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Nothingman

Do I need a Compressor?

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Hey techie chatters, I could do with some of your esteemed knowledge to help me.

I am trying to work out if I need a compressor and if so where to start and how to use it. 

As I say in everything I post, since returning to playing I am not an equipment guy and just like what I like. Tech knowledge that I had back in the day is a distant memory. 

I play a Jack Casady bass through an Ampeg 350 PF going into my Roost 1x15 cab. The effects I am running are below: Line selector into a RAT Clone and Big Muff. These are both on constantly (in my main band). It used to be a chase of I would switch between them depending on what I was playing (hence the line selector) but now after a few gigs just leave them on. This is because we are a loud fuzz punk trio and the noise and loudness are our thing. - On a side note I am now looking at sending both pedals through one channel and blending the dry sound in via the other....

My playing is very much strumming like a guitar on 5ths, mixed with a lot of high end stuff and therefore there is quite a range in the dynamics. However I have never used a compressor pedal in my previous playing days or since I got back into it 18 months ago. 

My question is, with this style i have badly described (think Lou Barlow, Lemmy only rubbish) would a compressor help or hinder? And where should I start looking at a decent but budget friendly option? Do I leave it on? Do I need analogue/digital/hybrid?

 

I am completely at a loss. All I do know is that if I am strumming then go to 'single' notes the bass playing can lose its beef. 

 

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.   

IMG_0404.thumb.jpg.436288ac77cd6d5e23b73c3f8f731b50.jpg

Will 

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2 minutes ago, Nothingman said:

I play a Jack Casady bass through an Ampeg 350 PF going into my Roost 1x15 cab. The effects I am running are below: Line selector into a RAT Clone and Big Muff. These are both on constantly (in my main band).

I bet that sounds 'kin awesome !

As someone who's very partial to some chords and overdrive as well, a compressor could help you even up the difference across the neck when you're chording, but maybe have a quick play with your EQ as well. You can sometimes tame the difference in tone with a bit of subtle EQ.

That said, I do find a compressor useful when I'm rocking the Lou Barlow vibe. I use a Schalltechnik Pumpernickel, which aren't that expensive...but you do have to build them from a kit, so whether that's an option depends on how good your soldering is !

I'd look for something with parallel compression where you can mix between the clean and compressed signal, and put in the clean side of your blend, keep the grind uncompressed.

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10 minutes ago, ahpook said:

I bet that sounds 'kin awesome !

As someone who's very partial to some chords and overdrive as well, a compressor could help you even up the difference across the neck when you're chording, but maybe have a quick play with your EQ as well. You can sometimes tame the difference in tone with a bit of subtle EQ.

That said, I do find a compressor useful when I'm rocking the Lou Barlow vibe. I use a Schalltechnik Pumpernickel, which aren't that expensive...but you do have to build them from a kit, so whether that's an option depends on how good your soldering is !

I'd look for something with parallel compression where you can mix between the clean and compressed signal, and put in the clean side of your blend, keep the grind uncompressed.

It does sound 'kin awesome - to me anyway I know that style is evil to a lot of purists! I started the first half of rehearsal last night via the studios TC Electronics Blacksmith, because it had the built in Super Compressor thing. That seemed to help but my-oh-my I do not get on with that rig. Clean, clinical and too cold for me. I like it simple....and cheap (Lou Barlow ethos :) ) 

 

I had no Idea about comp before so throwing Parallel into the mix is mind blowing, but ultimately really helpful and interesting. I am a fat handed fool so soldering etc is best avoided so will need something off the shelf. 

 

Also intrigued by the EQ note. I play with Treble at 10/11 o'clock, Mid whacked right up and Bass at about 3 o'clock. Thats the best I usually get when borrowing amps or playing through my own. 

Thanks for your input. Really appreciated.     

Edited by Nothingman

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I take it you've seen the Dinosaur Jr. Rig Rundown ?

Lou Barlow seems such a nice chap. Nice to see someone so honestly enthusiastic about their gear (certainly in comparison to Mr. Mascis :) )

 

Hopefully you'll get some other ideas as well. I reckon @dannybuoy might be able to offer some ideas.

 

 

Edited by ahpook

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Just now, ahpook said:

I take it you seen the Dinosaur Jr. Rig Rundown ?

Lou Barlow seems such a nice chap. Nice to see someone so honestly enthusiastic about their gear.

 

Hopefully you'll get some other ideas as well. I reckon @dannybuoy might be able to offer some ideas.

 

 

Yeah, I have watched that about 10 times as it is one of only 2 vids I can find about Lou Barlow's set up/playing style. 

 

I do have serious man crush on him. 

 

But enough bout my sinister obsession. Thanks for your help. 100% awesome. 

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1 minute ago, Nothingman said:

Yeah, I have watched that about 10 times as it is one of only 2 vids I can find about Lou Barlow's set up/playing style. 

 

I do have serious man crush on him. 

 

But enough bout my sinister obsession. Thanks for your help. 100% awesome. 

:D

He's made some great music, I loved some of the Folk Implosion stuff...and Sebadoh ? Awesome stuff.

 

Edited by ahpook
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Erm… I think it depends on your technique and how 'hot' your bass is and if your recording...

You say your technique is rubbish so if you're heavy-handed I consider trying one...

Intrigued with your pedal board... 

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13 minutes ago, visog said:

Erm… I think it depends on your technique and how 'hot' your bass is and if your recording...

You say your technique is rubbish so if you're heavy-handed I consider trying one...

Intrigued with your pedal board... 

What do you mean by ‘hot’? 

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7 minutes ago, Nothingman said:

What do you mean by ‘hot’? 

My bass spews 18v of filth... It's pretty hot.  The OP plays a Jack Cassidy so I think that's a semi-acoustic that could boom or have all sorts of transients.

Edited by visog

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1 minute ago, visog said:

My bass spews 18v of filth... It's pretty hot.  The OP plays a Jack Cassidy so I think that's a semi-acoustic that could boom or have all sorts of transients.

I’m the OP and yes it’s a JC, tone up, vol up, impedance selector switch st 500. Lots of output into full on fuzz. If that is ‘hot’ then this mother is burning. 

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Cant really help with getting the specified tone, but i find when i use my JC I hear a slightly compressed tone anyway, and this bass seems to need less OD/gain compared to my P bass to get really nasty. 

Not much help, just saying i love the tone from the JC. 

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I'd say you probably don't need a compressor if you're running a RAT or Muff always on. But it won't do any harm to experiment! Try it both before and after your dirt boxes, there is no 'correct' placement really but I tend to prefer mine after filters and before dirt.

I recommend the TC Spectracomp. I got one used for £50 and liked it much more than the top compressors in the market, e.g. Diamond, Cali Compact Bass. It just has one knob which I leave set at 9 o'clock on the default preset, and it hits the spot. 

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11 hours ago, dannybuoy said:

I recommend the TC Spectracomp. I ... liked it much more than the top compressors in the market, e.g. Diamond, Cali Compact Bass.

It just has one knob which I leave set at 9 o'clock on the default preset, and it hits the spot. 

+1 ^^

Completely agree with dB on both the above i.e. (i) on the SC being a good little comp and (ii) hitting the spot at 9 o'clock (i.e. 2/10) on the default preset. 

I've previously had an Aguilar TLC (which I spent a fair bit of time with), MXR M87 and a Cali 76 (both of which I moved on pretty quickly so can't pretend that I am an 'expert' with either) and also tried the comp effects patches on the Zoom MS-60B and the Zoom B3n, but this is the first time I've really felt that a comp was 'adding value' to my sound in a way that I could appreciate.

Spectracomp set at 2/10 on default preset

This seems to be decent setting and, for me, that higher settings (> 5/10) introduced a bit of noise into the signal. 

What I find at this 2/10 (9 o'clock) setting is that the bass tone has:

- a little more "gloss" / "sheen" (SC on) vs a little more "matt" / dull (SC off);

- a slightly bigger (=louder / fuller) sound;

- notes sustained a bit more (a bit like hitting the sustain pedal on a piano) - that ties in with a compressed signal wave:

- the change was more marked when using a pick than with fingers;

- however, not particularly more "centred" in the way that the Aggie TLC and others were (usefully) doing.

Edited by Al Krow
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Hi OP,

 

if if there is a loss of beef when switching from one style to another then a comp pedal might even it up a bit. The dirt pedals you are using will be compressing things a fair bit anyway, so I would (initially) try the comp before your dirt pedals so that they get a more consistent feed.  Seeing as you’re not a big time tweaker of Fx pedals, find a well regarded comp with 2 knobs or less.

I guess that you’ll never know for sure until you try.

have fun!  

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8 hours ago, dave_bass5 said:

Cant really help with getting the specified tone, but i find when i use my JC I hear a slightly compressed tone anyway, and this bass seems to need less OD/gain compared to my P bass to get really nasty. 

Not much help, just saying i love the tone from the JC. 

No that is a help. MAYBE I’m looking at things wrong (strong possibility with some of the comments after yours) and @ahpook mentioned messing with EQ. So I spent last night playing with my head and some amp sims on my computer last night. Seemed to get somewhere. So might go for a cheap preamp pedal ad some eq and drive, get rid of the rat from the board and see how that goes. Then can pick up simple comp to experiment with.

 

plus, kudos on the JC love.  

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7 hours ago, dannybuoy said:

I'd say you probably don't need a compressor if you're running a RAT or Muff always on. But it won't do any harm to experiment! Try it both before and after your dirt boxes, there is no 'correct' placement really but I tend to prefer mine after filters and before dirt.

I recommend the TC Spectracomp. I got one used for £50 and liked it much more than the top compressors in the market, e.g. Diamond, Cali Compact Bass. It just has one knob which I leave set at 9 o'clock on the default preset, and it hits the spot. 

Thanks for that. After other comments and a night of experimenting (!) I’m going to take the rat out the chain and replace it with a preamp then get a comp pedal (nice simple one as you Al have suggested) and experiment from there. I have probably been looking at things from the wrong angle and although my other bands require a compressor it’s probably not needed for my main set up. This said I’m still going to keep an eye out for one secondhand so I can add that to my arsenal, should it be needed. 

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16 minutes ago, Aliwobble said:

Hi OP,

 

if if there is a loss of beef when switching from one style to another then a comp pedal might even it up a bit. The dirt pedals you are using will be compressing things a fair bit anyway, so I would (initially) try the comp before your dirt pedals so that they get a more consistent feed.  Seeing as you’re not a big time tweaker of Fx pedals, find a well regarded comp with 2 knobs or less.

I guess that you’ll never know for sure until you try.

have fun!  

Cheers man. As per rest of my replies I’m going to pick one up to experiment with but prob not needed for main band in reality. My other projects will need this where I am switching more. 

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3 hours ago, Nothingman said:

Thanks for that. After other comments and a night of experimenting (!) I’m going to take the rat out the chain and replace it with a preamp then get a comp pedal (nice simple one as you Al have suggested) and experiment from there. I have probably been looking at things from the wrong angle and although my other bands require a compressor it’s probably not needed for my main set up. This said I’m still going to keep an eye out for one secondhand so I can add that to my arsenal, should it be needed. 

Also have a think, in that case, about the TC Spectradrive, it has a number of the things you are after (eg EQ and Spectracomp) in one compact and value for money package, as well as being a useful little headphone amp. 

PS I should just add I've not tried a Spectradrive myself (yet!), but a couple of fellow BCers whom I know well have and it seems to hit the mark in terms of EQ and compressor:

On 19/11/2018 at 14:47, dave_bass5 said:

Ive been using the TCE Spectradrive for Comp and clean boost. The Spectracomp side is as expected. The OD tone print side has a clean boost patch that sounds really nice to my ears. No real added dirt unless you set the gain high. Its called 'Clean boost'.

So i have that and the Spectracomp in one box, with a nice bit of EQ as well.

 

Edited by Al Krow
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The spectracomp can be had easily for £63 new. You can keep it simple with a single knob, or tweak allsorts. If you don't like it they are popular so you'll easily sell it on.

Paul.

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On 13/01/2019 at 06:48, Nothingman said:

No that is a help. MAYBE I’m looking at things wrong (strong possibility with some of the comments after yours) and @ahpook mentioned messing with EQ. So I spent last night playing with my head and some amp sims on my computer last night. Seemed to get somewhere. So might go for a cheap preamp pedal ad some eq and drive, get rid of the rat from the board and see how that goes. Then can pick up simple comp to experiment with.

 

plus, kudos on the JC love.  

Sounds like the Spectradrive might the the way to go then. The EQ is really nice, without being over the top. The OD is the weakest point though, at least for me. Having the Spectracomp built in saves space on the board, if you can live with the EQ and comp in the same position in the chain. 

Edited by dave_bass5

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Drive pedals automatically add compression, just depends if it is enough.

 

I play mostly clean-ish these days in a big / swing band. I'm swapping from fingerstyle to plectrum to slap depending on the tune and those have very different dynamics so I always use a compressor just to tame the extra volume on the slapping.

 

When I mix a clean and dirty signal compression is pretty much vital on the clean side - the dirty is already compressed and sustains for longer = so compressing the clean means that the sustain levels can be matched. Otherwise the clean fades long before the drive does.

 

If you like all the dynamics affecting the drive levels then put it at the end of the chain. If you also like it affecting the input stage of your amp, then put it in the FX loop so you are only taming the peaks into the poweramp and not how the preamp reacts. It's all good. Whatever works

 

There are loads of people who don't use them though - although a significant amount of them are still getting compressed - usually by the FOH engineer on the desk.

Edited by fretmeister
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