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compressor - do i need one

 
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patdaddy



Joined: 09 Jan 2009
Posts: 210

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 2:26 pm    Post subject: compressor - do i need one Reply with quote

now that i got me a 12 string, i wonder if i need a compressor. I guess i really dont understand what they do? It just seems like a 12 string player is supposed to have one.

opinions?
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Dogbear



Joined: 23 Jun 2007
Posts: 275
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check out the Jangle Box compressor and listen to the sound clips. It will give you an idea what a compressor does. Better yet, just listen to the early Byrds or any of Roger McGuinn's solo work.

This link gives you a with and without.

http://janglebox.com/music/demovoice.mp3

http://janglebox.com/jangle_about.htm
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patdaddy



Joined: 09 Jan 2009
Posts: 210

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well i went ahead and ordered a Janglebox with the ac adaptor. half the cost of the guitar, but oh well. the search for tone demands sacrifices.
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Silverface



Joined: 23 Aug 2006
Posts: 324
Location: Hermosa Beach CA

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am NOT a huge fan of compressors for 6-string.

But having been a victim of a 330-12, there should be legislation enacted requiring compressors to be used with ALL Ric 12 strings.

Without one the tone is, as once described by someone whose name I've forgotten, as "a sitar falling down concrete stairs".

I sold my Ric. The Ric 12 tone in my Variax 500 is 900% better, consistent, and it stays in tune.

Oh - and it's also possible to play without fingers the diameter of a Lucky Strike.
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patdaddy



Joined: 09 Jan 2009
Posts: 210

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i'd like to get a 370/12 someday, along with a million other things i wish i had.
i've got my 12 string strat, and it sure is nice to play. mind you, i only know about 3 chords, but it sure feels good.
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Tony Trout



Joined: 23 Aug 2006
Posts: 104
Location: Brasstown/Murphy, North Carolina (USA)

PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What does a compressor actually do/what is it's function in concordance with a guitar - be it a regular electric guitar or a 12-string Rickenbacher (which I would love to own but that's gonna just be a dream.....
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patdaddy



Joined: 09 Jan 2009
Posts: 210

PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

still not sure how it actually "works"...but if you are a byrds fan and have a 12 string, you just NEED one Laughing for that jingle jangle

im still not sure why you dont see electricity oozing out of the outlets, or how radio waves can pass thru your body without hearing Sam The Sham and the Pharos in your ears.
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Silverface



Joined: 23 Aug 2006
Posts: 324
Location: Hermosa Beach CA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A compressor (in extremely simple terms) works a volume equalizer (not at all like a graphic or parametric equalizer, which are tone shapers) - it reshapes the waveform to fit inside a specific set of levels depending on the settings.

It squashes hard pick attack, which is where the term "squeezer" (or the actual term "compressor") comes in, much like a limiter - but unlike a limiter, a compressor also raises minimum volume levels, increasing sustain.

Without a compressor (for explanation purposes I'll use a 0-10 scale, with 10 being the highest output level) your pick attack could resort in an initial waveform that's at "2" when you pick VERY lightly or "10" if you hit it with Pete Townsend windmill chords (i.e pick really hard).

With a compressor the "light picking" wave might be kicked up to 4-5; the hard-picked chords or notes might be smashed ("compressed") to a 6-7 level.

As the note or chord input decays, the compressor (unlike a limiter) will also *raise* the volume, evening everything out to some degree.

High-end tube compressors and newer digital units perform these functions in very subtle ways; compression is used to some degree on entire professional recordings, not necessarily individual instruments. Stompbox compressors, however, have some issues, the foremost is noise. As the signal fades the signal-to-noise ratio is reduced, and the noise floor is increased along with the note or chord's output to maintain whatever level you set the gadget at. Two-knob compressors have a volume (overall output) control and a "level" control that adjusts the amount of compression applied to the signal. At extreme levels all elements of pick dynamics are crushed and the note/chord fades very little - but with a large amount of hiss.

Better models have attack controls that range from crushed to full pick attack, threshhold (the point at which the signal will be raised), and release - the point at which the unit stops raising volume (and noise). There are far more controls on studio units, and entire books about the subject (I'm trying to keep this REAL simple so I won't explain terms like "knee" - you can look that up).

On the original recording of Mr. Tambourine Man, the Ric signal was compressed multiple times - but using high end (at the time) tube studio gear. Nowadays a mid-priced professional studio compressor runs around 5 grand - obviously it'll be quite different from a $100 Dyna-Comp (one of the noisiest compressors ever built). Pro studios have multiple compressors that cost $7-10 grand...and up. The Ric McGuinn model, OTOH, has multiple inexpensive compression stages built into the guitar, and on many of Roger's recordings ("Back From Rio" is a good example) you can hear extreme compression on his guitar - but it's intentional and the specific sound he was looking for. Normally he plays with far less compression but you can still hear it.

But back in the 70's he didn't have a compressor on stage, and on many bootlegs you can hear the 12-string has a rather "chaotic" sound with wide variance in volume, both due to attack and the inherent imbalance of the output of various strings.

12-string is one instrument that really benefits from subtle compression. It's very hard even for experienced players to get a balanced, consistent tone from an electric 12 string without one - it's the nature of the beast.

On 6-strings, however, there is a danger, especially to inexperienced players. The compressor can become a crutch since it decreases the effect of right-hand pick dynamics, and a player can become dependent upon one. When a "crutch" player is without a compressor they sound totally out of control and unskilled, with a thrashing-type sound.

Other than studio compression I prefer none on 6-strings except as a very specific "effect" - even trying to make a 2-knob one "transparent" sounding fails if the settings are actually doing anything.

No early Tele players used them. Clarence didn't use one; neither did Warford. They are very popular with the Nashville-style crowd; less so in west coast country rock.

For 12 string you can get away with a Dyna-Comp and your sound will have the "jingle jangle"; for 6 string I recommend (of the stompbox units) either a Keeley, which has some amount of noise reduction, or an old Ibanez CP_835. I have one of the latter and has 1/4 the noise level of a Dyna Comp. It still has a "squashed" sound to it - I use it only for special effects - long sustained notes or chords, two hand finger tapping and other metal tricks...that's about it.
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Brian



Joined: 22 Aug 2006
Posts: 1361
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep and to just add to what Jim explained I'll add some electronic theory...

A compressor has an electronically controllable volume section....and a 'peak detector' section. A peak detector circuit creates a voltage whose level responds to the peal signal level (how hard or soft you are picking). The peak signal level is actually RC filtered (delayed and stored). It has an associated attack rate and release rate... How fast the circuit responds to new peaks and how slow it is to release the peak 'history. The peak detector output voltage controls a voltage variable gain section. The Dynacomp and alot of its knockoffs such as the actual RIC guitar compressor and the Janglebox use a chip called an Operational Transconductance Amplifier to control the Gain. More expensive units use opto electronic devices to control a resistance to control amplifier gain...

A little more techy that you might want to hear..Hopefully it adds to the basic understanding of what it does and how it does it.
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