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Fingerpicking compressor setup

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Hi there,

I wonder if somebody can point me in the right direction with the above quest.

I'm tracking Martin 000 guitar through a pair of very clean mic preamps, with SDC Bayerdynamics 930.

I would like to have a bit more stable dynamics and trying to figure out the best possible settings for attack and release on my compressor . What are the starting points? For arpeggiated, fingerpicked (no nails) ballad (Jazzy, folk, blue grass)  oriented tunes.

I'm going for a more transparent, open sound.


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If you want a more transparent and open sound, then my advice would be to do as much as you can to play the parts evenly, and try to avoid unintentional level fluctuations - pick everything as cleanly and evenly as possible when you track. You'll probably still want some compression, but doing that will minimize how much you need.

It's hard to give you exact settings because I tend to adjust my compression attack and release times based on the song's tempo and how "busy" the part being compressed is (I generally use faster release times for busy stuff), and the amount of compression will depend on how dynamic the source material is, and how much I'm trying to rein it in.

For starters, I'd recommend starting with a lower ratio - 3:1 or maybe 4:1, but usually no more than that. I generally like the attack in the 10-30ms range, with release time that's relatively slower - 50-250ms. Again, the tempo and how busy the part is are important considerations when setting the release time - you want the compressor to fully recover before the next note attack, otherwise it will affect that too, which will result in that subsequent note's attack being attenuated and dulled. If your compressor has an auto-release setting, I'd definitely recommend giving that a try. Set the threshold high, and then slowly lower it until you're getting only a few dB of gain reduction on the meters - 2-4dB should be enough unless there's a ton of accidental hard plucked notes, in which case you may want to try hitting it a bit harder... but the more you do, the more you're going to hear that compressor, which is not what you want if you're going for open, transparent and natural sounding.

I tend to go very easy on compression on acoustic guitar when tracking, if I use it at all... and leave the processing for the mix. YMMV.

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