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Author Topic:  Anyone use a COMPRESSOR?? Chime in!!!
Bob Bartoli


From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post Posted 1 Jan 2009 12:04 pm     Reply with quote

Does anyone use a compressor on there steel, if so what kind??Thanks...
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Chris LeDrew


From:
Canada
Post Posted 1 Jan 2009 12:23 pm     Reply with quote

I'm curious to hear about this as well. The other night, our guitar player was using a boutique compressor and it really brought the guitar to life. I wonder if there are similar compressors than can do that to the steel. My experiences with the Dynacomp and the CS3 have not been great. They seem to suck tone out of my steel.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 1 Jan 2009 12:26 pm     Reply with quote

I have a Lexicon MPX 200 effects unit in my rack.
Among the effects is compression.
I add just a touch of compression when I play.
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Bo Borland


From:
South Jersey -
Post Posted 1 Jan 2009 12:28 pm     Reply with quote

I used an mxr dynacomp for a while, to even out my sound while i was getting a handle on using a Vpedal and to give me sustain before I learned how to roll the bar correctly.

It performed fine and it added a lot of POP to my single string notes.
Trick is not to over compress and to match the volume output.
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Kevin Hatton


From:
Buffalo, N.Y.
Post Posted 1 Jan 2009 12:29 pm     Reply with quote

If you want to kill sustain on a pedal steel put a compressor on it. It'll start to plunk.
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Tim Walker


From:
Los Angeles (originally U.K.)
Post Posted 1 Jan 2009 1:12 pm     Reply with quote

I use a Keeley for playing live. I find it thickens up the tone and increases sustain. You just have to be careful not to over compress - It's a subtle effect.
For recording the increase in the noise floor is too much so I let the engineer add it.
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Cliff Kane


From:
the late great golden state
Post Posted 1 Jan 2009 2:34 pm     Reply with quote

I have a couple of stomp box compressors: an old MXR and an old DOD. I like them for 6 string as a tone enhancer solo boost, but don't really use them for steel much unless I'm trying to emulate a Tele chicken-pickin' kind of thing. The MXR does the chicken-pickin' thing well, as well as being a nice enhancer for 6 string rthym and lead work. The DOD is more extreme than the MXR and has a lot of gain, so it works well as a sort of OD boost for a tube amp. The DOD is neat in that with no compression it can be used for a clean boost/OD thing, and is okay for lap blues type of stuff; the DOD has a higher ratio and slower attack than the MXR, so it doesn't do the typical chicken-pickin' thing as well as the MXR, but the extreme ratio and slow attack make for a cool "swell" effect for 6 string if you're not using a volume pedal. For pedal steel I find that they are redundant for most dynamic control uses because the volume pedal will do the same thing with more control and without loosing the pure attack of the picked note. Probably the best thing is for fattening up the tone of a Tele or Strat, sort of like a different flavor of OD boost, or placed in front of an OD or distortion pedal (sort of what the Route 66 pedal is). My guitar player uses a Keeley, and we did a compressor shoot-out between the Keeley, the MXR, and the DOD. We both agree that the MXR and the Keeley are similar in terms of attack and ratio, but the Keeley has more gain and will give more compression in the max of its range, and the Keeley has a better tone than the MXR; we also feel that the DOD is more extreme than the Keeley or the MXR in term of slower attack and higher ratio, and it has the most gain and compression of the three; we also like the tone of the DOD, and it is the coolest sounding of the three in terms of boosting and fattening the guitar's sound, it has better tone than the Keeley, but of course that's based on taste, but we both felt the same about three. This is all based on using them with an ash/maple Telecaster through a blackface Bassmasn and a blackface Twin. Back when I playing mostly 6 string I was using a Maxon comressor with a Strat with Lace Sensors through a Rivera tube amp. The Maxon was similar to the DOD but more mild and really transparent with tone, it sounded great with the Strat through a loud and clean tube amp (the Rivera). I think the Maxon and the DOD are optical compressors, but I'm not really sure what that means.
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Jerry Hayes


From:
Virginia Beach, Va.
Post Posted 2 Jan 2009 9:18 am     Reply with quote

I used to use an old Dan Armstrong "Orange Squeezer" on my old ShoBud S-12 back in the early eighties as it just stuck on the guitar like a Bosstone and only had a small switch on the outside to turn it on and off. I've tried other compressors on my guitar but they seem to make it distort a little for some reason. I use 'em all the time on six string but for steel, I think I'll just leave 'em alone....JH in Va.
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Marlin Smoot


From:
Denver
Post Posted 2 Jan 2009 1:18 pm     Comp Reply with quote

On 6 String I use a Keeley Compressor - I found the Keeley compressor made the BOSS CS-3 and CS-2 sound like toys.

On steel, I just use the Steel Guitar Black box - it's not a compressor but it has the tube... so there is some buffering.
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Ulric Utsi-┼hlin


From:
Sweden
Post Posted 2 Jan 2009 3:10 pm     Compressors... Reply with quote

The compressor is frequently misunderstood & misused,
but can be put to good use ; correctly adjusted it
can make the instrument output more uniform,improve
string separation,act as a subtle "volume guard" in
both-feet-on-the-pedals situations ; I have two
rack compressors,one TL Audio & one Toft Audio
Designs & two pedal compressors,one Maxon CP 101 and
one Maxon CPR 9 Pro+,the "9-series" Maxon being the
one I usually bring with the PSG ; needless to say,
the effect could be used quite aggressively when
there┤s need for that.McUtsi


Last edited by Ulric Utsi-┼hlin on 3 Jan 2009 2:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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robert kramer


From:
Nashville TN
Post Posted 2 Jan 2009 3:56 pm     Reply with quote

How should I set the compressor's threshold, attack and release controls for pedal steel?
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David Doggett


From:
Bawl'mer, MD (formerly of MS, Nawluns, Gnashville, Knocksville, Lost Angeles, Bahsten. and Philly)
Post Posted 2 Jan 2009 5:34 pm     Reply with quote

When I first tried a compressor on pedal steel, I realized it does what the volume pedal does manually. I wanted to perfect my VP technique and thought the compressor would be a crutch that prevented me from learning the manual technique. Someday I may revisit it. But I would caution anyone who wants to master the difficult art of VP use to leave the compressor for later.
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Ulric Utsi-┼hlin


From:
Sweden
Post Posted 3 Jan 2009 4:42 am     Comp cont┤d... Reply with quote

Right David,but my info was merely a primer on basic
use of the effect,with the add-on: don┤t over-use it,
or "mis-use",which was the terminology of that post ;
with the PSG I mostly stick with guitar-volume pedal-
amp,but I have a couple of guitars that DO benefit
from subtle compression,and it doesn┤t interfere with
the volume pedal ; if You turn it all the way up You
end up with an effect similar to the almost-forgotten
BOSS Slow Gear,but that┤s just something else:McUtsi
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 3 Jan 2009 5:29 am     Reply with quote

robert kramer wrote:
How should I set the compressor's threshold, attack and release controls for pedal steel?


Hey Robert, I have found the best results for using a compressor is with the battery removed .

Chuck Norris doesn't use a compressor, he "IS" the compressor.

tp
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David Mason


From:
Cambridge, MD, USA
Post Posted 3 Jan 2009 6:57 am     Reply with quote

Is Chuck as awesome a guitarist as Steven Seagal? Oooh i'm scared mommy....

I use an old DOD as basically a volume attenuator to calm down my George L 10-1 pickup so it doesn't overwhelm my other effects, when I'm playing through them. They can be set as a unity-gain, non-compressing line driver or even to cut signal. The old DOD's (with the 1/8" power jack) are way high boutique-y quality and show up on Ebay for $30 sometimes. I have an MXR Dynacomp that's occasionally cute for guitar - twank, quack - but it can't handle Furious George. I feel sorry for guitarists who:
A: Have to use a compressor
B: Won't ever use a compressor

I feel sorry, a lot. Shocked
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Ulric Utsi-┼hlin


From:
Sweden
Post Posted 3 Jan 2009 8:23 am     Compressor... Reply with quote

It┤s impossible to dictate what knob-fiddlin┤ to
perform without sitting with the actual equipment,
but,assuming You need compression,start at a low ratios,like 1:3 and adjust the threshold from
unity gain(0) going in the "minus"-direction until
it sounds right and adjust make-up gain to
compensate,volume-wise ; experimentation & subtlety
would be key-words here ; like I said,often mis-
understood & misused...McUtsi
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Bryan Daste


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post Posted 3 Jan 2009 3:20 pm     Reply with quote

I used the default compressor on my PodXT for a while when I was playing a Sierra most of the time, and it worked great - I had it set to just barely enhance the sustain. You couldn't hear it working, but I could feel the difference when playing. After I got my Emmons P/P, I found that the sustain worked differently...in this case, the compressor seemed to be working against me, so I bypassed it and haven't used it much since. It really depends on the steel, and what you're going for. In general I wouldn't use nearly as much compression (especially harsh, fast compression such as something a Tele player might want) on steel. I set the attack and release fairly slow so that I can't hear the compressor kicking in and releasing. I had a friend ask if the compressor was working against the volume pedal - the answer is, depends how you think about it! If you're boosting with the volume pedal and the signal goes over the comp threshold, then yes, it is pushing against you. But if you kind of "hang out" over the threshold most of the time, with the compressor active, then as the note dies out it will assist you in extending the sustain of the note - as the note dies, it is being attenuated less, so the net effect is that it sounds like it's being turned up! Pretty cool.
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Ulf Edlund


From:
Umeň, Sweden
Post Posted 4 Jan 2009 11:49 am     Re: Anyone use a COMPRESSOR?? Chime in!!! Reply with quote

Bob Bartoli wrote:
Does anyone use a compressor on there steel, if so what kind??Thanks...


I rather not. It tends to make the sound nasal.
I have done some some recording sessions and been real happy with the sound, just to find it very compressed in the final mix, sounding like it had the flue.
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T. C. Furlong


From:
Vernon Hills, Illinois, USA
Post Posted 5 Jan 2009 9:02 am     Reply with quote

I just read an article by a well respected studio engineer that compared using compression to a chef using salt. The idea was that many great chefs cook with very little salt and get great results while other great chefs use a lot of salt with great results. Its all about knowing what you want and how to add just the right amount to achieve that. We know of great guitar players who's signature sound is built around a hard hit compressor (Brent Mason is one). There are also steel players who built a nice signature sound with compression as part of the sound (Sneaky?). Just like in cooking, the flavor of the dish -translate- style of the song will dictate whether or not compression is appropriate. I can't hear Touch My Heart" with an MXR Dyna Comp squeezing the dynamics and tone out of it. Setting a compressor to do what you want is a skill and completely appropriate with certain styles of music. WARNING: do not attempt to use a compressor to help with evening out your playing dynamics, especially if you are new to the instrument. I made that mistake in the 70's. You probably can't see it but in my Avatar, there is an MXR Dyna Comp setting on the keyhead of my Sho-Bud Pro II. That photo was taken when I was playing with Johnny Gimble in 1978. I barely got away with it and I had the least amount of compression possible with that pedal. Imagine playing Texas swing and Texas waltzes with a compressor. Lame-O.

IMHO, learning to develop dynamics first in your right hand technique and second in your volume pedal is an important part of learning good technique.
TC
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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 5 Jan 2009 9:43 am     Reply with quote

I have a whole box of compressors! Don't use them anymore, even on 6-string. The best one, for steel, I found to be the Joe Meek VC3. Very subtle and transparent.
Many comps have a trim pot inside for adjusting the ratio. Fool with it. My tech and I spent some time adjusting my Dynacomps, (I have 3 ancient ones) for different styles of music.
I would like to try the Celmo Sardine Can Compressor, just for kicks!
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Barry Gaskell


From:
Cheshire, UK
Post Posted 5 Jan 2009 11:38 am     Reply with quote

Hi Bob
I use a presonus 16 compressor, (Comp16) It's a new range and does the job superbly.A great price too and comes with a power supply (wall wart). 16 pro presets with input and output controls and balanced ins and outs. I have it straight after my Vol pedal before the signal hits the rack. Very adjustable and subtle if necesary. It's not a stomp box.
Cheers
Barry
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 6 Jan 2009 5:18 am     Reply with quote

and of course nobody has yet to mention...

"using a compressor with an attenuated final gain as an audio effect is not actually using the compressor for it's intended purpose " which is to restrict the level of the total signal at the final stage so as to prevent attenuation surges of the total output signal with relationship to the input.

but I'll say it, someone has to say it.
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Ulric Utsi-┼hlin


From:
Sweden
Post Posted 6 Jan 2009 5:53 am     Compressors...round-up... Reply with quote

Yes...Tony concluded the thing by explaining the
basic use of the studio compressor ; when we┤re
using comp as a pronounced effect we┤re actually
taking advantage of some of the SIDE-EFFECTS of the
classic studio compressor...McUtsi
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post Posted 6 Jan 2009 12:26 pm     Reply with quote

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't, either on guitar or steel. It depends entirely on the application. I use it on guitar more, but I agree with the chef/salt analogy. Smoke 'em if you got 'em if you want 'em.

Quote:
WARNING: do not attempt to use a compressor to help with evening out your playing dynamics, especially if you are new to the instrument.

I agree - it's important to learn to control the actual response of the guitar itself, and then try to understand how all the other stuff affects that. All these responses aren't necessarily linear, but I still like to decompose things as much as possible:

1. What is the stone-cold sound of the guitar, and what's the effect of what I specifically do to get that - hands, picks, whatever.
2. What is the incremental effect of any individual thing I add - volume pedal, cables, any effects, amp, speaker, whatever.
3. What happens when I put various combinations together. Some of this stuff isn't linear, so superposition doesn't necessarily hold. In other words, you can't necessarily get the total response by simply adding up the decomposed individual responses.

I also agree that side-effects are important. A good compressor can give any combination of compression, buffering, or clean gain/attenuation. Many times I've used compressors primarily for buffering and/or gain adjustment, and compression when I wanted it, all in one device. This requires a good compressor which really is transparent when everything is set to unity - no compression and unity gain. I agree on the Joe Meeks. I've used one several times, I need to get one for my rack.

If it sounds good, it is good.
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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post Posted 6 Jan 2009 12:33 pm     Reply with quote

Dave, I used my Meeks VC3 before the volume pedal. It never occurred to me to place it after the pedal. Where did you place it in the chain?
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