Compressor Question?

Discussion in 'Pedal Pushers Forum' started by G5422T, Feb 19, 2021 at 3:22 PM.

  1. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    How many of you use some sort of compression, pedal or otherwise, regularly?

    I know that we all "chase a tone" in our head, and I'm thinking good things about what compression could possibly do for my chase.

    I'm a compressor fool. Never had one, or unknowingly played through one at some point.

    Appreciate any input.
  2. oneforsorrow

    oneforsorrow Gretschie

    May 15, 2020
    I don't use a compressor pedal but I use compression quite bit in recording/live streaming. In addition to plugins and outboard compressors which I'll touch on later, I do benefit from some compression via 2 sources that add a touch of compression.

    One is my Catalinbread F55 pedal. It has a compression-like feel and impact on the tone. I couldn't tell you what's happening at the circuit level to facilitate that but it definitely informs my playing when I'm using it. Additionally, there's a "Limiter" on my Quilter MicroPro amp. Again, this impacts the feel and imparts a fuller, rounder tone. It also serves as a means of keeping that solid state overdrive in check when pushing the input of the amp. Both of these play a role in my tone for sure. And they allow me to "lean" into the sound so to speak.

    Post amp, I use an outboard compressor (Grace M502) as part of the signal chain for my amp (mic'd up) when broadcasting a live stream. This is used much less for tone and much more for controlling the volume and keeping the sound "full" or "thick" in a sense. Additionally, during mixing of a recording, I use a bevy plugin compressors throughout a mix in some ways to impart a tonal artifact but mostly to create a cohesive mix by controlling the levels of a given part. This type of compression can color the sound if that's desired or rather transparently control the volume as there are myriad options and styles available.

    Years ago, I had a compressor pedal (BBE Varicomp) on my board but I never did cotton to it. I wanted it to act like a studio compressor as I described in the prior paragraph but it was too heavy handed. Now, however, there are compressor pedals that have adjustable parameters that work like a studio compressor and would likely suit my needs.

    BUT WITH ALL THAT SAID, if you're after a compressed sound like that Nashville chicken pickin' type of thing, you probably just want a simple compressor without all the attack, release, and ratio type settings. I would go with as simple as you can but with the caveat that you consider something that offers you the ability to mix dry/wet so that you can have the option of mixing in unaffected sound. I say that because my experience was such that when I used the compressor pedal I had, even in the minimum setting, it was too compressed for my taste (I just wanted to tame the peaks and "level" the sound a bit). By being able to mix in some of the dry signal, you can retain the articulation while still thickening up the tone. Had my pedal been able to do that, I would likely have kept it.

    Hope that helps.
    SAguitar, GlenP and G5422T like this.
  3. Chmason85

    Chmason85 Synchromatic

    May 1, 2018
    I have a real nice compressor pedal, Way Huge Saffron Squeeze, but I have yet to find a setting that works for me all the time. I like how it rounds off the highs a bit but then it rounds off the lows too much as well, makes my .56 low E string sound like a rubber band. It is nice for making chords sound more complete and coherent though, very even and smooth.
    G5422T likes this.
  4. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Friend of Fred

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    I used a compressor for decades, my favorite being this one:

    I was using powerful (AC15/30) bedroom amps, so the compressor helped me achieve sustain and compression, without having to turn up those amps.

    A few years ago I got an AC4HW1(X) which gives me a nice, natural tube compression and sustain at low decibels, so I stopped using the compressor.

    I hope that helps.
    jfassett, GlenP and G5422T like this.
  5. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    Very helpful and well explained. Thanks
    oneforsorrow likes this.
  6. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    Thank you guys. Appreciated.
    ZackyDog likes this.
  7. pesimax

    pesimax Gretschie

    Jan 24, 2011
    I recently got the hankering for a compressor. I had a few in the passed but wasn’t too impressed. I ended up buying a second hand slide rig compact deluxe, it’s amazing for slide and works really well on more subtle settings always on and had a dry knob so you can add in uncompressed signal and not lose the attack when you first pick.
    pmac11 and G5422T like this.
  8. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Almost always on - it's become a part of my tone and expectation. I like it to be on because it gives me just a bit of sustain and note evening. It's great for arpeggios and leads and I can almost never play through an overdrive without one. It really smooths out an overdrive if you put the compressor before it.

    My go to pedal is a Diamond optical compressor. It has very little pumping or note swells, has low noise and gives a nice even sustain and lends a nice air to things.

    I also like to use an Orange Squeeze clone for a nice rhythmic punch as it swells and dips and I have a Keeley classic four knob when I want good strong compression on Strats and Teles.

    I really really want an Origin Cali 76 TX, but by the time people figured out what they could do, the prices went through the roof.

    One thing I don't like with compression is that it tends to make chorus and flange sound ice pick unpleasant unless you back down a lot on your tone. It's not the worst thing in the world to turn off compression when you use Chorus I guess.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2021 at 4:42 PM
    G5422T likes this.
  9. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    I've been doing some reading up, and there's a lot to choose from.

    Sound bites, as limited and bad as some can be, have at least showed me that a pedal would fit my needs at this point.

    Seems like a fair amount of love for the Keeley Compressor Plus.

    It has the Blend control which has been mentioned as a "nice to have."

    Appears to be a good pedal at a good pricepoint too.
    L Robbins likes this.
  10. stiv

    stiv Country Gent

    Sep 12, 2014
    Florence, Italy
    I’m currently after some compressor as well. I used to have an old CP9 on my pedalboard (it’s maybe the second pedal I owned overall, after the TS9) but I was using it as a boost/sustainer on solos in a 3 pieces lineup and it worked fine for a while. When I started playing with another guitar I had to switch to a Micro Amp which gave me more volume, so I got rid of it.
    At the moment I’m after some sort of Jangle sound, so I’d love to try some compressor but it’s difficult because of this lockdown, I have no friends I could meet.
    I’m after a Janglebox which is the original McGuinn choice, but they’re quite rare (and expensive) over here, so I’m waiting before to pull the trigger.
    To me, compressor are a powerful tool if you already have an idea about the sound you’re looking for. If you’re just in a “I may fancy trying one and see how it goes” mood, then it’s possible you may find more cons than pros (at least, that’s what always happened to me. And it’s the reason why I didn’t own one in ages). For someone like me who loves open/hollow tones, a pedal that squash/sustain your tone may end up in a drawer pretty soon. Worth trying a few with your rig, I guess.
    G5422T likes this.
  11. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    Makes sense. I've never been pedal heavy myself, almost to the point of shutting them out.

    Hard to explain, but I do know the sound that I'm after for certain things, and it appears that some level of compression will do it.

    Thanks for your input.
    stiv likes this.
  12. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    Good info. Thanks
  13. pmac11

    pmac11 Country Gent

    Mar 4, 2018
    Toronto, Ontario
    I've got a Keeley Compressor Plus. It's useful for levelling things out a bit. Key from my perspective is the 'blend' knob that lets you control the wet/dry signal ratio. So you can retain some dynamics and still smooth out the bumps.
    L Robbins, audept and G5422T like this.
  14. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    If I were looking at a Keeley today, I would look at the GC-2 or Compressor Pro. The Plus is an updated version of the old Keeley classic which is really just another Ross clone of the oh so common OTA (operational transconductance amplifier) design. It's great if that's what you want, but it does a fair amount of tone coloring and can get noisy and feedbacky if you're not careful. The GC-2 is really easy to use and gives good sustain.

    Blend I've had blend on two different compressors and really didn't see any help in it although a lot of people can't live without it. Some of the high end ones like the Empress have blend.
    audept and G5422T like this.
  15. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Buy 2 or 3 with mix/blend/dry controls and 2 week return periods, seeing one works for you. I did the same and wound up with this. Love it.

    Gold Penguin, TSims1, pmac11 and 5 others like this.
  16. Telechamp

    Telechamp Country Gent

    Oct 20, 2010
    Tampa Bay
    I've got two compressors (a JangleBox, and an MXR Dyna Comp - on a second board) and do use them often, but not all the time - except with the Rics.

    I play Rickenbackers a lot, and in my opinion, compressors are essential for Rics.

    I also use them a lot with my Teles - but not always.



    thunder58, SAguitar and G5422T like this.
  17. SAguitar

    SAguitar Synchromatic

    Jan 17, 2020
    Jack Plate, Oregon
    I do use compressors, probably about half the time for leads. I tend to get heavy-handed playing leads and a compressor tends to give me something to lean against, and smooths things our a bit. In stompbox land, I have an old Keeley 4-knob, and a Boss CS-3 and I like them pretty well.

    Lately I have been spending a lot of time playing through my Line 6 Helix and using several of the compressors available in that monster to good effect. Overall, the thing about compressors is like cooking with spices, you can easily get too much dumped into the recipe and ruin the the whole thing!
    G5422T likes this.
  18. Gretschmen65

    Gretschmen65 Country Gent

    May 20, 2016
    QLD Australia
    I use a compressor almost all the time. However I don't use it to get any "effect " like the chicken pickin' thing.
    What I like about a compressor is the ability to lift the level of harmonics which are typically well down from the fundamental and often inaudible under normal amplification.
    Used sparingly it can add a fullness to your tone without apparent compression.
    I've used Wampler Ego, Dyna Comp, MXR Super Comp and some cheap pedal from Caline.
    I recently (like 2-3 years ago ) switched to the Boss CP-1X. I really like this pedal. Doesn't mess with your tone and has enhanced features which the big money pedal makers
    (or modifiers) haven't yet started to copy.
    For me it is the best compressor I've had for my purposes. YMMV :)
    Henry, G5422T and pesimax like this.
  19. Back in Black

    Back in Black Synchromatic

    Jun 22, 2020
    Ontario Canada

    Have had this since it first became available.

    Nothing better to run a Ric 12 string through.


    DSCF1325.JPG IMG_0225.JPG
  20. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    Sweet. Wish I had that Ric problem! Lol

    Back in Black likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.