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Your GOTO Compressor & settings when you just want to add sustain?


johnnyvlee
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Hey gang. 

 

When you just want to add sustain to an already good patch, say for a section of your lead break for example (or maybe your entire lead break) what is your preferred compressor and what settings?  I'm not talking about FREEZE here, just massively long sustain?

 

In this particular instance I need it for Possum Kingdom lead section, but it's a common issue.

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3 hours ago, johnnyvlee said:

In this particular instance I need it for Possum Kingdom lead section, but it's a common issue.

 

I wasn't familiar with it so I just gave it a listen.... both the studio cut and a live cut. 

 

IMO.... I'd just hit it with the stock settings of Dyna Comp (red comp) before the gain stages. Most of the sustain in that particular break is driven by the whammy bar movements and a very loud amp - there's studio compression on the track, but that's not what's causing that sustain. 

 

That's a part that could really benefit from a "feedback" effect... sadly, one does not exist in the Helix... yet! 

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8 minutes ago, codamedia said:

 

I wasn't familiar with it so I just gave it a listen.... both the studio cut and a live cut. 

 

IMO.... I'd just hit it with the stock settings of Dyna Comp (red comp) before the gain stages. Most of the sustain in that particular break is driven by the whammy bar movements and a very loud amp - there's studio compression on the track, but that's not what's causing that sustain. 

 

That's a part that could really benefit from a "feedback" effect... sadly, one does not exist in the Helix... yet! 

I have an external pedal in a loop for the feedback. Works great.

 

But my question wasn't really specific to that song. I meant it as a general question since it comes up repeatedly in various tunes.

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On some of my presets I have a snapshot called SquealBoost in the scribble strip.  It's only for soloing because it's pretty noisy.  It will engage one OD/Dist block (it varies which one) and then two LA comps, one before and one after the OD/Dist block and both with gain set quite high.  The OD/Dist block will also have the gain parameter set quite high but the overall solo/boost level will be adjusted to suit the need by using the volume level on the OD/Dist block; often a fuzz.  If used judiciously and carefully I can get some pretty long sustain that easily blossoms into harmonic feedback on held notes and particularly pinched notes.  This method works well on my high gain patches when the blocks are driving directly into the front of the amp block but it is less effective on my cleaner presets with lower OD gain used for the solo boost.

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10 hours ago, johnnyvlee said:

I meant it as a general question since it comes up repeatedly in various tunes.

 

For general compression, I put a Rochester comp or an LA Studio Comp near the end of the chain. That gives the guitar a "polished" tone that smooths out some rough edges. When I need something heavily compressed - as I stated I would just reach for the Red Comp (dyna comp) or maybe the Kinky Comp... and place it before the gain stages. 

 

My "heavily compressed" tone example would be 80's POP and some 90's chicken pickin. For everything else I'd stick to general compression. 

 

 

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Generally speaking I don't tend to use much in the way of compressors if I'm dealing with a high gain tone.  That IS a compressor.  I almost always have a final LA Studio comp in my chain, but even then it's rarely used or not even present in some cases if the high gain tone is compressed enough as it is.  For longer sustains in those cases I pretty much just depend on fingering techniques to maintain longer dwell times.

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I use the 'rolled down volume knob' trick.  I have my distortion on all the time.  I control how clean the sound is with the volume knob.  If I don't have time to turn down the physical knob, I add a volume cut via a fixed volume pedal at the beginning of the chain.  That's what I have been doing for ages with real pedals and still do on my Helix with virtual pedals.  I like the natural compression that I get this way.  I use classic distortion.  That's my trick, and it works very well for me. 

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With this thing, I do have all the sustain I need (sustainer driven by a SD JB Jr). Also modded with a fishman battery pack, so the battery drain isnt a problem anymore. I know, not a valid answer, Im just showing off. :D

 

81-B64115-AE10-4275-B316-9-FEA226-C608-A

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On 10/6/2021 at 9:43 PM, johnnyvlee said:

In this particular instance I need it for Possum Kingdom lead section, but it's a common issue.


Hi,

 

If you watch any recordings of the live performance of Possum Kingdom, you can see that what you describe as “sustain” is actually controlled feedback not a compressor as such. Check out early Jimi Hendrix doing the same thing - playing on sheer volume and feedback. 
 

I would guess that what you really need to produce this effect is one of these.

 


Hope this helps/makes sense.

 

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Right, in the link I posted above, the actual guitar player from the Toadies shows you exactly how he does it and with what pedals. Just a Tube Screamer 9, lots of gain and a loud amp. You can hear how cranked it all is when he just turns up the volume on his guitar. Clearly no noise gate.

 

Feedback, of any kind, requires volume.

 

-Stooxie

 

 

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On 10/8/2021 at 11:36 AM, theElevators said:

I use the 'rolled down volume knob' trick.  I have my distortion on all the time.  I control how clean the sound is with the volume knob.  If I don't have time to turn down the physical knob, I add a volume cut via a fixed volume pedal at the beginning of the chain.  That's what I have been doing for ages with real pedals and still do on my Helix with virtual pedals.  I like the natural compression that I get this way.  I use classic distortion.  That's my trick, and it works very well for me. 

 

That's a good approach a lot of the time, but in many cases I want to add sustain without increasing the volume (or increasing it very little).  

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2 hours ago, datacommando said:


Hi,

 

If you watch any recordings of the live performance of Possum Kingdom, you can see that what you describe as “sustain” is actually controlled feedback not a compressor as such. Check out early Jimi Hendrix doing the same thing - playing on sheer volume and feedback. 
 

I would guess that what you really need to produce this effect is one of these.

 


Hope this helps/makes sense.

 

 

I actually do use one of those to get the feedback. 

 

I have a guitar with a Sustainiac which I bought so I could play things like "With or Without You".  And that does a decent job with this particular song.

 

But my question is not "How do I sound like Possum Kingdom", folks.  Just in general, it is quite common to use a compressor to add sustain when you have a signal chain that gives you a sound you like for a song, but does not sustain as much as you need it to.

 

I would like to set up a compressor in the Helix Favorites with particular settings that I can use when all I want to do is add sustain to a patch that's already working in all other respects.

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13 hours ago, stooxie said:

Just ask Clark Vogeler how he does it: https://www.facebook.com/premierguitar/videos/10155692984448917/

 

-Stooxie

 

Thanks for posting that. I enjoy the hell out of these kinds of videos.

 

For my live rig I typically run direct from Helix to FOH, and I have a monitor in front of me or lately it's usually in-ears.  The in-ear rig allows me to dial up my own monitor mix, which I love. 

 

But I used to play through Mesa Boogie amps, and I confess I miss them. Clark can play feedback off his speaker cab as guitarists have done for many years, but I can't do that with my rig.

 

I did purchase a Powercab Plus which I use when I play in a bigger band and cannot trust that the sound guy can give me a good monitor mix. So I use the Powercab only for monitoring my own guitar playing. But I'm not in love with the Powercab. To be fair I just use it in pass through mode and have not yet begun to experiment with its IR capabilities. Maybe if I did that I'd like it better. Dunno. But it doesn't stand up to the boogies.

 

But I don't want to stop using the amp and cab simulations in the Helix for cover band playing. The flexibility is just too much to give up. So I don't foresee switching back to my boogies unless I end up in a band doing original music. Which would be awesome, but there's nothing cooking on that front right now, and where I live there's not a huge market for that.

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19 hours ago, PierM said:

With this thing, I do have all the sustain I need (sustainer driven by a SD JB Jr). Also modded with a fishman battery pack, so the battery drain isnt a problem anymore. I know, not a valid answer, Im just showing off. :D

 

81-B64115-AE10-4275-B316-9-FEA226-C608-A

 

That does look like a fun guitar to play. I have a Schecter guitar with a Sustaniac that I could be using. I got it pretty inexpensively and I admit I do love how that guitar looks and feels.

 

But my current rig is Variax into Helix using DVI and I would like to avoid switching guitars if at all possible. That was one of the selling points of going with this rig. Guitar modeling. Sound like whatever axe I want to sound like.  Down side is it doesn't have the Sustaniac.

 

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1 hour ago, johnnyvlee said:

 

That does look like a fun guitar to play. I have a Schecter guitar with a Sustaniac that I could be using. I got it pretty inexpensively and I admit I do love how that guitar looks and feels.

 

But my current rig is Variax into Helix using DVI and I would like to avoid switching guitars if at all possible. That was one of the selling points of going with this rig. Guitar modeling. Sound like whatever axe I want to sound like.  Down side is it doesn't have the Sustaniac.

 

 

I have to be honest, never been a fan of these systems, but with this one Fender (and Ed O' Brien) nailed it! Very easy to setup and balance for your own needs, and it just sounds amazing. I'm a loooong time Ebow user, so this one for me it's like a sort of polyphonic Ebow. Great neck and finish, just a lovely  instrument...


The only downside for me was the extremely quick battery drain (especially with my own sustainer settings), but I solved installing a Fishman battery back on the back (see the pic), which gives you a stable 9V for a week average, and then starts flashing red just few hours before running out of juice. With a standard 9V alcaline battery, you'd get the proper tone just the first hours of playing, then everything starts sounding weeker and weeker, until the battery is gone, in a matter of few days. With this mod, you just get a stable tone, as it should, for the entire battery charge. 

 

IMG-6393.jpg

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4 hours ago, johnnyvlee said:

Just in general, it is quite common to use a compressor to add sustain when you have a signal chain that gives you a sound you like for a song, but does not sustain as much as you need it to.

 

Sure. Do whatever sounds good to you. The only limit is the Helix DSP.

 

4 hours ago, johnnyvlee said:

I would like to set up a compressor in the Helix Favorites with particular settings that I can use when all I want to do is add sustain to a patch that's already working in all other respects.

 

Having a HX Stomp with its single DSP, I've settled on the Deluxe Comp which is not as DSP hungry as the others. It's very flexible, you can dial in many different compressed and sustained sounds. Provided you know what you're doing and understand how compressor parameters work in general.

 

For electric guitar, it's usually my 2nd block, right after Autofilter and right before Amp+Cab which is currently Mandarin 80, sometimes also US Small Tweed.

For electric bass, however, the Deluxe Comp is my last block in the chain.

 

To get long sustain, you need low threshold. I play a Les Paul with a six-way serial/parallel PU switch, so I've also set it so that it compensates for the loudness difference between serial/parallel.

Values: -40 dB, 3:1, 6 ms, 100 ms, 70%, +3 dB, +7 dB

Works fine for me.

Additional sustain comes from the amp, i.e. mainly the Master and Sag along with its appropriate drive and amp EQ values. (Hence the Small Tweed being one of my favorite amps!)

 

Of course, my values for acoustic guitar or for electric/acoustic basses are totally different. There's no "catch-all" compressor setting.

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  • 4 months later...
On 10/6/2021 at 10:43 PM, johnnyvlee said:

Hey gang. 

 

When you just want to add sustain to an already good patch, say for a section of your lead break for example (or maybe your entire lead break) what is your preferred compressor and what settings?  I'm not talking about FREEZE here, just massively long sustain?

 

In this particular instance I need it for Possum Kingdom lead section, but it's a common issue.

 

Ik was looking for a very long sustain to record  Peter Green's  Supernatural. Over a Powecab and using a Telacaster at "roomlevel" I succeeded with this sttings ( Snapshot 2) 

Recording clean.hlx

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@johnnyvlee
To actually answer your question:

 

for sustain you need a fast attack ( less than 10ms) and a slow release (more than 100ms - perhaps as long as 1 second). Threshold will depend on the situation but I would look for about 6dB - 10dB of gain reduction on the meter.  Maybe more if you need it.
You will need to make up the level by raising the compressor output level.

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