Compressor, do I need one?

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by vanr, May 26, 2019.

  1. vanr

    vanr Tele-Holic

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    I thinking I might need a compressor to bolster my guitar when playing clean passages. Seem like my guitar when clean is awful weak in the mix. Does a compressor help this?
     
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  2. Endless Mike

    Endless Mike Friend of Leo's

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    It can, but from what you describe, I'm thinking you might have other issues. Maybe the pickups are too far from the strings, or you're losing signal between the guitar and the amp. Do you use any pedals with built in buffers? Are all your cables in good repair? Have you made sure the guitars electronics are in good condition?

    I'd look there first. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the person who will tell us that compressors are bad, kill dynamics, etc.
     
  3. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's

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    You might actually want a clean boost. A compressor can function this way with the compression knob turned down or off...but generally, compressors are used more for evening out your tone. Think of someone playing country chicken picking or finger style who wants an even presentation of each note. It basically boosts the weak notes and squishes the strong ones so they all sound consistent and even.

    A simple clean boost like the JHS Prestige, TC Electronic Spark Booster or the like...or even a Klon clone...can help fatten up your clean tone and make it pop out more in the mix.
     
  4. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Friend of Leo's

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    All great points. Start with troubleshooting what you have first. If you do have a lot of pedals or are running long cables, the Prestige (and many Klons/Klon clones) have the added benefit of a built-in buffer which can help mitigate these issues.
     
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  5. MrCairo46

    MrCairo46 Friend of Leo's

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    Yes , you need a compressor.
     
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  6. 65 Champ Amp

    65 Champ Amp Tele-Afflicted

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    When playing clean, your guitar is weak in the mix?

    Which implies that 1. You also play dirty, and 2. When dirty, your guitar is not weak in the mix...

    Probably just need to use that dirty pedal right~ Less dirt/gain/drive/distortion - more volume. You could also use the guitar vol knob.

    Yes, a comp can also help do this, I almost always have one on, but you have something else going on.
     
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  7. dreamingtele

    dreamingtele Tele-Afflicted

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    I'd also like to ask this question, but if I dont do chicken pickin, do I still need it?
     
  8. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I bought a compressor. Then I realized I don’t really need it as long as I turn my amp up loud enough. I turn my amp up about halfway most of the time now. It’s got an attenuator so it’s not too loud. I no longer have the compressor.

    That said I never disliked the sound of the compressor, if you get one with good controls it can make for beautiful clean sounds. If I had to run the amp on full power and then was stuck not being able to turn the volume up I’d probably still have it.

    There’s also the issue of how many effects, what else do you give up to have the compressor, etc...

    I sold my compressor pretty recently and used it to buy a Deluxe Memory man. There’s no setting on the amps volume knob that can do what the DMM does. :)

    If any of these aspects apply to you maybe that helps?
     
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  9. Art VanDelay

    Art VanDelay Tele-Holic

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    I'd try an EHX LPB1 for your cleans. Your dirt box is probably bumping up the gain and when you switch it off for some cleans your clean tone sounds quiet.
     
  10. Art VanDelay

    Art VanDelay Tele-Holic

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    I'd be so bold to say that only someone recording a guitar track needs a compressor. I use a Fairfield Circuitry Accountant to smooth out my picking attack and volume.

    Bass guitar needs a compressor.
     
  11. Vanzant

    Vanzant Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah, you need one
     
  12. Steve 78

    Steve 78 Tele-Afflicted

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    Maybe yes maybe no. I vote troubleshoot your existing sound before throwing a pedal at it. What does 'awful weak in the mix' mean? Too quiet (turn amp up?), too muddy (adjust amp eq, switch to different pickup?), too thin (adjust amp eq, switch to different pickup?). Which guitar and amp you are using may also help?
     
  13. papa32203

    papa32203 Tele-Holic

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    Yes.
     
  14. JayDee

    JayDee Tele-Meister

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    It sounds like an issue of pickup height and amp settings to me. If everything is right, then no, you won't "need" a compressor. You might enjoy one, but I wouldn't resort to one as a Band Aid.
     
  15. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    I use an old MIJ Boss CS3 which has both a level and a tone control which allows me to use it as a boost/compressor to get nice loud jangle. Typical of Boss, they have engineered it right for a working musician.

    In a live band situation with stage sound, less featured compressors just kill the dynamics and don’t have the settings to compensate and the tone can get submerged.

    So a lot depends on which model you get and if you have a special effect in mind of are just looking for general tone shaping. I used mine only on one tune last night at a gig. A pretenders number.
     
  16. ricknbaker

    ricknbaker Tele-Holic

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    The only pedal I use. Just on clean; everything gets too muddy through the O/D channel. I have it turned up quite high, I love the snappy spank and sustain. It evens out the volume between playing Chuck Berry root 5 /root 6 moves with a big power chord thrown in at the end of a bar, which suits the style of music we play. Might not suit yours.
    Also, there are so many compressors around you'll need to try a few out. If you need a boost when engaged, you'll certainly want one with a volume control. Separate attack and level controls are essential for me too.
     
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  17. Grandy

    Grandy Tele-Meister

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    Yep, they are evil. But I don't like humbuckers either because they compress the sound. What makes single coils so much fun to play is that they have dynamics like an acoustic and even more so.

    But I might be interested in experimenting with a compressor to achieve something like what a fuzz does but with less gain.

    But I agree with others that the OP should try other things first as suggested. If you play with a lot of gain most of the time playing clean can feel awkward. Usually more gain equals more compression.
     
  18. Hatfield92

    Hatfield92 Tele-Meister

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    It could be a tone thing. Maybe your dirty sound has more mids (just as an example), which allows it to cut through the mix better.

    I’d experiment with my clean tone if I were you. You may be getting lost in the mix because of that morE so than anything else.
     
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  19. Endless Mike

    Endless Mike Friend of Leo's

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    If a compressor kills your dynamics, you're not using it correctly. Listen to Larry Carlton on the live version of "Last Nite" there's a compressor on, and full dynamics. It's all how it's set.
     
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  20. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    I had a Line 6 Floor Pod a few years ago and used the built-in compressor with everything, and I liked the effect it had on my tone. Later I bought an AC15C1 and put a compressor on my board, but realized that I didn't need it as the amp itself had enough natural compression. Now I have an AC10C1.. same thing. I think the smaller the amp, the more natural compression it is going to have.

    Also, counter to what someone said above, I don't think humbuckers compress anything. They are simply pickups. What is probably happening is that their output is high enough that they hit some preamps with enough force that it naturally compresses the signal. This likely won't happen with all amps.
     
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