1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

What is a Compressor pedal?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by jellejanssen, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. Hi There!

    So I investigated a little bit for my first bass effect. Alot of people say that it's the best to start with a compressor.

    What does a compressor do?
    And is it worth buying?

  2. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    As a first pedal, I would say this isn't the most "wow" thing you could buy. Compressors clean up your tone by putting sort of like a ceiling on the peaks, so that way your playing sounds more even. Its very subtle.

    For a first pedal I would say a either something along the lines of a chorus/flanger/echo effect, or some kind of overdrive/distortion/fuzz. If you don't quite know what you would use it for yet, don't spend the money until you do know. Effects are just icing on the cake; first you need some cake to put it on.
  3. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Always groove.... Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
  4. BFunk

    BFunk Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    While compressor is useful to many, it certainly is not for everyone. To learn about compression, see http://www.ovnilab.com/articles/howto.shtml. The value of a compressor is purely subjective. Some people hate them and won't spend 10 cents on on. Other people, me included, consider it a really important part of our sound and have spent $100-$500 dollars on one. The website http://www.ovnilab.com is chock full of faqs, reviews and recommendations for all tonal goals and budgets.
  5. Mattbass97


    Apr 9, 2011
    Don't start with a compressor if your new to effects. Get something that drastically changes your normal sound it'll be more fun! I've gone 2 years without a compressor and I've made up a full board and haven't really considered one heavily enough. Check out the ehx bass blogger or bassballs they're interesting for a starter if you play specific genres and want effects for those then post here and watch the recommendations flood in!
  6. ^i disagree...
    compressors can really be useful to those who just want to tighten up their tone a bit. Subtle, but effective

    Wild-hair effects are fun ... But in many performance situations, utterly useless...
  7. Compressors are a subtle effect.

    Basically they are automatic volume controls. When the volume gets to a set level (threshold) the pedal turns down the volume by a set ratio (2:1, 4:1 etc). (A 2 to 1 ratio means that for ever 2 volume units above threshold the volume is compressed by 1 unit.)

    Set lightly they can take unwanted peaks from hard playing from hitting the amp and speakers really hard but let normal playing pass uneffected.

    At medium setting they can add punch to your tone. In this case only the most light playing is uneffected. All other playing is effected to a certain extent.

    At high setting you get lots of squash. The down side here is that you my find yourself fighting it as you play. You'll compensate for the lower volume by playing harder or turning the amp up.

    I use the EBS multicomp because it's easy to set up and almost impossible to kill tone. (Quick note about the link above. I read the bit about the EBS Multicomp. I've used my pedal for 4 years or so and NEVER had one issue other. Of course I maintain my gear really well. I'd buy their stuff used any day. In fact, I just did. I bought a Dynaverb.)

    Some other pedals have more control but if you're new to comp. it's easy to get lost in the settings and not get the sound you're going for.

    Some rack units have a lot of parameters. I started on one of these but most of it wasn't used. Things like "hard Knee", "soft knee",

    Since compression is as not as noticable as other effects it easy to kill your tone and blame it on the compressor when it's just set to heavy for your taste.

    In a professional setting you'll NEVER hear bass either live or on a recording that is NOT compressed.
  8. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    Yes, go to http://www.ovnilab.com to learn everything you could possibly want to know about the subject.

    Not sure I would make it my first effect. As others have pointed out, it's very subtle and not too sexy. The way I use my compressor it seems like it does nothing. Only when it's accidentally shut off do I suddenly feel like my underwear is on backward..something is not right, what the...oh my compressor's off!
  9. Thanks alot for the information people!
    That was really helpful :D

    - Jelle
  10. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    I would suggest buying an inexpensive multi effect unit if this is your first foray into the world of effects. Something like the Zoom B1/B2 series. You could get one for a similar price to a decent single stompbox.

    This way you'll get a bunch of different effects you can experiment with, find out what they all do, how they work and how they affect and shape your sound. As much fun as the presets are, I would spend time going through each effect, on it's own, tweaking all the parameters to find out what they do, from subtle colouring to wild and heavy saturation.

    This way, you'll have a greater understanding of what sounds you like, what you don't and go on to build a pedal board containing better quality versions in stompbox format.
  11. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    I agree, when mine's turned off it feels like the action on my bass has tripled in height.
  12. The B2 is good, the B3 is BETTER... many of the effects are nearly as good as the effects from which they are modelled
  13. Bakkster_Man


    Jan 15, 2006
    I think a Compressor could be a good first choice for a pedal... unless you're looking for a noticable sound. If you're looking for an effects pedal, you're probably looking for something you step on and changes your sound noticably, though.

    Ditto on a good digital multieffects pedal. It allows you to experiment and learn which effects actually fit your style and the music you're playing, as well and providing the EQ and Compression that can tighten and sweeten your natural tone. If you're like me you'll end up outgrowing the digital when you find some limitations or inadequacies, but by then you will have a better idea which pedals you want in analog form, and it will be less expensive to build up your pedal board.
  14. Stretchhh


    Jan 10, 2012
    WA, Australia
    I completely agree that as a first effect it really seems silly. I notice my compressor a lot more now that I have a heap if dirt and modulation on my board. It is essential to my setup but only when I purchased my first few pedals as it really tightens up my overall tone to just where I want it.

    They are amazing effects if used properly, it helps me play finger style and really dig in to get my bass sounding like it is getting picked hard.
  15. M Sterling

    M Sterling Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I love effects, but I don't usually buy them just because I want to buy pedals. I regularly use up to 15 pedals, but each one was purchased with a sound design/tone goal in mind. If you're looking for something to improve/change/control your tone (when used properly), a comp can be a great first effect.