Is using a compressor cheating?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by SteveC, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I haven't used a compressor live. I'm compressed in the PA but I don't use one on my board which has my tuner, JDI and Rolls IEM amp.

    I tried an MXR M87 for a couple days at home. I set it to be very subtle. Just even things out a bit. I noticed that it did help with my Low B string, but I didn't notice it as much on higher strings. As I switched it on and off I found that while it sounded good with it on, I was able to control my attack a bit on the B string and achieve almost the same sound with it off.

    So, my dilemma is this. Am I just being lazy by using a compressor and not having to "think" so hard when I'm playing?

    I have since added a 6 string to my stable and find that it is a bit of a challenge to keep things even on that big neck.

    Any thoughts?
  2. bikingbassist


    Aug 26, 2013
    My thoughts are yes. I've never been a fan and have figured that I can control my dynamics just as well if not better with my own hands.
    I have always had a difficult time with compressors though. I know there are good uses of them, but they don't work for my style.
  3. brownie_bass

    brownie_bass [this space for sale, cheap]

    Oct 3, 2013
    New York, NY
    You've already gone down the slippery slope of cheating by using a tuner.

    ManuelJG likes this.
  4. giacomini


    Dec 14, 2008
    Florianopolis - Brazil
    Endorsing: Copetti Guitars
    To make it short, no.
  5. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010

    I GUARANTEE there are sounds a compressor can create that you cannot.

    Compressors are great for a number of applications live, just DON'T use them to 'correct' a deficiency of technique, which they don't do well anyway
    ManuelJG and petrus61 like this.
  6. Is using a bass to play cheating?

    Is the same thing. It´s a tool you can use..
  7. seedokebass


    Mar 21, 2009
    This guy right here....

    I understand your dilemma, but I wouldn't call it cheating. Like you said, you (and probably 99.9% of us) are compressed FOH. It's happening whether you want it or not.

    Maybe use it as training wheels on your 6? :D
  8. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    What's wrong with doing something that makes you not have to think so hard while playing? It seems like you have an issue and the compressor might provide a solution.

    I generally prefer not to use much compression (if any), because I find that it affects my dynamics too much and doesn't play nice with some of my pedals, but you should do whatever makes you sound best.
  9. Light compression is your friend
  10. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    That's ok, just put an expander after it and you are good to go.
  11. and a gate after and you´re done. Pretty closed!
  12. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    No, you are not being lazy. A poorly designed or mal-adjusted compressor will suck the life out of your tone, though. The counter argument has usually been "...if you clean up your technique, you won't need a compressor". So be it but I disagree.

    Compression has been used for decades to contain (fit?) the full-range of any music, voice, etc. within the known confines of available recording mediums (vinyl, tape, etc). I like to take it one step further and assign the same philosophy to the limitations of live sound reproduction.

    There are volumes written on the is, in fact, an entire subset of the recording / live sound industries. The art of compression can be a wondrous thing when in the right hands. We're doing ourselves a disservice by condensing the discussion to "Compression: Do I need it? Yes or no?".

    petrus61 likes this.
  13. Adamixoye

    Adamixoye A PT Pro is cool for worship, right?

    Apr 9, 2012
    Occasional Beta Tester for Confusion Studios, Singular Sound, and Source Audio
    Honestly, what is "cheating" when it comes to making music? That's never made sense to me. I completely agree with the sentiments expressed by brownie_bass, eddododo, seedokebass, and Zooberwerx, whilst I respectfully disagree with bikingbassist.
  14. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    No - Using a compressor is not cheating any more than using EQ is cheating.
    1. With light gain riding, it just helps you make your product better - if you want that.
    2. With heavier compression, it provides certain sound "effects" That you cannot get without. You want that fat, thick sound - you need a compressor.
  15. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    All is fair in love, war and music. I don't use one anymore, but I did and I no more thought of it as cheating as I did using a tuner.
  16. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    not when 99% of every record/CD ever made since they we invented ran the bass track thru one.
  17. Leadfoot


    Sep 3, 2011
    +1, it helps even out my live sound, and adds a little warmth to my small rig.
  18. jimmybc91


    Oct 8, 2013
    Los Angeles
    The tone you get when you force a compressor and when you use it lightly for added sustain is amazing to my ears. I run my compressor to 1 setting and leave it on all the time. When bypassed I sound exactly the same, but when I dig in or add a boost before the compressor I like the fat round sound the compressor gives me, and when I mellow things out and play softly I get sustain for days. I don't feel like I have lost dynamics but gained more as now I can play with both extremities and everything in between. Cheating? Yea sure, how do you think we get around in life? I can say you are cheating right now by asking this question and not figuring things out yourself. :bag:

    But in all seriousness, just do what makes you feel better. If you feel cheated and don't like it. Then don't use it. In my case, I will take advantage of this tool as much as I can! :D
  19. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Audio Mike Lull Custom Guitars Gallien Krueger amplification Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups
    I love that MXR M87 and its my current live compressor.
    I use light and release quick.
  20. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    In my opinion - no, it's not cheating

    Actually I don't accept the premise for the question as it implies there is some rule for what is allowed in music. To me there is no one and only one "correct" or "legal" way of making musical noises, do whatever feels right for you and use whatever gear it takes to sound good.