#1
I have been playing guitar for a long time but have only recently been really taking a look at my sound and how to get an optimum sound out of my amp through finally switching to a tube amp among other things, there is still one specific problem I am having though that I cant seem to get a clear answer to, but I think a compressor is the answer.

Basically in my band I am usually playing chords or occasional solos which I have a boost pedal for, but one problem I have is we play How He Loves by the David Crowder Band, and I play that main piano line on the guitar for the whole song. but when I play it I have to turn my amp up a lot because the single note line doesn't come out as loud as my chord playing, would a compressor pedal fix this were I don't have to do major volume adjustments on my amp to get single notes to come out as loud as full chords, also I play this line on the clean channel and on the gain channel.

Also, is there any compressor pedals that could be recommended, I am looking at getting either the boss cs-3 but I also know that Digi tech, mxr, and electro harmonix are good brands.
#2
i tihnk a compressor might help you hang on to those notes a little longer. also a pedal like a big muff could help. For a different approach, maybe a delay or reverb could help you get some more depth in your sound for that part.

Just a side note, when I play that song at my church sometimes I use an ebow for that part so I can have infinite sustain. Maybe look into that.
Originally posted by primusfan
When you crank up the gain to 10 and switch to the lead channel, it actually sounds like you are unjustifiably bombing an innocent foreign land.


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#3
Nope. A better bet would be to get a simple boost pedal to use for lead parts. Apart from the fact that most guitar pedal-based compressors are pretty crap and have severely limited features, you would probably need to do a bit of reading up on compressors to achieve what you want (as it would appear you don't fully understand them), in which case if you were really set on a compressor I'd say you should set the level on one to bring the level of your rhythm down below the volume of when the pedal is not in use, and turn the compressor off when you want to play a lead... that's pretty much just using it as the reverse of a boost pedal though, to achieve the same effect.

Not to mention that compression affects the sound and tone of your signal more than just making things quieter, and if you're already playing with distortion/overdrive, you already have heavy compression going on, and are likely to lose all the dynamics that were left in your playing.

Seriously, if you want to make lead lines louder buy a boost pedal.
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#4
I dont know why people are saying no.

What you described is what a compressor is purpose built to do.

A compressor decreases the dynamic range of whatever you run into it, its brings up your quietest volume closer to the loudest (Depending on how much squash you dial in), then adds gain to compensate for volume loss.

There are draw backs, it'll raise the nosie floor along with everything else, so you'll find a bit extra hum (Depending on the quality of the comp), and a proper compressor (One that isn't advertised to "retain your dynamics and be transparent" for whatever reason you'd want a compressor to do that.) will change your tone, usually making everything a bit meatier and warmer, not that its always a bad thing.

I found my dyna comp took a bit of low end, replacing the caps fixes that. And of course, you will loose some of your nuances from dynamics, not totally, but nobodies gunna give a shit when you're melting there faces in a crowd anyway.

I would not reccomend the boss at all, very noisy, bad quality, not tried the digitech, but id go with one of the hardwires if you want to go with a digitech.
If all else fails, the trusty super comp/dyna comp are good compressors for the cash (IMO, despite what everyone has to say about them). You might find the attack control usefull on the super comp, the higher you have the attack the faster the compressor will act, making it more percussive and sharper sounding.
#5
Yes, but why bother going the complex route to raise the volume of lead passages, when a better and cheaper option is simply to boost a set amount in those passages?

And besides, the way a compressor works, would simply make the lead part closer in volume to the rhythm, based on the peaks, which for single-note leads is going to have a high peak from the attack, and then a lot less sustain anyway so all you'd boost is the tail of the note, and it still wouldn't be louder than the rhythm parts... just closer in peak volume to them, which begs the question does it need to be as loud as the rhythm parts, or louder?

I always boost leads, and have had both the previous and current other guitarists in my band do the same, as the last thing you want is a lead part noone hears. Also, whenever you mix a track and have a lead line, you will almost always record it separately and boost it and process it separately to the rhythm tracks to make sure it stands out... all a compressor will do is further increase the similarity to the rhythm part tonally, increasing the background noise in the process.


I know you realised several of these points in your post, but a compressor is a long-winded way of achieving what a simple boost does, and the best way of using a compressor for TS would be setting it with no make-up gain, and then switching it off to an uncompressed signal for the lead parts, so they appear boosted, but are in fact just attenuated less.
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#6
I already have a boost pedal that I use for leads, what I wanted is exactly what I thought a compressor would do and what beckyjc described, I want to even out the volume of when I am using single notes for backup as opposed to full strummed chords or even just power chords. I don't want my single note backup as loud as the lead from my boost pedal I just want it the same volume as all the rest of my backup. And I am going down to Dallas with some friends this saturday to go to a few guitar centers and I will definitely look at the super comp. Thanks Beckyjc!
#7
Well, you want to be louder for 'the whole song' while playing lead parts, and you normally have to turn your amp up 'a lot' to be at the right volume... so rather than just boost the volume for one song, you want to constantly run an additional noise-inducing pedal the whole time that will have to squash the dynamics of your playing loads for the big difference in perceptual volume to be reduced... anyway, your choice, you asked for people's answers
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#8
What you need is a Volume pedal, I hate compressor with a passion on a guitars signal to boost it, it just smashes everything together and destroys all the naturalness of the tone.

With a volume pedal, you can control the volume of the amp through a foot pedal, bringing up the volume when you need it, and taking it back down again when you don't.
#9
Quote by DisarmGoliath
Yes, but why bother going the complex route to raise the volume of lead passages, when a better and cheaper option is simply to boost a set amount in those passages?


Because a boost doesnt do the same thing as a compressor at all? I wouldnt say that its a better/cheaper option to get a boost when a compressor does exactly what he wants? Inducing more gain from the amp will add more compression, but adding more gain isnt always desirable.


And besides, the way a compressor works, would simply make the lead part closer in volume to the rhythm, based on the peaks, which for single-note leads is going to have a high peak from the attack, and then a lot less sustain anyway so all you'd boost is the tail of the note, and it still wouldn't be louder than the rhythm parts... just closer in peak volume to them, which begs the question does it need to be as loud as the rhythm parts, or louder?


Compression doesnt just raise the peaks, this is exactly what the attack control is for. A lower attack will make for a more gradual clamping of the compressor, so you'll get a more natural attack and more fullness from the tails of the notes.
Why wouldnt it be louder than the ryhthym if he needs it to be? It closes the distance between the highest volume and lowest volume, it doesnt just bring down the volume, variables are dependant on how hard you are picking and the comp you're using.

Compressor = less sustain? I dunno mate...


I always boost leads, and have had both the previous and current other guitarists in my band do the same, as the last thing you want is a lead part noone hears. Also, whenever you mix a track and have a lead line, you will almost always record it separately and boost it and process it separately to the rhythm tracks to make sure it stands out... all a compressor will do is further increase the similarity to the rhythm part tonally, increasing the background noise in the process.


...Compression is probably the greatest and most used effect ever invented for mixing, if you know what youre doing with it... It can make vocals stand out and sounds fuller, it can make lead guitar stand out, it adds that phatness to kick, or that tightness to toms, levels out parts that are too quiet or too loud.

I dont know what youre rambling about tbh, are you implying that people actually mix and process all their guitar parts in one track? Ofc you process all instruments seperately, you use reverb, EQing, panning and volume from the faders to distinguish your tracks from each other. A bit of compression on your guitar solo makes it stick out without sounding too much in the foreground or out of place in the mix, like it would if you just simply boosted the volume. :/

Oh and boosting, whether it through pedals, VSTs or whatnot, will also amplify any hum and raise the noise floor. Just like a comp.


I know you realised several of these points in your post, but a compressor is a long-winded way of achieving what a simple boost does, and the best way of using a compressor for TS would be setting it with no make-up gain, and then switching it off to an uncompressed signal for the lead parts, so they appear boosted, but are in fact just attenuated less.


Fannying about with clicking on and off boost pedals and twiddling knobs is a long winded way of just using a comp to make everything sound a bit more together in the first place imo.
#10
I only glanced at the comments above, and I'm not going to get into any discussion with anybody about what a compressor does and doesnt do.

So suffice it to say that, yes a compressor will do the job. IF YOU GET THE RIGHT ONE AND SET IT PROPERLY. There are lots of simple compressors out there and lots of complicated ones, and there are lots of wrong ways to use a compressor and only a few correct ways.
Depending on the compressor, it can give you less sustain or more, you can use it as a boost or as a cut, etc etc.

Most importantly it will do exactly what you want it to. It will compress your chord playing leave your one note lines so that you have the same volume/drive, as long as you get the right compressor and set it correctly.
#11
Quote by ethan_hanus
What you need is a Volume pedal, I hate compressor with a passion on a guitars signal to boost it, it just smashes everything together and destroys all the naturalness of the tone.

With a volume pedal, you can control the volume of the amp through a foot pedal, bringing up the volume when you need it, and taking it back down again when you don't.

Thank you for bringing some sanity back to this thread.


And becky, I don't want to sound nasty as you're just trying to help the guy too, but I don't need compression explaining to me - I'm 2/3 of the way through a degree in sound engineering and have been recording/mixing bands for years... whether we agree on the use for it here, I think we can at least sate we agreed on what compression is right from the top.


But, as I can't sleep - I'd like to point out a few things - firstly, I never said it would raise peak volume, because it actually won't unless you give a really slow attack time and give a lot of make-up gain, which would actually be compressing the sustain instead then.

You fail to see that compressing the signal all the time, for the sake of boosted volume at a set time, is going to alter the guy's tone and if he's already using overdrive/distortion on the amp then throwing a compressor in front isn't going to clean up or gel his sound in the slightest. In fact, using a tubescreamer to do that would be a better idea to achieve a tighter sound, but I digress.

How is putting a boost pedal on 'fannying around with pedals'? Find me a guitar pedal-form compressor that doesn't suck balls compared to any studio compressor (even a Behringer Ultracomp, shudder) and I'll be highly impressed.


Also, I think you'll find that the simplest way of boosting single note leads IS to boost them, hence most major amp manufacturers having an additional boost feature or lead channel with a boost, and most professional guitarists having a lead channel set much louder.

Now explain to me how squashing all the dynamics out of something for the sake of a few lead/single-note lines is better in any way (other than laziness) than simply boosting the volume during those parts?


Edit: Anyway, we obviously won't agree on this, I'm in the minority, so I'll stick to the Recordings forum where it seems my posts belong - maybe if this thread was there you'd have got more answers like mine, who knows. For what it's worth, whenever I mix bands FoH I hate the bands that battle for volume onstage and can't simply boost the volume of whatever they want to stand out more guitar-wise, because they almost always sound like a mushy wall of sound and then I have to try and pre-judge their solos/leads coming in, or get them complaining they couldn't hear themselves... apparently peope don't appreciate the simplicity of 'if you want something louder, boost it' and seeing as it's live, it's not even like the compressor is there to save on headroom for other things, it's effectively just being used to boost something... funny that, considering it's job is to raise RMS volume by lopping the top of the peaks of a signal beyond a set threshold...
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Last edited by DisarmGoliath at May 24, 2011,
#12
Quote by DisarmGoliath
Thank you for bringing some sanity back to this thread.


And becky, I don't want to sound nasty as you're just trying to help the guy too, but I don't need compression explaining to me - I'm 2/3 of the way through a degree in sound engineering and have been recording/mixing bands for years... whether we agree on the use for it here, I think we can at least sate we agreed on what compression is right from the top.


But, as I can't sleep - I'd like to point out a few things - firstly, I never said it would raise peak volume, because it actually won't unless you give a really slow attack time and give a lot of make-up gain, which would actually be compressing the sustain instead then.

You fail to see that compressing the signal all the time, for the sake of boosted volume at a set time, is going to alter the guy's tone and if he's already using overdrive/distortion on the amp then throwing a compressor in front isn't going to clean up or gel his sound in the slightest. In fact, using a tubescreamer to do that would be a better idea to achieve a tighter sound, but I digress.

How is putting a boost pedal on 'fannying around with pedals'? Find me a guitar pedal-form compressor that doesn't suck balls compared to any studio compressor (even a Behringer Ultracomp, shudder) and I'll be highly impressed.


Also, I think you'll find that the simplest way of boosting single note leads IS to boost them, hence most major amp manufacturers having an additional boost feature or lead channel with a boost, and most professional guitarists having a lead channel set much louder.

Now explain to me how squashing all the dynamics out of something for the sake of a few lead/single-note lines is better in any way (other than laziness) than simply boosting the volume during those parts?


No problem. I do lots of recording, and I've paid a great deal of attention to the sound wars that's been going on recently with compression, and I have to say, everything sounds much better when you don't compress it. Yeah, it won't be super loud and it'll make you turn your stereo up, but it's worth it, just like when you get that sweet wonderful tube saturation from a pushed tube amp.

Me personally, I have very dynamic pickups, so I just pick harder to make myself louder, or pick softer to make myself quieter, or I use my volume pot, but I only do that to make myself quieter.
#13
Quote by DisarmGoliath

And becky, I don't want to sound nasty as you're just trying to help the guy too, but I don't need compression explaining to me - I'm 2/3 of the way through a degree in sound engineering and have been recording/mixing bands for years...


Then why are you even asking here? No offense to all the other people in this thread, but the majority of people on UG are 14 year olds whose parents buy them all the gear they want and dont know how to use it. I guarantee that 90% of people here have the wrong idea about compression and how to use it. It seems to me that you are the best qualified person to decide what you need.
#14
Quote by guy_tebache
Then why are you even asking here? No offense to all the other people in this thread, but the majority of people on UG are 14 year olds whose parents buy them all the gear they want and dont know how to use it. I guarantee that 90% of people here have the wrong idea about compression and how to use it. It seems to me that you are the best qualified person to decide what you need.

I'm not asking here, I'm not the TS lol.


Quote by ethan_hanus
No problem. I do lots of recording, and I've paid a great deal of attention to the sound wars that's been going on recently with compression, and I have to say, everything sounds much better when you don't compress it. Yeah, it won't be super loud and it'll make you turn your stereo up, but it's worth it, just like when you get that sweet wonderful tube saturation from a pushed tube amp.

Me personally, I have very dynamic pickups, so I just pick harder to make myself louder, or pick softer to make myself quieter, or I use my volume pot, but I only do that to make myself quieter.

Amen, I think particularly in the last few years it's got to a point where things are too loud, and I hate having iTunes auto-correct playback levels to get a similar output because occasionally it gets things a bit wrong, but damn you need something when you have music from the 80's and earlier in the same playlist as anything commercially released from the 90's onwards!
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Last edited by DisarmGoliath at May 24, 2011,
#15
Quote by guy_tebache
Then why are you even asking here? No offense to all the other people in this thread, but the majority of people on UG are 14 year olds whose parents buy them all the gear they want and dont know how to use it. I guarantee that 90% of people here have the wrong idea about compression and how to use it. It seems to me that you are the best qualified person to decide what you need.


On this particular form...not really, if your wrong on anything, you'll get hammered pertty hard for misinformation by the regulars, which, are always on somehow...
#16
Try the compressor, try the volume pedal adn the booster, too. Purchase from a "brick and mortar" store and you can take each solution home and decide for yourself. In theory, the compressor should do what you want, but if you aren't using one now, I bet you'll find it sucks the right hand right out of your playing. To me it was not worth the trade off.
#17
This debate is far too long winded.

I study music tech myself. People have different ways of doing things, adding compression post recording doesn't obliterate the way dynamics interact with the amp. In a full band mix with a guitarist trying to be SRV itd be hard just to boost the enitre track to make it sit right at the quiet parts and loud parts simultanously. After everything i've learnt I find it hard to believe that you simply just boost everything that's got too much dynamic variance to be heard. But thats not what this is about.

If he wants something to add girth and level the volume, a compressor will do it. He's allready said he has a boost pedal which obviously isnt doing what he wants. Obviously they arent as good as a rack compressor, these are guitar pedals, you'll be strained to find any pedal that'll compete with studio quality gear.

Different strokes for different folks, there's no need to be such a compressor nazi, some people dislike the way it affects the dynamics of their playing, some people like it, just find a comp with a bit less squash if you need some middle ground.