Help? Compressor kills low B!?!

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by jammadave, Feb 24, 2004.

  1. jammadave

    jammadave Rudderless ship Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    Okay, so I finally played my Dolphin 5-string thru my full rig tonight. Soundin' good, beav, but...

    I noticed that the low B was weak and nasal, although it was getting this very interesting bit of overdrive... hmmm... GK rig, shouldn't be driving like that at this volume...

    Then I clicked off my compressor (Keeley, with sustain and level both at 10-11:00) which I usually ALWAYS run.

    The bass became a THUNDER MACHINE instantly. I mean HUGE. In an on/off comparison, the comp was making the A-D-G strings louder and overall doing good things, but was not very noticeable on the E and it was slaughtering the B.

    Then, I tried my 4-string Thumb sans compressor. Also, huge. Not as huge as the neck-thru 5-string Dolphin, but still.

    So how the hell do I retain the thunder but still have some of the evening-out between slap and fingers? "practice" is what most good players would say, but I *like* my slap sound when the attack is a little out of control. Just want that part a little quieter, is all.

  2. Samurai


    Sep 13, 2003
    You should just get something that will give you a clean boost and use that to even out your sound.
  3. pistoleroace


    Sep 13, 2002
    I have a EBS compressor and it is very transparent, you may want to try one and see if it works for you. Also, does the Dolphin have a trim output on it where you can either turn up or turn down the output? If so, turn it down. If you have a neck through Thumb there will be one installed on that bass too. Both my Thumb 4 NT and Streamer Stage II 4 are very hot output wise and I had to turn the output down.
  4. mikeboth

    mikeboth The last thing you'll ever see

    Jun 14, 2002
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Operator: prophecysound systems
    I'm not familiar with the Ross compressor circuit (which the Keeley pedal is a direct clone of), but it's possible there is a high-pass filter on the input. This would explain the falling off of bass response you are experiencing.

    Obviously there is no point in getting a clean boost which will do nothing except make everything you play louder - it isn't a dynamic effect, whereas a compressor is.

  5. jammadave

    jammadave Rudderless ship Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    well, this morning I went and directly compared the outputs of all three of my basses, same amp settings, no effects used. The Dolphin is a bit louder than the Thumb so I adjusted the pickup height on each, as neither has that internal trimpot mentioned (Blonde thumbs are bolt-on). That made them more evenly matched, I'm going to do a little more fiddling there. And just for good measure, when plugged in, the Alien acoustic rumbles serious L-waves (maybe P-waves), as if there's a subharmonizer on it. Almost the brown note, man. No joke.

    But back to the point, I'm thinking perhaps I don't need compression, however is there a limiter without compression, just to tame the errant explodey note from time to time?
  6. I'd suggest a multiband compressor, also. Either the EBS Multicomp pedal of the TC Electronics Triple-C rack unit.
  7. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    I have a Behrigner Autocom jobby. It has a SC filter, basically a high pass filter. This allows the bottom end to pass through less effected than the top end.
    This also has 2 channels, so I set the first as described, then patch it into channel 2, which is set to just limit. So the top end is nicely compressed, then chan 2 tames any errant peaks over the whole frequency range.
    Practically everyone who's heard and played through my set up compliments me on my sound (even Rob Balducci :D ), saying it's like a studio sound from a live rig. So I must be doing something right.!
  8. Finger Blister

    Finger Blister

    Jul 8, 2003
    My MDX2200 also has an SC Filter.
    Does wonders for Bass.
    Running it 'dual mono linked' works like you said.
    Great compressors for little $.
  9. jammadave

    jammadave Rudderless ship Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area

    I emailed Robert this morning. Is the result of the mod to your liking? Sounds like a great way to go. And if it turns out I don't need the compressor (as I'll be playing without it while it's away) then I can just sell it off.
  10. jammadave

    jammadave Rudderless ship Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    OH! I missed the part where it's been months now.... whooo, weirdness.
  11. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I don't use a compressor. I think they used to be a must-have in years gone by but I don't like what they do to my sound. So if you decide to go without, you'e not alone :)

    Don't forget that a limiter is just a compressor with a threshold set to infinity. You could use your compressor that way if it makes you feel safer.
  12. Raman


    Feb 19, 2003
    Montreal, Qc
    Well, it seems R. Keeley is going to be getting a flood of compressors back from unhappy bassists :
    I just wrote to him asking if he could mod mine as well.

    Sorry SMASH and the others if I induced you in error. But after some more testing, I've also come to the conclusion that my compressor kills too much bottom in the very lowest ranges of my 5-string.

    I can't believe I'd not noticed before.
    But I think it has to do with my switching basses lately : The Simoneau I had until recently was never a very fat-bottomed bass to start with. In fact, its EMG p-ups made it sound very mid-range. And I believe that's what explains that I didn't feel any loss then. Or not enough to worry about. (The lack of bottom is actually why I parted with that bass.)

    Whereas now, playing with the EDA, the low B definitely sounds weak and nasal, as jammadave says, when the comp is on. -Better attack, but the sustain is just thin compared to the fullness of the unaffected sound.

    Damn. :(

    Anyways. R. Keeley wrote back saying he was working on a mod for 5-string basses (SMASH's ?..), and that I should ask him again in about a month.

    I hope this works out : I still love that comp. Apart from that problem on the low B, it works really well in the higher ranges.
  13. Don't you mean... with the RATIO set to infinity... or, am I mistaken?

    BTW, recently started using a Mr. Squishy. Very nice. I have a RNC which is also really great.

    ~ Charlie
  14. BFunk

    BFunk Supporting Member

    There is nothing inherently wrong with the Ross circuit for bass, except maybe it needs to be adjusted for a slower attack than guitar.

    Here are some general guidlines about compression on bass:

    Low frequencies have a lot more energy and bigger transients than high freqs. (Remember,you need a lot more gain to hear a low note at the same percieved level as a high note.) That is why compressor settings that work well on low frequencies are too soft for high freqs. Or, to put it another way, setting high compression for the high notes often buries the low notes. The solution is to use slow attack, long release times, high thresholds, and modest ratios. (By high thresholds, I mean set to trigger the compressor only on very hard transients.) The slow attack is especially important since it doesn't try to compress the strong initial transient that is more prevalent on low notes. Low frequencies have longer wavelengths than high frequencies. If your release time is too short, the compressor begins to ride the wave, causing a pumping, breathing sound and even distortion as it attempts to clip the top of the wave while leaving the slopes untouched.

    I have a Analog-man bi-comprossor. It is a dual function compressor which has a Ross circuit on one side and an Orange Squeezer circuit on the other. They are independently switchable. The Ross side sounds great on some of my basses if I set the internal attack trim pot to a fairly slow attack and keep the ratio under about 4:1. (It is designed for slow release, so that is not a problem.) The OS side sounds more like an optical compressor. (Think 60's style sucking sound.) This already has slow attack and release built into the circuit, so no problems. (Although it is definitely more compressed sounding.)
  15. mikeboth

    mikeboth The last thing you'll ever see

    Jun 14, 2002
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Operator: prophecysound systems
    RK has been a complete ***** to me via personal email (accused me several times of paying people to give good reviews of pedals for prophecysound systems, the custom/experimental pedal biz I run). There is definitely a difference between how he treats people depending on who you are.

    That said, it isn't rocket science modding the Ross compressor for bass. It sounds to me like one or more caps simply need to have their values doubled to make sure they aren't filtering out the lower frequencies. I'm sure someone here (moose aka Charlie maybe) can people in the right direction for a DIY mod.

  16. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    jammadave, here's a thought, something in a completely different direction. I hear you about the need to use some kind of device to even out the volumes between slap and fingerstyle. I'm not sure a compressor's going to give you what you want. But, what about a simple footswitch, with two different volumes that you can switch between? You set one up for slap, and the other for fingerstyle, then all you have to do is kick the stompbox whenever you switch between them. This should work for all but the fastest transitions, and you'd probably get used to it pretty quickly. You could build a box like this very easily, if you're handy with a soldering iron, for maybe twenty dollars in parts and a couple hours' worth of effort. And, I'm sure something like this exists in the commercial realm as well. Just a thought...
  17. jammadave

    jammadave Rudderless ship Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    well, when I switched out to an EBS MultiComp in multiband mode, everything became right with the world - I think the secret is just different compression levels/threshold on the lows =0)
  18. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    As the guy who jumped on earlier and announced that I don't think compression is compulsory, I's now like to add that nonsqtr's idea does indeed work. I use an EQ pedal to do exactly what he describes. This of course allows you to adjust for tone as well as volume levels.
  19. DRN


    Mar 17, 2002
    Las Vegas
    I just do not think the Keeley compressor is it for bass. I am returning mine today and I orderd it with the bass caps and it still did dnot work correctly. I was hoping to replace my DBX160 to gain a rack space but no go.