Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

[How] Should I think about a compressor...

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by bluesholyman, May 26, 2017.

  1. Modman68

    Modman68 Tele-Holic

    Mar 27, 2011
    La mesa
    No, it's a great question. All my previous experience with compressors were without a blend and the only usable effect I could get was the exaggerated poppy attack effect from maximizing the ratio/attack. Something I wouldn't use all the time.

    More subtle settings effected my attack dynamics and treble content in a way I didn't find pleasing.

    I just recently got an SP compressor and the clean blend allowed me to leave my attack alone while blending in the sustain of the effect as the original signal fades out.

    Clean sounding sustain is allowing me to play some long ringing phrases without the dirty gain I might have needed to play those notes. On some songs, this is indispensable.

    Blend has completely changed how I use and think about compression.
    4pickupguy and dlew919 like this.

  2. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Poster Extraordinaire

    May 12, 2013
    Fort Worth, Texas
    ️Very much this!!

    That seems on topic to me.

    I think parallel compression truly is the best of both worlds. A blend knob makes more sense on a compressor to me than almost any other pedal. What I use a compressor for is to take my clean sound out of the 'plinky, plinky' single coil zone and give it some girth without killing the character. If I use a straight comp like say a Dyna comp etc,.. I feel like I am waiting for the notes to bloom into the song and it drives me nuts. The transients are the first casualty of even moderate settings in my experience. With parallel compression you can set the compression to be much more extreme and blend in the dry signal to deliver the missing transients and articulation. On my rig and guitar (which can be far 'plinkier' than most), it allows me to use really scooped, delicate sounding pickup combos (like 3 or 4 on at once), the kind that completely vanish on a loud stage and not only play leads but play them up on the high, dusty end of the fret board without sounding like a toy. In fact it allows me to use a much lighter touch, which, for those sounds is crucial.
    Now, with that said, if you blend the dry signal with a fairly compressed signal and are able to incorporate some multiband compression you get even more 'punch' from delicate sounds. You can set the mids to be accentuated meaning after the initial transient and bell-like overtones have been delivered, the punchy 850hz (on my rig) can remain in the sustain adding to 'cutting thru' power. Its just a magic feeling. Its just my opinion, but being able to use some delicate sounds live and be not only heard, but felt, even in a low stage volume, busy bar band environment is priceless. I cant get there without it. YMMV!!
    Last edited: May 31, 2017

  3. dlew919

    dlew919 Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 6, 2012
    That makes a lot of sense. Thanks.

  4. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Holic

    Dec 22, 2010
    Mostly depends on how you use it. For the most part it's an improved "attack" control that most compressors have had for years. To me with an attack knob, you had to pick between mush and an annoying "ping" type sound. It's why I hated compressors for years.

    With the modern blend knob (which has been around for decades in studio gear), to me you get a much more natural balance between attack and sustain. The blend knob allows you to have a natural sound on the front end, while leveling out spikes a touch, but you ca also really push the sustain on the back end as well.

    A good compressor with a blend knob, to me, keeps your guitar's core tone. It just holds back super aggressive spikes a bit and then gives you added power on your legato. And it really adds body to the tail of your sustained notes.

    My Tele has very good sustain to begin with and with a compressor I get a monumental clean sustain. (Yes, every time I say that I envision the scene from spinal tap).

    The amazing thing to me is that when playing normally you can hardly tell it's on. But when I turn it off, my hammer ons and sustained notes have way less juice to them.
    4pickupguy, dlew919 and RetroTeleRod like this.

  5. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Poster Extraordinaire

    May 12, 2013
    Fort Worth, Texas

  6. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    I stumbled upon a secret to setting up my compressor: play with the input level. If there's a trim pot inside the pedal you can get it so that the output volume knob on top of the pedal isn't so touchy and gives you a broader range of sensitivity. The guitar's volume pot can have the same effect. Otherwise I was never happy with the output volume knob on the pedal. I like it so that the overall output from the compressor is slightly boosted, but not dramatically, when playing quietly. That way when I dig in the full squish becomes apparent.
    dlew919 likes this.

  7. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 6, 2010
    Stop Compression.
    dlew919 likes this.

  8. Teleposer

    Teleposer Tele-Meister

    Sep 28, 2016
    Compression is obviously first and foremost a surgical or correctional tool for getting the volume to stay at a reasonable level. It has other uses too, but generally it's used as some kind of automatic volume adjustment thing when used on guitar and especially when you are dealing with hardware pedals and not software or rack mount kit.

    But even in this scenario it has another use, and a very creative one at that. Anyone that knows about the Abbey Road Reverb trick will tell you that a bit of LPF and HPF goes a long way. True. But a bit of compression here as well can open up a whole new world of creative possibilities. In fact, not just creative possibilities, we are going back to surgical and correctional again.

    I suggest, if you like to play all that ambient guitar stuff or just like using/abusing reverb in general, then stick an eq after it for the Abbey road trick to clear up the end frequencies (obviously guitar is not as broad band a signal as a whole mix - but adjust to taste), and then stick a compressor after that again to tailor the tails of the reverb. You can gate them or you can expand them. Cut them or draw them out. Really, once you get it hooked up it opens up a whole new world.

    It was one of those things no one talked about for years, then all of a sudden when someone mentioned it, everyone said they had been doing it.

    You don't need much more than an eq and a comp pedal after your reverb pedal to try this at home. You might be pleasantly surprised. Or maybe you've been doing it for years.

    For added flavour, do the abbey road reverb trick on your parallel compression buss. Or parallel compress your reverb buss. Hell, do both! Do it in stereo. Do it loud! Knock yourself and the neighbour's cat out!

    You haven't lived until you incorporate compression at the end of your reverb chain.

    Just one tip.

    And of course, you can use compression at the beginning of the chain as well for taming peaks and enhancing sustain, or expansion and gating too if you really like to play about with dynamics.

    I find the guitar through an amp already compressed and tamed enough, so I tend to use compression more for extra creative effects as mentioned. And nothing to stop you using this extra dynamic control on flangers/phasers and whatnot of course, but reverb is about the best bang for buck - very dramatic and noticeable and therefore tweakable. You'll wonder how you lived without it.
    Modman68 likes this.

  9. Modman68

    Modman68 Tele-Holic

    Mar 27, 2011
    La mesa
    Get off my lawn.
    RetroTeleRod and artdecade like this.

IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.