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Is a compressor/limiter recommended for playing with a light touch?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Slater, Apr 30, 2010.

  1. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    I have recently been working on my technique and started playing with a lighter touch and higher amp volume. However, playing in a Classic Rock/Blues cover band sometimes requires digging-in and/or heavy pick-playing, and the volume can get to be over-the-top. I usually can compensate with the volume knob on my bass, but it can be difficult to get it dialed-in on-the-fly.

    I'm guessing that more and more practice is the ultimate solution, but I'm wondering if a compressor/limiter would be a useful tool, or just a crutch?

    I'm posting to see what the TB community recommends.

  2. Chris K

    Chris K

    May 3, 2009
    Gorinchem,The Netherlands
    Partner: Otentic Guitars
    I admit: when I restarted playing bass, I used the built-in limiter on my amp. It helped. After a period of training on real clean an controlled playing, I switched it off and never used it again.
  3. MooseLumps

    MooseLumps Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2007
    A compressor would help you in your situation. There are a lot of pros who use compression live even though they have excellent technique. It can certainly be used as a crutch, but so can a .50 cal sniper rifle.

    I use compression to help me maintain dynamic control live, as well as bring some of the nuances of my bass tone to the foreground. I would not hesitate to turn it off if the situation called for it.

    It sounds to me like you could use a simple soft knee compressor. EBS, Demeter, Markbass, and Maxon have some great offerings that would really help you, I think.

    Ovnilabs.com has piles of information on this subject
  4. Queg


    Nov 20, 2009
    SF Bay Area
    If you play with a bit of overdrive, using either a pedal or the gain section of your amp's pre, you can get a natural sounding compression that might help smooth things out.
  5. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Well, I gigged last night and the practice seems to be paying off. I turned my amp up about 20% more than I used to, and played with a lighter touch. Almost everything seemed easier to play, and I had more dynamic control. However, there were still times I had to concentrate on keeping from overpowering the mix. I also had to roll back my bass' volume for pick playing.

    Right now, I'm thinking about trying a BBE Opto-Stomp (but that's an Effects Forum issue).

    Thanks for the replies! (previous and future). :)

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