clients= artists, other bandmates, producers, etc.) I'm definitely not looking at this from a "soloists" perspective! But, I do see your point....

    I don't think that it's true that you need a compressor (or any effect, for that matter) to "keep it as smooth and consistent as possible". That kind of illustrates my warning regarding using compression to correct problems with technique.

    Of course, whatever works for you - great! :) But, let's not make people think they need a compressor to achieve a smooth & consistent bottom end. And..- Tim is right, the soundman is going to have a compressor reserved for the bass, which will probably perform better in the house mix context anyway...

    **note: The op was referencing live playing situations - I feel a little differently regarding recording.... just for the record! (pun intended)
  20. Very true... Live settings beg for a different level of compression altogether. Although I personally tend to record AND perform with a lot of compression—to the point where it becomes a real 'effect', and not just a 'assist'.

    For all the attention his side-by-side clean/distortion sound has garnered, Billy Sheehan maintains (and it's obvious when you really listen closely) that compression is really his primary effect. Billy compresses the living poopiee out of his sound, and it works... For HIM... There's a lot you couldn't do with that kind of sound... But there's an awful lot you couldn't do without it, too.

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