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Is using compression cheating?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by ErikP.Bass, Oct 1, 2018.

  1. Waytootrue


    Jan 19, 2018
    There is still such an effect on dynamics that playing harder has, even if it's not louder, that compression is only an aid. I wanna be able to get those loud twangy notes without necessarily being louder.
    SoCal80s and drumvsbass like this.
  2. drumvsbass


    Aug 20, 2011
    This is always a funny discussion for me. No, it is absolutely not cheating yet... I have never had a compressor, and for a hot 5 minutes I was in 'the compression is cheating, work on your technique mortal'. Problem is, I was (and still kinda am) in the tube amps for life club... and the second you reap any benefit of 'tubeyness' that's compression. So to be quick about it, I would say that it has been my experience that people who play tube amps usually don't need any extra compression, but people who play solid state amps might, and in the solid state camp it would allow to you custom tailor your compression as opposed to having the nature of the amp deciding that for you. Any sense at all. I'm suffering a head cold so....???? There is no cheating, reverb was the autotune of yesteryear.
    SoCal80s likes this.
  3. hintz


    Jun 5, 2014
    wahiawa, HI(Oahu)
    I'd think that'd be the opposite as old strings don't sustain as much much like flats versus rounds?!
  4. "Is using compression cheating?"

    Yes. Don't buy one.

    I know this is only going to lead to yet another "which compressor should I buy?" thread, followed by many "do a search" responses, and of course 200 "I use this compressor, and it's the bomb" responses, and inevitably there will be the "go to ovnilab compressor review site" to further confuse you... so, just don't buy one. Don't even think about it.

    But if you do, and, inevitably you will. Buy a Demeter Compulator Comp 1. It's the bomb.
    retslock and Marcelo Coip like this.
  5. Tuner? That's cheating.

  6. I have a Peterson... I cheat like hell....

  7. FugaziBomb


    Jun 5, 2017
    On the last recording project I engineered, I not only compressed the bass DI and mic track separately, I also then sent both signals to a bus compressor to be compressed again. Then, they were both compressed yet again with all the other tracks as part of the global compression bus, AND THEN it was all compressed yet again by the mastering engineer.
    retslock and SoCal80s like this.
  8. Oh yeah!
    Well if slobake was here... why he'd oughta. ;)
  9. Yeah! Truth be told, Jaco only really needed Zero! :smug:
    Nev375 likes this.
  10. Absolutely!

    The idea I've heard from others that someone can do (through improved technique) what a compressor does is based on a very limited idea of what a compressor can do. A (properly dialed in) compressor allows you to play with MORE dynamics, and to get the different tones that you get from different dynamics while still keeping the actual volume in a usable range. You can't do that with technique, and so a compressor is not cheating. It is a door to sounds you can't get without it.
    Marcelo Coip and JPaulGeddy like this.
  11. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Yep. That's why he ripped out his frets. He didn't need a precision bass. He WAS the precision.

    He also didn't need a case to carry his bass in. True story!
  12. All pros use some compression even if they don’t know about it and it’s being done after the fact at foh or in the studio. It’s fine. It’s not cheating like autotuned vocals if that’s what you’re thinking.
    Marcelo Coip likes this.
  13. Billoney


    Feb 12, 2014
    Be careful of the addiction known as Compression Compulsion.
  14. mac10


    May 28, 2002
    wilmore, KY
    Not sure about compression, but I do know that single cut basses are just a fad.
  15. A compressor is as much a means of cheating for a bassist as using a nail gun is for a carpenter. Rather than painstakingly pound each and every nail, he simply points and shoots. Puh! Where's the craftsmanship in that? If the product rendered by the gear used is satisfactory, why not accept it? Would you refuse to live in a house built with a nail gun instead of a hammer? I didn't think so.
  16. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    Never used one, I know what they are supposed to do, but I have a hard time hearing even on recorded samples with compression on/off exactly what it's doing. I do have a built in compressor on my Eden WT800 that i've tried using from time to time, and while it might be imagination it just always sounded slightly worse with compression on to me.

    I know that on the few CD's Ive been on in the past some compression was used at the board, but I think it was used for everyone.

    In any case, playing live I've never thought to use it. I always just listened to how I sounded in the mix on stage and adjusted my playing to that. Too loud/play softer, too low/play harder.
  17. Real bassists don't need amps!
  18. NOVAX


    Feb 7, 2009
  19. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    Yes, it is cheating, and if you're caught you'll be sanctioned by the International League of Bass Players and barred from competition for a period of not less than 3 years for every amount of ratio above 1:1.

    No seriously though, what exactly are you "cheating" at? The problem is that even great bass players aren't always super consistent with volume, although their dynamics tend to be a lot more intentional. Lousy/beginner bass players tend to be REALLY inconsistent. So if you want to sound good, you should "cheat" to the degree necessary.

    Having said that, the more consistent and intentional your use of dynamics, the more freedom you have to use compression for its own sake (ie as an effect, rather than a "fix").

    I have a dual band on my Trace head and that thing is awesome for a sort of squelchy fat compression effect. Then I have a Markbass that is awesome for more subtle massaging (and can also be more extreme if dialed in like that). So the more consistent my playing is, the more I can lean on those different colors, rather than just using them as a crutch for lousy technique.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York

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