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  1. #1

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    Or is it a solution in search of a problem?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I do use one but haven't tried it for jazz guitar yet. Since it compresses the transient which listeners perceive as "volume" you can get away with a bit more actual volume than without a compressor and a louder transient.

  4. #3

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    I don't use it on stage.
    When I do mastering in DAW sometimes, yes.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    Or is it a solution in search of a problem?
    As a distinct guitar effect, no. But on recordings, I often use it, either to tame dynamics of specific parts (typically vocals and bass) and/or on the overall mix. Multiband compression can make a big difference in the quality of a mix without being noticeable as an effect.

    John

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris
    I don't use it on stage.
    When I do mastering in DAW sometimes, yes.
    Don't mean to be off-topic here but I'm wondering if "EQing" a guitar solo for either this forum or any recording really, would be considered "cheating"?

  7. #6
    I use one when I'm using a volume pedal with my semi hollow. The volume and compressor are part of the same effect when I'm using them as an alternative to natural decay.
    It turns the guitar into a different instrument for me.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by WILSON 1
    Don't mean to be off-topic here but I'm wondering if "EQing" a guitar solo for either this forum or any recording really, would be considered "cheating"?
    Are you talking post recording?
    Does it bring you closer to what you hear the sound should be? If so, just who would you be cheating?

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by WILSON 1
    Don't mean to be off-topic here but I'm wondering if "EQing" a guitar solo for either this forum or any recording really, would be considered "cheating"?
    EQ? No. Why do you think it would be? If you mean processing and editing more generally, it depends on what is being done and how it's being presented. E.g., if someone says "here's a completely live, unedited, unprocessed take" and it's in fact all overdubbed parts and comped solos, it's deceptive. But altering the tone or dynamics or balance of instruments from a performance in order to make the recording sound good in typical listening environments is completely valid.

    John

  10. #9

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    I use one sometimes when I'm practicing. It softens and evens out the sound in a pleasant way. It's not always on.

    There are some what I believe to be misconceptions about using compressor pedals:

    - "It kills the dynamics": In the literal sense of the word, yes it reduces the amplitude range of the notes. But if you consider dynamics in a more general sense, the expressive effect of picking force, dynamics are still fully there. Picking attack changes the timbre of the instrument. Compression does not make heavy attacks and light touches sound the same. Instruments respond to heavy attacks with more overtone content. Humans also intuitively change the timber of their voice the same way when they imitate a shouting person in whispering volumes.

    - "If you want to even out the notes, it's better to improve your technique instead of relying on a gadget": This would've been true if you started out with an "even" response instrument and an amplifier. However most if not all guitars and amps are louder in some of their spectrum range and quieter in the rest. They may even have individual dead or wolf notes. Technically, compression gives you a more even instrument. Presumably that may even improve your dynamics game as your brain isn't constantly confused with inconsistent feedback to your attack.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 04-01-2021 at 09:24 PM.

  11. #10

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    I use it, very light setting, always on. I'm really using it as a buffer more than as a compressor, it's the first pedal on my pedal board.

  12. #11

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    I have an MXR Dyna Comp. I love it.
    Very common in country guitar, helps with sustain, especially when using a clean tone.

    A nice demo:

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    I have an MXR Dyna Comp. I love it.
    I have that pedal as well. I find it be sometimes a bit too artificial. But it could be the settings. What settings do you use?

    My quilter has a limiter knob which I think gives a more natural compression sound, I love it.

  14. #13

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    I strongly dislike compressors when playing, cause they mess with my dynamics and the response of the guitar. Even when recording, if it's in a studio I prefer natural tube amp compression over a pedal. But some sounds are a compression pedal, so you have to have one (I have the four knob Keeley one).

    When in the context of recording music though, everything we hear is somehow compressed. I use very light compression as a mastering tool when I record at home. Actually reading about acoustic guitar compression nowadays, which I'm still very bad at..!

  15. #14

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    Actually I just realised, what I have is MXR Super Comp (3 knobs), not Dyna Comp.

  16. #15

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    Used to use one for a while many years back. When I turned it off accidentally while recording myself, I didn't like what I heard. My articulation was not what I thought it was! Too loud on some spots, too weak in others, just the thing that a good compression pedal will sort out, right?

    Problem was, it was making my right hand lazy, and inexpressive. I've spent part of the years since trying to get more strength and dynamic control in my picking hand. As you all know, it's hard work and resisting the temptation to plug in the compressor is pretty hard too! But when I listen to horns and even piano, the dynamic expression is one of the things I'm drawn to.

    I don't want to offend anyone, but I find that light strings, low action, thin picks and compression pedals creates a really boring one dimensional guitar sound, even when the player is very good. The solos all come out "plinkety plink", if you know what I mean, and then the tenor sax steps up and rips yer frickin' head right off!

  17. #16

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    People who play through tube amps etc are already using compression. People get on their high horse, but I say - tube amps are an effect...

    Actually it’s one thing I find a little tricky. Things behave differently. For the longest time I think I basically wanted to play through solid state amps with lots of clean headroom.

    I should try a compressor pedal and see if I hate it. Would be interesting.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    Used to use one for a while many years back. When I turned it off accidentally while recording myself, I didn't like what I heard. My articulation was not what I thought it was! Too loud on some spots, too weak in others, just the thing that a good compression pedal will sort out, right?

    Problem was, it was making my right hand lazy, and inexpressive. I've spent part of the years since trying to get more strength and dynamic control in my picking hand. As you all know, it's hard work and resisting the temptation to plug in the compressor is pretty hard too! But when I listen to horns and even piano, the dynamic expression is one of the things I'm drawn to.

    I don't want to offend anyone, but I find that light strings, low action, thin picks and compression pedals creates a really boring one dimensional guitar sound, even when the player is very good. The solos all come out "plinkety plink", if you know what I mean, and then the tenor sax steps up and rips yer frickin' head right off!
    Yeah! Plug in straight to the desk, no effects.

    Then you’ll hear your actual playing...

    And then bear in mind many classic guitar tones on record are DI’d ...

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by WILSON 1
    Don't mean to be off-topic here but I'm wondering if "EQing" a guitar solo for either this forum or any recording really, would be considered "cheating"?
    Any commercially produced record you have heard that was created, say, post-war*has been electronically massaged for best effect. Well, if its cheating, everybody's doing it.

    If it sounds good, it is good.

    * And probably before well before that. Just spitballin' here.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    Or is it a solution in search of a problem?
    Multi-band, post-production. In the old days, when I was first getting into pedals, I would run a Dyna Comp in front of my Hot Tubes*, both set very low.

    I should add that compression has always been used to adapt to the requirements of media - the grooves of records, the saturation levels of tape (yum!) and so forth. the dynamic levels capable of being accurately, or even proportionately, reproduced vary with the media, hence the RIAA Curve.

    * I miss that pedal!

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    People who play through tube amps etc are already using compression. People get on their high horse, but I say - tube amps are an effect...

    Actually it’s one thing I find a little tricky. Things behave differently. For the longest time I think I basically wanted to play through solid state amps with lots of clean headroom.

    I should try a compressor pedal and see if I hate it. Would be interesting.
    Not just tube amps. All amps are an "effect". All compress (and distort) at least some of the time; all color the sound in some way, irrespective of the technology used. Heck, all pickups are a form of effect.

    John

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    Any commercially produced record you have heard that was created, say, post-war*has been electronically massaged for best effect. Well, if its cheating, everybody's doing it.

    If it sounds good, it is good.

    * And probably before well before that. Just spitballin' here.
    exactly correct..compression was used on everything from mastering to disc cutting to the radio stations playing the tunes...even mp3s are a compressed format

    and also in live sound reinforcement!

    a well set up pedal compressor can be a wonderful thing...but requires tweaking time and effort...not just leave all my settings the exact same and plug into one

    cheers

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    exactly correct..compression was used on everything from mastering to disc cutting to the radio stations playing the tunes...even mp3s are a compressed format

    and also in live sound reinforcement!

    a well set up pedal compressor can be a wonderful thing...but requires tweaking time and effort...not just leave all my settings the exact same and plug into one

    cheers
    "Set and forget" is a recipe for disaster. Every room is different, and changes every time someone enters or leaves. You gotta keep your ears open!

  24. #23

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    Only when pumping up my tires

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    exactly correct..compression was used on everything from mastering to disc cutting to the radio stations playing the tunes...even mp3s are a compressed format

    and also in live sound reinforcement!

    a well set up pedal compressor can be a wonderful thing...but requires tweaking time and effort...not just leave all my settings the exact same and plug into one

    cheers
    MP3 data compression is something entirely different from audio dynamic range compression. Data compression does not inherently reduce dynamic range. It just reduces the amount of data used to store a file (with varying degrees of loss of fidelity from the original recording).

    John

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    I have that pedal as well. I find it be sometimes a bit too artificial. But it could be the settings. What settings do you use?

    My quilter has a limiter knob which I think gives a more natural compression sound, I love it.
    Hhm. Haven't used it lately---I've been working in Reaper, so no pedalboard---but the settings weren't extreme. It makes things tighter. (Which may be undesirable with an archtop.) With my Tele, especially when using the bridge pickup (Twang!) the compression seems like the way a guitar should sound. ;o)

    Here's a guy demoing one and you can see what his settings are. (This is the Mini-Comp).


  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    MP3 data compression is something entirely different from audio dynamic range compression. Data compression does not inherently reduce dynamic range. It just reduces the amount of data used to store a file (with varying degrees of loss of fidelity from the original recording).
    was not talking about data compression..which is a whole 'nother bag of tricks in it's own right as far as audio...was talking about normalization during playback...which applies a fixed gain to the audio track, which is calculated to raise the peak level to the maximum possible without clipping


    cheers

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    was not talking about data compression..which is a whole 'nother bag of tricks in it's own right as far as audio...was talking about normalization during playback...which applies a fixed gain to the audio track, which is calculated to raise the peak level to the maximum possible without clipping


    cheers
    Normalization is not compression and it's not inherent or specific to mp3 or any other form of data compression. You can normalize any form of audio (even analog), but don't have to.

    John

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Hhm. Haven't used it lately---I've been working in Reaper, so no pedalboard---but the settings weren't extreme. It makes things tighter. (Which may be undesirable with an archtop.) With my Tele, especially when using the bridge pickup (Twang!) the compression seems like the way a guitar should sound. ;o)

    Here's a guy demoing one and you can see what his settings are. (This is the Mini-Comp).
    I like small amount of compression. With humbuckers, I find even when the "sensitivity" is at the minimum it compresses a lot. So my solution is to turn the guitar volume really low and use the output volume on the pedal to boost it to normal levels. I think the pedal has a constant "threshold", so the higher the input signal, the more of the signal goes above the threshold and gets compressed. It seems like it's configured for single coil, funk rhythm players. I wonder why

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    EQ? No. Why do you think it would be? If you mean processing and editing more generally, it depends on what is being done and how it's being presented. E.g., if someone says "here's a completely live, unedited, unprocessed take" and it's in fact all overdubbed parts and comped solos, it's deceptive. But altering the tone or dynamics or balance of instruments from a performance in order to make the recording sound good in typical listening environments is completely valid.

    John
    Thanks John.

    I traded a few solos awhile back with some friends and the only response I got back was: what instrument, what amp, what settings, strings, pick etc...they were disappointed that I had EQ it and didn't say so.
    I probably should have.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by WILSON 1
    Thanks John.

    I traded a few solos awhile back with some friends and the only response I got back was: what instrument, what amp, what settings, strings, pick etc...they were disappointed that I had EQ it and didn't say so.
    I probably should have.
    They were disappointed that you eq'd a track and didn't says so? That's weird.

    John

  32. #31

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    Anyone here use a compressor?-img_3041-jpg
    This setup works really well for clean, enhanced sustain.
    I've added a pre / main loop using a switched stereo jack as a replacement for the second speaker output, and a breakout cable. When the breakout cable is removed, the amp reverts to normal operation.
    The tone stack and reverb output are fed to the line-level limiter, which has a much higher amplitude signal to work with than any pedal.

  33. #32

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    I’ve been working on better controlling dynamics with my pick and fingers, and it gets even trickier when recording is concerned. There can be a huge difference between the quietest and loudest notes in, say, a solo guitar arrangement—it can sound really great live in a room but not so great when recorded.

  34. #33

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    I bought a Boss compresor a long time ago and I sold it fast.
    Maybe now is the time to try again.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    I use one when I'm using a volume pedal with my semi hollow. The volume and compressor are part of the same effect when I'm using them as an alternative to natural decay.
    It turns the guitar into a different instrument for me.
    compressor into volume pedal?

  36. #35

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    There is a very distinct and important issue re the use of these devices : for one, a normal compressor guitar pedal is mostly used for a very up-front and audible effect, the extreme compression of the dynamic range and the lengthening of the decay period of the tone > more sustain. Very popular in country styles but also with Funk players. OTOH there is the LIMITING effect where only the extreme peaks of the signal are detected and processed in order to prevent any unwanted distortion (on tape or in the pre-amp). That way you can hit the input with a stronger signal without getting into "the red zone" - that is what I have used my various compressor/limiter pedals of the years. My big-box Super-400 with it's rather hefty 013 med. heavy strings and my strong pick-attack puts out a very strong signal when I'm soloing and that causes many amps to overload too early. So in order to still being able to "dig in" with my pick while keeping the tone distortion-free I use a little limiting in front of the amp. That is only really an issue when I'm playing in a louder/larger group.

    Check out Kenny Burrell's record "The Tender Gender" - seems to me that the engineer used a compressor for the guitar signal since the sustain is noticeably longer that usual and you can hear the characteristic POP at the beginning of each note. It's probably a combination of "natural" tube-amp compression and outboard signal-processing. One prime + also early example of heavy compression is the track "Carry On" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young where Stills is really pounding on his dreadnaught and gets this driving sound, filling the room .... listen to any Prince or Nile Rogers track and there's compressed clean guitar everywhere....


  37. #36

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    Keeley compressor plus for me. Funk, country and Mark Knopfler strat sounds all benefit from some compression. For fusion with creamy, long sustain it’s also a big help. I try to avoid it for mainstream jazz in the hope that I will have to pay more attention to better technique....

  38. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by supersoul
    compressor into volume pedal?
    Yes, in a search for a more hornlike volume, where the sound has changes in dynamics and one can control both louder and softer volumes after the attack, the guitar is not well equipped for that. The guitar has the volume of the attack and the volume pedal allows me to swell louder, more vocal and more hornlike. I also play fretless guitar and that attack is even more muted. So the compressor "evens out" the natural decay, keeps it at a higher output for longer and gives me an even signal which I control with the volume pedal.
    It's an unnatural technique in my search for a natural sound, ha ha.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by gionnio
    Anyone here use a compressor?-img_3041-jpg
    This setup works really well for clean, enhanced sustain.
    I've added a pre / main loop using a switched stereo jack as a replacement for the second speaker output, and a breakout cable. When the breakout cable is removed, the amp reverts to normal operation.
    The tone stack and reverb output are fed to the line-level limiter, which has a much higher amplitude signal to work with than any pedal.
    Totally envious on the basis of the amp alone. Nice rig, Dude!

  40. #39

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    For quite a while I went amp-less as an early adopter* of Tom Scholz' RockMan technology, which prompted our bass player to do the same. Instant reduction in weight, hassle, and projection problems - direct through the board into a pair of Bose 802s and a pair of Peavy Black Widow 18"s (the drummer used a separate PA, as it is a proven scientific fact that no-one can hear a set of full size Lucite drums in an average 20" x 30'" barroom). The sound was clean and crisp. The RockMan and the subsequent RockModule I upgraded to involved a good deal of compression/limiting and EQ. The sound was, as I say, great.

    But....

    After a while, when I was home practicing, I could feel my technique slipping. All that processing was covering for uneven picking. So eventually I returned to my tube amps and my hand truck and all was well.**

    I am not saying compression/limiting is bad - it is not - but that I am weak and lazy, and have to keep my guard up.

    * Working pt in a music store, I got to see GP magazines early, and when I read about Scholz, I immediately called another music store to order the RM. In the first year after I got it, I spent more on batteries than I did for the unit. I ordered an adaptor as soon as they were available. The Module was AC, and mighty nice.

    ** The Bass player eventually got into Class D amps and big-ass speakers***

    *** Should've seen that coming - the first time I worked with him, he was using a 300w SVT with a 18' EV speaker. Clearly audible.
    Last edited by citizenk74; 04-03-2021 at 10:30 AM.

  41. #40

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    Doesnt adjusting your pole pieces accomplish the same thing to a degree? I still cant figure out how I could use one in real time- I cant really hear much difference when using one or not besides that the individual string volume equalizes. This is on clean. Ive never tried compression with signifigant gain so I cant say how it affrects the signal there.

  42. #41

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    I have never had great luck using compressors in my guitar signal chain, and I've had a few of the boutique ones, some of them are very good, as well as the usual Dynacomp.

    Two problems: finding the right one (I usually just want a subtle control of the peaks), and then dialing it in so it works for you. Compression is maybe the hardest effect to use. Every time you change volume on your guitar, it affects the squash of the compressor. So I mostly use one for an effect if between the guitar and amp.

    OTOH, I have had tremendous success using compressors after my signal chain, when recording. I have two Urei 1176's, a classic guitar comp, and a Manley Elop, a fantastic optical compressor that has tubes. Both give a nice professional sheen to the sound, and some dynamic control- or a lot if you want it.

    I also think that there are some great compression plugins that work well in the computer, unlike a lot of effects. It an really enhance the sound when used sparingly.

    And as far as cheating goes- I don't think it fixes uneven performances. And anyway: tube amps compress, tape compresses, old tube consoles compressed. I would say that we have rarely heard a recording without some compression in the signal chain, and especially the classic old recordings had those in their signal chains.

    And EQ as cheating? C'mon, the minute you choose a mic you are choosing an EQ.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Yeah! Plug in straight to the desk, no effects.

    Then you’ll hear your actual playing...

    And then bear in mind many classic guitar tones on record are DI’d ...
    Or dare to play acoustically, and let everyone hear how crap you really sound!

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Yeah! Plug in straight to the desk, no effects.

    Then you’ll hear your actual playing...

    And then bear in mind many classic guitar tones on record are DI’d ...
    Actually, which was the album where Joe Pass did exactly that? Virtuoso? I remember hearing that recently and thinking that if you could somehow separate the guitar from the rest of the recording (with today's software, this might almost be possible), and then feed it into a driven Princeton or something, it would sound incredible. But not only because of the "valve compression", it would be because he sounded musical (dynamically expressive) even without any help to begin with!.

    When you can sound good acoustically (or even DI direct), then enhancing your sound is easy. But if your picking expression / articulation has been hiding behind these enhancements for a while, then your true "naked" performance suffers, I reckon... Imagine you played a lot of monophonic synth, with no velocity sensitivity (every note has equal loudness). Sure, not exactly the same thing, but if you did that for years, and then sat down at a real piano, you would probably expose a glaring weakness!

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    Yes, in a search for a more hornlike volume, where the sound has changes in dynamics and one can control both louder and softer volumes after the attack, the guitar is not well equipped for that. The guitar has the volume of the attack and the volume pedal allows me to swell louder, more vocal and more hornlike. I also play fretless guitar and that attack is even more muted. So the compressor "evens out" the natural decay, keeps it at a higher output for longer and gives me an even signal which I control with the volume pedal.
    It's an unnatural technique in my search for a natural sound, ha ha.
    I've done similar, but in search of trying to sound more like a pedal steel. The sound of really clean chords with sustain. Compressor into volume pedal is different than using the guitar volume knob to swell in the sound.

    I guess I've used a fair amount of different compressors over time.

    DOD compressor. It was orange and squashed the sound into oblivion.

    There was a Boss Bass Compressor that worked just fine on guitar.

    Yamaha REX-50, which is like a guitar version of the SPX-90, has a compressor that I would describe as grainy.

    Real Nice Compressor unit that was really clean, but it took some doing to get the controls in a sweet spot.

    Recently I plugged into a Shure portable 4 microphone mixer that has a built in limiter, which actually sounded pretty good. It cuts off the low end but in a good way for making a guitar sit well in a mix.

  46. #45

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    I often use a Xotic sp compressor with the blend knob set very low ( about 9 o clock). A compressor pedal with a blend knob lets me keep most of my dynamics, but i find it adds some "punch" to my tone.

  47. #46

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    Live, I'll use a compressor as an effect, but not as a way to "even out" the sound. In recording, some sort of compression is almost always applied post. It's the nature of the beast.

    The Quilter MicroPro 200 has a limiter that can be an emergency miracle worker for an imbalanced pickup -- like a magnetic pickup on a guitar with bronze strings.

  48. #47

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    I never liked compressors before, until I bought a Cali76 Stacked Edition a few months ago. It has enhanced my sound immeasurably. I don’t like turning it off. You can use it for parallel compression and I think it does the opposite of ‘killing’ my dynamic range. It has added further bite and warmth to my Tele/DRRI setup, with all of my dynamics still very much alive.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by unfunfionn
    I never liked compressors before, until I bought a Cali76 Stacked Edition a few months ago. It has enhanced my sound immeasurably. I don’t like turning it off. You can use it for parallel compression and I think it does the opposite of ‘killing’ my dynamic range. It has added further bite and warmth to my Tele/DRRI setup, with all of my dynamics still very much alive.