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Do I need a compression pedal for playing live?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Timpala, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. Timpala


    Nov 13, 2011
    I currently play through an Ampeg SVT 300 watt Tube amp and 2 single SVT15E cabinets. I used to play through my 8x10, but found that I like the 2-15's better. Anyway, I play hard rock style with a pick and Rotosound nickel roundwounds. My bass tone is this on the Ampeg... I have both boost buttons off. My Bass is set at 3'oclock. My Mid is set at 12'oclock. My treble is set at 3'oclock. My mid frequency is now set on 3 (800hz). it used to be on 2 (1600hz) but I found it to be very clanky sounding.

    Now for my question. I really like my tone, but wonder if I need something to enhance it? I know a bit about compression but not a lot. I know it might keep my lack of consistent picking much better to listen to. I have been considering buying the MXR M-80 bass DI. I like what I have seen on YouTube videos about this pedal, but could this pedal make my sound better?
  2. wmheilma


    Jan 5, 2010
    Although you don't really need one,go try the MXR M-80. It has good features for the price. If I was going to play like flea all night, I'd probably use one. I use the Aguilar TLC which I leave on most of the time with a low ratio and moderate threshold. It does something subtle that I like.
  3. jking138


    Oct 6, 2013
    Do you mean the MXR M-87? The M-80 is a distortion and DI box, the M-87 is a compressor. It gets lots of love on the effects forum.
  4. Timpala


    Nov 13, 2011
    Please READ my post before responding.
  5. Ya might want to frame your question around the thread title per customary practice. Then us readers wouldn't be confused.
  6. Timpala


    Nov 13, 2011
    I think my question is pretty self explanatory.
  7. Timpala


    Nov 13, 2011
    Why is it that I cannot ask a question on this forum without getting a smart ass answer of some sort? It seems like every thread I make, there is a super smart ass that has probably never played in a band in his or her life, commenting on anything? I'll figure it out myself.
  8. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
  9. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Yes, there's a good chance it will enhance your tone. The benefit, or lack thereof, is highly subjective. IMO, any decent compressor, when properly adjusted, will do the same. Have you considered any other candidates besides the MXR? Reason I'm asking is there's more than a handful of used comps in the classifieds at the moment...don't limit yourself to the MXR.

    Edit: Here's one that's very popular and made bongomania's "best picks" list. Not a shill, just trying to broaden your horizon: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f213/fs-markbass-compressore-excellent-condition-1035591/

  10. Timpala


    Nov 13, 2011
    I am looking for suggestions that will enhance my tone as it is. I am thinking a bit of compression and a bit of sustain. I am ok with nothing at all, but want some suggestions for enhancing the bass tone I already have. I like to say "Enhancing". Not really, but I do anyway.
  11. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    A compressor can do both without compromising your bass tone. OTOH, an improperly adjusted comp will suck the life right out of your bass rig and presence in the mix. I've done it myself. Some will disagree, but a compressor is a must-have on any pedalboard IMO.

  12. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Welcome to the Internet! :D
  13. Sorry, I'm also going to have to stand in the 'you're not really asking a question' camp. Like, whether the M80 could make you sound better is as subjective as it gets. If you already like your tone, but want it to be better, but don't know how you want it to be better, it's very hard to recommend it or not.

    As for uneven dynamics, yes a compressor would almost definitely like. If it were me, I'd want something with a decently long release to minimise volume-pumping, if you were running at high ratios. Something with a lot of controls, like MXRs compressor or Empress' would probably be good. But as others have said, Bongo's knowledge of compression is seemingly second to none and a treasure trove of useful information.
  14. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Riis mentioned the Mark Bass Compressore. I've got one and like it very much.

    I have a couple suggestions I hope will be helpful, OP.

    Bongo's done a great job testing a large number of compressors. They vary greatly in sound and quality. And he's got some good background on what, exactly, compressors do. It will be well worth the time to get a clear sense of what compression is, how compressor designs differ from each other, and--maybe the most important!--what the standard compressor controls do.

    The Compressore is one of only a few (FEA models are among them, too) that offer full control over the compression. So they're more complicated, but are more adjustable by the user than the one- or two-knob models. OTOH, the simpler compressors are...well, simpler.

    Another thing to know is that the Compressore needs a 12v supply, instead of the usual 9v. I just use it by itself, on occasions when I want compression on my signal before it hits my amp or the DI. (Used it recently when my band did a living room demo recording.)

    I love the tone of the thing, and that's why it's the compressor I choose when I choose to put a compressor in my signal chain. But it may not be the best choice for you, OP, so it's worth going to school a bit before you buy a compressor.
  15. vbchaos


    Sep 5, 2011
    Groningen, The Netherlands
    Uncompensated endorsing user: fEARful
    As long as you do not know what you want to add to your sound to "enhance" it, how should we know what you should do?
    My feeling for an enhanced tone is (I bet) FAR from what you understand from it. That holds for nearly anybody here. My advice? Get an EHX bassballs and a descent WahWah. But that's certainly not what you are looking for :)

    I do not understand why you are looking into the MXR 80 distortion/DI box when your heading question is about compression. Sorry.

    If you want a compressor because you "lack consistent picking" it might be better to work on your technics.

    I have a compressor in my pre-amp and I use it, unlike many others, as tone-shaping instrument rather than a peak-cutting instrument. That's a question of taste. I might change that tomorrow or never.
  16. I don't think an M80 is right. Like Jking said, it's a preamp with distortion and eq. (Obviously, he did read your post because he spotted this). You already have a preamp with these features so a second preamp won't enhance so much as be redundant. A compressor (which is different from a preamp) may help enhance sustain somewhat. But the effect is usually very subtle. They are more utilitarian when trying to keep instrument levels consistent in a mix. By the time you hear an obvious effect, you've probably gone too far and made your sound worse not better.
  17. jking138


    Oct 6, 2013
    The M-80 won't give you anything you haven't got already, apart from its preshaped EQ or distortion. If you are asking about a DI then say DI in the title, I thought you MEANT that the M-80 FEATURES a compressor. There is nothing wrong with my ability to read.

    Like people have mentioned, enhance is subjective and means different things to different people, I take it though as to sit better in a mix. If you like your tone what is it you are trying to change?

    I would suggest getting the M-80 if you want to blend in some overdrive, I own one and the distortion is ok, not amazing, and it does have a mid scoop at 800hz when you select the distortion channel.
  18. hampulator


    Feb 10, 2012
    Maybe try this out? I did,I like it... and it was fairly cheap. It's called a Line6 Constrictor/compresser, You can get em' on E-bay etc... for like $25-50 in used cond. Think they're around $90 new. It has 3 different compressor settings,and can be used as a sustainer and also can give some over drive with the level bumped up. Makes my Warwicks sound better through my GK amp. Also built like a tank,and again it's an inexpensive way to tighten up your sound and add a little bit of "Flavor". IMO
  19. jad


    Aug 29, 2002
    Pittsburgh, PA
    For live sound, I let the FOH engineer handle my compression and make it sound right in the mix. In my experience (local clubs), the bass signal is probably going to get compression at the front of house anyway, so no need to double compress it. If you have a regular sound engineer, your circumstances could be different. I like being able to control the dynamics of the stage sound myself with technique. Just as an aside, I also happen to think that sustain is WAY over rated. How often do you play whole notes (or longer), and do you have problems with them dying out? Remember, too, that if you're cranking your SVT, you already have some compression going on.

    For recording, you probably have better options than a stomp box.
    rks likes this.
  20. On the MXR M-80 bass di +: Buy one used to save a few bucks, and you'll have a very useful piece of gear. I never go anywhere without mine, it is always on and usually powered by phantom power from my mixer. It does a great job as a DI. I've had a number of dirt pedals and preamp/booster type pedals come and go, the M-80 is my keeper. I've moved expensive rack preamps along and kept the M-80.

    The dirt side took me a long time to figure out, a little goes a long way. It can get nasty fast and the bottom end suffers. Used sparingly, with careful attention to the blend and mids, I can get a nice OD.

    The compression issue is a whole 'nuther subject. If your uneven playing bothers you, a compressor can help you even it out. Or, you could work on the problem with technique. A compressor can add tons of sustain, but the price is your ability to dig in for added volume. Check out Bongomania's extensive thread on compressors, it's a great read.

    I've been through a few compressors, and for the most part, I'm better off without one. Nothing frustrates me like digging in for more dynamics and not getting anything. The compressor is lit up like a christmas tree, doing exactly what it's supposed to do, limiting peaks and smoothing volume. Or, I can really dig lots of smooth sustain when playing quiet stuff or solos with long notes. They can be tricky. Of course, YMMV. Slappers tend to love em, since they can really help even things out while you are getting your technique together.

    Compressors are like an adjustable valve, letting an even amount of signal pass through. Since most units have some sort of gain knob and can produce a volume increase when switched on, they get lumped in with boost pedals, and can work very well for both an increase in volume and a more even output. There is a price to be paid in dynamic range. Used correctly, (which is however it makes you happy), compression is a powerful tool. Like all tools, if don't know how to use it, the results won't be great.

    But the M-80? Yeah, go for it.