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Before you get a compressor pedal - myths & misconceptions

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  • Before you get a compressor pedal - myths & misconceptions

    Having built nearly 1,000 of the one that started the craze the last decade, I thought I'd share some insight with my fellow gearheads.  Sure, I'll get flamed (Tom, where you at?), but it's worth it to get some proper information out there.  Here we go:

    1. A compressor will make my tone better - False.  A good compressor shouldn't affect your guitar or amp tone at all.

    2. It's an integral part of the 'Nashville' sound - False.  Again, a compressor offers no tone-shaping qualities.  To identify it with a particular sound is part of the hype surrounding them.  A compressor squashes frequencies, top & bottom, especially if it is not a subtle compressor (think studio-grade rackmount).

    3. It will add sustain - True.  A decent amount of sustain can certainly be accomplished with a good compressor.....and a good OD, reverb, chorus, delay and tube amp.

    --

    Any player worth their salt will most certainly tell you that good tone is in the fingers.  A compressor is not an effects pedal.  It's borrowed from the rack units that are used when a studio engineer is compressing songs before mixing them down.  Can it help even your volume?  Yes.  Compressors are best for sloppy players or players that mis-fret often....beginners.  Most players who've acquired some experience have pretty good muscle control in their fingers, which renders a compressor virtually useless.  There's nothing wrong with jamming one, just digest the right information before you plunk down 200-300 dollars for a unit if you really don't need it (i.e., a cat who plays with one on all the time).  If you want to use it as a lead boost in front of your od, do it.  They can work pretty good for that.

    --

    Let the flames begin!

     

    Cheers!

    co-founder/designer<br>SynapticGroove<br>www.synapticgroove.c om

  • #2

    I dunno if I agree with number 2 or the idea that it helps sloppy players more.

    I haven't really used a compressor for a very long time (like over a decade) and I have good control of my playng. However, I have two telecasters that have quite a spikey pick attack sound due to the type of pickups they use. Or recording it's not such a big issue although it is a pain to dial that part down. However, playing just in the room it gets pretty spikey. The compressor definitely helps tame that a bit. 

     

    Besides which, if i want to play really hard, why wouldn't I want to retain that feeling without getting all the spikeyness?

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    • #3

      well then, having ejoyd' the taste of crow fore many a moon, likewise a lil leather to boot, i say give up the goods'

      changes come w/ the whether...

      Comment


      • V
        V commented
        Editing a comment

        Oh yeah, and i do think part of teh nashville sound is that squishy compression. WHy would that not be true?


    • #4
      Find a better angle to set yourself apart. No one cares about this one.

      Comment


      • #5

        SynapticGroove wrote:

        A compressor squashes frequencies, top & bottom, especially if it is not a subtle compressor (think studio-grade rackmount).


        Hmmm.  That's not true.  Sure it may affect frequency, but a compressor is supposed to affect dynamic range.  It limits the dynamic range of the signal.

         

         

        _______________________________________
        "Nothing but the best for my dog." - Frank Zappa

        Comment


        • #6
          I love compressors I must be a sloppy player

          Comment


          • #7

            Very good read man. I had a Danelectro Compressor as well as Modded BOSS CS-3 before, I gave it away. Just not my cup of tea... I feel that there is already a compression with my dirt pedals and this will be an overkill. 

            For cleans, perhaps it may be useful but... I just hate that squishy 'blanket' sound. 

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            • #8

              I disagree with a lot of what was said... No, compressors arent for sloppy players.. Sure, a sloppy player may buy one thinking it will help, it wont.. Anyone who knows anything on tone and how to properly and effectively utilize the gear and tools given to him, will know how to use a compressor.. It can add sustain if thats what you want, or even out your signal a little bit...  It can also help tighten up some funk style rhythms and give it more, well, funk. 

              It is a big part of the country "sound", in terms of chicken picking.. Just doesnt sound the same without one.. As far as the whole dynamics and its all in your hand, absolutely true.. So much sound comes from the fingers and your attack and dynamics of how you play.. A compressor can either enhance that, or detract. All comes down to using gear effectively as I said.

              I dont use a compressor, as I dont need one as of now.. I wouldnt mind picking one up though for some more specialized sounds im looking for (pad type sounds/ambient). Oh, and whoever mentioned about compression from there amp, thats one thing, but, a compressor will act different then actual amp compression and sag.. I believe that compression and sag in a good amp is what makes playing that said amp so enjoyable and fun.

               

              Oh, and I do think a compressor could make someones tone better.. It just depends on what tone they are looking for.. 

              Comment


              • Player99
                Player99 commented
                Editing a comment
                It is part of the Nashville chicken picken sound. Also if you built 1000 of THE one, can you tell us which one? Why did you not pick up that one. PLUS when I went to your website and tried to play one of your audio demos it was so loud I turned it off immediately. I looked for a volume control but all I found was a mute. So I never listened to your demos.


            • #9

              SynapticGroove wrote: 
              Compressors are best for sloppy players or players that mis-fret often....beginners.  Most players who've acquired some experience have pretty good muscle control in their fingers, which renders a compressor virtually useless. 

              --

              Let the flames begin! 


              The post is provocation, even inviting flames, but now you're backtracking as though you were just inviting friendly dialogue. The above sentence implies that guitarists who use compressors don't have experience, control, or knowledge about how the effect works, otherwise they wouldn't use a compressor like you. So, you are apparently more experienced and skilled than all of the "beginners" who resort to using compression, and now you can feel better about yourself as a guitarist.

              We might as well discuss why the guitar is rendered completely useless because the harp was invented first and anyone worth their salt would play a harp instead because you can pluck 10 strings simultaneously instead of 6.

              Comment


              • V
                V commented
                Editing a comment

                So we are provoking a conversation about something that wasn't really a major problem or point of interest enough so that it would become a topic of its own without basically a concern troll post?

                 

                Seems legit.


              • SynapticGroove
                SynapticGroove commented
                Editing a comment

                Fender&amp;EHX4ever wrote:

                SynapticGroove wrote: 
                Compressors are best for sloppy players or players that mis-fret often....beginners.  Most players who've acquired some experience have pretty good muscle control in their fingers, which renders a compressor virtually useless. 

                --

                Let the flames begin! 


                The post is provocation, even inviting flames, but now you're backtracking as though you were just inviting friendly dialogue. The above sentence implies that guitarists who use compressors don't have experience, control, or knowledge about how the effect works, otherwise they wouldn't use a compressor like you. So, you are apparently more experienced and skilled than all of the "beginners" who resort to using compression, and now you can feel better about yourself as a guitarist.

                We might as well discuss why the guitar is rendered completely useless because the harp was invented first and anyone worth their salt would play a harp instead because you can pluck 10 strings simultaneously instead of 6.


                Good harp analogy!  Dude, I'm just telling you what a lot of builders won't.  Take it or leave it.  We do live in an age of consumers consumed by consumption, right?  Personally, yeah, I used to like compressors until I could really play...and then I found they weren't subtle enough for my taste....too constricting, too muffled and there are infinitely better ways to achieve sustain.

                It was a craze, not unlike beanie babies, that's it.  Opinions are fantastic, but it's very difficult to argue with people who've been there, behind the scenes.

                I started the thread to get discussion going and to help keep some people from getting ripped off.  The truth doesn't entirely matter when everyone is an expert and some just want to hear and see what they want to hear and see.  But at least you can't say you weren't told.


            • #10

               " Compressors are best for sloppy players or players that mis-fret often....beginners. "

               

              i don't see how a compressor can help with mis-fretting....if you do that you're potentially playing a "wrong" note. A compessor is not a note corrector.

              You thinking of auto tune?

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              • #11

                 

                "Any player worth their salt will most certainly tell you that good tone is in the fingers.  A compressor is not an effects pedal.  It's borrowed from the rack units that are used when a studio engineer is compressing songs before mixing them down.  Can it help even your volume?  Yes.  Compressors are best for sloppy players or players that mis-fret often....beginners."

                 

                So Johnny Marr and Roger McGuinn, both players who have made great use of compressors in the past and present, are considered sloppy? 

                 

                Eejit

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                • TomVanDeven
                  TomVanDeven commented
                  Editing a comment

                  Wow man, another knockout thread. You're on a roll.

                   

                  Thanks for spreading your invaluable information from behind the scenes. Without you, clearly we wouldn't know what the super awesome professional players with tr00 toan are doing. I mean we definitely would never know from, oh you know, getting accurate information from the rest of the internet. Nay, all compressors are void from pro rigs because they're meant for the novice players who know nothing about dynamics! WE FINALLY SEE THE LIGHT. Claiming personal opinion as concrete information when its easy to see that something as personal as gear choice can't be generalized in such a way is a pretty lame way to start a conversation on a forum, especially this one.

                   

                  Seriously, your best bet at this point is to back away slowly. You're definitely not moving any of your rainbow light overdrives by posting on here rattling up the community. We don't need any of your "information", to be honest. Pedals are pedals and people will use what they want. 

                   

                  And on another note, I absolutely love that you're still bothered enough by my initial responses to you enough to keep quoting them and call me by name firstly as the one who's going to throw the flames at your response. I have no problem knocking down dudes who are wrong. And as you can see, I'm not the only one who can see through your nice guy "HEY LETS TALK EFFECTS GUYS! CHEERS!!". Builders like you have come and gone many many times over the years here. 


              • #12

                firstly, I appreciate that you build cool pedals, but I can't help but completely and respectfully disagree with your post.

                I'm not a gear snob or trying to be a dick or anything like that, but in a thread where you are trying to clear up misconceptions you have managed to create or at least bring many to the table.

                 

                SynapticGroove wrote:

                Having built nearly 1,000 of the one that started the craze the last decade

                Comment


                • A.P. Ryder
                  A.P. Ryder commented
                  Editing a comment

                  Going to buy either a mini Bi-Comp or Keeley 4-knobber.


              • #13

                kenn.png

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                • Lou Speed's Alt
                  Lou Speed's Alt commented
                  Editing a comment

                • SynapticGroove
                  SynapticGroove commented
                  Editing a comment

                  I don't know who Ken is.  I had no clue what freekish was until a couple of the folks on here gave me some insight.  I mis-spoke on the compressor.  I kinda have a problem with analog stompbox compressors and I'm a bit jaded with them.  The rackmounts/studio gear, etc. I have no problem with.  Seriously, I'm beyond stressed.  Handling everything with a few people, but wearing all of the hats is hard.  The hardest thing I've done and I've worked with/for a loon in this business.  I'm a gearhead, but first and foremost, a player.  I admire the guys plugging straight into an amp and I equally admire Adrian Belew's monster setup.  It's all good if it's good for you.  Hendrix didn't have a 1/4 of the gear most players have these days and he almost single handedly made the vintage strats an investment item (not to discount Clapton, Gilmour and many others).

                  My reactionism is just due to hitting HC up about a press release nearly a month ago.  No problem with Premier or Vintage Guitar; no problem getting dealers; no problem using my connections in the MI, but HC couldn't be bothered.  So I broke down and posted a press release in the wrong area and I definitely feel like Soda Pop in the bowels of Tulsa waiting for a rumble.

                  Please accept my sincerest apologies.  I'm just a guy with a single product trying to spread the word.  A tourbox would be fantastic and I am definitely in with cross-promotional ideas.  I use and love Diamond, Z-Vex, Malekko.  I used to be a fan of Keeley a long time ago, mainly for the mods before I got hip to Mike Piera and before some other things.

                  I think the cats tweaking out the lines between VC and guitar pedals are doing some wonderful work.

                  The pedal building business is a strange one. Jeorge Tripps, Jack Orman are the real deal...there are just a lot that aren't or are trying to use it as a foundation to promote a very different agenda than just trying really hard to help inspire artists in a world gone mad in so many ways.

                  Sorry if I've offended anyone, antagonized unnecessarily, or been downright rude.  It isn't professional and just not cool of me to be that way.

                   

                  Benjamin


              • #14

                A comp very much changes tone. I have a Barber Tone Press, which I've loved for years. I stopped using it because my tone is better without it

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                • Ancient Mariner
                  Ancient Mariner commented
                  Editing a comment
                  It depends on the Comp. My Rothwell Lovesqueeze Supposedly very transparent) noticeably darkens the tone, but the cheepo Behringer 4 knob compressor I also have doesn't really affect it much. Does the tonepress brighten things up?
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