Guitar compressor pedal explained

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If there was an effect pedal that won the award for the Hardest To Understand category, it would be the compressor effect. Talk about a perplexing effect. We have all seen compressors on pedalboards of celebrity guitarists and players we respect. But it still begs the question, what do these little boxes actually do?

The 11 best compressor pedals for guitar: bring your clean tone to life

Here are the three basic things that a compressor actually does. The bottom of the ladder represents how quiet your guitar or other instrument can be with out adjusting any settings on your amp, pedalboard or guitar. Imagine barely brushing your thumb against the strings. That quiet sound is toward the bottom of the ladder.

The top of the ladder is how loud your guitar can be while keeping the same settings on your gear. Your instrument can be either quiet or loud. Depending on how you play, you can be at the bottom of the ladder or at the top. A compression pedal changes all of that. If you have a compression pedal will put your guitars volume on a specific step of the ladder. No matter how soft or how hard you are playing, your tone will always come out of the speakers at the same volume.

Other times you might not. One common use for compression pedals is during guitar solos. There may be a couple places in the solo where you have to play some fast notes. The ability to even every note out can be helpful during big guitar riffs too. Country guitarists use the sound all the time. Compression helps even all that out so the sound of a pick hitting a string is the same as when the ring finger hits another string.

When a compressor reduces your dynamic range there are a couple of side effects that go along with this. One of them is that it alters your tone in a very subtle, but very important ways. Pick up your guitar and strum a loud G chord and let it ring out. As the rest of the note rings out, you hear warmer tones. The compressor is going to reduce the volume of the pick attack, the part of the note that has the most treble, and bring up the volume of the rest of the note, the part of the note that has the lower frequencies in it.

Because of this, it will feel like a compressor will make your tone fatter or PHATter if you like and more beefier. If you are fighting with what you feel is an overly bright guitar or rig, perhaps a compressor is exactly what you need.

Since you have already put up with my ladder analogy, let me give you another one. Imagine a garden hose with a nozzle.

There is a setting on most nozzles that mists the water in every direction but forward. This is your tone without compression. What happens when the nozzle concentrates the water? This is like your tone with a compressor, the side effect of focusing your dynamic range is increasing your sustain.

Remember, the compressor is decreasing the volume of your pick attack but increasing the volume of the rest of the note. So as the note is naturally decaying decreasing in volume the compressor is making that part of the note louder giving the impression that you have more sustain. This is also one of the reasons why compression effects are used so much during solos. It can give you singing-like sustained notes that are great for solos.

I once heard a guitar player I really respected say a good compressor is the one no one knows is turned on.Compression can be a subtle effect, especially compared to something like a fuzz or distortion pedal, and it can sometimes be hard to audibly discern exactly what controls such as attack and release are actually doing! Warm tones, and long sustain.

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They have a reputation for being quite noisy. This is where things can get interesting, albeit more confusing. For a more natural, transparent effect, a slower attack time will let the initial pick or finger attack through.

guitar compressor pedal explained

This is a hugely popular modern compressor pedal, over 44, have been produced. These pedals represent some of the latest, most feature-laden compressor pedals on the market. The Ego, Cali 76 and Koji feature mix controls, and this allows the user to blend the compressed sound with dry signal. You can squash the tone significantly, and still retain a natural sound by blending in some dry signal. The Koji also features a 3 position tone switch, allowing the user to shape the top end.

All the pedals feature adjustable attack, and the and Cali 76 also have adjustable release. Clean tones and compression go together like peanut butter and jelly! How they are similar and what they are each designed to do that makes them different. And, how controlling signal levels impacts their tone. The signal is one of the most important things when it comes to flanger pedals, and a compressor is a must-have if you want a very good pedal for yourself.

Volume control is also very important […]. You must be logged in to post a comment. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Toggle navigation. Guitar Compressors Explained. Keeley 4 Knob Compressor This is a hugely popular modern compressor pedal, over 44, have been produced.

Share this. Related Articles.Need a buffer to drive your cables? Need to match impedances? The Clarionix is an awesome, small form factor buffer that will give you everything you need. Ever plug into a pedal or long cord and feel like your sound got more bassy or muffled, even with the pedal off?

This article explains what a guitar buffer pedal does and why and when you would want to use one to improve your tone. Simply put, a buffer is a circuit that will exactly replicate what is connected to the input to the output and more importantly, be able to apply that output with no changes be transparent to the next guitar pedal in the line.

When used correctly, a properly designed buffer pedal improves the high frequency response of your overall pedal chain. To explain this, first I give a method to test if you might want a buffer, then I give some examples where you would want a buffer and then I show the circuit explanation. If you want, skip down to the end and you can visually see the difference in frequency response with and without a buffer circuit. Quick Favor: if this article helps you, please like the site on facebook by clicking the little icon.

I made this video to show some places to put a guitar buffer.

guitar compressor pedal explained

Note that sometimes another pedal, in this case a Boss Equalizer, sometimes has a buffer already in it. The Boss pedal is not true bypass, so even when it is off there is a buffer on. You may be able to use something like this, even if always off if you need a buffer but don't want to spend too much. Notice in the video how the buffer makes the guitar sound have its treble back.

Some people like this, others think its tinny. A guitar buffer will sound close to playing with a short, 1 foot guitar cord.

guitar compressor pedal explained

A guitar buffer circuit is very simply a circuit where the output is the same as the input. The better the buffer, the more similar the output is to the input. So why would you want that, sounds like it does nothing? The hidden beauty of the buffer circuit is that it has a very high input impedance and a low output impedance.Adding one of the best compressor pedals in this list to your pedalboard can often make the difference between having a good guitar tone and a seriously great one.

In a nutshell, compressors balance out your guitar signal, attenuating or squashing peaks in order to keep your sound consistent and increase sustain. Compressor pedals are an essential tool if you play funk or country, but they can also prove useful for any guitarist who relies on clean tones, particularly when employing hammer-on, pull-off and tapping techniques.

There's a massive range of compressor pedals available on the market today - some that add their own distinct tone to proceedings, and others that remain transparent while adding that dynamic compressor sparkle. Many modern compressor pedals now also feature blend controls, which enable you to mix in the compressed signal with the uneffected sound — the best of both worlds.

Compressors can work well with overdriven ampstoo. You'll often find a hearty level of dB boost being used to kick an amp into dirtier territory. So, if it sounds like a compressor should be the next upgrade to your rig, take a look at our pick of the best compressor pedals you can buy today. With an internal charge pump to 18 volts, a normal nine-volt power supply will suffice for optimal operation and allow for more headroom. There's even a handy gain-reduction indicator to show your current compression amount.

Top-quality compression doesn't get much easier than this. The drive knob turns up the compression with the LED glowing pink rather than white when you are compressing the signal. There are also knobs for release time for the compression recovery and output volume. The pedal has little hiss, adds a nice snap to your note envelope without being too obtrusive and, via the Blend knob, can add compression effects, such as increased sustain, without totally squashing your core sound.

Read the full review: Fender The Bends Compressor. You get a sustain control to effectively increase the amount of compression, and an attack knob, which tweaks the start of your note envelope to give it the sort of 'snap' that works so well for country picking.

But it's actually the blend knob that gives you loads more options for a natural but compressed sound, allowing some of your unprocessed tone through in parallel with the compressed.

Whatever you need a compressor for, this should deliver it for you. There's a mini version available now, too. Read the full review: Wampler Ego Compressor. The Xotic SP features the same OTA operational transconductance amplifier technology as the Ross Compressor, so it provides the sort of squash familiar to many guitarists. With the combination of boost and compression offering loads of options, this is a versatile addition to any 'board.Every guitar player loves pedals.

We all have at least a handful in our collection and will always try a new one we come across. When you're starting out, you probably know when you need somethingbut you aren't exactly sure what it is.

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You may not even know what flanging or phasing actually does to your signal and how that's different from a chorus effect. We're offering below some great effect choices that will add some character without overtaking your sound, so you can really distill out what each of these effects do. While distortion and overdrive have their place and are usually the effects beginners jump to initiallythe following picks offer some other alternatives that will feed your creativity and help get you started.

A boost pedal is one of the most useful pedals one can have. Simply put, it boosts the signal that goes into it. It can perk up a low output guitar, or bring out more character or a different quality to your amp. This is especially useful for solos where overdrive or distortion would overwhelm the tone you've got.

Look out for what tone the boost adds, like treble or mids before purchasing.

Guitar Compressors Explained

Some boosts claim to be transparent, maintaining the same EQ of your original tone, while others spike a certain part of your EQ intentionally. Delay is essentially echo, but it can be so much more when used well. Time will increase the length between repeats, and repeats will adjust how many echoes are heard.

While it is tempting to max the repeats and enter space rock land, less can be more. Used gently you can get reverb or slap-back rockabilly sounds.

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With careful knob setting you can even create harmonies and loops like The Edge. The octave pedal raises or lowers your pitch an octave. This makes a huge sonic impact as soon as it is heard. This pedal will make your guitar sound huge, broad and bass-rich or fierce and piercing - even both.

One step and you can change the direction of the riff or the entire song. This effect was used extensively by Jimi Hendrix in combination with a fuzz tone, while more modern users include Tom Morello and Jack White.

Beginner Pick: Henretta Purple Octopus.If there's one type of effects pedal that guitar players are most unsure of, it has to be the compressor.

No worries, let MusicRadar explain what it does Although compression can be used as an obvious effect, it's more likely to be used as a subtle tool. One of the reasons guitarists may be wary of compressors is that what they do isn't always that obvious.

Take the compression away, however, and it will be missed. The simplest explanation of a compressor is that it's an automatic volume control that turns down your signal when it exceeds a predetermined threshold, attenuating or squashing signal peaks. Basically, it makes the quieter parts of an audio signal louder and the louder parts quieter: in effect, it's narrowing the dynamic range of a signal and delivering a more consistent overall loudness.

In addition, you may get an attack knob which determines how fast the compressor kicks in, letting more of the transient through and influencing the note 'snap'. There may also be a tone control, as compression can be perceived to dull the sound. There's a technique known as parallel compression, where some compressed signal is mixed with the dry signal.

guitar compressor pedal explained

This allows you to retain some of the attack and dynamics of your original signal, but still have some of the benefits of compression. Another technique is multi-band compression, where you compress separate frequency bands to a different degree - useful if, for example, you want to keep only the bottom end of your signal really tight.

Well, it can smooth, thicken and tighten your sound by evening out the volume differences between the notes or chord strikes. If you are less than consistent with your pick strikes, a compressor can come to your aid, delivering more constant dynamics: great for chord work or playing tight, highly rhythmic funk. Similarly, in country picking where there are likely to be lots of notes played quickly, including plenty of hammer-ons and pull-offs, a compressor will make sure they are all weighted equally.

In that context, there's another thing that a compressor can do as it works on the transient front edge of the note to alter its envelope - this is often referred to as giving some snap, pop or click to a note. As your note is fading, the compressor is working to keep the level up so your note lasts longer, benefiting slide players or anyone that wants clean notes to ring on.

That's not to say it's just for clean sounds: a compressor works fine with overdriven amps, and can be used as a booster to drive your amp into more dirt. MusicRadar The No. What exactly is compression? What are the different knobs for? Do I have to compress the whole of my signal? So, how would that help my guitar sound? Check out some of the compressor pedals we've reviewed belowLog in or Sign up.

Do you need a compressor pedal?

The Gear Page. Can someone explain what the "attack" knob on a compressor does?

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Jul 1, 1. Messages: I've never had a compressor with this before. What does it do and how should I set it? Jul 1, 2. Messages: 2, NakedInTheRainJul 1, Jul 1, 3.

Everything You Need to Know About Compressor Pedals

Last edited: Jul 1, Hector ArcadiusJul 1, Jul 1, 4. Messages: 9, SirGilmourJul 1, Jul 1, 5. Messages: 5, Jul 1, 6. KummeliJul 1, Jul 1, 7. I have the EQD Warden optical compressor, my first foray into compressors so it took me a minute to figure things out.

It features both an "attack" and "release" control and this is how Jamie explains them in the manual: Attack: This controls how quickly the compressor reacts and starts leveling the signal. All the way counter clockwise is a fast, nearly immediate reaction.

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