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Whaaaat's the deal with compressors?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by spoonfulofshred, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. Ok, so I've got a few pedals and been shopping around for what's next. I was thinking envelope filter or octaver or something fun and flashy but peeps keep pointing me at compressors. But I don't really get it... I've searched and read up on them. So I understand what they do. I just don't know what I'm looking for in a compressor.

    A friend at my last show screamed Markbass Compressore but I found a DOD Milkbox for pretty cheap. Expert opinions?
  2. yaksonator

    yaksonator Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2011
    Branson, MO
  3. Ohmygoodness. Yaksonator, great site. I've got some more reading to do! Cheers!
  4. yaksonator

    yaksonator Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2011
    Branson, MO
    Our very own Bongomania is the resource! And I'd say expert on the matter! I learned a lot from him and his website, as well as a bunch of other people!
  5. If memory serves, Bongo loves the Compressore and the Milkbox (without the moustache?).
    A compressor will even out the volume of peaks and valleys of your playing and/or set-up of your bass. For example, slapping a bass usually causes a volume increase on a non-compressed bass but a compressor, set well, will have that style of play down to finger-style playing volume so the front-of-house soundperson doesn't bring your volume down during a song. An added benefit of a compressor should be reduced strain on your speakers.
    I would say transparency of the tone of your bass is what one is looking for buying a compressor. If the compressor changes your signal, you're going to want to love the new tone otherwise the compressor should go back.
  6. avvie


    Oct 12, 2010
    Maui, HI
    Yes. It is.
  7. RattleSnack

    RattleSnack Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
    It is mentioned on ovnilab web site, but I would emphasise this: for someone who just started on using compressors, visual indicator could be very important.
    It can be hard to find this fine line between comp not doing anything, and comp overcompressing and ruining your sound. Specialy if your performance demands big changes in dynamics - i.e, playing sometimes very hard, than much softer, than medium, than hard again. Much easier to set comp if music demands you to play with steady hand (blues, i.e.)
    Using comp with leds will make it easier to understand what is going on with your signal when your ears can't help you (in a live mix).
  8. Thanks for the input. Sounds like I'm going to take a trip to that store that had the Milkbox and check it out.

    Still not sure if I want my next pedal to be practical like that or something super fun that might only get 10 seconds in a set lol. Monday is payday and the gf will be at work. Not a good combo for a pedal junkie!
  9. PhatRon

    PhatRon I blow bass

    Feb 29, 2012
    Lake Stevens, Wa.
    Knowing what it is you want from a comp. before purchasing one will eliminate a lot of pedal flipping
  10. HeavyJazz

    HeavyJazz Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2013
    This breakdown may help - it just organizes the ones that recieve the most love from Ovni.
  11. Ok, I've read a ton of Bongo's info. One question. I notice my bass E string is quite boomy while the D and G can get quite twangy and the A string often gets lots in a mess of noisy guitars. Does a compressor help with this or am i more looking for an EQ?
  12. RattleSnack

    RattleSnack Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
    Comp could help a little, dualband comp even more, but it is probably a issue with your eq.
    What bass, amp, eq settings do you use?
  13. I have an Ibanez SR600, active pickups and built in EQ. I usually boost mids to about 3:00 and keep Bass and Treble around 12~1:00. Lots of different amps depending on where we practice or play a gig.
  14. Adamixoye

    Adamixoye A PT Pro is cool for worship, right?

    Apr 9, 2012
    Occasional Beta Tester for Confusion Studios, Singular Sound, and Source Audio

    You increase dynamics by squashing the signal, I don't get it!
  15. MCS4


    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    That's two or three different problems, but I will say that compressors can be used to even out differences between strings. That's exactly why I do not use "fattening" type compressors, because I find that I lose the more guitar-like/twangy tone on my D and G strings that I like for chords and upper register parts.
  16. Two or three different problems? Can you elaborate?

    And my last complaint about my tone only applies to a few sections in a couple of our songs. I would treat the comp like any other pedal and use it only when required. I might want that "fattening" sound sometimes and my uneffected uneven sound other times.

    Tried the milkbox out today. Going back tomorrow with some cash
  17. MCS4


    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Your E string being boomy, your D and D getting twangy, and the A string getting lost in the mix are all potentially different issues that could be resolved in different ways. It is possible that a compressor could help with some of these, but one setting on one pedal is probably not going to cover it all. However, like I said, the compressor could be a good starting point for any problems that involve the strings responding too differently from each other.
  18. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    Could also be a setup issue...pickup height/string height. But a comp is useful to have regardless. I would recommend getting one with a dry/wet blend if possible.
  19. RattleSnack

    RattleSnack Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
    Check your setup (pickup and string height), there should be some kind of owners manual or specifications on Ibaneze web site. If not, use specs on Fender web site.
    Are strings fresh? Sometimes one string dies faster than other, and one of simptoms could be getting lost in mix.
    Changed battery recently? Probably not the problem, but can't hurt.
    And than, do the test: play it with flat eq on guitar. But also, flat on the amp! (I suspect your amps eq is not flat, am I wrong?)
    Then tell us has anything changed.
  20. :eek: Were you at my gig last week??? During soundcheck, my bass sounded awful, and after some messing about, we figured out the battery was dead. THEN during the last song the A string snaps! Two best comments after the show were "you should get a compressor" and "you should raise the action of the strings." Your knowledge is freaking me out a little, haha.

    Ok well, it's hard to tell if I'm getting lost in the mix by myself at home. New battery, new strings, new string height. I'll adjust the pickup height tonight and band practice is tomorrow. I'll let you guys know! Super appreciate all the help!

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