Equalizers and Compressors

September 7th 2008 | Posted in Feature Guides | 62 Comments

Many of the tone related questions I get is about how to use equalizers and compressors. Well, mostly it’s a matter of trying to locate a problem and the solution often lies in the EQs and compressors. Both can be great tools useful for shaping your tone adding that little extra but they can also do a lot of damage. Perhaps obvious to some of you but I thought I’d share my experiences on the matter.

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62 comments so far

  1. Rick Cash says:

    Great artical as always Bjorn! I had never thought of leaving my BK Butler TD on all of the time? I am one of those people guilty of leaving my comp (CS-2) on all of the time. I think this may be why i am having trouble driving my Muff (BYOC Rams Head) with my TD. I get a very oversaturated/compressed tone when i combine the two and this may be because i have the CS-2 on aswell? Ill have a play and see if switching the comp off resolves it……..

    Rick

    [Whether or not your should leave a booster/overdrive on for all your tones depends on the amp. My Sound City (as a Hiwatt) is extremely clean and on some sounds this can appear to be a bit flat so adding a booster boosting the tubes makes the tone come alive with more character. I don’t use both the Colorsound and TD at the same time but using one of them as a part of the tone from my amp makes all the difference. – Bjorn]

  2. Toggi says:

    Great article!

  3. Thanks, Bjorn! Tha was o f a lot of Help! I got a Digital Processor form Behringer, the V-Amp 2, and it got the Compressor simulation, as only play in home, your tips were ver good. The Compressor simulation is ver good, buy streght, like the Dynacomp, with only two buttons for Output and Sensivity (in the simulation case “Sense and Attack”). And, Really, it sounds better with Clean Tones! I didn’t add any Compression for my Distortions.

    Cheers!

    [I think the topic is as if not more important when it comes to processors because one tend to use more effects than needed because “they’re there so why not use them?”. Glad you enjoyed the article :) – Bjorn]

  4. Luciano says:

    Another very useful article, Bjorn.

    Thank you.

    Still, I quite don’t get how the compressor is used on solos to create dynamics. On which songs does David do it?

    One off-topic question: have you ever used/tested the Rotovibe? Would it be a good alternative to the Univibe? I ask it because I’ve read that it’s more like a phaser than an univibe (and I already have a small stone). Can you help me on that?

    Cheers,

    Luciano.

    [By adding compression on a distortion tone it gets sharper and more focused. If you watch closely on Comf Numb on RTN, David is stomping on/off the compressor a couple of times during the solo. I also noticed this when I saw him live on the tour. Say he starts off a solo with just the Muff + TD and on the heavier parts of the solo he adds the compressor. It makes the tone fuller and it stands out better.
    The Dunlop Rotovibe is perhaps a mix between a phaser and a UniVibe. Very deep and smokey but not quite like a Univibe, which has a more wobbly tone. Great pedal though. – Bjorn]

  5. Mark says:

    Bjorn, I absolutely love your site, and this article is very helpful. I, too, am a compresso-holic, which I should really rethink. Do you think that the BK Butler and the Colorsound are required? To be honest, I’ve never owned and overdrive, so I’m completely new to the game. I get the concept, that they saturate the tubes, but does that come with extreme volume? Wouldn’t want to blow out the windows.

    Mark

    [I wouldn’t say that the BK and CPB is required. It works for me but you need to play really loud to get those tubes working. In any case an overdrive is a great effect for both boosting your cleans and for the more cranked rhythms. I recommend the BK or CPB for tubes amps and the Tube Screamer for transistor amps. – Bjorn]

  6. Franck Machu says:

    Bjorn,

    Your article falls at the right time for me. I have 2 compressors in my chain. A Boss CS2 and a MXR Dynacomp. I really love the CS2 tone. Its sustain control knob is really efficient. On the contrary I have difficulties with my dynacomb. I can’t obtain great sound from it. It sucks the tone from my guitar. I don’t understand why. It is a custom shop version which features a true bypass switch and 2 mini pots inside the box that control attack and release. It should be a must !
    You usually don’t recommend Boss pedals to be combined with vintage type stompboxes. Have you the same recommendation for the CS2 (in chain with analogman BC108 fuzz, BYOC large beaver, Small Stone Nano, Electric Mistress, Boss BD2 Modified, Sound City 50Plus amp…). I have a much greater tone with the CS2 than with the Dynacomp. Do you have a possible explanation ?
    I had initially dedicated CS2 for clean sounds and Dynacomp for distorsions ans overdrives. But the dynacomp disturbs my signal when it’s on. I think I will remove and sell it. Unless you can advise me any improvement.

    Next step, I planned to change my BD2 for a coloursound power boost (the Macari’s or an absolutely analog clone) in place of my BD2.

    Thank you Bjorn for sharing your expertise.

    [I wouldn’t hesitate to loose any pedal that’s causing problems. If the Dynacomp doesn’t work with your setup then ditch it. The CS-2 should be more than enough for any of your tones. Alternatively you could check out the BYOC Compressor for a similar tone to the Dynacomp. Also remember to place the CS-2 after the fuzz :) – Bjorn]

  7. Gary Halloran says:

    Another great article Riis.

    I would just like to say that I can totally recommend the Robert Keeley two knob compressor, very musical great tones. I ditched my Dyna Comp and replaced it with the Keeley, never looked back. Superb pedal.

    [Thanks for the suggestion! – Bjorn]

  8. Kit Rae says:

    Thanks Bjorn.

    I have been leaving my compressor on all the time since I added it to my board about a six months, the same time I added my first Muff. I’ll have to mess around with switching it on and off for solos to see what affect it has with the Muff. I leave my Colorsound on all the time now, thanks to a tip from you, because I could not get a good volume balance switching it on and off.

    I started with a Dunacomp, which sounds great for clean, bluesy stuff, especially Shine One. I just got a Keeley compressor about three weeks ago. I like it, but I think my Dynacomp sounds a bit better with my Fender Twin.

    Kit

  9. Alex - New York says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Great article on EQ’s and compressors pedals. I have a few questions about my Boss CS-3. First off, I am running my Strat through (in order) my Vox wah, then my Muff, then my CS-3, and after that my Boss MT-2, and finally my Boss DD-5. Also note I am playing through a Fender Ultimate Chorus solid state amp. Why wouldn’t I want to set my CS-3 before anything? Or at least before the Muff? Don’t you want to compress everything rather than distorting it? And sometimes I feel the CS-3 eats a lot of my natural tone. What are some ideal settings when using compressors? Is it absolutely Gilmourish to use compressors in combination with the Muff? The CS-3 does add a bit of a boost I’ve noticed, and like you said, it does make the sound feel a little tighter. Any help would be appreciated, as I am still in search of a great Gilmour tone. Also, would you recommend a BD-2 over a Tube Driver? What’s a nice boost to add to my setup? I feel my Muff isn’t at it’s prime, and I’m still wondering how to get my Muff to squeal and talk rather than be too bassy and dull. And how much difference would a boost of some sort add? Thank you very much Bjorn, keep up the splendid work.

    [Well the CS-3 should be placed first in your chain. The only exception is when you’re using fuzz pedals like the Fuzz Face, Sun Face etc… The Big Muff is a distortion and therefore the CS-3 goes first.
    Perhaps you should try some milder settings on the CS-3 if you feel that it eats your tone. Try to find unity gain with the volume control (usually around 2:00) and set attack, tone and sustain at 12:00.
    I think the BD-2 or a Tube Screamer would sound better on your amp compared to a Tube Driver or Colorsound. Combining an overdrive with the Muff adds more character and presence. You should also try different settings with the tone knob on the Muff and try to get a as bright tone as possible without it getting all fuzzy and thin. Check out this article for some general tone tips.
    – Bjorn]

  10. MT says:

    Nice info as always man.
    I have a cs-2, i use it mostly for sustain in clean settings, and sometimes to give “that” funky rhytms a little more punch.

    As for the eq, i never had any, maybe i been missing something, i mostly use a rams head with a ac30, and the combo works good, cause the muff missing midrange combines with the vox eq response (mostly midrange and dark sound, bright if you combine channels normal+bright). So its a matter of make your own rig work, whatever it is.

    Now, as you say, sometimes in a band rehersal, specialy doing vocals harmonys and vocal stuff, you need to play low, that’s a problem with any tube amp, don’t known with the hiwats (wish i had one), but with the vox, the tone its rather dull. Its better sacrifice some tone and play in clean settings.

    On the other side, sometimes, in live band situations, your tone just tear apart, what was bassy, smooth and clean playing alone, becomes an inexistence mush noise lost in the mix, especialy if you have two (or more???) guitar players. I strongly believe that guitar belongs to the midrange, that’s what’s make it such a vocal instrument, similar to a human voice. So then again, eq in a live band situation, is more important than tone, at least for me.

    Now the question, in your live rigs, with Airbag, do you leave the general eq mix of the band to the sound guy? or do you manualy eq your rig with your mates, to suit the venue?.

    Thanks for all the info, you’r great.

    Keep rocking!.

    [The sound coming from the PA is always processed to some degree. My guitar is as clean as possible but it might need some additional EQ depending on the PA, the venue etc. When you’re playing in 350-500 seats venues the guitar is mostly just fed through the PA to create a balance with the band but most of the sound comes from the amp. I like to play as loud as possible to get those tubes working and together with the sound tech I try to find just the right balance between my amp on stage and how much he needs for the PA. – Bjorn]

  11. Alan says:

    Great article and also I figured out that my dyna comp was in the wrong spot so now my green russian sounds way better. and Luciano I own a Rotovibe and it is great and the Idea of just being a cry baby tybe pedal makes it easier to use….I really recommend it.

  12. Nate says:

    You wrote this re: EQs:

    “They should always be placed after any distortions, overdrives and boosters and before any modulation effects like flangers and phasers.”

    I disagree. EQ pedals DO have a place in the chain before clipping/distortion units. They are great, in fact, to help shape your distortion. For example, removing the bass prior to a distortion pedal can really tighten up your sound in some cases, since distorted bass frequencies can tend to sound very muddy and ugly to some ears.

    If one happens to have a second EQ pedal, placing it somewhere AFTER the distortion unit(s) to add the bass (or mids or whatever it needs) back into the signal might be useful.

    Thanks for all the hard work. The site is excellent.

    [I must disagree with that. Most guitarists have their EQ placed in the middle of the chain as do David, although that’s a rule just because they do it. However, I find the EQ more useful this way because you’ll have more control over the tone in general. As I tried to explain also I think the ideal setup shouldn’t need an EQ because you should get the tone you need from both the amp and ovedrives/boosters. I’ve tried different setups and at least when it comes to pedals like the RAT it definitely sounds better with the EQ placed after it because you want the EQ assigned to the pedal not the guitar. I think if you find the tone a bit too bassy for your distortions then you need to roll down the bass on your amp. Anyway if it works for you then all the better. There’s a recommended way to place the pedals but that’s not to say that it works for everyone. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  13. Frails says:

    Hey Bjorn! Always nice to see your new articles. I’m of the opinion that a Muff sounds substantially better without compression. It’s a pedal that’s meant to be left wild and untamed.

    Franck Machu- email me at frails@hotmail.com. I’ll trade you for your Dynacomp. I’ve got a Uni-Vibe with your name on it.

    [Agree. I have two favorite Muff setups, one for typical Animals/Wall/Island tones with the sustain at 3:00 and the TD or Colorsound set to volume boost and one for fat creamy tones with the sustain at 12:00 and the TD or Colorsound set to mild overdrive. – Bjorn]

  14. Paul_C says:

    You’ve done it again Bjorn! Yet another supurbly informative article. Also some excellent questions from the comments.

    I’ve just built a new pedalboard, incorporating a true bypass switch bank so each effect is seperatly switched. I’ve also replaced most batteries with a Diago power supply and all patch cables are George L’s. The vintage muffs (triangle and Rams Head) don’t sound the same from the AC source neither does the Coloursound Power Boost (original 70’s unit) so I’ve left the [zinc carbon]batteries in.

    Having done all this, my tones are totally changed! I’ve assured myself that all the above are improvements but now I’ve got to set it all up again. Many of the knobs haven’t moved for years!
    So thanks for a very timely article and I suppose the most important point I take from it is keep it simple! I now have the opportunity of switching 24 effects into the chain with an additional switch for reversing the wah connections for my echoes seagulls! But despite this I WILL try to keep things as simple as possible!

    Thanks again for giving us all so much of your time and sharing your knowledge.

    Regards

    Paul

    [Thanks Paul! I agree that the old Muff, or the BYOC clones for that matter, sounds better with batteries. Preferably non alkaline. The Power Boost changes character completely with a power adapter. Love to see that board! Cheers! – Bjorn]

  15. Jason R says:

    I just wanted to chime in about my newest aquisition. I just bought a Barber Tone Press compressor. This thing is by far the best compressor I’ve ever tried or heard. I love the fact that you can blend the dry and compressed signals. You get the benefit of sustain without loosing your pick attack and dynamics. Of course, if you wanted you can still get the typical squash effect. To me the dyna comp was too squashy and colored on any setting. The Barber is very transparent.

    As for EQ, I’ve been back and forth on this issue. I was trying to heed your advise for a long time about using OD’s as a de facto EQ but wasn’t getting it. There were certain tones I just couldn’t get without EQ. But I finally bought a BK Tube Driver and now I know why you suggest using it as a basis for you tone. It shapes the tone perfectly for getting that Gilmour sound and makes everything sound “bigger”, especially the Muff. As soon as I got it dialed in properly I knew this was one of the smartest gear investments I’ve made to date.

    [I’ve heard a lot about the Tone Press and a friend of mine agrees with you that it’s the best compressor on the market. I definitely need to check it out. Regarding using an overdrive instead an EQ it depends entirely on the overdrive. A Boss would get you anything near a complete tone basis but pedals like the TD, Coloursound or Klon has a rich character ideal for bringing out the best dynamics from the guitar and amp. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  16. art says:

    great article you always right on the spot , what is your opinion on the demeter compulator , thanks

    [The tone is similar to the Dynacomp although much more dynamic. It’s a bit noisy though. – Bjorn]

  17. Jetson says:

    “Compressors should always be placed first in the chain.”
    This is a good rule of thumb but rules were meant to be broken. A lot of guitarists that like compression with their overdrive/distortion like the compressor after to allow the od/dist. to fully react to an uncompressed signal and ‘breath’. Plus you can get some absolutely crazy sustains and feedback because the compressor is squashing a much hotter signal.

  18. GDKZen says:

    Bjorn,

    Always a pleasure to read your articles. You bring a unique perspective on these topics to light.

    From a more traditional point of view, I would point out that compression is a tool which is used to reduce the dynamic range of a signal. As such, it has interesting implications in the world of music. The electric guitar has two big drawbacks: 1) Lack of dynamic range, 2) Lack of sustain. Unfortunately, compression, while addressing the lack of sustain quite well, only adds to the lack of dynamic range.

    In jazz, where dynamic range is very important, you will find many players using solid state amps. This is because they tend to play clean, like a flat eq, and don’t want rectifier sag – which is a type of compression. This gives the guitar maximum dynamic range. Take a listen to Wes Montgomery, as he controls the dynamics of his guitar directly through his right hand technique.

    [Thanks for the input! – Bjorn]

  19. Adrian says:

    Hey bjorn

    great article!!!

    Awhile back u had a competition about those 2 mystery pieces of gear.
    Well I just thought i’d let you know about the one that was possibly a leslie mixer. On the Pompeii film at around that 4:50 mark in echoes. Richard is seen adjusting the levers and then he switches to the organ. So it could be a mixer for the leslie between the piano and the hammond.

    just though id let yah know!!

    Cheers

    [Hi Adrian! I think some commented on that in the post. I haven’t been able to verify it though… The search continues. – Bjorn]

  20. Emilio says:

    Hi all,great article. I desagree with your opinion on the compulator..I use it since January and is very very cool and silent(if you set it at the right gain). I’ve tried the cs-2, the cs-3 and the dynacomp but the compulator is really the best for me…
    ciao
    emiilo

    [I’ve tried it only briefly but I found it too noisy and I’ve read that from many who’ve used it but it’s a good pedal nevertheless. Tonewise it beats the hell out of the Dynacomp I think but it’s quite different to the CS-2. My favorite though is the Gollmer Compulator. Dead silent and the warmest and sweetest compression I’ve ever heard. – Bjorn]

  21. Kit Rae says:

    Bjorn,

    I tested my Keeley compressor next to my Dyna, switching both on and off while using the muff (had been leaving a comp on all the time), and the Muff really does not need any compressor with my rig. Actually, the CS’69’s in my new black strat don’t really need the compressor either in the neck position,which is really what I was using it for before I got the ’69s. Thanks for the article and tips.

    I took a few of your backing tracks and extended them for live versions. Here is a link to the longer MP3’s for Comfortably Numb and On the Turning Away. I also mixed the On and Island Studio track with your guitar solo backing tracks to have the whole song to play along with.

    Kit

    [Thanks! I’ll check it out! – Bjorn]

  22. Randall Yeager says:

    What about those of us using rack compressors after the pedal chain? I use a dbx 166XL compressor on everything, and if I turn it off, my sound goes straight to shit. I mean, I dial in everything as perfect as possible before adding anything, and it sounds great, but adding that compressor to the tail end just makes it sing… distortions and all! Dbx says that compressors should be the last possible thing in your signal chain and I agree, sorta.

    When I used a DynaComp (mid-chain), I would turn it on and off without a real noticeable effect, but just enough to warrant turning it on/off. But with my rack compressor, I couldn’t imagine a time when it would sound better off. The cleans are more full, and the gains are just as sweet. What’s your opinion Bjorn? Do you have any rackunits or effects you leave on all the time? I run my pedal chain into an ART MPA Gold Tube Preamp (with Tung-Sol 12AX7 tubes) then into an Aphex Aural Exciter/Optical Big Bottom and finally through the dbx Compressor; I also run all this into a Mackie ONYX mixer with Perkins EQ as a submixer to the master PA mixer (also a Mackie ONYX).

    It is also widely excepted that most “classical” engineers (Parsons, Kramer, Ezrin, etc.) add compression to every channel in the studio, why not live? How does adding compression in the studio not have these negative effects on distortion?

    I know sound is dependent on many things, most of all the player’s taste/ear. My setup sounds amazing and I wouldn’t change it for anything, but if you got some tips, I’m all ears. This site has pretty much helped me redefine my sound over the last year or so, and with much success, but I am finding all this a bit hard to swallow. Please explain, if possible. Thanks!

    [Hm… I’m no expert on the technical aspects on how to use compressors and why. I think that using stompbox units or compression with guitar should not be mistaken for the way compression is used in a studio. Compression is a tool used by all producers and it’s nothing typical for the ones you mention. You can use a compressor stompbox on your guitar while you’re recording and still add compression in the mix because it’s only the signal that goes into the amp that’s compressed with stompboxes. Not the sound coming out of it and into the microphone/recording.
    The “normal signalpath” recommended on this site and many others is only a guideline and if you think your pedals sound better in another combination then you should trust your ears. Having said that I think that if you do think that your tone sounds like crap with the compressor off, then your setup needs some heavy tweaking. I don’t think that compressors should be used to fix the tone but rather add that little extra. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  23. Eric says:

    Bjorn,
    Should I put my RAT before my TS9 tubescreamer or after?

    [Before. – Bjorn]

  24. Ørjan says:

    Glad to see the site is up an runing again, I was starting to get woried!!

    [Sometimes the site needs some oil in the machinery. Thanks for your support! – Bjorn]

  25. Wojtek says:

    Bjorn when will you add new backing tracks?:)

    [As soon as you send me some new tracks :) I have a couple waiting. Stay tuned! – Bjorn]

  26. Hugo says:

    Hi Bjorn. A great Article again.

    I think that the must “controvesrsial” issue here is about EQ. I’m gonna try to contribute with the little that I know.

    I think that the use of a EQ pedal deppends enormously of the kind of amp that you have. Let’s focus on Valve’s amps.

    The important thing here is to know if your amp has a post preamp or pre-preamp EQ controls. It depends absolutely on that.

    If you have a “marshall-type” you have most likely, the EQ controlls after the preamp in which case, an EQ between guitar and amp is the best way to modify your tone. You could, as someone already said it, place it as the FIRST pedal on your chain. It will modify the tone of your guitar alone, addinng mid boost or whatever you want. Then you could add another eq post distortions as you suggested. WHy post-distortion pedals? As far as I know, because, as you said it in your article, you can modify the results of the sound..you can shape it with much more versatility.

    As for those of us who has an amp with PRE-preamp EQ in the amp..well.. The best place to put an EQ is AFTER the preamp but only on those amps with a series loop. If you have an amp with parallell loop and you use it (I mean at least 50% direct signal 50% wet signal) ..I don’t see how to use it. So the only option left is to place it after the distortion pedals to shape the sound of the distortions only.

    As you suggested, the first step is to get great a clean sound from your guitar and amp. Then the distortions (affected by the eq). I suggest that these EQ get activated only when the distortions are.

    My 2 cents…hope it helps…

    cheers!!!

    [Thanks for the input! – Bjorn]

  27. Ørjan says:

    Bjorn, heard the news Richard Wright died today aged 65 from cancer ;(

    [I just saw it… Don’t know what to say. – Bjorn]

  28. Marcos Nobrega says:

    Hi Bjorn thanks for the explanation. I have a Compulator and a Dynacomp Script, are there different kind of compressors, because I feel like the MXR compress the sound changing a little the tone while the compulator works different, it really sustains the note, when I play one note I can hear the volume getting low low low then it comes the pedal brings it a little up again. Would you suggest on for a particullar use, for example, hte compulator for cleans and the MXR for dirty sound? Thanks one again.

    [I think the Compulator and Dynacomp have more in common than the Boss CS-2, which has a much warmer character and not as deep compression. If you hear a sort of a pumping effect or a “punctured” tone then the sustain control is set too high. Try to roll it off a hair. My opinion is that the Dynacomp works better with overdrives and distortions. – Bjorn]

  29. Kristoffer says:

    Seems people tend to be a bit too bombastic about where effects should be and what they’re used for. You can put a compressor anywhere you want, put it’s gonna effect your sound differently. As discussed above, adding compression in studio in the mix won’t effect the distortion, only lessen the dynamic range of the signal. Compression before an OD will bring up the softer notes and thus make them more distorted as well.
    Also, just to be clear: Clean sounds will more often “need” compression because most distorting devices (pedals, amps, etc) will also compress the signal quite a lot by itself!

    Same with EQ. If you put an eq with boosted treble frequencies after an OD, its gonna sound sharper, but the signal will have the same amount of distortion as before. If you put in front of the OD, its gonna distort high frequencies more, so although this sound also might sound sharp, it will be very different from the first one.

    Anything goes as long as it sounds good, of course. :)

    Randall: Compression from the desk (in other words after the mic) is often used live as well, especially at larger venues. However, the need for less dynamic range is much greater on a record, than live at loud volumes. Still, often the compressor is used to alter the sound of an instrument, e.g. drums.

  30. Arnni says:

    After reading many of the responses i too was a culprit of leaving my cs-2 on throughout playing floyd material only really turning it off when it sounded too loud.

    Ive recently switched to using humbuckers, this is not for playing floyd obviously but now find it difficult to find a place for my compression without it sounding dull.

    With my singlecoils my cs-2 worked brilliantly to liven it up but humbuckers seem to dull it out am i doing something wrong by using it or is compression not really needed.

    [I think that compressors works better with single coils than humbuckers. Humbuckers has a lot more…erm… fuller character and using a compressor wouldn’t do much difference or in some cases make the sound a bit flat. In any case, trust your ears and don’t use compression if you don’t think it works with your tones. – Bjorn]

  31. John says:

    Hello Bjorn: I got a DE-7 and it just rocks my world.
    Guitar Telecaster 62 reissue crafted in Japan. My main OD besides the MUFF is a MXR script Distortion +. This is the order of my pedals:
    Vox Wah(TrueBypass)> Ibanez CP-9> EH BigMuff GREEN> MXR Dist+> EH ElecMistress> MXR script Phase100 > MXR Analog Delay(Vintage)> DE-7 > fENDER tWIN rEVERB rEISSUE.
    I liked the Dist+ a lot before I placed it in this configuration. But it does not give me the tone I want. I have a Rat2 on order. Should I put the Rat2 where my Dist+ is? Also it seems like I have too much modulation IE: Phase 100. I like the subtleness it adds to the color alone with other drive pedals, but I heard a clip of the Voodo lab lab micro vibe and I seemed to like the vibe it created. But I am not into the StevieRay sound, the voodo has similiar SRV tone to it. I also heard a clip of a Gray Fuzz face and I loved it. Does the SunFace 108 make tone similiar to the Gray Fuzz Face? If so I have been missing a lot in regards to the sound garden that that pedal creates.
    Also should I consider the EH Nano Small Stone to replace my Phase100?
    Thanks
    John Cape May New Jersey

    [If you think the MXR sounds better before the Muff then go for it. In any case I wouldn’t use the MXR nor a RAT to boost the Muff because you shouldn’t blend two distortions. You get all kinds of feedback and noise problems. It’s better to use an overdrive like a Tube Driver, Tube Screamer or Boss BD-2 for a volume boost.
    Regarding modulation… What kind of tone are you looking for? Judging by what you write I don’t think a phaser or UniVibe is what you want but perhaps a mild chorus of some sort. Phasers and UniVibes will colour the tone more.
    I’m not familiar with the Gray Fuzz Face – unless you mean the new Dunlop Hendrix reissue – but the Sun Face BC108 is dead on David’s Pompeii tones. – Bjorn]

  32. Alex says:

    Great information and starting point. To add a little. An EQ can make a great boost pedal, just setting the EQ flat and giving it some volume gain, or pushing and pulling some frequencies can help you cut through the band when its time for you to be heard. Tom Morello uses an EQ like this. Also a wah is a sweeping EQ filter, you don’t have to move sweep to use it. The Edge, Kirk Hammett and Jerry Cantrell can all be heard to use a wah like this. Just a heads up.

  33. John Cape May New Jersey says:

    bjorn
    I got my Rat2 and I just love it. I use it after my muff with great success. now i got a Butler T driver with a JJ electronics
    tube as you suggested. I am not sure where to put it in my chain?
    62 reissue Tele > Fuzz face > Vox Wah > Ibanez Comp > Muff > Rat > Elec Mistress > Phase 100 > MXR Analog Delay > DE-7 > Fender Twin
    And was it normaal to have to remove silicone from the TD tube housing to remove the tube? Should I re_silicone the JJ back in? Cheers
    PS I love your website!!!!
    John Cape May New Jersey

    [I’d place the Tube Driver between the RAT and Mistress. Mine didn’t have silicon around the tube so I just replaced it without any problems. As long as it sits tight it’s OK. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  34. Dave Hobson says:

    Hi
    Dave Rutter our guitarist has contacted you on the odd occasion
    (pink floyd tribute,Us &Them) I am the keys player and wondered if you have any info on the Hammond and Farfisa settings Rick Wright used

    Regards
    Dave H

    [Sorry… don’t know much about Rick’s stuff. – Biorn]

  35. Bryce says:

    Hi again Bjorn,
    I have been trying to find this Gollmer composus you speak so highly of and I cant find it anywhere on the net. I did goto the shop’s website but of course its all in Swedish and I cant read it. I nevertheless tried looking through it and couldnt find an order form or anything. Do you happen to know where I can get one? Or if you could, point me to an email address where I could ask? Hopefully they speak a little english though :)

    Thanks,
    Bryce

    [Hi. I’m not sure these pedals are available anymore. I’ve been trying to contact the dealer for ages but they never answer. I’ve talking to several Swedish guitar stores as well and they all say they’re discontinued… Have you tried Ebay? – Bjorn]

  36. Bryce says:

    Yeah, ebay never has them. Seems like you have a hen’s tooth there hehe. I think I will get a Barber Tone Press then. I’ve heard very good things about them and for only $150 USD it seems like the right choice.

    [I’ve never tried the Barber my self but I have a couple of friends that are extremely impressed. – Bjorn]

  37. Raymond says:

    Hey Bjorn!
    You say to put the Fuzz before the compressor. However, I noticed on your gear page you put the Large Beaver after the compressor? I am sure you have a great reason for this and my curiosity needs to know!! Thanks Bjorn.

    [The Big Muff is not a fuzz. It’s a distortion. Also, the reason for placing a vintage fuzz first in the line is because it dramatically changes its character with pedals in front of it, especially wah wah or tru bypass pedals. – Bjorn]

  38. Kristoffer says:

    I thought it was non-true bypass pedals that was the culprit. That germanium transistors didn’t like a buffer in front of them?

    [Sorry! Of course, I missed out the “non” word :) Neither germanium or silicon based fuzz units likes buffered pedals in front of them or anywhere near for that matter. I recommend taht if you do use buffered pedals with fuzz or vintage style boosters, you should place them as far from each other as possible, like fuzz > 5 or 6 true bypass pedals > buffered delay. – Bjorn]

  39. Kristoffer says:

    That settles it, then :) Fuzzboxes are a lot of fun, but they can be a bit difficult sometimes..

  40. Joe says:

    Me again. This is quite helpful – one of the first pedals i got was the behringer cs100 which is probably a boss clone. I used to max the settings too much and i was either always using it or never using it. Now that I’ve got to grips with compression I’m thinking of making the hop up to a boss for the small matter of a 10-20 pound difference.
    Is there a drastic difference between the CS-2 and CS-3 because CS-2s are harder to get hold of these days.

    [Compressors won’t give you the same result on humbuckers and in most cases it’s reduntant. The CS-2 is out of production but I strongly recommend tracking one down on EBay. It’s worth it. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  41. Joe says:

    I generally find that compression is useful for me if im playing a solo which is clean or just overdriven; it takes the unwanted dynamics off a bit. As you suggest I dont really bother if its a heavily distorted solo. It does work ok on some distortred rhythms which sounds a bit like folk rock/country.
    Thank’s for your help here

  42. Pierre Chartier says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I’m thinking to replace my Lovepedal Believe (octave) that I don’t really use with a compressor… But I don’t really know compressor, so tanks for your article, it really help me. My vintage fuzz (BC108) is place after my wah without problem cause this particular wah is fuzz friendly! Furthermore I prefer my Univibe (Mojo Vibe) before my wah and others pedal.

    There is my setting: AV Strat57/ Korg Pitchblack tuner/ Lovepedal Believe/ Teese Picture Wah/ Sweetsound Mojo Vibe/ Sweetsound Fillmore West Fuzz (BC108)/ Lovepedal COT50/ Lovepedal Burst Eternity/ SkreddyPedals Top Fuel/ Mad Professor Tiny Orange Phaser/ Analog.Man Mini Chorus/ Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay/ MI Audio Boost n Buff/ DRRI amp

    Question one: Do I place a compressor before my wah-vibe -fuzz or place it after my fuzz? Or maybe should I try to place my fuzz first (just after my true bypass tuner), then the wah and the vibe? Wath do you recommand me?

    Question two: Now I’m a little bit confuse on the compressor brand!!! I want true bypass so I don’t want MXR or Boss. So there are my choice: a Keely, a Analog.Man Mini Bi-Comp or a Mad Professor Forest Green Compressor? I think the MP FGC should be great like others MP pedals I already own! What do you think of those compressor?

    Tank you my friend,

    [Sorry for my late reply… Id place the compressor after the fuzz. Of the compressors you mention, I’ve only tried the Keeley, which was really good. I also recommend the AnalogMan Comprossor, which is a clone of the old Ross Compressor, – an early clone of the Dynacomp.
    If I may suggest a chain for your pedals… try this…
    guitar > fuzz > tuner > wah > top fuel > burst eternity > cot 50 > boost n buff > believe > phaser > chorus > delay > amp
    Hope this helps. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  43. Pierre Chartier says:

    Tanks Bjorn for your comments, Finally I decided to buy a Mad Professor Forest Green Compressor… Wow… great one! I put a new board and I’ll send you photo soon. I follow some of your recommandations by placing the Skreddy Top Fuel just after me comp but the COT50 into the Eternity is the way to go. Furthermore I prefer to put my vibe before my fuzz and dirts… you should try it my friend, because the vibe before get you nice throbing effect… My new board will be like this: Teese Picture Wah/ Sweetsound Mojo Vibe/ Sweetsound Fillmore West Fuzz/ Mad Professor Forest Green Compressor/ SkreddyPedals Top Fuel/ Lovepedal COT50/ Lovepedal Burst Eternity/ Lovepedal Mini Buffer/ Korg Pitchblack tuner/ Mad Professor Tiny Orange Phaser/ Analog.Man Mini Chorus (14.5V) / Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay (14.5V) . And again, congratulations for Airbag Identity… I’m not able to stop listening… so good.

    [Thanks for your kind words Pierre! Glad you like our album :) Your new board seems very cool! Please send me a pic for the gallery :) Cheers! – Bjorn]

  44. Bjorn: Your comments have all been on the mark for me. I indeed love a little mild chorus as my phase type of sound. A Bad Monkey with what some call a Badder Monkey mod by Analogman has come available in my area. I am wondering if you have ever used one?
    Also my Made in Japan Stratocaster with the stock pickups really sings. But some time ago I got the Fender CS 69’s and the neck pickup David used after the Animals tour. Since my sound really sings now I am wondering if I should replace the stock PU’s? Will the sound be measurably sonically noticeable? Humm… I do not know myself. Also do you know any one who can turn me on to the Pink Floyd recording, 5-9-1977 @ The Oakland Coliseum, both sets. I would enjoy the contact as I have only been able to find half of the show and been able to listen to it only.
    Cheers,
    John

    [Never tried the mod but the stock Bad Monkey is a great budget alternative to the Tube Screamer. Is it a 50s MIJ? I think most of these has Custom Shop Texas Special, which can be a bit too boomy for David’s tones but that’s a matter of taste really. I prefer the CS69s but try both and decide for your self. You will hear a noticeable difference. The 69s are slightly brighter with less mid range. Check out Yeeshkul.Com for Floyd bootlegs. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  45. stefano benedan says:

    hi
    this site is amazing ! Thanks . I need your help please , i am very new to effects and i am an average player . I have a park 30 watt combo amp a an aria pro 2 guitar ( japanese job ).
    Now with regards to getting the pulse tone what simply do i need unfortunately i do not understand the technical jargon so if you could please explain the list of effects very simply . One final question i tried a Boss delay pedal and i wonder if you will recommend a didtal delay instead . When u mention the pulse tone i presume its the sound from the pulse tour video on here.
    Is it a similar tone to the one on the volcano relief royal albert hall concert which sounds amazing. My budget is quite limited and so i would ask you please to keep it simple . Once again thank you very much for your kind help. Stefano from London

    [Well as you know the tone lies as much in the guitar/pickups and amp as it does in the pedals. Not to sound rude or anything but I don’t think you should expect your guitar and amp to sound exactly like Gilmour’s. I don’t have any experience with your gear so I really can’t tell but check out this article for some general tone tips. Based on what you do have I recommend that you consider pedals that may not be typical Gilmour pedals but something that will give a great versatile tone. David mostly used a Tube Driver for overdrives and a Big Muff for distortions but these can be a challenge on smaller rigs and you might want to check out something a bit more versatile. Delaywise it’s really up to you. Boss does the job. If you can afford it I also recommend the T-Rex replica or a TC Repeater. – Bjorn]

  46. Bjorn:
    I have the T-Rex Replica… and I do not like it very much. I have not figured out a good tone yet. I still love the Ibanez DE-7! Also my made in Japan Strat is a 62′ reissue with cloth covered wires.
    I am looking for a compressor not a Boss CS-2 or the Ibanez CP-9 as I have both. But a clear transparent one. Any suggestions.
    Thanks again
    John

    [MXR Dynacomp custom shop, AnalogMan Comprossor or Demeter Compulator. – Bjorn]

  47. Jeff Morris says:

    I love all of these comments and suggestions that have been given but I thought I would throw one more in the hat. I had a Boss CS-3 for a year or so and it was very noisy in my situation with a single coil strat into a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe so I purchased a Electro Harmonix Soul Preacher which was great except for distortion on the low E string (weird huh but there are alot of people reporting this) and it just messed with me so a friend turned me on to the Barber Electronixs Tone Press. This thing is the bomb because it is a paralel compressor in that it has a clean signal mix pot that allows you to adjust your wet to dry like a recording console. It also allows you to hear your pick attack just like the compressor was off. I leave it on all the time and it is just so transparent! Just thought I’d throw that in so all you gear heads have a super new year in 2010.

    [Thanks for the tip! I’ve never been able to try the Tone Press my self but I’ve only heard good words about it. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  48. Alex Z says:

    Hello Bjorn

    It is with pleasure that I read this site, and everything in the daytime I learn new things.

    I would like to know how to adjust my equalizer and my compressor, I have a preference for the sound of the live in Gdansk.

    On my pedalboard I chaine the effects following your Tips :

    Wha – > Vintage boss CS2 – > RAT2 – > TS9 – > phase 90 – > GE7 Equ – >Volume Pedal – > Delays (DD3 soon coupled in one nova delay or a MXR carbon copy) – > Boutic Amps

    I have some difficulties to find the best equalization for each pedals to have a great sound.

    Thank you for your help and “bravo Bjorn” for this site which became my reference

    Alex

    [Thanks for your kind words and welcome to my site! It’s impossible for me to recommend EQ settings for your setup because there’s no universal way of setting the pedal… nothing I or anyone else can suggest that fits all setups. It depends on your guitar and its pickups, your amp and its settings, how you tweak the rest of the pedals etc. All I can say is that you should keep it simple. If the EQ doesn’t work for you, then don’t use it. An EQ should only be used to adjust certain frequencies and not the overall sound. You may want to add a bit more bass when you use the RAT and TS9 and perhaps a bit more mid range when you use a clean tone but you need to adjust that according to your setup. – Bjorn]

  49. Jake says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    I need your wise words rsrs
    There is much difference between the CS-2 and CS3?
    Do you think that CS-3 would work better than Dynacomp in 80/90 era?
    especially in overdrive stuffs

    [The CS2 has a warm dark compression while the CS3 is considerably brighter with a slightly more transparent character although not as transparent as the Dynacomp. Personally I prefer the Dyna. The CS2, although great rounding off harsh distortions, can sound too dark and the CS3 has a vague metallic feel to it. Doesn’t sound quite right. I’d go for the ’76 Dynacomp reissue. – Bjorn]

  50. Manel says:

    Hey Bjorn.
    SO i’m getting a new compressor and i’m between some. I’m thinking about a keeley 4-knob comp, an ibanez clone (based on the ibanez CP9) or a dod clone (based on a dod 280 which is an optical compressor).
    Which one do you think that would work better for those gilmour clean tones?

    Thank you!

    [The CP9 is very bright and I haven’t tried the DOD so I can’t tell about that one. The Keeley has a smooth warm compression but in my oppinion it’s a tad too dark. I’d ratehr go for a RetroSonic Compressor (very similar to the Boss CS2) or a MXR ’76 Dynacomp. – Bjorn]

  51. Manel says:

    Oh and I forgot about the BYOC 5-knob comp, sorry!

    [I haven’t tried it. – Bjorn]

  52. Matthias says:

    Hallo Bjorn, I’m glad that your site is online again. Which compressor would you recommend for the sound of SOYCD – Royal Albert Hall version? At the moment I have a BOSS CS-2 and a MXR DYNACOMP (new version, I used it for the studio version of Shine On). Now I removed it and will buy a ’76 version. I took note that you don’t recommend the DEMETER COMPULATOR, but could this be the key? I use a DR504 Amp with a T-REX REPLICA and a BK Butler TD (as Clean Booster), but I miss this soft, warm tone? Or is it possible with the BOSS CE-2 and / or the ’76 DYNACOMP? Thank you, best regards. Matthias

    [The Demeter would obviously do since that’s the one David’s using but personally I think the Boss CS2 and ’76 Dynacomp are more musical and dynamic. The CS2 is smooth and warm while the Dynacom is more transparent and deeper. Perhaps more important is what pickups you use and how the amp is set. Let me know and I’ll try to help. – Bjorn]

  53. Matthias says:

    Thanks for your answer. I have a DR504 (2-Input -version), I know that the 4-Input-versions are more superior in some aspects (components), but at the moment I don’t have the possibility to get that 4-Input-version. My settings are (o’ clock): NORMAL VOL. 11, BASS 9, TREBLE 13, MIDDLE 12, PRESENCE 12, MASTER 12. I use a FENDER STRAT AMERICAN STANDARD 2010, so I think what you already mentioned, the pickups… they are only standards, not Gilmourish ;-) Probably this is the key. What kind of tubes do you recommend for the DR504? In my BK Butler Tube Driver I already changed the tube to a 12AU7. And I agree with your opinion, that the MXR DYNACOMP is for Overdrive / Distortion, because when I turn my RAT up to 3 o’clock Distortion (Slash’s sound, for example), the DYNACOMP is indispensable ! I ordered a ’76 version today. I’m sure you can recommend some Gilmourish pickups for my Strat, and maybe my amp settings should be changed a bit… Thank you, best regards from Germany !

    [The amp settings seems OK. I’d increase the bass up to around 12 and maybe decrease the treble just a hair. The trick though is to set the master lower than the normal volume. I usually set the master at about 2/3 of the pre-volume. That leaves a much warmer and punchier clean tone. The Standard pickups has a lot of mid range and an overall more boomy tone compared to the more vintage sounding PUs. I’d consider the Fender CS69s or even Texas Specials and perhaps a Duncan SSL5 for the bridge. – Bjorn]

  54. Ross says:

    Hi Bjorn, I’m looking at getting a compressor for the first time and would appreciate your advice on what might be suitable. I’m playing a 2011 Candy red Fender Strat MIM, maple neck with EMG DG20’s into a selection of pedals such as TC Electronics Flashback Delay, Maxon OD808, EHX Big Muff, EHX Electric Mistress into a Fender valve amp, using Evidence Audio Forte cables and Monorail patch cables.
    I particularly want a compressor that doesn’t add too much noise, brings out the sustain, not harsh sounding. My current setup works extremely well for Gilmour sounds but I would like a little more sustain and compression on the solos.
    3 pedals appeal to me, the Demeter Compulater, Keeley C4 Compressor, MXR Dynacomp 76 vintage, what would you suggest? Cheers! Ross

    [My favourite is the ’76 Dynacomp. It’s transparent and smooth and it seems to work best with overdrive and distortions. Keep in mind that a compressor is a gain effect so you will notice more noise if you add it to an already boosted setup of a Muff+overdrive combo. – Bjorn]

  55. Bo Lytle says:

    Bjorn, what do you think about the Rothwell Love Squeeze compressor pedal?

    [Never tried it. – Bjorn]

  56. Keith says:

    I’ll try again, I have another get aquainted with another group of possible players for the band/ CD project, and the last one was awful, because I didn’t anticipate the difference the volume would make with my pedals.So, like I mentioned, I’ve been using the Musket / Spark boost in lieu of the Fuzz face, and have had luck getting most of the desired tones. Not wanting a repeat of my pedal fiasco, I was wondering what your opinion of how the Fuzzface would react to placing the Spark behind it, and if it would tame it the way it does Muffs, and Muff clones. I really want to make a good impression, as themselves ones attending this session are the guys that personality wise were my first choice. I suppose the question is for later, as I’m sure you’d agree that changing what I’ve gotten to work would just set me up for another frustrating round of pedalitis. But for future reference, the info would be appreciated. You’ve helped me get almost to the homestretch, and all I ask is a word of your unique wisdom about not letting it get to me. After not playing for close to a decade, I was so nervous last time, I was awful, and I’d hate to give these guys
    the impression that I don’t know how to play. Stagefright for the first time in 30 years! Anyway, sorry about the mistake in my last post, that’s why I rewrote it!
    Peace, Love, all things Gilmourish, ( and how’s about a nice “Good luck padawan?” Thanks Bjorn, you’re very patient, and it is,appreciated!

    [See my reply to your older post. OK, Good luck my Padawan! You will grow up to be a great Jedi Master one day! – Bjorn]

  57. Juraj says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    First of all – congratulations on this website, I only discovered it recently and I learned so much (and not only about David’s sound), it is an amanzing source of information, great job! Many tahnks for that!

    And now the question… I’m mainly interested in David’s Pulse sound. Can you please shed some light on the role of CS-2 and Dyna Comp in his chain from this tour? From the songs settings I can see that CS-2 is in fact turned on most of the time (except for high distortion sounds), so I assume it is used to compress a bit the basic sound for all cleans and overdrives. I can also see that David used Dyna Comp together with (after) CS-2 for some clean solos. Was it used as a volume boost for the clean sounds already compressed by CS-2? Wouldn’t Tube Drive (boost) do the same job? Why to have 2 compresors in the chain, what was the role of each of these?

    Many thanks,
    Juraj

    [Hi Juraj! Thanks for your kind words! Glad you enjoy my site :) The CS2 and Dynacomp are two different sounding units. The CS2 has a mild compression and warm tone, while the Dynacomp has a much brighter and transparent tone with a deeper twang to it. As you know, David’s PULSE setup was huge and required a few unusual combinations to get the tones he wanted. Hard to tell just why he used two compressors but I would assume that it was partly to get more sustain with less gain from the overdrives to cut down the overall noise. Also, this huge setup would require some signal boosting so he might have experienced some loss of certain frequencies and sustain and would compensate that with excessive use of both compressors and EQ. It’s all specualtion but I don’t think it’s too far from the truth. I don’t think you should apply this to a smaller, more basic setup. A guitar, amp and a few pedals is a much “cleaner” setup with a more transparent signal so be sure to set the amp up for a nice, clean tone and use the pedals to get the tones you want. Add a compressor only if you think the tone needs a bit tightening or sustain. If not – don’t use it. – Bjorn]

  58. Juraj says:

    Thank you very much for your response, Bjorn! Looking at the song set-ups and particular song parts where DynaComp was engaged, do you think that (in addition to the required sustain/compression feature) it was used also as a volume boost for clean solos? Or should its volume be set at unit level with the clean sound? Juraj

    [Based on the settings he used I think it was set pretty much unity with the bypassed signal. – Bjorn]

  59. Eric says:

    What would you recommend to replace the boss cs-2? I love its one, but it is hard to find and somewhat expensive. Do you know of any pedals that sound the same?

    [I haven’t really come across any model that nails the CE2 completely but the Demeter Compulator is close and I also recommend the Retro Sonic Compressor. -Bjorn]

  60. Ross says:

    Hi Bjorn, what do you think would be a good starting point for the knob settings on the MXR vintage dynacomp and the Boss BD-2 Keeley to setup for the solo of Another Brick On the Wall Part2?
    Eg. MXR output 11 oclock, sensitivity 2 o’clock. Cheers, Ross

    [What amp and guitar/pickups do you use, Ross? – Bjorn]

  61. Ross says:

    Hi Bjorn, guitars are Fender Strats, the Black Strat has EMGDG20’s, the candy Apple red has Custom Shop 69’s. Amp is FENDER Superchamp XD.
    Cheers, Ross

    [Try this: Dynacomp sustain 10:00, volume 2:00. BD2 level slightly above unity gain, tone 9-10:00, gain 8-9:00. See this feature some some amp setup tips. – Bjorn]

  62. Roger Sartori says:

    Hi, Bjorn.
    Do you think that the BBE Sonic Stomp is useful to nail Gilmour tones?

    [Never tried it. – Bjorn]

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