Dynamics and use of a compressor?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by golden_boy, May 22, 2005.

  1. golden_boy


    Dec 27, 2004
    Okay, there is a lot of stuff in that quote, said by someone on another board - I was just wondering if you agree with it? specifically the part about dynamics? The way I read it, he is saying that daynamics are useless for the bass - which I have to say I completely disagree with!

    Anyway - for all you supa dupa bassists - what do you think of this quote? :) Just want some feedback from you all ;)
  2. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I agree that compressors are, if not essential, at least very useful for bassists in all styles of music.

    I disagree that dynamics aren't. Go play a tube amp set up just on the edge of overdrive and tell me dynamics can't be useful on bass. You know what I'm talking about, that fine line where you get just the right amount of grind coming in when you dig in, but when you relax the pressure from your right hand you fade back to smooth.

    Or how about when walking, how many of you like to end a bar before a change on the leading tone of the next chord? When you do that don't you usually push a little harder on that note? I do, and it certainly helps drag the goove to the next chord when I do it too. The same when i'm using my bassline to set up a secondary dominant, I always give the altered tone a bit more punch to make it obvious that there is something special about this chord.

    Actually I do this on nearly any kind of non chord tone, I never play the dissonant and consonant notes at exactly the same volume (which is louder varies depending on what I want to convey).

    How about fills? Do you play your fills at the same volume as the rest of the song? I sure don't. When I'm doing a fill I want the bass to sing a little bit, so I play a tad louder that the rest of my line.

    Just some of the ways I use dynamics in my playing, I'm sure there are lots more.

    Dynamics = fun
  3. golden_boy


    Dec 27, 2004
    yeah, I do the same kind of thing. I agree that dynamics are definately fun :D. I was kind of gob smacked when the guy came out with the dynamics for bass being useless. I was thinking hmmm :eyebrow: is this guy a guitarist in disguise? :D
  4. +1 for bass dynamics.

    Sacrilege to say otherwise IMHO. :rollno: :rollno: :rollno:
  5. Vysous


    Mar 29, 2005
    I definitely disagree with unusability of dynamics...! Dynamics is think that makes groove grooving!! Hell, who's this guy? Does he play bass? Bassplayer who doesn't use dynamics is boring! yeah...
    and Victor Wooten? I dont like Victor Wooten, it's the bassplayer who'll make you say : HELL! WOW! HOW DOES HE DO IT? , but i dont like his sound, his feeling, his music... Listen to Richard Bona! This is the MAN! Sorry, I know its a bit off topic... And what about Jaco? Yeah, Jaco was master of really amazing and shocking dynamics changes! Hey, Guy who wrote that things never heard Jaco! Dynamics is FUN! Yeah, I love it, I want to use it as much as possible... I use compressor very rarely... just because of wrong dynamics can be done through it.... PEACE!!
  6. I suppose its hard to hear dynamics when your head is up your butt.

    Dynamics are what separates the men from the boys in the music biz. If Micheal Jackson had dynamics, he wouldn't be in the fix he's in today.

    Compressors ARE great/essential for bass, smooths out the peaks prevalent in slapping/popping especially. But you don't set the ratio so high it kills the dynamics totally... Yes it does "compress" the dynamics.... so you play TWICE as DYNAMICALLY to compensate. Play pianissimo and superfortanimo, the compressor translates that into piano and forte where you wanted to be.

  7. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    I don't know what this has to do with anything, but I like it :D

    It's funny that Victor Wooten is referenced in the same post that "dynamics aren't important for bassists." I think it would be quite strange if a band was playing a song and everyone brought it down but the bassist...
  8. "Dynamics is what separates the men from the boys in the music biz"... Michael reaaaaly needed to be separated...

  9. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Dynamics are important on all instruments and vocals in probably every genre that's ever existed.

    Re compressors: To clarify for gear-ignorant bassists like me, isn't it generally believed that compression is highly useful when recording, but usually unnecessary in a live situation?
  10. Given 500W speakers and 1000W amp, its not a bad idea to "trim the peaks" off your signal a little. Or if you have a 200W amp you want to keep from clipping at the drop of a hat.

    Basically for the same reasons you'd use one for recording, only the amp/speaker is what you're trying to keep from overloading instead of the a/d converter/tape.

  11. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Some compressors also affect tone, not just volume or peaks, and a lot of bassists like a 'compressed' sound. I know I do.
  12. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I would be buggered without my compressor.
  13. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I've had lots of days when I couldn't figure out why nothign sounded right. I was playing right, my strings were fine, my amp was fine, but things sounded uneven and weird.

    Then I noticed I'd accidently turned my compressor off. I don't use real heavy compression (mostly because I want to still have good dynamic control) but the small amount I use is 100% vital to me.
  14. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    I'm in the "always use them in the studio, never use them live" camp. Maybe if I were a hardcore slapper, I'd feel differently, but I don't slap that often. For anything I feel like I want to do fingerstyle, a compressor just seems to get in the way live.
  15. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    That's the thing about compressors that always puzzles me (of course it means I don't know how to work with them). In my experience, compressors are great for a bassy+trebly sound, perfect for slap, and just if I want to be the "real" low-end of a band. But when I want a melodic, jazzy kind of sound in which mid frequencies and harmonics are prominent, a compressor doesn't work for me because it gives my amp(s) the classic equalizer "V" shape, similar to a "mid contour" button. I've tried soloing the bridge pickup, raising the mids in the amp... but results are still better just turning off the compressor.

    I know that a compressor makes volume levels similar. I think it's the best way to get the "Birdland" melody heard loudly because it supposedly should raise the harmonics' volume, but most of the times I get plenty of thump-thump and not mid frequencies' content. I highly appreciate any input on this. How should I use a compressor without killing my mids? (Is that possible?)
  16. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Don't use a compressor because someone says you should. Use it because you like what it does for your sound. If you don't like it, don't use it. I mainly use it to keep from blowing speakers and to smooth out occasional lapses in technique. You couldn't tell the difference soundwise between my bass with the compressor on or off, and if you can hear it working, you're probably using too much. And if you use it in place of dynamics, you're an idiot and you can quote me to this dummy who made the initial quote about dynamics being unimportant. Sheesh, 17 year olds who play a year and think they know it all because they can play along to a Green Day album...
  17. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I don't agree that compression is essential for bass playing. That said, commpression seems to be built into friggin' every piece of bass-related gear these days. I keep it on a low setting if I'm worried about potentially blowing a speaker. Otherwise, it's off.

    I think dynamics are a sorely neglected aspect of music. I don't want to sound like a crochety old man, but pretty much everything I hear these days (except some jazz and classical) is at one volume: too damn loud. I don't know who the quoted guy is, but I pay a great deal of attention to my dynamics as a bassplayer, and my dynamics in fact have a great impact on the overall loudness of the band.

    Every musician owes it to other musicians and the audience to actually listen to the music and adjust their contribution accordingly. Don't leave that important task to a machine.
  18. zac2944

    zac2944 Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY

    +1. This is so true. It took me years to learn this.
  19. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA

    Anyone who isn't convinced that dynamics make the music should really listen to soem big band charts. If a big band can't sound small they're sunk.

    Generally, people understand how to build and release tension through dissonance but overlook dynamics. They have the power to completely change the phrasing and expression of the music.
  20. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Wouldn't a limiter be better for this?