#1
What do they do?

I've heard them used so many different ways, and I still don't know what they're supposed to do. I can tell when one is on or off, but I just can't put my finger on what the difference is.

From what I understand a compressor "compresses" the signal to add more sustain to what your playing. Doesn't that mean it's just like a light overdrive or distortion? Isn't distortion just the signal boosted then forced to compress back down so it clips? I've heard compressors used to get a really thick gritty sound before. Our bassist made his amp sound slightly dirty, then ran his compressor cranked way up to drive it even more (It sounded amazing btw).

I'm probably way off base with my understanding of what compressors do (and overdrives for that matter) so that's why I decided to ask.

PS - I'm not in the market for one or anything (why would I buy something if I don't know what the hell it does?) I just want to figure what they're capable of.
#2
Their primary intention I think is to balance out your notes and your chords. They compress everything you play so it comes out the same. Notes will be as loud as chords. They're really great for soloing for that reason.

But they can be used a number of different ways, like you said. None of your answers are wrong, they can do all that. They aren't really for just one thing, imo.
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#3
Quote by Offworld92
Their primary intention I think is to balance out your notes and your chords. They compress everything you play so it comes out the same. Notes will be as loud as chords. They're really great for soloing for that reason.

But they can be used a number of different ways, like you said. None of your answers are wrong, they can do all that. They aren't really for just one thing, imo.


I had heard that they reduce excess noise while playing, or is that a noisegate?
#4
Quote by SilverSpurs616
I had heard that they reduce excess noise while playing, or is that a noisegate?


That is definitely a noise gate. Compressors are the complete opposite. They're some of the most noise producing pedals you can get.
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My band:
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(For fans of Death/Groove/Prog Metal)

Ibanez RGA42E
Ibanez S420
LTD H-301
Ibanez RG520
Peavey Predator USA
Douglas Grendel 725
Line 6 Pod HD500X
#5
it basically takes the loudest parts and lowers the volume so they balance out with the quiet stuff. how they do that gets a lot more complicated, and unless you want the technical stuff, i wont write it all.
#6
Quote by sandyman323
it basically takes the loudest parts and lowers the volume so they balance out with the quiet stuff. how they do that gets a lot more complicated, and unless you want the technical stuff, i wont write it all.


You don't have to get TOO technical, but I do have a couple questions.

If all it does is balance the signal why does it add sustain? Is it because the compression is almost like adding light clipping to the signal?

How was my bassist able to get such a huge gritty sound from a compression pedal? (I would ask him, but he was just borrowing the pedal and playing around with it until it sounded good)

Offworld said you could use them to make chords and individual notes be the same volume. That sounds really useful since I do rhythm and lead stuff at the same time and I usually find myself riding the volume knob just so the chords aren't louder than the notes, and it makes playing really difficult.

Would a compressor help with this? Would I completely lose all dynamics? Would a volume pedal be better?
#7
It adds sustain because as you hold a note, it gets steadily quieter and quieter until it stops ringing. The compressor takes this quiet-ness and brings it up to the same level as all the other notes, thus increasing sustain. Usually compressors can also just boost you signal and drive your preamp tubes harder, getting you that gritty sound. And yes, a compressor would be good for what you described. It will make you lose dynamics to an extent, but that's why they come with knobs. Find a good middle ground and play with that. Or you could just get a boost to kick on in the solos to cut through better.
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#8
Quote by Kcintlob
You don't have to get TOO technical, but I do have a couple questions.

If all it does is balance the signal why does it add sustain? Is it because the compression is almost like adding light clipping to the signal?

How was my bassist able to get such a huge gritty sound from a compression pedal? (I would ask him, but he was just borrowing the pedal and playing around with it until it sounded good)

Offworld said you could use them to make chords and individual notes be the same volume. That sounds really useful since I do rhythm and lead stuff at the same time and I usually find myself riding the volume knob just so the chords aren't louder than the notes, and it makes playing really difficult.

Would a compressor help with this? Would I completely lose all dynamics? Would a volume pedal be better?


He probably got the grit from hitting the front end of his amp with the compressor's level maxeed out.

A compressor doesn't clip the signal, at least it's not supposed to. if you hit it with a really hot signal or play really hard, it can distort a little. but it's not like an overdrive if that's what you're thinking.

A compressor woild be ideal for what you're asking, basically leveling out your volume. You won't lose all your dynamics. the best example of a highly dynamic compressed sound would be Mark Knopfler's tone from "Sultans of Swing". It still has that snap and punch from the compressor, but you can still hear all the dynamics of his playing style.

Quote by boudo
good players don't have to use compressors, they make there own SRV never used a compressor nor does ACDC and a few others . its all in you playing ability.

this is such a stupid thing to say.

You could say good payers don't use overdrive pedals, or chorus pedals, or any pedals at all. Yes, some players don't use compressors, but many prominent players do. Mark Kopfler, David Gilmour, Trey Anastasio and Brad Paisley all use compressors. Are you telling me these guys aren't good players?
Quote by patriotplayer90
Lolz that guy is a noob.

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Last edited by Jhachey22 at Sep 25, 2010,
#9
Quote by boudo
good players don't have to use compressors, they make there own SRV never used a compressor nor does ACDC and a few others . its all in you playing ability.


Because you can definitely even out and boost your signal level with your fingers alone.
#10
Quote by boudo
good players don't have to use compressors, they make there own SRV never used a compressor nor does ACDC and a few others . its all in you playing ability.

wat?

Quote by boudo
^^^ there alright, they just need a little help that's why they use them they cant make
there notes sound good enough .

that's the most stupid thing i've read all year. you really shouldn't be posting, please stop.
#11
Quote by gregs1020
wat?


that's the most stupid thing i've read all year. you really shouldn't be posting, please stop.



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#12
Quote by boudo
see SRV used something called dynamics in his playing like orchestras no one has that anymore .

using compressors don't allow you to do that when every note is even sounding


There's the door. Use it.
#13
at first, I thought you were just dumb, but now realise you're prolly just a troll.

Quote by patriotplayer90
Lolz that guy is a noob.

Egnater
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#14
Quote by boudo
see SRV used something called dynamics in his playing like orchestras no one has that anymore .

using compressors don't allow you to do that when every note is even sounding


Although I know you're just a shitty troll, SRV used two Ibanez Tubescreamers, which compressed his sound while overdriving it.

And AC/DC's amps were cranked full on, which also compressed their sound, reducing the dynamic range somewhat.
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#15
Quote by boudo
see SRV used something called dynamics in his playing like orchestras no one has that anymore .

using compressors don't allow you to do that when every note is even sounding

Oh, SRV was the only good player. He didn't have an orchestra when i saw him, must have been an off night. Damn union violinists!

maybe some people want the notes to sound even. coughcarlossantanaandabillionotherscough.

seriously, you have no idea what you are talking about.

don't use a delay either, SRV didn't.
#16
Don't listen to the guy that says good players don't use compressors. He is incorrect, and as for dynamics... you've never heard Brad Paisley play. I'm of the opinion that the guy is as good, if not better than SRV.

Compressors are very useful if you play a telecaster. With the single coil in the bridge, you tend to get the bass notes and high treble notes only, and lose many of the notes in between on fast runs. A Compressor keeps this from happening with a tele. It also helps keep chords from sounding muddy.

You don't need much compression from a compressor to get the good effects. Too much and it will sound like your signal is being squashed. I use very little when I have access to a compressor, and get great results.
#17
Quote by boudo
i am not a troll , it is true that SRV and others use distortion and reverb to get a compression
effect but its a controllable effect they can turn down the distortion emphasize the notes when they wish as loud or as soft as they want

now tell me that's a lie or im trolling you know its the truth its all in there playing

a compressor makes playing easier but you loose dynamics as well which might not be important to you .

but you have to say dynamics is not a large part of playing anymore.
only some jazz and and acoustic players maybe


You have 9 posts and are trolling.

Shut up and leave now plox.

kthxbai
#18
Quote by barden1069
It adds sustain because as you hold a note, it gets steadily quieter and quieter until it stops ringing. The compressor takes this quiet-ness and brings it up to the same level as all the other notes, thus increasing sustain. Usually compressors can also just boost you signal and drive your preamp tubes harder, getting you that gritty sound. And yes, a compressor would be good for what you described. It will make you lose dynamics to an extent, but that's why they come with knobs. Find a good middle ground and play with that. Or you could just get a boost to kick on in the solos to cut through better.

Thanks! Your explanation actually makes a lot of sense.

I had thought about just using a booster, but sometimes I play fills in between chords or pick around in the chord before I strum it through. Clicking a booster on and off would get a bit tricky. I'm glad a compressor will help.


Quote by Jhachey22
He probably got the grit from hitting the front end of his amp with the compressor's level maxeed out.

A compressor doesn't clip the signal, at least it's not supposed to. if you hit it with a really hot signal or play really hard, it can distort a little. but it's not like an overdrive if that's what you're thinking.

That's probably what it was, and it makes more sense when I think about it. It had a really distinct sound, but he was probably using it to boost his front end, and had the compression up for a little extra punch. He's really good at finding weird settings on pedals, so I wasn't sure.

Quote by Jhachey22
A compressor woild be ideal for what you're asking, basically leveling out your volume. You won't lose all your dynamics. the best example of a highly dynamic compressed sound would be Mark Knopfler's tone from "Sultans of Swing". It still has that snap and punch from the compressor, but you can still hear all the dynamics of his playing style.

I had heard the song before, but hadn't really paid that close attention. I think you've sold me on a compressor.


Quote by XgamerGt04

Compressors are very useful if you play a telecaster. With the single coil in the bridge, you tend to get the bass notes and high treble notes only, and lose many of the notes in between on fast runs. A Compressor keeps this from happening with a tele. It also helps keep chords from sounding muddy.

You don't need much compression from a compressor to get the good effects. Too much and it will sound like your signal is being squashed. I use very little when I have access to a compressor, and get great results.

It's good to know it could help out with a Tele. I hadn't played one extensively enough to notice any of those problems, but I love the sound of them and I really want to pick one up here soon.


Thanks to everyone who's posted (well, almost everyone :rolleyes

Could you guys suggest a compressor that could solve the problems I'm having and not break the bank? I don't know if you've seen any of my older threads, but I'm slowly saving up and building my pedal board, so there's not really a budget. As long the cost is justifiable, and doesn't cost as much as small amp, I'm fine.
Last edited by Kcintlob at Sep 26, 2010,
#19
If you want the "Sultans of Swing" sound, get a clone of a Dan Armstrong Orange Squeeze compressor. You can buy a kit from General Guitar Gadgets for $50, but you there are a fair amount of boutique builders who make them, ranging from $100-$250. It's a fairly simple circuit, so if you feel competent enough you could probly build one on a lazy sunday afternoon.
Quote by patriotplayer90
Lolz that guy is a noob.

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#20
Orange Squeeze
Keely Keeley (either two or four knob)
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Standard Tele (modded to Nashville specs)
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And pedals!



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#21
Quote by boudo
see SRV used something called dynamics in his playing like orchestras no one has that anymore .

using compressors don't allow you to do that when every note is even sounding

Ummm no...you can use a compressor and still have dynamics.
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#23
A compressor is basically a limiter with the signal amplified behind it, so it doesn't distort but still makes the signal be the highest amplitude it can get while there's sound.
#24
I liked the Orange Squeezer and the Dyna Comp, but I think I'm leaning towards the Dyna Comp. The two knobs give me a little more flexibility than the Squeezer. Plus, they're cheap and easy to find. How do you think it compares to something like the Soul Preacher?
#25
I like the dyna much more than the soul preacher.
Keeley Comp f'n rules, but it is basically a ross clone with excellent parts.

and for all the pretty good explanations of comps in here, just one mention of their ratios and how they work would've probably answered TS's question much earlier.

oh well, too late now. good job killing the troll guys!
#26
My plan for a pedal board had been to run...
Buffer > Comp > Rest of the pedals

When I came across the Comp 66 I figured it may just combine what I need for a buffer and a compressor. It sounds good enough, but I wanted your opinions on the pedal, and what you could tell me about Visual Sound's buffers.
#27
I though VS's pedals were true bypass ever since RG Keen went to work for them???

side-note, TS, do you know what a 'buffer' is or does?
#28
^ Nah, they still use a buffer.
Quote by patriotplayer90
Lolz that guy is a noob.

Egnater
Leave it on the press, Depress Depress Taboot Taboot.
#29
Quote by Kcintlob
My plan for a pedal board had been to run...
Buffer > Comp > Rest of the pedals

When I came across the Comp 66 I figured it may just combine what I need for a buffer and a compressor. It sounds good enough, but I wanted your opinions on the pedal, and what you could tell me about Visual Sound's buffers.


You're going to put a buffer at the start of your chain?

#30
Quote by Avedas
You're going to put a buffer at the start of your chain?


not that much different than running active pickups.
Quote by patriotplayer90
Lolz that guy is a noob.

Egnater
Leave it on the press, Depress Depress Taboot Taboot.
#31
Quote by Avedas
You're going to put a buffer at the start of your chain?



Where would I run it then?
Last edited by Kcintlob at Sep 27, 2010,
#32
Quote by Jhachey22
not that much different than running active pickups.


I'm not saying it's a bad thing, just I'm not sure what the use for it would be. I usually see them amidst a long chain of unbuffered pedals or long cables.
#33
Quote by Avedas
I'm not saying it's a bad thing, just I'm not sure what the use for it would be. I usually see them amidst a long chain of unbuffered pedals or long cables.

That's what I was going to use it for...
#34
Boudo, you're in an idiot. You say compressors make playing easier? You do realize that while compressors to add sustain and emphasize notes they also emphasize your MISTAKES, right? You've obviously not spent a lot of time, if any, using a compressor.

And as far as the use of compressors in the OP...My personal opinion is that compressors are at their best when used with a clean tone and I dont see much need for one with an overdriven or distorted tube amp. The reason for this is that when you crank a tube amp, compression occurs naturally in the tubes and in a very desirable way.

Now, a compressor pedal when applied to a clean tone that is not compressed already since the tubes are not being overdriven will add the same quality to your tone as overdriven tubes. Hence their popularity in country music which is mostly clean tones or slightly dirty cleans depending on your definition of country music.

If you want to experiment with a compressor I'd say start with the MXR Dynacomp. It's cheap, it's classic, it has resale value in case you dont like it.
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#35
Quote by Bright Light
Boudo, you're in an idiot... words...


Well said!
Agreed, all of it!