What is the history of compressors and country guitar tone?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Buffalo0993, Dec 12, 2019.

  1. Buffalo0993

    Buffalo0993 Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    977
    Joined:
    May 8, 2013
    Location:
    Texas
    Country guitar seems to be very closely linked with compression. When you turn one on and start spanking a telecaster it does take you to that sound and reminds you of classic country guitar playing and even still the hotter modern country players

    How did this come to be?
     
    RetroTeleRod likes this.
  2. reckless toboggan

    reckless toboggan Tele-Holic

    Age:
    45
    Posts:
    575
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2019
    Location:
    Canada
    Pretty simple, I think.

    In country music, the more compressors the better.

    It's kind of like soft clipping overdrives for blues.

    Or for metal zones for metal.

    Your basic n+1 rule.
     
  3. big jimmy

    big jimmy Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    1,027
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    Melvis, TN.
    Sounds like a topic for a thesis.
     
  4. teleforumnoob

    teleforumnoob Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    62
    Posts:
    2,192
    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    Location:
    North Alabama
    Take a small wattage Fender like a BF or SF Princeton or Deluxe and plug Tele straight in on the back pickup. Crank it up in a small club to the point the power amp starts really working and you get natural power amp compression while still a pretty clean tone. Combine that with the necc picking technique to produce the twang and the sound is born.
    Graduate to bigger halls and you need more loud, graduate to a Super or Twin and start asking your studio/electronic wiz buddies to make you a compression pedal.

    Just my theory.
     
  5. tlsmack

    tlsmack Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,373
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Location:
    Lonk I-lant, New York
    Compression helps fingerpickers and hybrid pickers to maintain a constant volume level across all the strings. I wonder if that was the original purpose of compression for country players.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
  6. Buffalo0993

    Buffalo0993 Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    977
    Joined:
    May 8, 2013
    Location:
    Texas
    Yes i suppose that makes alot of sense. Im just kind of curious when it started and what kind of compressors they were using
     
  7. Ben Bishop

    Ben Bishop Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    322
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2010
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    I just took a few minutes to check a Redd Volkaert video and what I suspect is that compressors are a pretty recent thing. His touch, whether with fingers or a pick, is gentle and controlled, so if he wants notes to linger he just makes sure there's nothing to mute the string. If you attack the strings the decay is significant but if you pick modestly then there's no burst of energy - the decay seems slow and easy. Many jazz players are the same; they coax notes out of the guitar and the note lingers; hit it hard, get a big attack, then you'll have a rapid fall-off. With the higher noise floor of a recording and radio transmission then a compressor really helps keep a note above the background level, but I suspect its popularity just makes up for deficiencies.
     
    telemnemonics and dlew919 like this.
  8. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,917
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2014
    Location:
    South London UK
    Radio play. Using a compressor helps the guitar sit consistently in the mix and since it is a guitar driven genre, the benefit is obvious.
     
    Teleguy61 and dlew919 like this.
  9. dlew919

    dlew919 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,228
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2012
    Location:
    Sydney
    Chet used studio compression. As did all of them. What’s the first pedal compressor? Because it helps reproduce the sound of the record. And I bet that that’s a key moment


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  10. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    5,362
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2003
    Location:
    Athens-GREECE
    In ALL types of music not only country. I don't think there is a SINGLE record out there without some kind of compression.
     
    dlew919 likes this.
  11. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,917
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2014
    Location:
    South London UK
    Every single recording released uses compression (unless it is a specifically audiophile zero compression).
     
  12. 8trackmind

    8trackmind Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    806
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2018
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    The first pedal compressor was likely the Dyna Comp or the Ross. I think.
    Mid 70s? It's not a new phenomenon.
     
    dlew919, Teleguy61 and Telecaster88 like this.
  13. Buffalo0993

    Buffalo0993 Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    977
    Joined:
    May 8, 2013
    Location:
    Texas
    Im getting alot of these answers, and yall are right.

    but i still think im talking about something different here. The subtle compression that you might add to a rock guitar track seems different to the use of compressors in country guitar. Its more a part of the sound rather than just using compression to better fit a track in the mix
     
    dlew919 and telemnemonics like this.
  14. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,088
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2014
    Location:
    UK
    The obvious ‘squashed’ sound is a country feature... different to rock and some 80’s pop.

    I am not up on country music history at all but assume some breakout track introduced it and others copied?
     
    dlew919 and RetroTeleRod like this.
  15. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    18,886
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    Yeah country music did fine without compressors when amps had tube rectifiers and weak slow power supplies, doesn't even have to be the old small amps as the bigger amps were naturally compressed with slow mushy transients. Relatively speaking of course.
    Then the BF Fender got stiffer and faster though still a little compressed, followed by the appearance of pedal compressors for guitar.
    There was studio compression long before that and also the old tube consoles had tube preamps that could not just compress a little but turned up could even distort a clean signal to fatten it up and keep the dynamics in check for recording.

    Could be the change to SS in studio and PA also made live and recorded guitar harder for players to control, so when the pedal comps appeared they were quickly embraced.
    I don't think country needed compressors, but the sound that influential players got was cool and different, so a trend was born.
     
  16. RetroTeleRod

    RetroTeleRod Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    55
    Posts:
    5,948
    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2012
    Location:
    Oklahoma, USA
    ^^^ This. I suspect the sound really caught on after 1973 when the MXR Dyna Comp made it easy to obtain.
     
  17. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    18,886
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    Well yeah and it's possible Rock players did this to an even greater extreme than country and Jazz players, in fact I'd say way more than Jazz players.

    The key there in the lighter touch having a similar effect to compression, is that you combine the light attack with a cranked amp driving the strings, similar to the way a compressor lowers the attack and raises the sustain level.

    But mechanical compression where the amp drives the strings is more natural and more musical, plus more versatile because where a compressor typically runs out of sustain compared to a cranked amp, the sustain afforded by volume not only goes on as long as you hold the note, but it gets louder and breaks into harmonics.

    Contrastingly, Jazz players seldom if ever play at high enough volume for the amp to be driving the strings to any useful degree, and Country does but didn't so much when pedal compressors became the norm for certain styles.

    Here though, the Ross and Dyna Comp is an effect as much as simply some compression to even out sloppy RH technique and make live work sound more like studio tracks.
    Now we have pedal compressors that don't sound like an effect, and really have no sound at all.

    While it's possible to stomp a dyna comp and not hear it, they really do change the sound beyond the evening of attack and adding of sustain.
    As ubiquitous as reverb, makes an instantly recognizable country sound easier to get and more distinctly country.
    I think eventually country players took a page from Rock and many went back to more compressed amps and high volume for their compression.
     
  18. jarpat

    jarpat Tele-Holic

    Age:
    56
    Posts:
    507
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2017
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    Country - compressor with guitar - playing.

    I don't like country. I mean I do not like very much "country" as it is today. Wayne Hancock has made great albums on this century, but his "country" is still 40-50's style. That's what I like. Junior Brown is cool too. I think "Brad Paisley" is a big country star. I can not get anything out of it. That kind of music just makes me sleepy. But maybe it needs compressors?

    I could not get used to play with a compressor. I'm used to play quieter or louder with my hands - whenever either one is needed and a compressor there - can I say "it craps my style"?

    I played seven years in a band which was perhaps a country band. We played Horton, Don Gibson, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash etc. No need for a compressor there.. but that's just me.
     
    ndcaster and 2 Headed Goat like this.
  19. Teleguy61

    Teleguy61 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,974
    Joined:
    May 17, 2010
    Location:
    Eastern Massachusetts
    Dyna Comp with a volume pedal is the classic country sound, for many of the reasons cited above.
     
    RetroTeleRod likes this.
  20. dlew919

    dlew919 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,228
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2012
    Location:
    Sydney
    I’m also thinking of the other genre that uses that compressed sound - funk. The two genres are both miles apart and very close.

    Again, around 1973 you start to get that sound. So I’m guessing the dyna Comp or the Ross has a part to play.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    RetroTeleRod likes this.
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.