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arkieboy
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Joined: 07/11/02
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Loc: Oxfordish
Compression on guitar. Discuss... new
      #975244 - 11/03/12 11:52 PM
In playing guitar for over 30 years - and despite being of a noted tech persuasion - I don’t feel I have ever gotten properly to grips with compressors on guitars. The first problem is I don’t have a bunch of reference points ‘the sound in this part of that record is a … and can be set up like this …’. I can quite easily dial in an extreme ‘spangle squash’ with my GMajor – stunning with the TC chorus – and I can also get quite subtle effects that are largely transparent but improve the consistency of my playing. But there must be more, surely?!

So, does anyone care to enlighten me? What are the classic compression settings on guitar, the classic tracks that illustrate them and roughly how do you dial them in with threshold, ratio, attack time and release time?

Steve

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arK music


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chew_rocket



Joined: 21/10/09
Posts: 452
Re: Compression on guitar. Discuss... [Re: arkieboy]
      #975255 - 12/03/12 03:01 AM
I'm afraid there is no real answer for this question and its all down to experience and just using your ears. Genre's, amps, guitars, mics used, room its recorded in, other instruments in the mix are all variants which effect how you compress the guitars (and in fact any instrument).

If its for your live playing and you could tell us a little more about the genre of music you play and the kinda gear you use, some people MIGHT have some suggestions. If its for a general guide to all guitar tracks, it doesn't exist!


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arkieboy
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Re: Compression on guitar. Discuss... new [Re: arkieboy]
      #975309 - 12/03/12 12:56 PM
Fair point

Let me narrow it down a bit then: I'm thinking live sound rather than studio. Particularly I'm interested in types of sound that I could implement in my GMajor - I use it with a Marshall JMP1. I'm not looking for precise settings, just ballpark figures for some of the parameters to get started with. I'm from a classic rock/prog domain, but I'm interested in all genres - I've pretty much played in them all.

The kinds of thing I would be interested in are - again - classic tracks where a compressor is an essential part of the overall guitar sound, and I could use to say to an engineer "I want this to sound a bit like....". It would be nice if it helped me begin to recognise what might be a sound I might get from an optical compressor as opposed to a FET unit. I'm also interested in people's opinions of various compressor pedals, how they compare with each other and any genres that they have found them useful for, where people put them in their effects chain, do people use it to help boost levels and consistency for solos or do they generally use it on rhythm guitar.

That's a big list I know - but it all comes down to what people think about them, what pedals they have and what they do with them. I'm not looking for definitive answers, to be fair I'd be happy if I understood the right questions!

Basically, I'm looking to be educated :-)

Steve

--------------------
arK music


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Gadget13769



Joined: 12/01/11
Posts: 107
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Re: Compression on guitar. Discuss... new [Re: arkieboy]
      #975321 - 12/03/12 02:43 PM
Bear in mind that with electric guitar, compression does not only come from a compressor.

The kind of amp you use, how much gain you dial in, overall master volume, the speaker cab, pickup choice, etc. can all add to a compression effect.

Also, when you're talking about classic recorded compressed guitar tones, note that the compression may have been introduced at the tracking, mixing or mastering stage, not only at the instument stage.


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neonknight



Joined: 26/10/04
Posts: 395
Re: Compression on guitar. Discuss... new [Re: arkieboy]
      #975345 - 12/03/12 04:02 PM
@arkieboy, in short, if you haven't used it in 30 years, you don't need it I have been playing for 20 and I never really felt like I had to have a compressor. I understand that country tele pickers cannot live without it, as it gives them that percussive sound so typical for chicken pickin'. That's one use of a compressor I can think of...


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arkieboy
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Joined: 07/11/02
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Loc: Oxfordish
Re: Compression on guitar. Discuss... new [Re: arkieboy]
      #975371 - 12/03/12 06:24 PM
@Gadget - absolutely. I currently have the Marshall 9100 2x50w power amplifier, but I used to have the 20-per-side version which had significant compression when cooking. It was finding I could get this effect again by using the TC compressor that kind of sparked this off.

@neonknight - because it's there...

So in my inventory of 'compressor essential sounds' includes
* the classic 'Andy Summer's' chorus,
* finger-lickin' tele picking',
* MXR dyno-comp powered Gilmour on 'Another Brick' lead
* ditto on the rhythm part, which kind of includes Nile Rodgers' rhythm I guess, although AFAIR the latter sounds less coloured. Maybe DG's amp was a bit loud
* subtle levelling on rhythm so a guitar part doesn't disappear from a mix

Steve

--------------------
arK music


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Frisonic



Joined: 27/01/10
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Re: Compression on guitar. Discuss... new [Re: arkieboy]
      #975373 - 12/03/12 07:04 PM
I think all the above posts are basically spot on. I'm no compression expert but I do have one (a Keeley) and I have found it very useful for all sorts of purposes. I got it when I bought my Gretsch Duo Jet, as I was told a little compression would help to 'tighten' the sound from the Filtertron pick ups (TV Jones Classics in this instance). It does. But it didn't take long before I discovered it could also be used and abused in all manner of ways, especially simulating drive and gain. Similarly it can be used to tighten the sound and at the same time 'reduce' gain. Its one of my most useful pedals. But I would find it difficult to identify compression in any given well known track, as such. It's not like you can say "oh yes, that's a compressor being used there" as you would with a Whah Whah for example. There are all manner of compressors and the way they get used is often more subtle than with other effects pedals. Perhaps because compression is more correctly used to 'tame' a sound rather than change it. The exception is when compression is being seriously abused! But even then on a recording it would typically be difficult to say exactly where in the production process it had been introduced. Records with guitar that sound really squished have likely used compression at the tracking, mixing and mastering stages. But I can't personally think of an example of that where it was a particularly good idea... It usually sounds awful, in a 'boxy' sort of way! As far as playing live is concerned experiment and abuse away. You'll either like the sound or you won't. As a rule think of it as the exact opposite of 'dynamics'. It kind of flattens things out. You'll most likely end up deciding its a useful thing to have in your sound palate but less is more. That's my understanding anyway. So you might be looking for more in compression than you are going to find. It sounds like you're doing pretty well as it is.

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4TrackMadman
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Joined: 30/10/02
Posts: 1740
Re: Compression on guitar. Discuss... new [Re: arkieboy]
      #975378 - 12/03/12 08:10 PM
I use it to tighten sustain and even out the sound on some of my guitars, but I can't give out any big tricks on it, it depends on guitar, -player dynamics, the rest of the chain, the band you're mixing with.

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www.descentintomadness.com


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fletcher



Joined: 01/05/05
Posts: 1219
Loc: london
Re: Compression on guitar. Discuss... new [Re: Frisonic]
      #975379 - 12/03/12 08:12 PM
I agree with you esp. on the point of it being abused. Unfortunately it seems more and more to be the case that people just whack compression on the guitar and squash all the life out of it, both live and in the studio. So many live recordings from the 90's onwards are spoiled for me when I hear the compressed guitar sound. It bothers me so much I don't use one in my live set up at all (I used to), just the natural compression of the amp is fine for me now. I esp. hate it when it is used on rhythm playing to make up for the players lack of control. I only use compression now in the mix, just subtly when needed. I am aware that sometimes there can be some desirable sounds achieved using compressors, I have no problem with that. That is using compression as special effect. It's the ubiquitous over compressed guitar tracks you hear these days I hate, across many genres as well. Something wrong there, either lazy engineers or guitarists need to re-learn how to play with dynamic control again!

So please lets be more careful with compression! Sorry rant over..


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4TrackMadman
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Re: Compression on guitar. Discuss... new [Re: arkieboy]
      #975696 - 14/03/12 02:19 PM
Fletcher makes a good point but overall it seems like production has shifted this route - everyone is at 100% volume all the time and then the mix engineer tries to inject some dynamics back into the mix just to have the mastering engineer squash the life out of it again

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www.descentintomadness.com


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fletcher



Joined: 01/05/05
Posts: 1219
Loc: london
Re: Compression on guitar. Discuss... new [Re: 4TrackMadman]
      #975743 - 14/03/12 07:19 PM
yes, I think you've just about nailed it there


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