Change my view: great players don't need a compression pedal

MoosBros

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422
Lowell used two compressors? Holy shite. I'm one short. Now I can justify the Cali on my pedalboad. Speaking as a live sound engineer, I can promise you that if I'm not getting what I need from your guitar signal, once the EQ is settled, the first thing I'ma gonna do is punch in a compressor. I don't care if you ARE Lowell George. You gonna get compressed, and sound better in the mix.
 

jjaaam

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1,298
I haven’t read through this whole thread, so if I’m duplicating an answer my apologies.

I think it depends on what your usage is. I’m primarily in a cover band environment, playing all kinds of stuff. I simply can’t get “that” country tone without my Strat on the 2nd pickup position (middle/bridge) and a compressor. I typically use the comp model (I have a POD Go) that emulates a BOSS comp with a treble switch (can’t remember the model name or the BOSS comp it simulates), but it absolutely nails it. Add some transistor tape slap back and I can play old school country all night long. Nice and twangy.

I don’t use comp at all on my distortion tones though.
 

kenlombardo

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Messages
111
Sooo true. Don’t forget “attitude” while delivering those sounds. The top two I can think of are Link Wray and Steve Cropper. I was an 80s kid that was surrounded by music on the radio that took a bit of effort to learn the passages. Then one day I heard Link Wray and it made me realize the space between notes and feel was ALOT more important than how many notes I can pull off on each measure. That led me down the path of searching for other players like that. Cropper was the next player that I found was the master of soul technique. They both never played passages that could be considered technically difficult by what most would define the term technical. Both excel in feel and playing notes that were technically soul grabbing. I have yet seen a pedal can do that…pedals inspire creativity yes…but never help with delivery of soul. Nobody NEEDS a Compressor to be a good player but if it inspires then that’s a good thing.

Attitude is everything. When I was last gigging, I used to hear people talking about how great I was. I wasn't. I played power chords and pentatonic licks, and that was it. But I was always moving about, having fun on stage, and played those chord changes and licks fairly fast, fairly accurately and - this is the important bit - without looking at my fingers. Which allowed me to engage with the audience a lot more, thus the reputation. But I was, and still am, mostly average at best.
 

Serious Poo

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Wow. I must be doing it all wrong. After having played guitar for over 40 years both as a solo artist and as a member of a few bands, I’ve used compression on certain clean parts to give them a pushed amp feel, expand harmonic content and add a percussive element to my rhythm parts. However, tonight I’ve just had my mind blown wide open with the damning realization that I’ve been incorrectly using compression as a sonic crutch. Thanks OP, you’ve really made a massive difference with this highly enlightening and educational thread.
 

rmz76

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Messages
182
Talking about acoustic guitars plugged-in: Compression creates consistency/balance, it helps "tame the clang". Some guitars, for example most of Taylor's acoustic lineup, have a great deal of compression by design. This turns some players on to them and other players would prefer an acoustic that covers a lot more sonic range, with the lows booming and the highs shimmering and all of that tone overlapping in an unbalanced beautiful mess that sounds like the gates of heaven opened. If you've ever played a great C.F. Martin, Collings, or some other boutique built masterpiece you know what I'm talking about..... In an acoustic-vocal only live scenario the player may dial-down or turn off compression to let the guitars tone shine. When other instruments are in the mix, they may want to tighten up their tone so the playing can be heard better in the mix so compression and EQ might need some adjustment (larger bands have a sound guy managing the board for this reason, but these days most performing musicians have to do it all themselves).

With an instrument that is by design not very well balanced, can the players technique compensate for a compression processor? I don't think so, but they can buy a guitar that by its design has a great deal of natural compression and switch instruments as needed.
 

Cip

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165
I don't use a compressor (even if I have a Nobels CO2 on my pedalboard), but sound engineers would love all of the guitarists to have one - or active pickups.
 

Brad2

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1,123
You can also say great players do not need any pedals at all . I say , if you like to play with a compressor pedal just do it and do not worry about the opinion of others . There was a period that many said that people guitarists with a lot of pedals used them to conceal that they did not really mastered their instrument . I do not think it is possible to really conceal bad playing with pedals

I once told another guitar palyer how much I admired the playing of Andy Summers and he responded that he did not because of the load of pedals he used . I must say that that way of thinking affected me for some time as well and I regret that cause if not I would have dived into effects earlier and would have been familiar with the use of them earlier . So keep an open mind about using pedals I say
 

rollertide09

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Messages
4
Fast country guitar chicken pickin definitely needs a compressor - or if you're into playing 80s and 90s country... yeah you need one.
 

Catch

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To me, this thread is less about compression and more about negative attitudes toward other musicians (people) and destructive notions of perfection regarding playing ability generating and generated by overall insecurity.

I just can’t see wanting to be in a band setting with close minded and negative attitudes. These attitudes can close off the mind to experimentation as well as sonic and personal discovery.
 
Messages
472
I have not really benefited personally from using a compressor, but I typically set my gain so that I'm right at the edge of breakup - and compression naturally kicks in. Having said that, don't forget compression as a signature sound: think Roger McQuinn's 12-string and almost everything Beatles. Ever hear an isolated track of Paul playing bass? Very compressed....but it's not that he didn't have superb technique, it's the sound they were after.
Lastly, a lot of the Nashville guys use compression so effectively you don't even know it's on.
 

Radar

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Every great jazz player used a compressor. OP please be reminded trolling is against the rules.
 

Jake Stewat

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Messages
275
A compressor isn't just a "make me sound better" device. Compressors can be treated as an effect, coloration on the sound, or a way to control the transient and the decay/sustain of a signal in ways that benefit a band mix more than just leveling out uneven playing. And because of that, you actually see compressors on TONS of pro pedalboards. I think the OP doesn't truly understand the many uses of compression yet...
 




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