Compressor vs practicing

Question for those of you who use a compressor - do you use it while practicing as well, or only when recording?

Reason I’m asking is that I’m really happy about how the compressor smooths out the horribly inconsistent dynamics in my pick playing (that was my primary reason for buying it), but it got me wondering: if I always have it turned on, then is my technique ever going to improve? Would it be better to leave the compressor turned off during practice so that I can fully experience the cringe and (hopefully) improve things?


When I had one on a pedalboard, it was always on.


Same here, always on.


My compressor and EQ are always on.


Good question as I’m thinking about getting one too. Was thinking the same about plucking as sometimes especially on the g string it sounds like ive whacked a cockie up its arse. Maybe in sounding better you get more confidence???


I never use effects or compressors and so on because to me they can mask how truly bad I am. I need to hear all the mistakes and bad playing for me to improve.

Having said that I think that compressors would be especially useful for recording(but only if it’s some sort of finished product, and never for when I’m using the recording for improvement such as when I’m trying to hear errors in timing). Practising is for improving, so I would never use a compressor or anything so that I’m free to hear my natural bad playing.

Some people have said that compressors are like the autotune of bass and other instrument.


Ask yourself… what’s are my goals?

  1. To be technically accurate/excellent
  2. To sound killer and have fun.

The choice is yours…

  1. To have more LEDs on my pedalboard

I have 3 more than I can currently cope with :grin:


I don’t use any effects while practicing or recording (other than the DI which is always on). After I’ve completed the recording of a cover, I apply a modicum of chorus and compressor in post-production while mixing the audio. I rarely add any other effects.
There was a time when I had a fully loaded pedalboard, but after a while decided to just practice/play bass without all those effects, and sold the pedalboard and all the pedals.
If I ever get a gig playing live, I have my Zoom B3n if I feel the need for effects.
That’s just my personal preference. YMMV


Forget LEDs…
Xenon, you need Xenon


After yet another hour long instructional video I can say I have sorted all these buttons and dials, and really digging it


That would be massively overstating it. (And I use both, trust me :slight_smile: )

Autotune also gets an undeserved bad rap. Melodyne is a really useful tool. You don’t have to go Full T-Pain.

I always record the clean, dry signals, but that’s because you always want a dry track when mixing. I add all effects in software.


I think there is no point in beating yourself up about something that can be fixed by using a compressor.
Just sprinkle in some practice sessions without a compressor where you focus exactly on this issue (if you really want to).

Billie Sheehan once said that he always uses a compressor, because it brings the amped sound more to the sound of the unplugged bass.


:joy: I’m sure a lot of people won’t even hear the difference. It’s a subtle effect and should be used like that as well imo.

For vocals and drums a compressor is really useful for handling peaks.


I would describe compression and limiting as mandatory for vocals and drums.

I hesitate to use words like “all” and “every”, but I would bet that nearly every album recorded in an actual studio released for any genre in the last 50 years has used compression and limiting of some kind while mixing and mastering. Probably longer than that.


Picking up a used Boss LMB-3 tonight to see what all the fuss is about. The Ovni Labs review is quite favorable, and it’s one of the recommended compressors in the “cheap” category:


Yeah, totally agree.

A compressor pedal is one of the few pedals that is always useful for a bass player. Compressor and drive/distortion are my personal favourites. For slap I would say it’s mandatory. Mixing and mastering is a different approach compared to playing live imo (wet vs dry).

Heard good things about it too! I really liked the Boss BC-1X.


I’ve never used compression when practicing.
I’d recommend against it if controlling dynamics is something you want to be able to do on your own.
If you don’t care to practice dynamic control, then practicing with a compressor would be fine.

I didn’t consciously practice without effects, it was just an easier way to access my bass as I practiced. Less gear, easier to plug in and go.

Now that I have access to plugins and more pedals, I apply the effects when I’m writing and thinking of playing for a certain purpose/sound/band, but the effects aren’t a part of my dedicated practice time.

But - for writing/composition, effects are killer tools and will pull bass lines and sounds out of you and your bass that you definitely wouldn’t discover playing dry.

So I try and differentiate between noodling/composing/jamming and practicing. They are different pursuits for me.


+1 on this…. I will however use different bass’s for songs depending on the tones that I’m after. Once I find the one that sounds best for the tones that I’m looking for, then it’s a matter of focusing on my fretting, plucking, and muting techniques during practice…

Once I showed up at a band practice with four different bass’s because of the song set list that we were gonna work on. The drummer said something like “What do you need all those bass’s for? You only really need one bass!”…. My comment back to him was “Hell man, what do you need all those different drums for, you only need the damn snare!”…