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Use The Compressor Pedals To Rock Your Live Performance
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Guitarists have many pedals at their disposal. These are simply tools to modify the end sound. One of the lesser understood effect pedals is the compressor pedal. Compressor pedals do not actually change the tonal quality of the sound. They lessen the variation in volume. Compressors therefore reduce the variability of the dynamic range of the sound. In simple terms, they lessen the volume of the loudest sounds coming out of the guitar and increase the volume of softest. The variability of the volume is compressed.
This is especially useful during live performances. With other musicians present, it's easy for some of the guitar's sounds to be lost in the mix if they are too quiet. A compressor will increase the volume of these sounds to a level that permits them to be heard. Following that idea, the guitar sounds that are overpowering the other band members will be softened. Nearly all live performances make heavy use of compression effects. Compressor pedals also frequently dampen the initial sound of a guitar string being plucked. If the compressor is set to react too quickly, this can result in a mushy sounding note. Setting the compressor to the proper attack or delay setting can offset this tendency.
There are many different brands and types of compressor pedals. Some of the simpler models have only two knobs and the foot-switch. More complicated models can have as many as 7 knobs! Having more controls does allow the guitarist to fine tune the settings, but some guitarists prefer the simplicity and lower expense of the more Spartan models. These pedals are also used in recording situations. All DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) include different types of compression, but many purists prefer the tonality of analog compression. It is really a matter of personal preference. While rack-mounted units are more frequently used in recording situations, some music is recorded with compression pedals. It is a highly versatile piece of equipment.
Some guitarists believe that compressor pedals should be placed after any filter pedals (wah and equalizer) and before any modulation pedals like chorus pedals and flanger pedals. Others argue that any compression should be placed before the filter effects and immediately after the guitar. The choice is purely personal. While there are rack-unit compressors with far more features, compressor pedals can do an excellent job at a much lower cost. Every gigging or recording guitarist (even those home recording) should have one in his or her tool box. The many benefits are well worth the minimal cost. With so many options, every guitarist should take the time to do the proper research.
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