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To compress or not to compress ?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by tdshea, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. tdshea


    May 13, 2011
    New England
    Hey folks ,I need some feedback . I recently put a new rig together and the last 5 gigs I played ,I've gotten more compliments than I can count! From musicians,sound nerd,s ,and fellow band members ! I am playing an 1982 G&L L 2000 E bass ,with a Little Mark 800 watt tube head , and an Avatar 4ohm 1000 watt B212 cab . Just wondering what difference adding maybe a DBX 266 compressor would make ? I dont want to muddy up my sound in any way !! Thanks !!:meh:
  2. Alper Yilmaz

    Alper Yilmaz Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    For a lot of people, compressors are a love or hate thing... If your system is working fine to your liking and to your audience who have complimented you for your sound, I would not make any changes in the system.

    A (good and well-implemented) compressor can be a great tool to make your bass sit in the mix better as well as to make your overall balance across the strings more even. However, a bad quality compressor or one used improperly can degrade your sound quality.

    It might be a good idea to check Bongomania's website ovnilab.com to understand uses of compressors and many great reviews of different brands and models...



  3. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Only you can answer that question. If you like the tone now, what are you hoping to gain from adding a comp?
  4. This is a difficult topic that comes up a lot.

    If you are considering compression to 'fix' technique issues (i.e., your slap and pops seem louder than you fingerstyle, or whatever), that is not a good reason to add compression to a backline rig. That is best solved by heading to the woodshed for a few years.

    If, on the other hand, you have a rig that is a bit too small for the volume you are playing, then a compressor/limiter set to a very low level can actually result in you getting a bit more volume out of your rig, and it MIGHT fatten up your tone a touch.

    Also, of course, a compressor that is adjusted to have a significant impact on the tone can, for some, be a nice tonal effect.

    I've never found a need for compression as part of a backline rig myself. I own a nice sounding Aguilar pedal compressor, and I've used it a few times when using a very small rig, and it does somewhat keep the head/cabinet from (counterintuitively) compressing as much toward the end of the night, especially on the rare slap style playing (i.e., pumping more aggressive peaks into the gain stage) that I do on occasion. However, pretty minor impact to my ear, so rarely bother.

    If you rig sounds good to you, I wouldn't spend the money.

  5. +1
    good summary imo.
    And if your rig is underpowered then I feel it's money better spent to buy a bigger watt amp so you got headroom to spare.
    Relying on a compressor will not improve your technique.
    With consistent string dynamics you don't need a compressor imo :D
  6. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    The only compression I use is the onboard compressor on my Mesa M9.... just because I like how it makes my overall gig tone sound. I have it set very very low..... almost off.

    I find that compressor pedals can be great for a few songs here and there (slap is a good example) or in the studio if used properly. To have a compressor on for a full gig at anything higher than a very small amount of compression is definately an acquired taste. Worth checking out, but do it in a full volume jam, not alone in your basement.
  7. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Like Baird, I never use a compressor, except the one on my M9; and then, only a tiny bit on.

    In the studio, I'll leave it to the engineer, if he wants one.
    I can't recall the last time one was placed in my signal chain in studio...but, I have a pretty well defined right hand technique...
  8. tdshea


    May 13, 2011
    New England
    Well for all of the input , I thank you all !! I have plenty of headroom left , I go direct into PreSonus board to the front of house, subs, etc... .I think I will stay with what I have , I really love the sound now ! Why screw with a good thing ? It's just hmmm , what to do with that empty rack space ? lol
  9. Perhaps get a compressor that isn't too transparent? Something like the DOD Milkbox. I managed to finally track one down after a few years based on Bongo's website (Thanks, Bongo!), and it certainly adds a pleasant, subtle squeeze to the sound. That way, it would affect your sound minimally with a fairly low fiscal commitment.
  10. enricogaletta


    May 21, 2011
    Compressor is one of the best effect to help you to get a better sound, is a tool that especially bass player (almost everyone) should learn how to use correctly. It's so easy to use in a bad way and little bit complicate to use it good.
    First of all in the main case a good compressors doesn't make your sound too muddy even if you use threshold and ratio really high and the machine is a "warm" type.
    You don't need to overuse it, in the majority of the case is at least good to use with a low setting.
    But first of all i think probably you have to checkout your rig first, more or less i have experience with all the brands company in terms of head and preamps and I can tell you that MarkBass is one of the company that has a vintage sound style and the preamps are not really versatile in my opinion.
    So if the general sound doesn't convince you right now, the compressor won't get you a better sound in terms of tone style, it will give better sound working on your playing and improving little bit the tone results.
    I think you should check your rig with a different head from different brand first and then move to compressor. A lot of amps sound great when you check alone in the store but when you playing with the band that everything come trough!
    Cheers. Enrico
  11. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    You can buy a really decent compressor for low-dough...check bongomania's reviews. That being said, a properly adjusted comp may be of benefit in your situation. Then again, it may turn out to be a waste of funds in which case you can flip it. You won't know until you give it a go. Any way you can borrow one for a trial run?

  12. tdshea


    May 13, 2011
    New England
    all great feedback , gonna borrow one and try it with the rig ,! My last rig was lower wattage so I needed a comp , but flipped with the amp. Thanks all !
  13. tdshea


    May 13, 2011
    New England
    Bass players finger better !!:smug:
  14. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    I have a bass where the output is noticebly lower when I slap then when I play finger style. A compressor will help in this type of situation. If you just want to tweak your sound even more you could muck up your tone. You'll have to learn how to use it. Mostly however, I don't use a compressor. I end up splapping harder than I should.A couple of gigs ago I slapped so hard and with dead strings that I slighly sprained my thumb. So in my situation a compressor is justified :)
  15. WaldoNova

    WaldoNova Having fun yet? Supporting Member

    Jun 14, 2009
    Mt Vernon, NY
    With your 800 watt Tube amp you're probably getting all the compression you need.
  16. I found that in a live setting, compression had a very minimal impact on my playing. I found that out one night when I forgot to switch it on!
    While it can add fatness and some boost, EQing your rig can certainly cover that area.
  17. FromTheBassMent

    FromTheBassMent Those who can, play bass. Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2010
    Providence, RI
    I have had an EBS MultiComp on my pedal board for years, as an always-on tool. Last weekend I was playing a gig, and during one of the solo/improv passages that I am rarely allotted, I couldn't get my level up in the mix where it needed to be by digging into the strings... so I shut the compressor off.

    Now, since I'm not used to ever turning the thing on and off during a gig, I neglected to turn it back on again. By the end of the show, I was happier with the openness, the dynamics and the overall tone of my bass than I had been in a long, long time. I learned that my right-hand technique is better than I thought it was, and that the additional sustain that the comp was providing (minimal, due to subtle settings) was not really paying off when weighed against the way it was limiting my dynamic range.

    So, it's coming off the board. I'm replacing it with a DMB Bumble. Yes, I know that's a pretty radical shift!

    Having said that, it's good advice to try one yourself and see if it makes you happy. But get the best one for bass applications that you can afford (see Bongomania's outstanding FAQ for recommendations in all price ranges, and trust them). With the wrong compressor you will hear the effect pumping, which is really unpleasant to my ears.
  18. Crabby


    Dec 22, 2004
    I tend to go back and forth. Sometimes I am just loving the eveness and added fatness that my Diamond comp adds to my tone, and other times, I feel that it kills the huge dynamic range of my bass and takes some of the oomph away. I go from loving to hating the tone of my comp depending on the day, situation room, etc.
  19. Wild Steve

    Wild Steve

    Dec 19, 2010
    That's where I would stop! If you've got all those compliments it's obviously sounding great, why mess with it?
    If you do want a compressor though I'd hugely recommend the Diamond Bass Comp - so simple but effective, and the EQ switch can make my TBird sound like a Stingray! Somehow it actually makes me sound clearer rather than muddier - I think Bongomania commented on that too.

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