Why did you stop compressing your live rig??

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Mcrelly, Dec 3, 2004.

  1. Yes, I usually compress my live rig

    111 vote(s)
  2. No, I stopped compressing my live rig (please explain)

    59 vote(s)
  1. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    have you ever owned a good compressor and used it with your live rig then stop using it live??? why?? trying to decide...
  2. bassmanjones


    Feb 23, 2002
    Boston, MA
    I never had a good compressor, just the onces that came on various amps that I owned over the years.

    I stopped using it because I started practicing which improved my technique to the point that it wasn't necessary...except for the tonal quality of truly achieving that Marcus MIller slap tone. Otherwise, live a compressor can't do anything a few hours of practice can't.

    Recording on the other hand...
    howlin likes this.
  3. funkmuffin


    Aug 18, 2004
    Akron, Ohio
    When I first started playing, I was really, really inconsistent with my attack. My solution was to squash my sounds donw so that no matter what I did with my right hand, it came out even. As I improved, I came to hate the squashed sound, so went with less and less compression until Im clean...
  4. jpfisher


    Jul 1, 2004
    Maine, USA
    I would've hit both poll responses if I could've.

    I have an old dbx 163x ("one knob squeezer") that sounds great. I dial it in real mild for most gigs, but I like to squeeze it a bit more for loud crashing about.

    But - I recently removed it to add to a buddy's pa rack for a lead vocalist treatment and I haven't replaced it and don't miss it that much.

    But I will, I guess, when I get a round tuit.
  5. Funky Doctor

    Funky Doctor

    Aug 28, 2003
    I sold my compressor. It was really good to. Presonus BlueMax. Had a whole bunch of really good presets. Really bought everything up front and made my amp seem louder. Too bad I have car rego coming up in like... 2 days ago.
  6. jeff schmidt

    jeff schmidt no longer red carded, but my butt is still sore.

    Aug 27, 2004
    Novato, CA
    I have to laugh at the stigma surrounding compression among bassists. I even hear some of the big guys bad mouthing compression. That's particularlly funny cuz when you listen to their recordings or see them live they're obviously using it copious amounts of it. Admitedly, higher end compression is more transparent than the bargin stuff you find in a pedal or multi-effect box - but the concepts are the same.

    People like to boast how they can use technique alone to avoid using compression but totally ignore that Compression is an awesome sound shaping tool. Put a little fast attack quick release 8 to 1 on your fretless and tell me you don't have a cool effect going on. Let's take the stigma off compression that's it's some kind of crutch. Stigmatizing techniques and effects is a crutch. Being open to using various tools to create pleasing and interesting sound is what's needed. If you don't like the sound - don't use it. Compression is the most foundational production effect in existence. Even Jazz and Classic music is recorded with it.

    I ALWAYS use compression to some degree for various purposes. Bottom line - Proper compression with proper technique is EXACLTY what pros do - regardless of what they spout off in Bass magazine interviews.
  7. kroth


    Apr 6, 2003
    I've stopped squashing because of noise issues, and unless it is a really high end copressor, they seem to color my tone in unpleasant ways. So much gets lost live ,I try to keep as simple a signal chain as possible, lots of gain, a minimal amount of EQ, and a good strong signal to the mixer.
    howlin likes this.
  8. inazone


    Apr 20, 2003
    but I bet the sound guy uses compression. :)
    SBsoundguy and Gearhead17 like this.
  9. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    A properly adjusted compressor is virtually inconspicuous and will work wonders. Your soundman will love it, too. Enjoy.

  10. inazone


    Apr 20, 2003
    I voted that I use one but would have like to have checked both boxes. If I use a head or pre that has a good one built in, I'll use it, if not, I'll run dry.
  11. I have never purchased a good compressor and can't stand the sound of the cheap one included in my head.

    When I record in my home-recording set-up I like to use Slow Attack/fast release to increase the punch if the song calls for it, or just slam the baby for a nice sulking bitey bass. Or if I want real transparent I'll use double-stage compression - which you would be hard pressed to hear unless you could compare to the original unprocessed sound.

    I've always wanted to duplicate these options on the road but other things have taken priority, budget wise. I would probably need a dual-channel, with all the settings. But then trying to set that puppy up for each song would be a pain.. so then that leads to a digital compressor with presets. Once you go digital, you have to spend money on good converters or it'll sound bland or harsh.

    So no matter what you do, good hardware compression costs moola.

    My technique has improved enough that I don't NEED much compression as a band-aid, - but I DO use it for its sound shaping capabilities when recording... and wish I could on the road :)

  12. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Just about every electric bass you've ever heard on record has been compressed, save for some jazz and classical albums (and the majority of jazz and classical is compressed too). Think about it. All those cool sounds you grew up listening to- compressed.

    Every pro bassist you've heard live through a PA has been compressed, either in the player's rig or at the PA, or both.

    If you don't like compression, odds are you haven't used a good compressor.

    There are, of course, professional exceptions (like Edgar Meyer), but they are few, far between, and very genre-specific. What Meyer can get away with on a low volume stage featuring sparse acoustic arrangements is very different from what will work with a fully amplified band.

    I do a lot of recording, both as a player and as an engineer/producer. And I've had lots of players of various instruments tell me how they don't want to be compressed. I smile and nod and then use compression anyway. They are all pleased with the results and they never hear that they are being compressed. I've even heard them brag about "listen how big and solid the bass sounds- not tiny and compressed at all!"

    In their defense, if their main exposure to compressors has been stompboxes and cheap rack units (the Alesis 3630 and dbx 266 being particular offenders), then I understand why they think Compressed = Small and Weak.
    Sgt. Rock likes this.
  13. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Unless I want a very specific sound (for dub stuff) or need help with dynamics (tapping mainly), I leave compressors to the soundguy.
  14. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    The original question was about compressing one's *live rig*, no?

    Personally, I've never used a compressor in my live rig, so the poll questions don't reply. That's not a dis of compressors; I just make a practice of not adding stuff unless and until I need to. So far I haven't needed to compress my live rig(s). If I do need to, I'll do it, without regret. Either way, no stigma AFAIAC.

    As for whether my bass signal is compressed when it goes into the sound person's board, I honestly don't know and don't really care. My old band had a regular sound guy for years, and it never occurred to me to ask him what he was doing with my bass, because everybody always said things sounded great out front. As long as whatever the sound persons are doing works, they can do whatever they want AFAIAC--compress or don't compress.

    To restore things to their proper tangentiality, I always use a compressor when recording, except for this one guy I sometimes work with who always wants to record me w/o compression on his projects. He's paying me, so I make like Burger King--he can have it his way.
  15. MBIYF


    Oct 6, 2004
    The Netherlands
    You are the sound guy, not? :p
  16. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    Me too! I don't know the proper physics term for this but if you attack a string really hard, it's obvsiouly going to be louder AND it's going to decay faster. A compressor solves this symptom by reducing the loudness of the attack and increasing the ludess during the fast decay. I say sypmtom becuase the problem is poor picking hand technique!

    Right on! Marcus must have have a right thumb made of steel as he really slaps!!! This is where a compressor is a necessity:

    Not as a crutch for bad picking hand technique but as a tool for good technique !
  17. Since I've been using my BOSS ME-50B with compression and sending a signal to the amp and PA via D.I. out of the amp, all the sound men have been commenting how good the sound and signal is. I use the NATURAL Compression setting and turn the Threshold to about 3 o'clock so it's just slightly compressing the signal. I can still play with dynamic control (sliding up the next for more omph) but it's not all over the place (makes my G string as loud as my low B string).

    So, yes I do compress my live rig and that includes the signal going to the PA, but with everything in life, don't over do it.
  18. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    I've used various compressors. My old peavey mark IV head and CS-400 power amp had peavey's DDT compression which pretty much was a squashy speaker protection circuit. Later i used the onboard compressor in my eden wt-400 head and a trace elliot dual compressor in front of other amps. I also tried my pal's RNC. Now i use a DBX 262 (see my review link at the bottom of this post). I've used it in front of the preamp, in the effects loop, and in between the preamp and poweramp. I've settled on using it between the preamp and poweramp, where i use it for speaker protection. I set it up in "hard knee" mode to just kick in during really loud transients when i get a little too enthusiastic, or occasionally in "over easy" mode where i set it to kick in all the time for songs where i use obscene bass boost such as certain blues or dub style tunes where a huge bass tone is cool. Usign it in this way doesn't compress my signal for the board, but soundmen always use a compressor on the bass, (and good ones usually use it on drums, vocals, guitar, and pretty much everything). I don't sweat it though, a lot of times i just bring out a small head w/o compression to use as a preamp and my poweamp and things work just fine. During these times i have to be a little more careful at loud volumes to keep an ear out for my speakers distorting, but that's about it.

    Like people have already stated, in the studio compression gets used on virtually everything, and no matter what, the final mixdown always gets compressed during the mastering process.

    dbx 262 review
  19. kroth


    Apr 6, 2003
    I have used really nice tube comps, and really crappy comps from various manufacturers. For recording, or for live sound, they are wonderful. But as a part of my bass rig, again I feel they just detract from my tone in one way or another. This is just an opinion so to all the comp lovers/users, more power to ya. Whatever gets the sound from your head to your hands to the audience, that is the fundamental truth. There are no right or wrong anwers. My current band is VERY dynamic, from whisper quiet, to full out cacaphony, so I tried no comp, and found I had ultimate control when doing things like fading out a tune, especially with a piezo equipped instrument, and some righteous right (and left) hand technique.
  20. CrackBass


    Aug 10, 2004
    maby some people will say that i have bad technique but mixing slap with fingerstyle presents a volume problem for me with no comp. acually as my fingerstyle tech. gets better the worse it gets. i am working on a softer touch with fingerstyle which allows me a faster and more uniform attack. mean while i can't seem to figure out how to slap softly. kind of an oxymoron. maby i took the easy road but what works for me is to use two comps. one before the pre and one after and run less compression on either than i would on one alone. i've found that i really like the tone. if i only played fingerstyle them i probably wouldn't use a comp but for slap nothing is better for me. and it saves your speakers a lot of stress cause basically slap is just a series of hard peaks. my lows stay tight and my tweet don't blow. just my 2 cents.