#1
Hey, guys. A few years ago while getting into the world of home recording I discovered compression. I didn't understand much about what it did but I noticed how I brought the sound of my cheap Squier Strat to life. So it became a permanent effect in all my mixes. It made it sound strong, warm and beautiful. 2 - 3 years later, I finally got my first compressor pedal, and I'm absolutely in love with it. It makes my guitar sound incredible.

The thing that I'm wondering about is: by using a compressor all the time (for those who do), aren't we putting aside what would be the natural sound of the instrument itself? And I'm no longer talking about recording/mixing here. I mean when playing guitar in general.

So, how many of you use compression? Do you always have it on? How and what for do you use it?
#2
Quote by GMx
The thing that I'm wondering about is: by using a compressor all the time (for those who do), aren't we putting aside what would be the natural sound of the instrument itself?

I say no, because when you're playing amplified any conception of the "natural sound" of the instrument is a fiction.

I would use compression all the time, but I've yet to be able to afford a compressor
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#3
When I am playing worship music my compressor is always on, it really smooths things out, especially when doing clean lead.
#4
See I can't stand compressors, it's takes all the whomp out of my sound. For smooth leads, definitely a great tool, but I prefer more bounce in my sound.
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#5
I'm not a fan except in certain instances. Want to kill my dynamics? I say **** right off.
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#7
A comp is definitely not for all scenarios, I also have a comp with an attack control so I can adjust how much it effects my dynamics to an extent.
#8
Quote by Cathbard
I'm not a fan except in certain instances. Want to kill my dynamics? I say **** right off.


Agreed. If I’m playing with the gain down enough that compression would matter I don’t want compression.
#9
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I say no, because when you're playing amplified any conception of the "natural sound" of the instrument is a fiction.


Spot on. I give you this. I actually wrote something along these lines in the original post but I deleted it afterwards, trying to keep it simple

I hope you're able to get one someday. Look up the Behringer CS-400 (mine). It's a clone of the Boss CS-3 and it's way cheaper. I spent years unable to afford one and I only could get it because my dad traveled abroad and I begged him to get me one.


Quote by Cathbard
I'm not a fan except in certain instances. Want to kill my dynamics? I say **** right off.


What do you mean by killing your dynamics? Keeping in mind that distortion actually compresses the sound, for example (but then I don't know what kind of music you play), I think it always depends on how you use it. I use compression to bring my attack up a bit more, as I like to play kind-of funky stuff. And I can always dial it back a bit if I want the effect to be subtler.
#10
The whole point of a compressor is to reduce the dynamics - that's what they do.
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#11
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#13
I'm a fan. I don't have a compression pedal yet, but I always have it engaged in my mutifx pedal. Love the sustain!
#15
I use a compressor for sparkly, punchy clean tone for single coil guitars, and also to boost my fuzz just cause I like how it sounds. I love my $35 Biyang CO-8, for both purposes I have level and "sensitivity" damn near dimed, which I've never seen anyone else do but I dig it. Overall, I only use it like 25% of the time.
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#16
limiter as an awalyts on for my style. Killing ydynamics is the point. Very genre and style precific is the point htough.

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#17
I use a compressor when I'm playing along with something with active p/ups, flattens the response out so it sounds a bit closer to my ears anyway.
#18
Guitar pedal manufacturers design compression pedals that seem so easy to use. You just plug in turn some knobs and go with little understanding or explanation of how to use them properly. A quick look at what's available in a pedal shows pedals that range from units with one knob to one with six knobs. Used properly and somewhat sparingly a compressor pedal can be really great when playing clean and in rooms where volume is an issue and you don't want to lose your guitars initial attack and dynamics because of playing at a lower volume. I don't think of compressors as an effect though it is often used that way.

There is an old saying about compressors: if you can tell that a compressor is being used, it's not being used correctly. Compressors are great tools but if you don't understand what threshold (attack), release time or compression ratio is, you will do more harm than good to your sound.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Jul 23, 2015,
#19
I use compression quite a lot, but I don't compress the sound very much when I do... if that makes sense.

You don't have to set a compressor to such a low threshold that it completely kills the dynamic range. What I tend to do is set it so that it just slightly pushes down the peaks when I pluck at my maximum velocity, and then bring the level up so that that squashed down sound matches unity gain when picking with the same velocity - it's a very subtle effect that seems to do nothing but enhance the sustain a little, stop the attack transient from jumping out too much, and make things a little more pronounced in the mix when I play softer. You still get a softer tone when you pluck more softly, even when using compression - because the string produces a different tone depending on picking velocity. It's nice to let the softer tone come to the front of the mix once in a while...

Also, I use compression after distortion/overdrive in the signal path for a simple reason: You can still have full, unaffected control over the level of gain when you vary your picking dynamics or adjust the volume control on your guitar.
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#20
I use compression when playing lead guitar. It's good for boosting volume and tightening things up a bit. For rhythm guitar I don't use it or need it.
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#21
Quote by Blompcube
I use compression quite a lot, but I don't compress the sound very much when I do... if that makes sense.

You don't have to set a compressor to such a low threshold that it completely kills the dynamic range. What I tend to do is set it so that it just slightly pushes down the peaks when I pluck at my maximum velocity, and then bring the level up so that that squashed down sound matches unity gain when picking with the same velocity - it's a very subtle effect that seems to do nothing but enhance the sustain a little, stop the attack transient from jumping out too much, and make things a little more pronounced in the mix when I play softer. You still get a softer tone when you pluck more softly, even when using compression - because the string produces a different tone depending on picking velocity. It's nice to let the softer tone come to the front of the mix once in a while...

Also, I use compression after distortion/overdrive in the signal path for a simple reason: You can still have full, unaffected control over the level of gain when you vary your picking dynamics or adjust the volume control on your guitar.


This. You can still have your dynamics and make them shine with a compressor.

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#22
rarely. used to have an old mxr dynacomp and later a boss one but neirther go much use. occasionally i'd use it for a clean sound if i felt it was needed. again for recording i might use it sparingly to smooth things out if i felt it was needed. don't own a pedal anymore and not likely to get one. built in fx in POD.
#23
Quote by Rickholly74
Guitar pedal manufacturers design compression pedals that seem so easy to use. You just plug in turn some knobs and go with little understanding or explanation of how to use them properly. A quick look at what's available in a pedal shows pedals that range from units with one knob to one with six knobs. Used properly and somewhat sparingly a compressor pedal can be really great when playing clean and in rooms where volume is an issue and you don't want to lose your guitars initial attack and dynamics because of playing at a lower volume. I don't think of compressors as an effect though it is often used that way.

There is an old saying about compressors: if you can tell that a compressor is being used, it's not being used correctly. Compressors are great tools but if you don't understand what threshold (attack), release time or compression ratio is, you will do more harm than good to your sound.


I don't think I know much more about compression than I did when I first discovered, though I have tried to remedy that. I'm not justifying being ignorant about it, but I believe that getting a sound and a response you like from your instrument is just as important as knowing the theory. Of course, I'm not saying that it is ok to hook up to a bunch of pedals you know absolutely nothing about. But trusting your ears is a bit important too.
Last edited by GMx at Jul 23, 2015,
#24
i use compression quite a bit in studio situations for various reasons. i rarely ever use compressors on guitars.
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