YET ANOTHER thread about compressors (please don't hurt me)

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Guinness20, Dec 31, 2014.

  1. Guinness20


    Jan 24, 2013
    Liverpool, UK
    I know there are a million threads on compressors and compressors in live settings, and I know I've started threads about compressors - but my Dad asked me if the crowd would notice if a bass player was using a compressor, and I didn't have an answer for him.

    I recently received a pedalboard mini and volto power supply from pedaltrain after doing some work for them. I've been meaning to put a pedalboard together for months and months now, but things haven't been good on the job front. So anyway, I was talking to my dad about the ovnifx smoothie and he just didn't get it (compression I mean). After a while, he understood what compression did but didn't understand why I'd want one.

    I play in heavy rock bands, and with my stingray I'm normally heard loud and clear. I play with my fingers. I guess I just thought that if it enhanced my sound it was worth having, but at the end of the day could you hear if a bass player was using compression or not at a rock gig? Or am I just being a magpie and liking shiny things?
  2. Teijo K.

    Teijo K. Commercial User

    Sep 8, 2014
    Jyväskylä, Finland
    Endorsing Artist: CCP
    No, the crowd is not going to notice compressors. They dont notice playing Stingray with your fingers or a Squier with a pic. Comp is for you, to make playing experience different.
  3. I have two separate amp rigs with a comp pedal in front of each head as pretty much an always-on (specs in my profile); I can easily hear a difference with the comp(s) off or on, but it's subtle'ish. Could I get away with not having a comp? Yes. Would I now remove it/them from my signal chain? Not unless there was a GOOD reason to.

    - EDIT - In the off-chance that no one else has pointed you there, Bongo's comp reviews are a wealth of info on pretty much every comp pedal available to date.
    Zos Kia Cultus likes this.
  4. Goatrope


    Nov 18, 2011
    Sarasota Florida
    Crowd does not know the difference between you playing a Stingray and the other guy on the Strat. They're just "guitars". :)

    Don't sweat the compressor.
    LowEndWooly, SirMjac28 and Teijo K. like this.
  5. Seten


    Jun 8, 2014
    Columbus, Ohio
    I can't stand compression. Just the feeling of playing the bass with it. One of my favorite parts of playing bass is digging in and fingering it really hard (whoops) and being able to hear that difference in sound. To me, it seems sort of like a mistake corrector, and nothing more. If you slip and play too softly, it'll fix it for you and if you play too loud, it'll fix it. Don't get me wrong, I don't look down or think any less of anyone who uses one at all (I'm a mediocre player at best anyway) but I don't see any reason to use one unless you have a problem with that. As far as if the audience will hear it, they wouldn't notice a difference if you don't slip up with dynamics.

    Anyway, I'd go for another effect. overdrive/fuzz/distortion, wah, delay, reverb, etc.
    gregmon79 likes this.
  6. I agree that the effect could possibly be less noticable in a live situation; my comments are based on studio'ish recordings and not live.

    It may be good to mention that different comps have different intents, anything from subtle tone-shaping to full-on limiting. Again, Bongo goes into details like these in his reviews.
  7. Dominic D

    Dominic D DiCosimo Audio Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 9, 2008
    Winter Park, Florida
    DiCosimo Audio
    IMO, if you're using compression to fix technique then you're using it wrong. For me, compression is an effect that I barely notice is on but miss it as soon as it's turned off. It's hard to explain but it just adds a certain beefiness to the tone but I still feel like I have full dynamic control.
    lfmn16, steelbed45, MDBass and 4 others like this.
  8. Guinness20


    Jan 24, 2013
    Liverpool, UK
    Thanks for the feedback guys. I've read nearly all of Bongo's reviews, and was thinking of the diamond bass comp or his very own ovnifx smoothie. Maybe in a heavy rock band I'm better off sticking with the likes of overdrive, fuzz and distortion.

    Excellent point haha, maybe I should rethink my original question then - would my bandmates hear the difference of a compressor in a live situation?
  9. monkeyfinger

    monkeyfinger Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Players who know how to use compressors correctly can definitely benefit from them in a live situation. While it is true that your average listener will not know a Stingray from a cello, they do know if the band sounds good or not. Compressors are invaluable in making the bass sound tighter and punchier, or smoother and rounder. While it can be used to correct poor technique to a very limited extent, it is not best to use it that way. If you already have good right-hand technique, then a compressor will make your bass sound a whole lot better. For example, I use the compressor to give the bass a more kick-drum like attack in my hard rock band.
  10. monkeyfinger

    monkeyfinger Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    You would definitely benefit from a comp in a loud hard-rock band. Just about every bass player in a major stage uses one, even if they don't have a pedalboard. The FOH system has a comp on the bass 99.99% of the time. By using your own comp, you get to control how the comp is used. Leave the damage-control type peak limiting to the FOH engineer.

  11. Guinness20


    Jan 24, 2013
    Liverpool, UK
    How would I benefit?
  12. monkeyfinger

    monkeyfinger Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    It is about controlling the dynamics of the bass in a way that you cannot do with fingers alone. The bass guitar has a very short, pronounced attack. The volume of the attack is much louder than the rest of the note. (This is referred to as high 'crest factor'.) This peak last only a few milliseconds. By setting the compression parameters correctly you can really fine tune the difference between the crest and the remaining note. This allows you do to things like make the attach last just a bit longer for more punch, or reduce the peak and raise the level of the sustain/decay portion a little to add more sustain or smooth out the note.
    The result is a bass sound that is fuller, punchier and more lively. When used properly it will be more defined in the mix. It will drive the rhythm section with more authority.

    BTW, I am currently using a Smoothie comp. I think it is one of the best comps on the market. I took a look at your profile. If you are still running a 75 watt rumble amp, you may want spend your money on a better amp rather than a compressor. If you have a low wattage amp, you are probably running it full tilt anyway. So a compressor would not really benefit you as the amp has very little headroom.
  13. Guinness20


    Jan 24, 2013
    Liverpool, UK
    Thanks BFunk - yeah a better amp is my top priority, but that explanation realy clears things up. Thank you!
  14. Alien8


    Jan 29, 2014
    Save the comp for later in life when you know you need one.

    I second the amp suggestion, but also think that if you are itching for fx, start with a good pre-amp pedal with some dirt. Aguilar Tonehammer, tech 21 and similar come to mind. You will be able to coax a little compression from those pedals as well as an EQ shift or drive push to add to your amp - the one you have now or the one later. A good amp is key before any pedals.
    My name is Mudd likes this.
  15. monkeyfinger

    monkeyfinger Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Yes, most distortion pedals will compress the signal.
    My name is Mudd likes this.
  16. Bulldog


    Feb 20, 2010

    A good, fairly transparent compressor can make you sound better, but it will not fix your mistakes. A compressor with enough squeeze to "fix" bad right hand technique will probably not make anyone sound better...

    A little compression somewhere before the preamp makes your attacks fatter, your sustain sweeter, your hair longer and your wife nicer. Trust me.
  17. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    As much as I'd love to sell another Smoothie, I totally agree that your money is better spent on a good big amp instead. :) Both you, the audience, and the rest of the band will unquestionably notice if you have a bigger, better amp.
    squidtastic and Daniel Piper like this.
  18. Zos Kia Cultus

    Zos Kia Cultus Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2007
    Thank you for the link to Bongo's comp reviews, i have been searching for a review list like this for quite some time!
  19. Be sure to check the rest of his pages there (links above your post/in his sig)...he knows what he's talking about, to put it mildly.
    Zos Kia Cultus likes this.
  20. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Bergantino-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand
    These two posts for the win...but no, the audience can't tell, most of them would call us one of the guitar players anyway ;)