Compression to control even volume

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by waynereed, Jul 22, 2014.

  1. waynereed

    waynereed TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    6
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2013
    Location:
    Central Ohio
    I've just recently started working on some pedal steel
    techniques on a standard tuned 6 string.

    What I find I'm missing is having all strings darned near
    the same volume.

    My guitars are tuned up and adjusted correctly. Pick ups,
    etc. proper height. And for most playing, in general,
    sound fine.

    So I started working on my 1st countryesque, kinda tune.
    I figured Sleepwalk would be a great tune to do.


    From what I've read, steel players use compressors to
    get that tight, well, compressed sound. But the comp pedals
    I have seem more like OD/Dist pedals.

    I'm not a novice player, but going from Blues (with an edge)
    to clean pedal steel sounds isn't happening by accident! LOL

    Any advice as to how to use a compressor pedal to do what I'm looking
    for? (Other than the obvious, like "Don't turn your gain so high, dude!") LOL

    Any suggestions as to what comp pedal works really well to control volume of each string?

    Oh, while I have your attention . . . funny thang . . . kinda . . .

    One of my guitars (USA 50th Anniversary Deluxe Strat) . . . seems like
    when I get past the 15th fret, on the high strings, the volume really
    drops off. Any ideas?
     
  2. Sideways Jaye

    Sideways Jaye Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    311
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2013
    Location:
    Charlottesville, VA
    The type of compressor will make a difference. A Boss CS-2 or an MXR Dynacomp is not a very "clean" compressor and will add dirt to your sound. Try a Barber Tone Press, Xotic SP or other compressor that blends in the uncompressed sound ("parallel compression).
     
  3. waynereed

    waynereed TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    6
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2013
    Location:
    Central Ohio
    Thanks, Jaye! You listed the 2 comp pedals I have! LOL

    I'll pick up a parallel comp!!!!
     
  4. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,087
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Location:
    Western Canada
    Well - to each his own I guess :)

    I have never had any problems getting pedal steel effects from a BOSS CS-2 or even a CS-3 along with some right hand technique. Run everything around noon and you will be fine. If it's adding dirt, it isn't the compressor - it's triggering something else down the line. A Boss is not a studio grade compressor - but it's perfectly fine for what you are trying to do.

    As for one with a blend control - I'm not sure how that will help you. A parallel comp is great for a guitar player trying to allow the natural attack through - but that is what you are trying to avoid.

    I also play pedal steel... rarely do steel players use a comp (some certainly do). Technique gets the strings to attack at the same level, and they do that with the volume pedal kept fairly low. As the sound of the steel starts to taper off, they push the volume pedal keeping the volume consistent. Steel players keep a lot of volume "on tap" for this reason. If they ever hit a chord full tilt they would blow your eardrums out ...

    IMO: You should have 4 things to mimic a pedal steel guitar.
    * A decent compressor (even a Boss or MXR). (great amps will naturally compress in their sweet spot - that is fine as well, maybe even preferred)
    * A volume pedal (a PS player is NEVER without a volume pedal)
    * Technique (hybrid picking)
    * Voicing (steel players do not voice their chords like a guitar player does)

    Take one of those out of the equation and something will not be right.

    Just my 2 cents...

    This is right hand technique... muscle memory. When you hybrid pick (fingers and thumb) each finger is assigned a string - over time you will get each string to attack at the same volume. A compressor will smooth things out a little - but it's the right hand that will produce the tone.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2014
  5. waynereed

    waynereed TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    6
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2013
    Location:
    Central Ohio
    That was worth a lot more than 2 centsd! Thanks!!!
     
  6. waynereed

    waynereed TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    6
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2013
    Location:
    Central Ohio
    That was worth a lot more than 2 cents! Thanks!!!
     
  7. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,219
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Location:
    Twangsylvania 6-5000
    Codamedia knows a thing or two about pedal steel. Trust him!
     
  8. Bill

    Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    6,999
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    London
    I've never cared about pedal steel in the least. But reading this incredibly thoughtful thread has gotten me interested. I love that about the TDPRI!
     
  9. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    10,842
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2013
    Location:
    near Arnold's
    Man, your post is so right on in so many ways. A tutorial. Thanks for sharing. I'm just a hack lap steel player but to my ear it shares a lot of similarities to pedal steel in the way the approach and tone differs from electric guitar.

    Re hybrid picking, the cool thing is that the top strings naturally have the most attack and also thereby perceived initial volume. And just by virtue of using pick on low strings and fingers on higher strings, you've gone a long way to evening things out right off the bat.
     
  10. sir humphrey

    sir humphrey Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,613
    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    Bristol
    I'd say a CS3 would be perfect for what you are talking about. It adds a bit of squish, but whether that is a good or bad thing is down to personal taste. Personally, I have no time for ultra-transparent compressors and the squish makes a world of difference to getting a really authentic sound on steely bends.
     
  11. beexter

    beexter Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    264
    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2003
    Location:
    East Grinstead, West Sussex, UK
    I've tried a few compressors and the only one that I've bonded with immediately is the Xotic SP. It does exactly what I've been looking for all along - balances string volumes nicely and adds sustain without "pumping". It is fabulous and I find the blend control works really well to fine tune the amount of initial attack that comes through. Can't recommend it highly enough.
     
  12. Tele-phone man

    Tele-phone man Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,934
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2006
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    It sounds to me that the volume pedal and picking technique allow the player to create his/her own "manual" compression. Adding a compression circuit might actually complicate things.
     
  13. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    10,842
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2013
    Location:
    near Arnold's
    I think so. When I started playing lap steel, I thought a compressor was essential. And as a beginner it probably was - at least to jump right in and be passable in the band. But as time passed I set it lower and lower (and per Comedia turned my amp up until it compressed and just lowered the volume pot on my lap steel if there was too much breakup) and ultimately ditched it. My foot and my fingers seem to be able to soften the attack and even the stings, and the architecture of a lap steel provides plenty of sustain. On guitar, a cranked amp and good pickups seem to do the same.
     
  14. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,087
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Location:
    Western Canada
    Absolutely - A compressor is not for everyone. For guitar players that are used to them, and like them - it's a no brainer, but I wouldn't suggest adding one just to try and get a pedal steel sound. It's not the answer by itself.

    The problem with the volume pedal method (for guitar players) is that you need a lot of volume to make that work properly. If you need to go back to a guitar signal/sound, it would simply be too loud. This is normally why a guitar player might choose to put a compressor/sustainer inline.
     
  15. gitapik

    gitapik Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    995
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Location:
    New York City
    I like to put my compressor before any OD or boost pedals on my board when I'm using either to jack the signal up. I like the sound of a boosted compressed signal more than that of a compressed boosted signal. It sounds cleaner to me.

    There are a lot of nice compressors out there...especially if you're not looking for "studio quality". I've got a block letter MXR from way back and a Humphrey modded CS-3. Both sound great. The MXR is a bit noisier, but it's got a sweet mojo to it, so I keep it on my small board. I love the CS-3. It's got a very nice warmth to it and is quieter than other units I've played.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.