Guitar Compression

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by casey, Aug 25, 2004.

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  1. casey

    casey Guest

    When recording heavy distorted guitars, going from a tube head driving a cabinet, miking the cab, into a preamp, and then into DAW, what's the ideal place in the chain to apply compression?

    If you don't have a nice outboard compressor, can you apply compression in your DAW afterwards? Do you use a compressor to shape the tone of the guitar or just to control the dynamics of the player? Is it detrimental to the tone to NOT compress before it hits the computer?

    I'm just getting back into recording guitars the old-fashioned way, through some vintage tube amps and cabinets, and any tips would be massively appreciated.

    Los Angeles
  2. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Compression is an often misunderstood subject. It can indeed be used for tone and/or dynamic control. How much, what type and what settings are subjective. tweak until your happy. Use what you got. I for one prefer outboard compared to plugs. You don't have to compress. So keep that as an option as well.
  3. Johnjm22

    Johnjm22 Guest

    It would be Ideal to use a compressor after you have recorded the guitar by inserting it into you tracks. That way you could make constant adjustments, if you run the guitar signal through a compressor an then record it, your stuck with that setting you can't change it.

    Yes, you can use a compressor in your DAW afterwards, like I mentioned above. No, it's not detrimental to not compress the guitar before it gets to the DAW, I do it all the time, and then just compress it in my DAW that way I'm never stuck with one setting.

    A compressor can be used to shape tone and control dynamics. I often record Heavy Guitars and I usally squash them with a compressor at a ratio of 1/3 or 1/4. It just makes them sound more in your face.
  4. djui5

    djui5 Guest

    I don't normally compress guitars...

    But last mix I did I did some guitar compression in the mix....

    Just to see what happened.

    turned out nice.
  5. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    Depends on how you play also and the dynamics of the individual songs...if you play a lot fo screaming leads and solos you may want to put a compressor in your actual guitar amp's effects loop and utilize it for extra sustain...Also another nice thing to do is to put the compressor right before going into your computer or mixer or whatever you may have and get those levels on your board real nice and then kick on the compressor at about 2:1 or 3:1 just as a safety net for the transient peaks. That is a good way to use compression on guitars. Remember - the more you use the less dynamics your playing will have and the more energy that will be sucked out of the recording - the more the guitar will sound squashed like all the metal stuff when it goes through the radio stations' compressions. Use it very sparingly. There is more than one way to bring a guitar to sound in your face. Experiment with EQ, Phase, Reverb Settings, short delays work well too.
  6. Fede

    Fede Active Member

    Nov 3, 2004
    Compression is usually not that relevant on heavily distorted guitars (as understand is the subject of this particular case), as they have no dynamic range to start with. The heavy distortion will make the guitar have the same level throughout, and the dynamics of the guitarplayer instead translates into amount of harmonics. That might still, to the ear, sound like differences in level, but it isn't as such.

    Just look at the waveform of a track containing heavily distorted guitar - it's either on or off. When the guitar is playing - it's the same level all the time, peak to peak.
  7. inLoco

    inLoco Active Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    i play in a rock/funk band and guitar sound is very important! because of the chops and use of wah wah i feel that compression is very important! it's a difficult task because we're looking at levels/natural feel and dynamics
    difficult task... i think!
  8. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001

    I rarely use compression. I would say I never use compression, however that would be untrue. But only because I use tubes as my means of compression.
    Without compression--- you have bigger dynamics. I like BIG dynamics.
    With compression--- you have less dynamics. Sure it can even out a leveling problem, but it is not raising the tonal quality, merly holding back all the umph.
  9. Bodhi

    Bodhi Active Member

    Jun 11, 2004
    Home Page:
    Don't care much for comp on heavily OD'd tube amps. Over compressed heavy guitars wind up sounding weak IMO. Compression goes better on cleaner guitar and some leads, but that's me. I'd add it as a plug-in on you DAW so you can adjust it or axe it all together instead of having re-record guitar tracks later.
  10. huub

    huub Guest

    dynamics dyschmamics...

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