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

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

  1. Robus

    Robus TDPRI Member

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    Onstage mixing or in the studio? For mixing a recording, everything gets compression.
     
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  2. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I’m more in the compression as a character thing than as a dynamics leveller, automation is your friend there, although in reality it can be/is both and you need to have compressors that can impart character to do that. And, that isn’t always what you want. Sometimes you just want to clamp something down without the compressor artifacts getting in the way. It all depends.

    And yeah, 1176, all buttons in on a drum room, don’t even look at the meters! is a fun thing.

    And +1 to using more than one comp in series, neither working too hard, often can give you more and more transparent gain reduction and bring something to the front of the mix. Lead vocals with an 1176 into an La2a (or a vari-mu like a Fairchild, Sta, Gates etc.) is a classic ex ample.

    So, In general I’m a compression more often than not kinda guy. But it really is all context dependent. I’m also an automate levels guy. Drum bus is gonna have a comp on it. Kick might have one and/ or a limiter plus some automation. And so on for the rest of the kit. Bass. Will have a compressor. Almost always, but I have tracked a guy that didn’t need it. Vocals will probably have a couple compressors plus I’m automating. Guitars? Whether individual guitar parts will get any compression or whether things get sent to a buss and that gets compression really is so context dependent it’s hard to give advice or generalize other than perhaps say that the more the distortion increases, the more the guitar part is compressed already. In that case I d be less likely to reach for a compressor. I don’t know how much compression is going on in hard rock and current metal recordings though. I’d bet they are still compressing the guitars.

    I’d guess the other thing to mention is back in the recording to tape days, you could hit the tape hard at a fairly high level when recording and it would impart tape compression, a bit of a different kind of thing than pedals or outboard compressors. IIRC the OP was going into record and was pondering going to tape and this type of compression is a different conversation.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  3. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    Part of the issue with being new to compressors is that it will not fix your mix
    or your individual track if your EQ is not right.

    One of the problems I have encountered is someone new to comps
    is probably not dialing in the settings of EQ correctly either.

    I've seen good intended folks killing their guitar sound by thinking
    their guitar amp (speaker) has hi fi or full fidelity capability. It doesn't.

    If you would take your guitar track, shelf everything above 5khz or so,
    then cut out some bottom end also, which can vary if you down tune
    or use 7 string guitars etc...... but I would find the freq of your lowest
    open string and start your filter from there.

    THEN when you plug in your compressor you'll have a more accurate
    representation of your guitar going through an amp.

    Am I making sense? Thanks.
     
  4. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    This right here!!! ^^^^^^^

    Don't ever think you're stuck with your first compressor setting. You can make it sound umpteen different ways thru automation! Work until your eyes water, your ears bleed and your brain cries out for mercy, but obsessive attention to automation — *on every track in your project* — can rock your mixing world. Get ridiculous with it! Those refinements are there for your taking. Every note in every track is important.
     
  5. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yup, automation takes the place of five band members around the mixing board all working the mix!
     
  6. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    ^^^^^^^ Most of us here on the RIP are home recordists within a range from project studios to bedroom workspaces. The biggest flaw I hear in so many mixes is that low-end din wastes a lot of bandwidth and ramps up the noise floor of mixes that would have a fighting chance without that dull roar. If it's not bass or kick, SHELVE THAT LOW END below 30-40 Hz (use your ears) and roll off from like 200 Hz or even higher (use your ears) — no $hi+, don't waste space on mud.
     
  7. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Re the bottom end. Not only can it muddy the waters, but if you’ve got a compressor on something with a lot of low end info, the compressor can be triggered by that when you don’t want it to. So if you’ve got a compressor on the 2 buss and the kick is setting it off, it might be better to put a hpf in front of the comp at, oh, 250 maybe so it isn’t engaged every time the kick hits.

    This is a somewhat different issue than having low end info that doesn’t need to be there and is taking up sonic space that probably should be dealt with at the source. Again, hpf to the rescue. Just listened to a podcast with Geoff Daking about why he put one in his mic pre one, which I have and can tell you sounds great. Back in the recording to tape at 30 ips days you could only physically record down to about 40 hz. In the DAW 10 hz is no problem. Whether playback systems can reproduce that is another issue, but getting rid of the unmusical low end stuff that is just taking up bandwidth is good practice.

    And as Woodman suggests, you can shave off surprisingly high sometimes. The Ups truck trundling by doesn’t need to be on your tracks.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
  8. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Absolutely.
    It can make all the difference in the world during mixing.
    You have to know how to use it of course.
    If you don't than why in the world are you mixing?
     
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  9. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    You are correct, the comp might just kick in because it gets low end info
    and further distracts the dynamic attribute you're looking for....
    like pumping without the sidechain.
     
  10. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Right. The comp may have a hpf built in. Or you can put one inline before.

    But you probably don’t want each kick hit dragging down the overall level of the track, for example on a comp on the stereo buss. Or even on a drum buss. Which can happen because low end sources take up so much sonic territory for lack of a better description.

    Sometimes better just to let the low end stuff through uncompressed, and the compressor does it’s thing on the low kids and up.

    Cheers,
    Geoff

    Low kids, heh.
     
  11. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    I like those low kids.......

    Ever listen to Beatles recordings and Paul's bass guitar is
    all by itself in that lower register? Man, that is the coolest sound ever!
    His track does not distract from any other instrument and neither does it hide.
     
  12. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Arrangement. Is also kinda everything.

    Those guys kinda got that maybe. Just a wee bit.

    I’m sure he was compressed but I wonder with what. I have the British recording studios book so I guess I could look at what Abbey Road had, but it was sure used musically.

    And I’m a big Kinks fan. Shel Talmy did not shy away from compression on those early Kinks and Who records. Whole lotta pumping going on!

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  13. kiwi blue

    kiwi blue Tele-Afflicted

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    A couple of times recently I've been struggling to get the bass guitar to poke it's head out of the mud and be heard clearly. The solution turned out to be trimming the low end off the guitar(s). All of a sudden, clarity!
     
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  14. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Doctor of Teleocity

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    Yes, it's all about the levels.
     
  15. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Friend of Leo's

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    If it's a very saturated/distorted tone that is already compressed, then I might try it just out of curiosity to see how it sounds, but generally not. If it's less distorted with lots of dynamics usually yes.
     
  16. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    Very true.... distorted tones are already compressed so if you add a compressor to those tones you do it more for the tonal color of that compressor than for the effect. That last thing you need here is a "transparent" compressor ;)

    Joe Satriani comes to mind here. There is an old article (I believe guitar player in the 80's or 90's, but could be wrong) where he talks about his first experience in the studio. To paraphrase Satch... he said something to this nature.... "as soon as the engineer put the 1176 on my guitar my life changed. THAT was the elusive tone I've been trying so hard to get". Joe still uses an 1176 on this guitars, and owns a few himself.

    For guitar players out there that are trying to copy sounds they hear on the recordings... you need to realize compressors are the magic sauce on those tones.
     
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  17. Marquee Moon

    Marquee Moon Tele-Holic

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    Thanks for the great info. I want to buy a 176 myself.
     
  18. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    This.

    I've never got along with it in my guitar rig, but when I mix I also compress everything. It's like the first thing I do to each track.
     
  19. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Speaking of Paul’s bass by itself.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
  20. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Er, you mean 1176 I think. There is a 176, but it’s a different thing.

    Keep in mind there were several versions of the 1176 and they sound different. There are several companies making clones of 1176s at reasonable-ish prices.

    Warms clone is based on rev D I think. Black Lion makes one based on the version that didn’t have input? transformers and is a bit of a different beast because of that. Stam makes a couple versions including one that has options for the a, d and f types. Audioscapes has an a and an f.

    There may well be others. There are certainly ones in higher price brackets like the Purple and Serpent units as well as UNiversal Audio which I believe has some connections to Urei who made the originals.

    So you may want to do a bit more digging and see what version Satch used. But who knows, you might prefer another version better.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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