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Best compressor for slap (I know......)

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Hey folks

I never thought I'd see the day.......

Anyway, I've never really used slap live, but we're moving into Chili Pepper territory and I think I'm going to have to take both my technique and tone shaping a little more seriously. I don't use any FX live, and never have, so I'm a little wary of getting into such a GAS inducing thing, but the main difference between the slap tone I produce at home at relatively low volumes and the tone I produce in a live situation is the significant inconsistency in volume levels in the latter. Certainly technique is a big factor, certainly the fact that the bass is also sitting in a mix with the rest of the band who are also at times a bit up and down in volume is a factor, but I'd like to at try some compression, if only to see if it makes life easier, and/or until I get my technique a little better.  I'd prefer a rack unit to be honest, there's enough stuff on the floor without me adding to it. I'd be happy to listen to any other thoughts on FX for slap (please don't waste your time commenting on technique, I'm  along way off where I want to be but am working on it, or EQ, which I'm on top of).

Cheers

Chris

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I'd best stay well clear of this thread otherwise it's only going to end in tears 😂 

 

PS please tell me what the answer is when you have one! 

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I don't slap myself but I do like to have a compressor of sorts on when I'm playing. I know you said that you don't want anything on the floor but a very good, cheap and cheerful way to start your compression journey would be the Boss LMB-3. Assuming you use a regular amp head you could have the pedal on top on the amp to keep it off the floor? 

Funnily enough it's not my first recommendation for the Boss today! On another thread here I'd written earlier; 

You can't go wrong with the Boss LMB-3, they're cheap as chips and pretty much indestructible. I've had 2 or 3 over the years and whenever I've sold one I've ended up buying another down the line! It's actually an excellent compressor too and has an infinity to 1 setting on the ratio control for limiting duties. The enhance feature is a bit noisy but usable at lower settings if you want that ultra high end thing. The pedal itself imparts a slightly scooped mid range when engaged so it's not really transparent but it's quite a pleasing sound in its own right. 

With the inherent mid scoop and the enhancer control to add some ultra highs to the sound it looks like the Boss was designed with slappers in mind. Might be worth a look, there's usually a few used ones on eBay for not much money. 

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I’ve recently had to address this issue! Having been pedal-free for years I am now playing Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes live. For me it’s the pops rather than the slaps that jump out in volume. I have tried a cheap Biyang Dyna Comp clone, which seemed perfectly adequate when set appropriately, and a big-box Cali76, which was rather easier to dial in.

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TC Spectra comp has many many options and variables to play with but ultimately a lot of presets so you can quite easily audition them at a rehearsal space in seconds using the app if you’re an iPhone user (or could borrow an old one from a family member if someone has one kicking about. Hell I might even have an old one kicking about you can have let me just check there’s no d*ck pics on it... I’d downloaded hundreds 😀

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18 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

I'd best stay well clear of this thread otherwise it's only going to end in tears 😂 

 

PS please tell me what the answer is when you have one! 

Do you still have the Stella comp -I’d say that must be a candidate for compact, unobtrusive great sounding comp if the review was anything to go by?

@Beedster you just missed a dbx160 rack but they might be a decent option as a lot of the more recent pedals to market such as the keeley and Stella are based off the dbx comp.

Edited by krispn

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I'm really loving my ThorpyFX Fat General for every purpose at the moment.

It's just lovely.

Even made me sell my Cali76.

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A question to ask yourself is, do you like to see a visual meter reading your volume spikes and thus aiding you to check technique and compression?

If you do, this already eliminates a few options, then you can narrow down within this range

Edited by Cuzzie
Awful awful clumsy thumbs
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Spectracomp would be my recommendation. Plenty of slap-artists tone prints on their to use and most of them are pretty good.

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There was a used Spectracomp going for £40 on here the other day which might still be around. The fact it's multi-band works great for slap and agressive styles, where you want more of a limiting effect on the top end but still want a big pop coming through in the low end.

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2 hours ago, JapanAxe said:

I’ve recently had to address this issue! Having been pedal-free for years I am now playing Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes live. For me it’s the pops rather than the slaps that jump out in volume. I have tried a cheap Biyang Dyna Comp clone, which seemed perfectly adequate when set appropriately, and a big-box Cali76, which was rather easier to dial in.

A limiter rather than a "traditional" compressor is maybe what you need to tame the pops / protect your speakers.

Keeley Bassist or CompIQ Stella are two compressors which can deliver a high (i.e. >20:1) compression ratio and also have a threshold knob to dictate the volume level when the comp kicks; so these can also double up as excellent limiters. They are both quality bits of kit (I had the Keeley and still have the CompIQ) but they don't unfortunately come cheap.

What's nice about using a compressor in limiter mode is that your playing dynamics are not impacted at all below the threshold level, and there should be no impact on your tone if the compressor is transparent - which both the Keeley and CompIQ  very much are, although it's clearly the case that many BC'ers do prefer the effect on their sound of having a pedal board compressor in their signal chain. 

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I have the Keeley Bassist. It is a really good 'transparent' compressor/limiter in my opinion. It is generally an always on pedal for me. Honestly though, I never play much slap live. In rehearsal context though it is great. EBS Multicomp is another good pedal, though I personally think that the design of the pedal is starting to show its age in comparison to the newer pedals such as the ones from TC Electronic. 

Horrible oversized footprint aside, I really liked the Aguilar TLC for slap. 

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58 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

What's nice about using a compressor in limiter mode is that your playing dynamics are not impacted at all below the threshold level... 

So, err, exactly like a compressor then :lol:

  • Haha 1

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7 minutes ago, Osiris said:

So, err, exactly like a compressor then :lol:

Well err no. Doh. 

Who on earth uses a "traditional comp" with comp setting > 20:1 ratio? Or sets the threshold to a high enough level that it only effects volume spikes?

Edited by Al Krow

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There is a heap of misinformation out there and opinions on compression.

This is reasonable in terms of how to compress the signal in a guitar effectively.

https://www.musicianonamission.com/bass-compression-trick/
 

All this stuff about must use it as a limiter is generally bunkum - even as a ‘limiter’ it’s still compression, and if it’s being used to stop you ragging and damaging your speaker cones, you must be playing at an incredible volume for this to happen which is beyond what your set up can handle - this will need to be addressed first, before compression.

After that and after getting the basics the best way to get compression learnt is to step away from the bass and learn to mix a whole band.

Now within all this are key questions

How much do you like to tinker?

Do you want to control all parameters?

Do you like visual metering?

What is your budget, new or second hand?

How much real estate do you want to give up?

This will auto select a range of compressor for the one knob TC Spectracomp where someone has installed the ‘best for most’ parameters, through to an Empress or whatever.

You will otherwise get a scattergun of use this and use that one.

Filter it out then it’s game on

 

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http://www.ovnilab.com
 

You’ll find out all you need to know with reviews, explanations etc. It’s the one guy doing all the reviews so you get consistency with the reviews and comparisons.Definitely worth a look, read a few reviews of pedals which catch your eye or might be available in the FS section. 

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2 hours ago, Al Krow said:

A limiter rather than a "traditional" compressor is maybe what you need to tame the pops / protect your speakers.

I initially set the Cali76 'Limiting Amplifier' by eye using the LED ladder - hardly any lights lit during normal playing, but around 20dB of compression on peaks when slapping/popping. Then I tweaked it by ear to sound 'right'.

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30 minutes ago, JapanAxe said:

I initially set the Cali76 'Limiting Amplifier' by eye using the LED ladder - hardly any lights lit during normal playing, but around 20dB of compression on peaks when slapping/popping. Then I tweaked it by ear to sound 'right'.

I was gonna say the same normally with finger style I’m only hitting about 5-10dB but it’s not a noticeable compression but it will catch things if I get overly thumb-y. The beauty of a comp which has metering and enough controls to dial in what you want.

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2 hours ago, krispn said:

http://www.ovnilab.com
 

You’ll find out all you need to know with reviews, explanations etc. It’s the one guy doing all the reviews so you get consistency with the reviews and comparisons.Definitely worth a look, read a few reviews of pedals which catch your eye or might be available in the FS section. 

Was just going to post the same - and you can search for mentions of 'slap', which bring up e.g.:

http://www.ovnilab.com/reviews/bc1x.shtml

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The ovnlab chap seems to have a chip on his shoulder (or at least a bee in his bonnet) about some history between him & TC Electronic, so the Spectracomp isn't represented, although it certainly gives the best bang/buck ratio for a compressor in my opinion. I use one on my board & its great.

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Yeah, it was his comments about noise that put me off trying one, but when I eventually did I found it to be the quietest compressor I've ever tried!

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I really liked the EBS Multicomp for slap in dual band mode. You can attenuate the high and low bands with micro pots inside the pedal, handy for getting that smooth sound on pops.

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According to another thread, all you need is switch to a valve amp... 😈

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