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Why do I need a compressor?

RichSZ

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,966
This is going to sound silly, but I have the Keeley Compressor, but I need to know why I need it?

I hear how it levels the sound between the highs, etc but it also feels as though some pick dynamics are lost.

Can anyone tell me why I should use it then explain to me how? I'm a compressor newvie so any help is appreciated.

Thanks!

-Rich
 

SFT

Member
Messages
712
This is going to sound silly, but I have the Keeley Compressor, but I need to know why I need it?

I hear how it levels the sound between the highs, etc but it also feels as though some pick dynamics are lost.

Can anyone tell me why I should use it then explain to me how? I'm a compressor newvie so any help is appreciated.

Thanks!

-Rich
The only time I use mine:
1) when I want to get a phish/trey anastasio type tone stacked w/ a TS-9

2) when I want some over the top sustain during a solo on top of my OCD + Klon stack.

It can really thicken up an already heavy overdrive and add volume.

I never use it clean. Squishes the dynamics way too much. Some people like to add a tiny bit w/ a clean tone, but to me, its so subtle, I'd rather just not have it on at all. People like it with chicken pickin country clean though, if that's your thing.
 

BurnoutBright

Member
Messages
169
I use it mainly during my solos. I need it to help even out the volume when tapping, pull-off, hammer-on, and picking. I also need it to help sustain the notes. Otherwise without it, my fingers need to work really hard to get the notes to be fluid, I guess legato is the musical term for that.
 

RAILhead

(real name is Maury, BTW)
Messages
4,639
I use it clean (I have a Keeley). I don't always use it, but it's nice in a mix to help maintain constant dynamics for rhythm. I have the knob Keeley and I keep the sustain around 9-12, attack full-left, trim full-right, level at unity.
 

YoungAmerican

Member
Messages
2,287
I always have my Keeley Compressor on. It helps even out the substantial low-end response of my Sovtek and Orange cabinet. Between sheer volume (I play quite loud) and the fact that it never gets turned off, I've never had a problem with my dynamics being crushed or anything. But my tone tends to get a little "boomy" and the Keeley Compressor helps a whole lot. It also adds a ton of sustain to my clean tone (at times to the point where my perfectly clean amp feeds back), and I've found a lot of use for that.
 

ck3

Member
Messages
861
Something that can be set to be more subtle, like the earlier version of the DOD FX80B Compressor Sustainer, may prove more useful for multiple purposes. Believe it or not, my FX80B has actually won compressor shootouts with a Maxon CP101 and Tesse FK1. :eek:
 

strumminsix

Member
Messages
4,158
I cannot have one live since I hate how it diminishes dynamics.
However, in the studio it is absolutely wonderful and I love 'em!
 

slopeshoulder

Senior Member
Messages
7,867
I decided to get dynamic control through technique, or through the natural compression of overdrive. The few hours I spent with a pedal compressor were a few of the worst in my life.
 

jezzzz2003

Senior Member
Messages
2,789
I never use a comp, my amp does that for me,
The rhythm player/singer in our band uses one and has 0 dynamics, is noisy and sounds like hes got a POD hidden back there somewhere.:p
 

WahmBoomAh

World Crass Guitarist
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,608
I use it to highlight soft fingerpicking patterns mixed in with the band ....sort of a boost on the quieter notes that get lost behind cymbals and stuff .
I also use it (diamond btw) on a fast tune where I really have to dig in with a wah wah behind the singer .... It keeps her voice on top (and me from being fired !) .... Never use it for solos .
 

Lolaviola

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,532
This is going to sound silly, but I have the Keeley Compressor, but I need to know why I need it?
It does not sound silly, I had one and wondered the same thing for years!!

I had a dynacomp that I used as a lead boost for a while.

But I found that I could always get all the sustain I needed by cranking the amp--tube amps naturally compress as they didtort.

Studio is another story --engineers love 'em. Actually I gave an old Boss CS-3 to my pal John who records rock bands all the time. It was just lying around my house, but he always thanks me and tells me how useful it is.

Live, I always need simple, and a pedal compressor is too esoteric for me, not to mention it would be too fussy setting it up for each room.
 

tiller

Member
Messages
268
Compressors are incredibly useful tools if you take the time to set them up according to your playing style.

I'm surprised the Diamond comp doesn't get mentioned more often in here. I've got one and I love it to death. It's definitely on the more subtle side of things but is capable of getting pretty far into "effect" territory-- although not as far as the Keeley or Ross-style comps.

The great thing about the Diamond (and other opto comps) is their relatively slow attack time, which allows you to preserve the transient of your note (that initial dynamic, if you will). You can set the comp so that it will just compress the hardest of your picks/strums rather than squash everything you play (which would remove your dynamics-- a common complaint it would seem). The trick to maintaining dynamics and still allowing the compressor to complement your tone is to set it just on the edge of your loudest dynamic, thus most things you play will sneak in under the threshold of the compressor while the bits that go beyond (the bits that will benefit from the taming) will be compressed.

What I love my compressor for is evening out my chords. I have a fairly boomy sounding amp and when I nail big chords I'm rarely able to hear each note clearly and evenly (which is not a matter of technique, for all you haters about to pounce on me for that). With the comp I can dial it in so that when I slam out a chord it sounds really even with a tight sound all around. Also, the EQ feature(s) on the Diamond is/are well worth a mention.

The best thing to do is to just try them out. Compressors (both in guitar rig and studio applications) are pretty magical little things and its really hard to get a grasp on them without getting your hands dirty.

Good luck!
 

ChickenLover

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,862
IMO compression isn't a crutch any more than distortion...or volume is (if comps are a crutch...then so is using an electric guitar and amp IMO). Also, studio compression and stomp comps for guitar are two different animals.

If you have hot pickups many stomp comps based on Ross or DynaComps will always squash the signal too much...even at the minimum Compression (aka Sustain) settings unless there are added controls for this. My Keeley is an old one but I think he's added an extra control to help with this.

My suggestion is to try setting your comp like this (based on the old 2-knob Keeley): Set up a really clean tone on your amp but with a bit of volume. Turn the Sustain or Compression control all the way down...at most 8:00 or 9:00. Then turn your guitar volume to 10 and play loud chords (or just strum open strings)...strum hard like you would when playing hard and then switch the pedal ON/OFF/ON/OFF/etc. (it's very important that you play loud/hard here). While doing that, adjust the Level control such that the volume is the same when the pedal is ON or OFF. That's it.

Now, when you play hard it should sound almost the same whether on or off but when you play softly (such as softly picked passages...which obviously won't sound the same if you picked them hard) notes will tend to 'jump off the fretboard'. It also helps sustain and this way will have the least affect on your base tone. You also won't have much, if any, of that 'plucky' sound which can drive some folks up a wall (if you have hot humbuckers you'll likely get that plucky sound no matter what you do with a Ross/DynaComp clone unless it has added controls).

Of course, lots of the country guys (and others...like Knopfler on Sultans of Swing for example) like that plucky sound.

EDIT: I should add that IMO, Ross/DynaComps work for this better than some of the other more subtle comps like the Diamond. I call it the "pluck to bloom ratio". I want the bloom but not the pluck...by the time you dial in a Diamond to get the same amount of bloom as a Ross/DynaComp...it's pluck city. But that's just for the way I use them...the Diamond gets great reviews and serves many people well...but I never bonded with mine and always ended up reaching for the Keeley...or the Analogman BiComp...or the Barber Tone Press.
 




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