Compressor pedals - When to have one?

Hello Everybody!!

I have read about different opinions on when to get a compressor pedal. Some people say that it is of great use and should be one of the first ones to acquire, while others say it’s best to practice your hand first so you don’t need one until later on down the road.

What are your opinions on the subject?


I think the reason for this is so you master the dynamics on the bass before you use the compressor else it can be a crutch and hinder your development.


Talked about it in the my first pedalboard thread. But I never really got compression either but everybody raved about it. Got a tc electronic Spectracomp, was completely unimpressed. Downloaded some of their preprogrammed settings, tried again and my head exploded. So great. Tight, punchy, fat, everything sounds better. I never turn it off.


Awesome, it’s great!!!

And what about the timing of purchase? Better have it sooner or later, or what is your opinion?


I don’t really see it as being a crutch per say, I mean a lot of top players use them and pretty much every producer alive. You could always turn it off, too, especially if you have a song that requires a lot of dynamic range and you’re afraid of squashing it.


The only reason to get one is because you like the sound or you want to learn about how compression works. No time line required.

Maybe, after finishing B2B. Just so you have a broader perspective on what you’re working with. Other than that, it’s about finding your sound. It should be fun, not a requirement.


Yeah I’d agree with Eric.

Personally I love my compressor and it is always on at some setting. They are generally a lot more subtle than you might expect; it’s super common for a beginner to try one and not hear any initial difference unless it’s cranked. But that’s not what they are for. A subtle, clean compressor is usually good.

The place you can most easily tell the difference is where there is a large dynamic range to the sound - usually a really sharp attack followed by a quieter sustain due to hard picking or slapping. With moderate compression, the (desired) effect will be that the tone of the note after the attack sounds “better” at a given volume level.

Or you can be like me and compress the crap out of things when you’re going for a really distorted tone and it just makes the distortion sound tighter and more awesome :slight_smile:


:metal: :smiling_imp: :metal:


I’d be interested to know which artists Toneprints for the Spectracomp you think work well, thanks?


This is by far the best resource online for compressor reviews:


I got one of those and I liked it ok.
I too was completely unimpressed with the stock settings, meaning the way it is out of the box.

I did love the TonePrint, mostly the concept of it and the coolness, “Star Trek” feeling of beaming up settings from your phone thru the Pick Up.

It is not a bad compressor by any means, the it is cost friendly by comparison of many other compressors out there.

To continue from what I was saying about the Tone Prints, they are cool AF!
I was totally unimpressed with the artist Tone Prints.
All the ones I tried were completely flat, and almost sounded the same, except the ones that were for SLAP
On the other hand, the Tone Prints from TC Electronics were AMAZING. They are Total upgrades from what is in the unit out of the box, and there are some really killer TonePrints from the manufacturer.

All this said, I am eager to try another pedal with Tone prints and give the artists another chance. I do think with other effects that shape the sound or drive and distort the sound, the possibilities are endless.

If you look on the TC Electronics website, and look at the sponsored artists, that will give you a good idea of who has tone prints available.

Yes, yes it is. It can be overwheming, and there is a lot of compressors reviewed, it is too bad he stopped doing it a few years back, and it is not completely up to date, but most of the units he has reviewed are still in production, or at least still available second hand.

@Guto Do you have ANY EFFECTS at all?

If you don’t have anything, I might suggest getting a multi effects processor like the Zoom B1 Four. It is a great unit, many of us have it or one of the other variations.

You can use one of the 40 pre sets, and you can edit them all, you can make your own in one of 10 empty banks.
You can use it in stomp box mode, which allows you to create virtual chains as tho you had 5 pedals you were chaining. There are many actual pedals modeled, so it really is like having 5 (high dollar in some cases) pedals that you can arrange in any order, and set how you like to create your own sound.

Out of the box, there are 5 compressors, and they are modeled after some very well known, Studio quality compressors.

You could create one patch with just one of the compressor pedals, and you can play with it and see how you like it.
Then you can create a patch with another compressor pedal and play with it and see how you like that.
You can create a patch with 5 compressor pedals, so you can turn off 4, play with one, then turn it off, and turn on the next one, and actually hear them side by side by side by side.

There are octave, fuzz, fuzz octave, chorus, flangers, reverb, delay, and Amp and Cab models.

This might be a better investment right now then one compressor pedal.

There is also a STOMP BOX version of this multi effects processor (sort of, not an exact copy, but close enuf) that is the size of one pedal.
You can do all the. Stuff I talked about above, but I have one, and have 5 patches set up with the 5 different compressors, and have it on my pedal board as my compressor. So I really have 5 compressors in one.

I will be back to edit this post and add links to the two units I am talking about.

To finish about the Spectra Comp… I think it is a very good pedal, and like I said, for $99 its a good buy (of course the Zoom B1 Four is $90) and it has some good options with the factory tone prints, and I think you can make your own too. It was just not the compressor for me. I like a compressor with more options to set it up then just the one control dial to adjust the amount of compression is used.
I like more controls to get the compression I am looking for, which is very subtle, but I know its there.

So I returned it to Amazon and got the Earthquakes Devices Plumes OD pedal with the return balance.

I use the Zoom MS-60B 2nd in my pedal chain after my Boss Chromatic Tuner for buffer and use it strictly as my compressor, with 5 different set ups to change depending on what bass I am using and what style I am playing.

I have a Zoom B1-4 in my chain too, and I use it in stomp box mode for pedals I don’t have yet, like envelope filter, chorus, etc.

I have a Zoom B1x-four also. That is the same thing with an expression pedal built in. I use that as a headphone amp when I am not set up by an amp. Or not at home. Sometimes when I get new pedals, I chain them with this unit for testing and playing around before deciding how to use it on the pedalboard.


I’m like @howard, I use a compressor more or less all the time, the exception being when I don’t have a compressor in a given situation :grin: but I always use a very low setting, and I’m pretty sure almost nobody really ears it. but it brings some meat to the overall tone and gives a bit different playing feel, that’s what I’m searching for.

about the compressor quality from one model to another, the link that @howard gave is excellent. but I’d say that for a first compressor, it’s not that much important as it is a very subbtle effect and one model or another won’t make any difference for a beginner. so, you’re good to go with a cheap comp (which does not mean a bad comp) as a first compression pedal.


@howard don’t the compressor effects in the Zoom Multi Effects Processor fill the bill?


I liked the compressors I tried in the zoom boxes I had.


Had? Ummm… you no longer have your Zoom?


nope, sold my B3n last winter and went with a full pedalboard.


i currently use the one called the weapon, but honestly there were a few that were quite good. as mentioned above it really stands out for funk/slap stuff, but it just makes everything sound better. i don’t really notice any discernable squashing of sound, i can still play quiet parts and loud parts.


No… I’ve finished B2B a few months ago and I’m learning on my own, practicing music and so… while at the store some pedals “blinked” at me and the desire to have some has been growing up… :joy: :joy: :joy:

But I’m just entering this world and so many questions come to my head…


Sounds like the Zoom B1 Four mentioned hereabove is just what the doctor ordered, then. It gives you a sh1tload of effects, some of which are very good, and the compressors are one of those. The only effects I don’t like are the distortion/fuzz/drive effects, but then again, I hate these in general, for bass. But what I read is that this is the weak point of the Zoom range.

But for 90 dollars or thereabouts, you get a collection of very nice modeling and dynamic effects, and a nice preamp with a three-band equaliser. Sounds like a steal to me (so, yes, I got one, and for this beginner, it fills all effect needs I would have and then some).


I’ll take a loot at it…

And what about the eternal fight between Digital Vs Analogic?