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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 9:39 pm
by Steve Sanders
I was wondering if and how many of you Chet-Pickers use a compressor on your amp. Seems like many, many postings ago a fellow ChetBoarder with lots of knowledge of electronics and Chet's setup said that Chet used "lots of compression most of the time" (not verbatim). I think I might have read somewhere Chet or Paul used a Teletronix L2A2 rack unit compressor. Just wondering!!! Steve

Re: Compressor

PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:03 pm
by Norm
Here's Paul Yandell on the subject. He calls them "Limiters" but I think they're the same thing...

In order to get hot enough on tape you have to use a limiter. When you record
you record as much signal as possible to keep the noise down and without a
limiter it’s almost impossible to do it. A limiter is a piece of studio gear that keeps a
guitar from having ‘hot notes’ or in other words, loud notes…a spike.

It levels the sound, hence the name ‘limiter.’ Chet always used one and I have one that I use
when I record. It’s best to use a limiter at all times when recording. It keeps you
from overdriving the recorder. I don’t think limiters work too well live. There’s
not much point in using one in a live setting. They tend to take away a little presence
so I wouldn’t use one live myself.

__Paul Yandell CGP

Re: Compressor

PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:20 am
by Art Sims
Hi Steve,
I don’t think compressors are as important today as they used to be. When magnetic tape was the recording medium you had to fight against hiss and compressors helped. These days, digital recordings don’t introduce that much hiss, if any. They do record hiss if your equipment feeds it in but that isn’t the recording medium, not like it used to be. I personally don’t like the tone changes a compressor makes. That is, to my ear, higher notes sound thin and even piercing and any unnoticed defect like a slight line buzz gets elevated. Once I recorded an album of Christmas tunes on a DAT machine which sounded good to me and to others who listened to it on several set ups. Then I paid to have cd copies made. To my dismay, the company had “professional” sound engineers who added compression which resulted in noise I hadn’t noticed becoming quite noticeable and higher notes becoming piercing tones, none of which seem to be so on the master. While listeners can cut the treble and make do that isn’t a product I want to sell. I complained but got nowhere. After selling some of the cds I stopped selling them because I was just too unhappy with the sound and now have a box of cds that just sit on the shelf. I think all companys that make cds and radio stations when playing them add compression. Thus, if I ever do it again I will know to try to prepare the master to compensate for how it will later be treated. For me personally, I would prefer compressors to just go away.

Re: Compressor

PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 12:35 pm
by Steve Sanders
THANKS! Norm and Art. I have a compressor but I'll just use it to air up my tars!!! Just checkin' to see if I wuz missin' sumpthin' you ol' boys was usin' to get all that great tone. And thanks be to Richard Hudson too for answerin' lots of questions for me!! I reckon we all share the same quest for better sound and tone from our equipment. A lotta times I just plugg'er in and effects, not even reverb, and that sounds mighty nice to my ears. Course, for recording a few effects are nice and make a better sound. All this tinkerin' and experimentin' might just keep most of us out'a the pool hall!! MERRY CHRISTMAS EVER-BODY! Hope one and all gits a new Gretsch for Christmas!!! Steve

Re: Compressor

PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:10 pm
by albertgen
Chet did like some compression because he put one in the Super Axe, and used it. I am still amazed at the recording of "The Bells of St. Mary's" great sustain. I don't know, maybe it was that D'Angelico? Al

Re: Compressor

PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2014 1:22 pm
by Norm
I don't record well in a spontaneous situation. Before I figured out how to use the Audacity recording program (which works just fine for me) I had a friend who had a friend who had a home studio who said he would be delighted to record me. So, we set aside the time and my freind drove me to the studio and it was well equipped as near as I could tell. I tried for an arrangement of Over The Rainbow and, to my ear, had done a pretty good job of it. It was my own arrangement but toward the end the guy stopped the tape and said "Won't be good. You spiked."

I asked him "Didn't you have a limiter, a compressor in the works to prevent that?"

"Gee," he said, "I guess I shoulda, huh?"

It all went downhill after that.

End result I never recovered that song. The whole session was a bust actually. We got no usable material at all. It was mainly my problem because I was choking...tensing instead of relaxing and just doing it but to this day I'll never understand why he didn't have some sort of compression in place that would have deflected such spiking.

Paul seemed pretty positive that Chet recorded using limiters to prevent spiking etc even during his RCA/D'Angelico days but we have to remember too that Chet had an amazing ear for recording and a quick grasp of understanding how to best use the magic tools the analog recording of the day had on hand. So many others, amateur and pro, often over-use those tools or don't use them where they should.
Chet was a master.

Re: Compressor

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2014 4:56 pm
by Art Sims
A compressor I own and have tried to use is an ALESIS 3630. I have found that to use this device without changing the tone to my dissatisfaction the threshold, attack and ratio settings have to be so minimal that spikes get through anyway. If recording on magnetic tape I would definitely accept the tone change that compression introduces and make the best of it, but recording with digital equipment, my choice is to rehearse what I will record, set the input meters so that the levels rise to about 12 and just play. This way, I get what I consider a clean digital sound that can be “normalized” to higher levels if desired. I have observed that low volume digital recordings are not the problem that low volume recordings are on magnetic tape. In my response to Steve I merely related what I think. Others do things better and that’s fine. I do acknowledge that Chet was the master in all of this and that his way, whatever that was, would no doubt be far better than mine. Nevertheless, several have commented that songs I have posted have a good sound and I am gratified that they think so. All the songs I have ever posted have been without compression unless Youtube adds it without me knowing it. I’m just giving my two cents, certainly not insisting anybody has to think the way I do or do things the same as me.