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Old 01-06-2015, 08:52 PM   #1
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Compressor Pedal for Metal?

Hi everyone,

I just started to play deathcore (kind of a mix between Carnifex and Black Dahlia Murder) and I noticed that I can't get a really good sound on the mids, no matter how I EQ my amp or distortion pedal.

Let's say that I'm playing some riffs on the 6th string (tuned A) and then throw in some notes on the 5th or 4th, the sound of the 6th string it's fine but the 5th and 4th has a really low volume comparing it to the 6th, this makes it very hard to distinguish and separate the sound of the low tones from the mid/high tones, basically the lows saturates everything.

Some friends suggested me get a compression pedal, so I can have the same volume level on any note, but I'm not really sure about it, after viewing some comp pedals review, I saw that they are mainly used for country/blues stuff.

I'm using an Epiphone LP with EMG 81/85x and a Line 6 Uber Metal dist pedal.
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Old 01-06-2015, 09:00 PM   #2
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what amp? not sure a compressor will do what you want.
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Old 01-06-2015, 09:39 PM   #3
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What amp? Compression pedals + metal is typically not a good combination as you'll lose a great deal of your attack and definition.

Best advice I can give. Use way less gain, turn the bass down and the mids up. Try a different distortion pedal as the Uber Metal is uber scooped. Failing that grab an EQ pedal and EQ in the frequencies that you need more of.

Honestly... Tuning down to A is silly. You're in bass territory and most guitar amps are not designed and do not have the power to do a decent job on those really low notes.
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Old 01-06-2015, 09:48 PM   #4
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agree with booting the uber metal pedal. if you need that pedal then i'm guessing that you aren't using an amp designed for that type of metal. also agree the A tuning may be whee some of your problem lies.
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Old 01-06-2015, 10:29 PM   #5
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compression pedal for metal? just turn the gain up, lol.

but yeah, ditch the uber metal. and stay away from distortion pedals that have the word 'metal' in the name.
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Old 01-07-2015, 09:20 AM   #6
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The amp is probably a big part of the problem, as well as said pedal with the words "metal" and especially "Line 6" in its name. You still haven't mentioned what amp you're using. But yeah, the problem with most "metal" distortion pedals is that they think MOAR GAAAIIIIN is the answer to metal. Too much gain just ruins your clarity and ability to hear individual notes through the resulting mud.

But also, tuning to A could also be a big part of the problem if your guitar isn't properly setup for it. That tuning requires very large-gauge strings to sound good. If you don't have enough tension on the strings, it will just sound muddy no matter what. I'll assume you're playing Drop-A? On a 25.5" scale guitar, I would have to use .13-.64 gauge strings for that tuning. On a shorter scale guitar (24 3/4"), they'd have to be even bigger. So if you're not using strings in that ballpark of sizes, you probably won't have enough tension and it's just going to sound like mud.

Edit: After thinking about this a little more -- I forgot to mention that your playing itself will have a lot to do with whether or not you can hear all of those notes. If your muting is not up to snuff, and you let your 6th string ring out through heavy distortion, that will mute any other notes your playing -- because that note dominates the signal going to your amp. For metal playing, you'd better get very familiar and friendly with palm-muting as a minimum -- but really tight riffing and playing involves fret-hand muting as well. That's the only way to be able to hear everything in technical songs and riffs.
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Last edited by KailM : 01-07-2015 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 01-07-2015, 03:01 PM   #7
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If you are going to use the compressor with your distorted sound, it will be useless, you just need more practice to control the attack of each string and make it sound more even. any metal distortion would act as a compressor.

on the other hand, if you have the problem with cleans as you are used to high gain, yes a compressor may be effective.

I have to agree with icronic, use an EQ pedal. Boss and MXR have good ones at a decent price. I believe that MXR 10 band EQ is more suitable for very low frequencies though
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Old 09-21-2015, 02:01 PM   #8
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Considering the staccato-playing, low tuning and high gain type of metal you're playing, I would suggest the following?

1- a COMPRESSOR pedal just after your guitar, so the volume (amplitude) difference between your high and low notes is diminished (squashed).

Note that if this difference is too broad in the original signal (your guitar), the compressor pedal won't do much. In this case, check whether your pickups, strings and guitar are suitable to the low-tuning you are using. Sometimes a good guitar setup and a change of pickup and strings can add A LOT.

Get an extreme compressor pedal - you don't want a subtle one. You want something that will even your signal radically. Usually, people will warn you about the loss of dynamics, range and attack. However, you won't need much (if any) of those to play the type of metal you are playing.

2.1 - if you are using DISTORTION pedals, you should place it after the compressor pedal. If you can afford, I would recommend Wampler's Triple Wreck. Another good option, in my opinion, is the Fulltone GT-500 or any other FET distortion (for others, also consider a boost or two OD pedals at once). They are nasty and I like the mid-range in them. Since you are playing in a low tuning, a more high pitched distortion will balance your sound very well and you will be able to get in the mix (especially when playing live). I've also heard good things about the Metal Muff, but I haven't played one of them. I also think the Turbo RAT and the MUFF are nice options.

2.2 - if you using your amp's distortion, it should also be placed here in your chain signal: but only if your amp has an effects loop. If it does not, you won't have much choice: your dirty will be the last item on your effects chain. This is not the best way to go.

3 - EQ PEDAL after your dirty. Some people would recommend getting it before your dirty. Maybe you should experiment with your gear and check what works best for you. In my opinion, placing your EQ PEDAL after your dirty will usually give you a more radical change. Most extreme dirty pedals are built with a regular 6 string standard tuning guitar in mind, so they are voiced for that situation. This is not the case with more "natural" overdrive pedals - in which case you would prefer having the EQ placed before, so the drive will add its tone naturally. This is not the case for your type of metal. Just place your EQ PEDAL after your distortion so you can preserve the distortion's voicing and tweak your eq.

4 - a NOISE GATE at the end of your signal chain. I would go with an ISP Decimator II. This is also crucial for your type of metal. You don't want the loud noise of your dirty pedal all over the place. You want an staccato-type of playing.

5 - Wahs, reverb, delays and any other effects you want to add. Consider placing any of them before the noise gate. I am assuming you are not really using any of these other than in a solo/lead. For the rythm guitar just stick with 1-4 above.

SUMMARY: 1) - Compressor; 2) Distortion; 3) EQ; 4) Noise Gate; and 5) other effects, if any.

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Old 09-21-2015, 03:30 PM   #9
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Using a mid oriented boost pedal such as a Boss SD-1 or an EQ with the kids boosted is what you want. Boosting the mids means you'll have more clipping at those frequencies but bass frequencies won't become booming, so you'll maintain a tight sound. You'll need to have that in front of a suitable amp. As has been mentioned, a noise fate wouldn't go amiss either, and you shouldn't overestimate the amount of gain needed for metal. I tend to keep it at around 10-11 o'clock.

FYI, tuning down to A is not silly and there are plenty of bands who tune lower and achieve sounds that couldn't be achieved with a bass. Off topic but I can definitely name at least one pedal that has metal in the name and is pretty good.
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Old 09-21-2015, 09:24 PM   #10
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i will concede that there is one which sounds any good - the amptweaker tight metal.

however, that's above the budget tier of pedals which have 'metal' in the name - such as the mt-2 metal zone, hardwire tl-2 metal distortion, mxr fullbore metal, digitech death metal, ehx metal muff.

also, the boss hm-2/hm-3 heavy/hyper metal do their own thing and would never pass for a decent amp's lead channel.
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Old 09-21-2015, 09:46 PM   #11
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^ Metal Zone and Fullbore Metal don't even belong in the same sentence. (Not familiar very well with the rest.)
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Old 09-21-2015, 11:10 PM   #12
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You can get a mild compressor that doesn't adversely affect your tone, something like the MXR. Those are easy to dial in and are almost transparent. I am not sure how much it will benefit your tone as others have said that the Line6 gear might be adversely affecting it but that'd be my suggestion offhand.
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Old 09-22-2015, 12:29 AM   #13
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