Compressing rhythm guitars

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losthighway
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Compressing rhythm guitars

Post by losthighway » Mon Nov 11, 2013 4:50 pm

Smart people who make great recordings do it. I never have, nor have I understood it. I mean sure I've put an electric guitar through various compressors while mixing, and heard it doing something, but never quite understood the goal or purpose.

If you do this, why do you do it?

It's rare I have problems with too much dynamic range with electric guitars playing chords, so I assume it is for some other sonic goal.

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Post by dfuruta » Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:43 pm

not enough distortion :D

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Nick Sevilla
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:52 pm

Hi,
Good question.

I usually compress electric guitars that are not very distorted, a few dB, just to get a more consistent sound out of them.

And when I do compress really distorted guitars, I actually do something to increase the amplitude of the initial attack, as compared to the rest of the turd shape.
This helps with the definition of the notes. Usually just 3-4 dB will do the trick.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:15 pm

agreed with all of the above. more distortion, slow attack on heavy guitars. the distressor at 3:1, 9 and <3 is good for such things.

if you sidechain the guitars to the drums you can get some mbv action going.

a pet peeve is heavy compression on arpeggiated guitars, where the compressor's too slow to catch the very front of the notes, and they end up getting this really hard edge that's impossible to get rid of.

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Post by vvv » Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:34 pm

Sometimes, like today, I'll plug the amp mic into the vocal mic chain and see if I like it, as a sound - it works, most of the time, pretty well.

I did have to remove 3 bad overs where the compressor got hit too hard, but other than that, sounded good.

(Uh, for the interested, vocals were a Luna and a MD511 into a Summit 2BA-221 into a ART VLA Pro2 what was at 4:1, 9 & 1, shaving about 3-4db on the vocals, kinda slamming the guitar.

I used a AKG D5 into the Summit/VLA onna G&L F100 into a 50% cranked Musicman HD130 into a 2x12 open-backed Celestion filled cab; I did change the pre's impedance between the Luna and the dynamics, and turned the 225Hz HPF off on the guitar track.)
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Post by mwerden » Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:06 am

I often use a Dbx 160VU to put rhythm guitars in a smaller contained space during a busy mix. I'll also compress if I'm doing drastic EQ shaping, one way is to high pass a little higher than normal and then compress to even it back out. I also compress distorted guitars when you need things to be more aggressive and pop a little bit, but I usually do that parallel style.
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Post by Mike's Mix Room » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:59 pm

I agree with Nick on the compressing cleaner GTRs but I don't like to compress dirty, heavy GTRs. I do parallel compression almost always on dirty GTRs though. I think it brings out the "thump" from the cabinet while allowing the attack and front end of the GTR to remain mostly untouched.

I have used dynamic EQ or pass-band compression to deal with the big woof from unbalanced sounding metal GTRs with some degree of success too. In general compression makes the GTRs too soft for my tastes.

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Post by jgimbel » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:56 pm

I don't generally compress guitars that don't have a lot of transients (distorted guitars), though sometimes an 1176 can make things a little more aggressive. Sometimes I'll compress a distorted lead that's going on top of distorted rhythm guitars so I can bring the volume up a bit without having certain quieter notes get lost.

I do compress clean to less distorted guitars often. If I'm working on my own music I often use gritty, slightly-broken-up cleanish sounds, and that plays really nicely with compression. Sometimes a little of that same 1176 sound can make the recording reflect the amp in the room a little more, just giving it a little more balls and making it sound that much more like the guitar is coming out of the speakers.

For acoustic guitar I'll compress heavily if it's in a dense mix and the guitar is more there for the added rhythm of the sound of the pick of the strings rather than for the actual body, or if there's an acoustic lead that needs to stick out.
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Post by ott0bot » Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:29 pm

sometimes rhythm tracks played on a strummed nylon guitar sound nice with some compression. you can get a more intimate feel when you hear the string noise and fingers strums. I had good succes using an RNC to acheive this.

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Ryan Silva
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Post by Ryan Silva » Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:46 am

Coutry pickin' of the electric almost requires some compression for all of those quick hits to come out evenly.
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Post by floid » Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:50 pm

MoreSpaceEcho wrote:a pet peeve is heavy compression on arpeggiated guitars
I actually like to squash them from time to time for a faux-backwards type effect
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Jeff White
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Post by Jeff White » Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:39 am

Right now I am completely in love with the dbx 160X (and 163X) for guitars. Acoustic guitars, slightly driven electric guitars, distorted electric guitars (thick rock tones). I'm feeding both a mic'd Fender combo or the Sansamp ParaDriver (everyone should own one!) into a Classic API VP26 and then into the dbx 160X (mine has been upgraded/modified by http://www.reviveaudio.com/). I totally agree that a little goes a long way for both fattening up and setting a space in a mix. Obviously the more fuzzed out or broken up the sounds are, the less compression that you need.

I also use compression/gates on guitars fed to an aux with a vocal fedding the sidechain in order to "dip" them a bit. The vocal ends up triggering the comp/gate to open, and it lets through a little blast of guitar. Flip the phase of this and blend it to taste with the guitar track to make room for the vocals to stand out. Also works incredibly well between bass fed with kick drum in the sidechain so that the attack of the kick drum comes through more, snare feeding electric guitars sidechain fo the snare cuts, etc.

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Post by permanent hearing damage » Fri Nov 22, 2013 1:36 pm

I used to only do this with clean guitars, but find myself doing it more frequently with even very distorted guitars. Depending on what I'm using, I might be using it more for tone shaping (33609/Vintage Warmer) or even adding more distortion (Vintage Warmer/Decapitator), even to tracks that are already distorted - it rarely hurts.

Also, you can send lead/additional tracks there a little/a lot to get the other guitars to duck a little bit or quite a bit if you need.

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Post by Brett Siler » Sun Nov 24, 2013 8:53 pm

Multiband on heavy guitars can do cool things. Sometimes I'll compress the 120hz-250hz area and it can tighten up some of the woofy muddy parts that jump out, like during a chunky palm muted riff. Sometimes i prefer it to cutting EQ because it can be set to compress only when those frequencies jump out instead of cutting out those frequencies on EQ and leaving you tone a little thin.

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Post by vvv » Mon Nov 25, 2013 4:12 pm

Brett Siler wrote:Multiband on heavy guitars can do cool things. Sometimes I'll compress the 120hz-250hz area and it can tighten up some of the woofy muddy parts that jump out, like during a chunky palm muted riff. Sometimes i prefer it to cutting EQ because it can be set to compress only when those frequencies jump out instead of cutting out those frequencies on EQ and leaving you tone a little thin.
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