Compressors. Can not bond. Are they just not for me?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by stevel, Apr 30, 2016.

  1. stevel

    stevel Member

    Apr 6, 2008
    Hampton Roads, Virginia
    Of course, it could be that I've just not tried the right compressor.

    There are certainly things I've heard, such as the intro to "Under the Bridge" by RHCP that has a heavily compressed clean guitar tone (whether it's pedal or studio always remains to be seen).

    I've been able to emulate that with pedals, but it's not a sound I regularly care for.

    The "Nowhere Man" solo has a great compression on it (studio) but again, it'd be great to cover that song but not something I'd use frequently other than as a one-off effect.

    I think I would like a very subtle compression on cleans - just enough to where it's getting a bit pushy - or rather, sustaining things. Sultans of Swing comes to mind (again most likely studio compression). The first solo in "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" is also a nice clean, compressed sound. But in both of those cases they're not really "pumping", just "fattening" and "adding sustain".

    I realize this is going out on a limb because most of what people here think is a certain effect turns out not to be, but can anyone cite examples they feel are the "epitome" of a clean, compressed tone?

    Again, not overkill - not so much as the RHCP or Beatles examples. I know it's used a lot in "chicken pickin" but there the pump is desirable no?

    But I'm thinking more subtle uses...
  2. snow and steel

    snow and steel Supporting Member

    May 9, 2013
    SW Ohio
    I had to play some funk songs to REALLY appreciate what a compressor could do for me. I also do some gigs backing a female pop singer, and using a compressor as a mild volume boost with mild compression sort of warms up the tone and adds volume and bite for solo boosting.
  3. Black_Label

    Black_Label Member

    Aug 2, 2013
    Los Angeles
    Sounds like you haven't played a Cali76.
  4. aldocello

    aldocello Member

    Sep 28, 2007
    I got rid of my compressor. I could never dial it in to a sound I liked and it seemed to degrade my tone.
  5. Michael_V

    Michael_V Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2010
    BJFe PGC. There are two in the emporium. These define subtle compression. Compressors for people who hate compressors. Used mine as an always on for at least five years now.
    RYAN1987M likes this.
  6. ERGExplorer

    ERGExplorer Member

    Jul 11, 2010
    There are quite a few decent compressors out there which manage to do great compression, and which allow blending of the clean signal as well so the attacks are more natural.

    I normally recommend gear which works perfectly without being boutique. In this case, I'm going to suggest you check out the Keeley Compressor Pro. It's a VCA compressor (precise and with no coloration, like a studio compressor).

    Just to give some context, I have a few different compressors, all of which have their place. My mini compressor used to be a Guyatone STm5, but then I wound up switching after doing some comparisons with... the lowly Joyo Ironman Pipebomb. On larger boards, I often use the TC Electronic Nova Dynamics, which has dual engines which can run independently, allowing it to be a noise gate and compressor simultaneously. On my extended range guitars, my main compressor is the FEA Labs Dual Band Optical Compressor/Limiter, which has a knob allowing one to choose the crossover frequency between the high compressor and the low compressor/limiter, and also allows one to run the bass and treble compressor outputs to different signal chains.

    Whatever you do wind up getting, I really hope you have the chance to read up on how to effectively use a compressor and how the controls work, and the opportunity to try a few different types out to see how you get along with different knees, blends and so on. Good luck!
  7. lp_bruce

    lp_bruce Member

    Jun 7, 2007
    Metro Detroit
    They aren't for everyone. I like having a comp (I use a Route 66), but I generally use it lightly. Too much and I normally find it distracting. I use more aggressive settings in the studio some times, but only if I am going for something very specific.

  8. soundmuppet

    soundmuppet Member

    Nov 28, 2010
    I was in the same boat....could not figure out what in the world they could be useful for.....and then I plugged in a simple Boss CS-2. I pretty much run a compressor all the time, 2 oclock on the attack and about 9 oclock on the sustain and pretty much everything I play with the band is covered. It stops the unwanted note 'overflow' from making the sound mushy but also levels off the pick attacks to make everything a little more consistent.

    I can really notice when it's not there now and in a band setting it's the difference between being precise and just making a noise.....if that makes sense!? There is so much happening with two guitarists, and the drum and bass that I need to make sure I just fill my lot and am not just adding to the overall volume level and stomping on everyone else.
  9. CaptainAwesome

    CaptainAwesome Member

    Feb 21, 2010
    This might be an odd response, but to me the "epitome" of a clean compressor sound is one that you can barely tell or can't tell at all that it's on, until you turn it off. I went through a few compressors and wrote them off entirely...then I tried one with a Blend/Mix knob and I finally found something I could use.
    ObsessedGuitarist likes this.
  10. BluesHarp

    BluesHarp Member

    Aug 6, 2007
    This is supposed to be one of the very best options out there right now for pedal boards.. but I really LOVE my Bogner Harlow.

    OP: And I have went through TONS of comps and was right where you are about thinking
    that comps were not for me. The Harlow has some mojo.
  11. Able Grip

    Able Grip Member

    Mar 4, 2015
    Knoffler used a Dan Armstrong Orange Squeeze compressor. I got one from JHS and it has a blend knob, which is very helpful. I think this compressor is what you are looking for. It adds something, almost a slight thickening (hard to describe but you can hear it on Brothers In Arms) as well as compression. I have a Keeley 4 knob and I don't use it. The JHS is almost always on at 60% blend...
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
  12. Hack Prophet

    Hack Prophet vile mighty wretched

    Oct 29, 2012
    Love em for slide and funk rhythm otherwise no thanks
  13. Sociophile

    Sociophile "Ignore" Button Aficionado Silver Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2015
    Southern California
    I recommend the OP try an optical compressor. I own a Cali-76G, and it's great, but it's a FET compressor and is not necessarily for people that don't bond with compression.

    Some affordable and top-notch optical compressors include the Bearfoot PGC (V1 is the best), and the Diamond Comp. Optical compressors are lovely, and often work for people who "don't like" compressors.

    If you have the $, the Diamond Comp SE is my favorite for guitar tone.
    Drewthemusical likes this.
  14. duaneflowers

    duaneflowers Member

    Nov 9, 2013
    Behind a Killer Les Paul Somewhere in Japan
    My 2 favs are my SlideRig and Sustain Shaman. Once they are dialed in (which calls for some patience) they sound awesome.
  15. triviani

    triviani Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2008
    Compressors are a very personal thing, you will have to try several of them to find the one that works for you. But for that subtle clean compression I'd look for a used Coca comp.
  16. Average Joe

    Average Joe Member

    Jan 1, 2010
    On a chair, behind a desk
    I could never use compressors as an always on, integrated part of my basic sound. I do use them in to ways. As a boost - I have the Analogman Juicer and the tone it imparts as well as the slight comp I have it set up for make it a good lead boost. Secondly, as a special effect for some funk strumming things where I want the totally squashed clean sound.
  17. Seegs

    Seegs Member

    Jul 13, 2004
    Nobody has your setup and needs and therefore can not really recommend a specific compressor to you IMO...

    They can tell you what works for them but that is just the beginning of what unfortunately is an expensive trial and error thing...what works for them just might not work for you...

    The Cali 76 and BJF are fine compressors...I sold both...the Harlow is really a boost with a compression circuit that you dial in to taste...great pedal but I like the boost function more than the compression circuit...YmmV!

    Lastly to me if you don't know why you need one then you probably don't...

    For me I've tried so many of them and they are very setup and application specific...

    I have ended up with an optical compressor as those types don't mess with my attack as much as other compressors Okko Coca comp is always in with the compression dialled in at about 9oc or at about boosts and adds sustain when set like also gently pushes the front end of my amp so that when I roll down my volume control at the guitar I don't loose also boosts the low end and adds sparkle more than it squashes or functions more as a tone enhancer than a compressor for me...

    Just my 2cents...
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
    lowpaygigs likes this.
  18. Kilometers Davis

    Kilometers Davis Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    the other Vancouver
    I really dig what my wampler does with my strat and asat. Don't care for it at all with my LP.
  19. Kennyscrown

    Kennyscrown Member

    Jun 7, 2013
    I have the Rothwell Love Squeeze, which they say is a new FET design which probably behaves more like an optical compressor.

    It satisfied my requirements of being completely silent - NO noise whatsoever when switched on - but being able to add sparkle, and even a bit of squishing at higher levels.

    I think the only thing I would upgrade to is a Diamond, as my requirements are an always-on effect to even everything out and add a professional sheen to my sound. The Diamond seems to be the best for that application.
  20. teleclem

    teleclem Member

    Oct 28, 2010
    A lot of it depends on what type of compressor you've tried (and of course which specific model as well among a single type). I really enjoy using it as a subtle effect and I've had great success with the Empress and Diamond (I have this now).

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