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Corbin Pratt


From:
Nashville
Post  Posted 12 Nov 2020 11:44 am    
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Does anyone use a compressor on their steel in post while mixing? If so, what's your strategy with this?
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 15 Nov 2020 2:46 pm    
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I have been tracking or mixing (sometimes both) with a touch of compression pretty much forever. An 1176 is awesome or a Tube Tech CL-2B is great. I have just started experimenting with a Neve 2264ALB. It is pretty sweet.

I'm talking about hardware compressors used for a very light touch of focus. I'm not talking about those nasal choked steel tones that overly enthusiastic engineers get from those DBX boxes or Distressors.

For mixing what I do is shoot for maybe 5db of slow reduction at most. If I can hear it I dial it back. If I'm using it for repair or to help with dynamics I record my part again.
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Corbin Pratt


From:
Nashville
Post  Posted 15 Nov 2020 4:15 pm    
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That’s super helpful Bob. I appreciate it!
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John Macy

 

From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 16 Nov 2020 2:43 pm    
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Depends on the track for me. I use less in more open sounding tracks than I do I for denser ones. I seldom track with one unless it’s for the vibe of the unit (you can switch off the compression in an 1176 and still get the vibe of the transformers and electronics). I’ll use clip gain sometimes to even out some dynamics so the track hits the compressor more evenly.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2020 6:19 am    
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John,
You bring up the thing that is confusing about learning how to use compression. There are no set rules because everything is contextual. It seems like there is a lifetime worth of study only balancing the input and output knobs of an 1176.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2020 6:36 am    
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The pedal steel is no different from any other instrument. You are probably going to compress most things slightly to make them more audible. Apart from the question of density, it also depends on the context of whether you already have the listener's attention or you're trying to get it.

If you can hear it working it's too much.
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Bill Terry


From:
Bastrop, TX
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2020 12:53 pm    
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Quote:
It seems like there is a lifetime worth of study only balancing the input and output knobs of an 1176.


I owned a vintage one for a few years, way before they became so valuable (I paid 50 bux for mine at a ShowCo garage sale, they had dozens for sale at that price..arrgh). I liked it a lot, but basically I had to re-learn what I already thought I knew about adjusting a compressor. A different animal, but in a really good way.
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Ron Shalita


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 17 Nov 2020 7:51 pm    
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I have used a compressor for so long now that I would feel lost without it ....
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Been playing all of my life, Lead Guitar, and Pedal Steel, sing Lead and Harmony.. play other Instruments also but I hate to admit to it..
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John Macy

 

From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 18 Nov 2020 4:08 pm    
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Bob, legendary engineer Shelly Yakus used to say "tape cardboard over the meters and turn the knobs till it sounds good...". Good starting point...
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John Macy
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Ron Shalita


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 18 Nov 2020 4:40 pm    
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John is correct.. too much will squash your signal just a little will sustain longer.. I use a keely pro, it has some LED’s on it to show you how much signal is being compressed .. I usually hit a string hard and make it come up to one LED .. but most of the time like John said my ear is really best ...

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John Macy

 

From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 21 Nov 2020 9:02 am    
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Bob, I think the 1176 is one of the easiest of all compressors to use. 90% of the time my attack is on the slowest and release is on the fastest. Adjust input to the amount of compression you want and use the output to set lever to tape or to match the original using an insert. Of course, I do love pushing in all the ratio buttons and doing a Bigfoot stomp on the appropriate signal. Smile
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John Macy
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Ron Shalita


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 21 Nov 2020 10:44 am    
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John is this something that you take to gigs with you?
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John Macy

 

From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 21 Nov 2020 8:00 pm    
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No, I seldom use compression live on my steel. If I do, I have an Origin Effects Cali 76, which is basically an 1176 in a pedal, very cool.
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John Macy
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
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Ron Shalita


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 22 Nov 2020 4:29 am    
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has everything that the Keely pro has on it its even 18v .. looks like a good one
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 23 Nov 2020 9:34 am    
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Ron Shalita wrote:
John is this something that you take to gigs with you?


Ron,
The original question is about post production compression which is very different than compression used for live playing.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 23 Nov 2020 9:40 am    
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John Macy wrote:
Bob, I think the 1176 is one of the easiest of all compressors to use. 90% of the time my attack is on the slowest and release is on the fastest. Adjust input to the amount of compression you want and use the output to set lever to tape or to match the original using an insert. Of course, I do love pushing in all the ratio buttons and doing a Bigfoot stomp on the appropriate signal. Smile


It's amazing how versatile that simple machine can be.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 23 Nov 2020 4:52 pm     Re: Compression on Steel (Post Production)
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Originally, Corbin Pratt wrote:
Does anyone use a compressor on their steel in post while mixing? If so, what's your strategy with this?

I compress everything subtly so that it sounds "better" without it being apparent why. There's another thread running on this.
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David Mitchell

 

From:
Tyler, Texas
Post  Posted 26 Nov 2020 9:03 pm    
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I use compressors, studio units not stomp boxes, like George Massenburg. He said he just turn knobs till it sounds right and makes him feel good inside. I don't use cookbooks. That comes from learning to trust your own ears.
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Gary Newcomb


From:
AustinTexas, USA
Post  Posted 6 Apr 2021 6:23 pm    
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I have a Distressor and I love it for the different colors it’s capable of and the versatility. I’ll usually will track with just a touch of it. Once in the box though (Logic), I’ll manage peaks with automation or recut the track if it’s needing too much heavy lifting.
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Justin Emmert

 

From:
Martinsville, VA
Post  Posted 6 Apr 2021 6:43 pm    
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Yes, just a touch. 3-5 db at the most typically. I like the Waves Renaissance Axx compressor and the Optical compressor that comes stock with Logic ProX. I typically use the opto only when I want to add some soft saturation. The Axx gives it a touch of thickness. A lot of times I pick pretty hard, so I turn the attack time way up to catch that initial transient, then go with a slow release.
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David Mitchell

 

From:
Tyler, Texas
Post  Posted 8 Apr 2021 2:49 pm    
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A short explanation of compressors. If one says 4:1 compression ratio that means for every 4 db that goes in the compressor only 1 db comes out. If it's an 8:1 ratio for every 8 dbs that goes in only 1 comes out and so forth. By the time you get to a 20:1 ratio just about all the dynamics are removed. That means the program material is almost constantly the same volume.
Not a desirable effect for steel players but a rock guitarist with a sense distortion might could use a ratio that constant. For steel the attack setting plays a critical role because if you were playing something fast and wanting to keep the attack of your notes choose a slower attack so the compressor doesn't rob your attack. If you playing a slow pretty song and wish to not have so much of the clickity clack of the picks choose a faster attack and the compressor will clip the attacks off. The release is just what it says. That's how long it holds the compression. With all that said please return to John Macy's post and take Shelly Yackus advice. That's also how George Massenburg does it. They turn knobs until it feels good.
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Bill Terry


From:
Bastrop, TX
Post  Posted 9 Apr 2021 6:00 am    
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In addition to David's excellent description about compressors, and how they may be used with steel guitar, there is an intrinsic behavior built in to various compressor designs, that may or may not make that particular compressor more suitable for a particular use case. That said, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that there isn't one right way to use a compressor, i.e. the "Cover the meters and turn knobs until it sounds good." advice mentioned above. That's definitely, a valid approach.

If you're new to compressor use in general, this information is pretty good (without being too technical) for explaining about the most commonly found compressor design types, and their advantages/disadvantages for different uses.

https://www.izotope.com/en/learn/4-types-of-analog-compression-and-why-they-matter-in-a-digital-world.html
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