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Old 03-27-2013, 07:14 AM   #1
dietermoreno
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Does compressor help sweep picking?

Does compressor help sweep picking?

A few days ago I saw this box with flashing red and green lights on top of a guitarist's amp at a show and I asked him what it was and he said it was a compressor.

I asked him what it did and he said it helped him sound crisper on note picking.



I have seen dozens of YouTube videos of guitarists with socks on their guitars claiming that the sock helps them sweep.

Perhaps better (and more expensive) than putting a sock on your guitar is investing in a compressor?
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:24 AM   #2
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You could just get better at sweeping.

Practice your technique ad lower the gain. There's no reason why you need a compressor for sweeping. The 'sock' is just something to mute the other strings to keep things clean, not typically practical outside studio use, you essentially lose sustain on open strings in doing so.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:32 AM   #3
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Focus on getting better at the technique instead of 'cheating' it.

It will pay off in the long run
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:35 AM   #4
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first off, are you playing anything high gain? anything of mid gain or more pinto metal catagory should already be compressed to the point where a compressor (a stompbox compressor) is borderline useless.

gain / od / distortion / fuzz adds varying degrees of compression. generally the more gain the more compression. so, it probably not an issue.

if you are talking clean tone? then yes. i would think a compressor would help giving all notes teh same volume / presence and stand out regardless of the attack or how hard you hit the string. it also depends on the compressor itself.

but in short, technique is everything. if you cant sweep, a compressor will not help you.
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:15 AM   #5
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Instead of buying a compressor, buy a metronome, some new picks in varying sizes, some new strings, some fretboard oil and some guitar polish, and set up your guitar. It'll feel like a completely new instrument, and with that you'll find inspiration to really sit down and master them.

TL;DR A compressor won't do a lot if your technique isn't refined to begin with
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:15 AM   #6
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For overdrive or clean, a compressor will still even out your pick attack 'volume' from hitting either too hard or too light. It helps you sound more consistent volume-wise when picking. I generally leave my compressor on all the time, just to add a little extra sustain, because I play at low home practice volumes and it beefs up my Strat's single coils making them a bit thicker sounding with my overdrive at the same time. But a compressor is a subtle effect when used the way the are supposed to be. You should almost not notice it. You guys make some good points though. If I was playing at more high gain amp settings without volume restrictions then I would probably not use my compressor with overdrive and only for clean tones instead.
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Old 03-27-2013, 12:46 PM   #7
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There is not a pedal in the world that is going to make you better at sweeping. The only thing that will make you good at sweeping is being good at sweeping.
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Old 03-27-2013, 01:24 PM   #8
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A compressor/limiter can bring up the volume of notes picked too lightly but the other side of the double edged sword is that it brings up the volume of everything ........including open strings not picked and strings fretted that you missed muting with the palm.
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Old 03-27-2013, 01:48 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by HowlerMonkey
the other side of the double edged sword is that it brings up the volume of everything ........including open strings not picked and strings fretted that you missed muting with the palm.


That's true. It's really anoying when the G string rings out after lifting your finger off it! Oh another thing, don't use those cheater hair bands over the nut. That will just promote sloppiness.
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:03 PM   #10
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To be honest I'm not a huge fan of extra compressors at all. Unless I'm just trying to get some long fake sustain or something, I much prefer to be able to alter the sounds with picking dynamics. I can play an even volume if I want to.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:08 PM   #11
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well, if you want a certain cleanish to mild breakup tone, especially with single coils, its almost impossible to get it without a quality compressor. i am thinking RHCP and some phil collins / genesis stuff. listening to "thats all" by genesis. that solo tone at the end is non existent without a crap load of compression.

thats not really the context here though.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:14 PM   #12
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No shit a pedal can't help you physically play better. That's not what the OP was asking. He asked if it helps the sound, and the answer is yes. Playing ability high horses or not.
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:45 PM   #13
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I use a compressor only on clean channels.

As for compressor on dirty stuff, great way to ruin pick attack!!!!!
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:18 AM   #14
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I've never had any luck with anything other than a boost or good EQ for improving my sweeping.

The best way to improve your sweeping is to improve your muting. Even if your right and left hand are synced up perfectly, if you don't mute it properly its going to sound sloppy.
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Old 03-28-2013, 03:26 AM   #15
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Okay, so I guess I asked the wrong question.

I guess the better question to ask would have been "does compressor make picked notes sound crisper".
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:37 AM   #16
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It probably won't make them sound crisper unless you're using the compressor to increase the volume on the quieter notes and boosting the overall output pretty high. It might make your clean and lightly overdriven sweeps sound a bit smoother as well, the strings you hit harder won't overpower the lighter picked ones.
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Old 03-28-2013, 07:44 AM   #17
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Why are you all answering his question by telling him to practice? Obviously practicing will make him better, I'm sure he doesn't need you to tell him that.

Will the compressor help? Yes it will, i'd say the majority of professional guitarists playing lead have one somewhere to do this, guys like Steve Vai and John Petrucci have massively compressed guitar sounds.

The compressor simply squeezes everything, light quiet notes get a boost while hard picked notes get pushed down in volume. It reduces the dynamics and makes the sound more even accross the board, this has the effect of making the guitar more touch sensitive. If you play a legato lead line and find that perhaps some of the notes aren't clear as you'd like, a compressor could take that same run and make it sound better and clearer by boosting up the level of your lighter played notes before they hit the amp.

As for the hairband on the nut thing? Use it, if it helps then use it. Guthrie Govan uses one, is he sloppy? No he isn't, he's perhaps the best technical guitarist on the planet. All these naysayers saying don't do this and don't do that.

If it's good then do it, if it works/helps then use it.
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:58 PM   #18
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Maybe this will help:

I got in trouble once here for posting a web link and can't remember if we can post a direct YouTube link but if you go to YouTube and search phMUH6gkAMw then you can watch a lesson called "The Correct Mechanics of Sweep Picking" in which he emphasizes easing left hand finger pressure after picking a sweep note as you go to the next string sweep note to mute it effectively, in combination with right hand palm muting.

The hairband thing doesn't indicate sloppiness if I said it that way. The hairband dampens string notes that you 'could' control just as well without it, which will improve your technique if you leave it off. Lots of other great players do amazing sweeps without a hairband. I don't need to list them all. Use it if you 'need' it I suppose. I'd rather not personally because I don't want to become dependent on it like a crutch to cover up anything or ignore what's happening. The goal for me is to 'not let' the prior picked string ring out accidentally after lifting my finger off too soon which could result in a fingertip dragging motion and vibrate the string like a unwanted pull-off note.
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