Do you consider compression to be very important for guitar tone?

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by Marquee Moon, Jun 18, 2019.

  1. Marquee Moon

    Marquee Moon Tele-Meister

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    Pretty self explanatory. I don't mean using pedals, but during mixing. What are some cool things you can do with compression for different guitar styles?
     
  2. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Sure. Evening out strummed acoustic parts, jangly/12 string, country picking. Slow release to bring up sustain (and noise) on notes as they die out on a solo. Gilmour etc.
    Shaving transients off sometimes if you want things more washy.
    Not so much on distorted stuff, that tends to be fairly compressed already, but never say never. Duplicate the track, pan the original left, the duplicate right and with a slow release so as the original is fading the duplicate comes up sustains. Supposedly a Townsend thing. I’d rather play the thing twice with a different guitar or different chord inversions but it’s worth a try.

    I don’t see any reason to treat guitars any differently than anything else, so yeah, if you’ve got a guitar buss that needs a bit of glue or movement, or needs to be pulled further out front and a compressor can do that job, why not use one?

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  3. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yes, we are approaching the: compressor district.JPG
     
  4. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    Anything with too much dynamic range needs a compressor. Of course, "too much" is totally open to debate.
     
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  5. Steve 78

    Steve 78 Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes, I consider comprehension to be very important.


    What?
     
  6. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    Sometimes I'll use a comp to tie several tracks together, like harmony vox, harmony lead guitars and so forth. Of course a comp on the drum bus is de rigeur. Always a touch of comp early in the master chain (about -2 dB at a low ratio, just enough to clip the peaks before they hit the limiter). When I've got a lot of midrange instruments chattering away and getting into the vocal, I'll pan them left and right and use a Mid/Side comp configuration to compress only the side-panned instruments to give the vocal some space (-3 dB max). I've learned to respect the power of automating my compressors — it's well worth the time, like having several different comps for the (system resources) price of one.
     
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  7. guitarmoron

    guitarmoron Tele-Meister

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    I have one, but I cannot tell much difference, but I am the GUITARMORON, LOL
     
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  8. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    It was like that for me when I first started out in this game. So much of mixing, beyond the technical aspects, is learning to not just listen, but also to >hear< ....
     
  9. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I never use it.
    I understand it’s use in recording.
    I can’t bear pedal compression when playing live.
    Natural compression/distortion/overdrive is a wonderful thing.
    Pedal compression just sounds “processed”, and sterile, IMO.
     
  10. Greg_L

    Greg_L Tele-Holic

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    Not on overdriven guitars. Not at all. They're already compressed.

    Bu clean guitars? Sometimes.
     
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  11. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Poster Extraordinaire

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    Studio compression is its own kettle of fish entirely. There are almost too many ways to use compression to answer the question. Assuming we are talking about using it conventionally as one would a pedal.
    IMHO it sure helps a clean tone to at least use some parallel comp to combat some of the “plinky” single coil settings on my guitar. If its multi band you can have it accentuate the mids a little post transient for bit more girth. Multple layers of subtle comp sounds better to me than having it all in one place.
     
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  12. Greg_L

    Greg_L Tele-Holic

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    Truth
     
  13. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    +1
     
  14. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

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    YES! Studio engineers will give up their EQ's before they will give up their compressors :). But I am glad you made the distinction between "pedals" and "mixing"... those are two completely different games.

    In the studio, compression is often layered and each stage has a distinct purpose.
    • Sometimes a limiter is used during tracking... this just stops a transient peak from ruining a good track.
    • A gentle track compressor may be applied... just a slight gain reduction with a fairly high ratio 4:1 up to 10:1. This smooths out the track but it will still sound natural.
    • For a solo (or track) to stand out, quite often an LA-2A or 1176 gets applied to the guitar. Those have distinct tones... they are NOT transparent. When people can't figure out what is missing in their guitar tones, often it is one of these. Don't blindly add this type of compression to a guitar... it is best suited when it really needs to stand out. If it always stands out, it never stands out ;)
    • Bus compression is often added during the mix, which is another very gentle compression... just a DB or two of gain reduction with a low ratio of 2:1 or 3:1. Often this is referred to as the "glue" since that is what it does... it "glues" the entire mix together.
    • Brickwall limiting is often added during the master stage and is used to increase the volume (lower the dynamics) of the mix to the desired level.
    Everybody's favorite guitar tracks are compressed to some degree, even when it isn't recognized as such.
     
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  15. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Meister

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    Comps are essential for band production, but I’ve been on-again off-again with comp pedals. I like the leveling and sustain but hate the loss of sparkle in the tone. Slow attack helps, but I think I need something with a blend knob or maybe the multi band comp in the new tc unit.
     
  16. Straydogger

    Straydogger Tele-Holic

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    Kinda like the Twilight Zone right? :)
     
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  17. InstituteOfNoise

    InstituteOfNoise Tele-Holic

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    Yes, but even more so now with the large extent being recorded using a modeler, it requires a different type of comp approach to give it more depth and not a linear type of tone. Also applying some sort of tape (smear as I refer to it), as well as room modeling reverb which I use UAD Ocean Way room reverb to give it more depth as the "amp in a room" tone applied for modelers is very effective. It's subtle in a mix, but if you hear it solo'd it's very telling...
     
  18. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    TPS just had a show about this.

    I was struggling to listen to it as about 3/4 of the "cool uses of a compressor" just sounded like workarounds for "we bought an amp that is too big for where we are playing, so we can't turn it up, so now let's add an OD + Compressor to try and make it sound like the amp is working."

    I had a compressor (the Orange Kongpressor, which is biased towards "studio sound") but got rid of it a while ago. My amp is not too big for my use (and it has an attenuator) so once I figured out I just needed to turn the volume up and then select an appropriate attenuation setting for the environment I stopped using the compressor.

    I feel like the whole country sound might be easier to get right without a compressor than the funk sound associated with compressors.

    TPS had an interesting segment in their show about the country sound and the MXR Dynacomp, the Dynacomp apparently has a fixed slow attack. So the first note gets to have it's transient come through but subsequent notes in a run of notes do not. In those chicken picking runs where you're snapping the notes and not letting them ring out it seems technique can duplicate a lot of that effect. I've been noticing this a lot lately practicing 6th runs.. if I snap & quickly mute the higher string in each interval it sounds a lot like a compressor clamping down and gets much closer to that stereotypical sound. (My teacher had explained this to me quite some time ago actually.)

    The compressed funk sound does not have this same characteristic.

    Gotta admit the show made me kind of wish I still had the compressor.. can't say I won't try another one. It'd probably have to be a smaller unit though. It's not something I want to devote much space to.
     
  19. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    Compression is one of my favorite studio tools. I very rarely use it on electric guitars though, since distortion is essentially a form of compression anyway. The only exceptions I can think of are wah-wah parts (especially with the cheapo Dunlop ones that sound like an icepick when you step on them) or guys who use pedals that aren't level matched, making some parts are too loud/quiet.

    There are basically two ways to use compression- to control dynamics, and for creative purposes. Most of my use of compression is about dynamics- keeping the kick drum and bass in the pocket, keeping the vocal intelligible, stuff like that. On drums though, I unleash enough "creative" compression to sink a battleship. You've never truly lived until you've smashed a drum room mic with an 1176.
     
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  20. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

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    I compresseverything.
     
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