what does a compressor pedal do

EXPLAINED: What Does A Compressor Pedal Do For A Guitar?

Think you need a compressor effects pedal but not exactly sure what it is and how you should be using it?  Look here!

How Does A Compressor Pedal Work?

The dynamic range of music refers to the range of frequencies that an instrument can produce.  Some instruments have a greater range of sound than others.

An competent guitarist, for example, can play a wide range of notes or frequencies from the guitar or bass guitar. Music, on the other hand, is not about a single note; rather, it is about the interaction of different notes, chords, and sequences.  When there’s a lot going on, the tiny notes can be lost in the mix.

What Do Guitar Compressor Pedals Do To My Note?

While playing an acoustic guitar involves a lot more effort and practice, an electric guitar provides better consistency all around.  A normalized dynamic range, as well as lengthier tail notes, contribute to this consistency.  A compression pedal can be used by a guitar player to achieve these effects.

A compressor pedal takes the sound from the guitar and compresses the tones in the signal chain to make them more normal.  That is, the sound range is limited to a certain range, and the volume produced is proportional to each note.  Nuanced notes are given the same volume range as other notes as a result of this.  The issue with music is that some notes are lost in the process of playing.  In reality, because other sounds are louder, these notes are almost silent.  The compressor pedal helps these notes rise to the top, allowing you to appreciate the song more fully.

Are Guitar Pedal Compressors Hard Or Soft Knee?

The term “knee” refers to the speed with which the compressor clamps down on the signal once it exceeds the threshold.  It’s termed “knee” because the line soon after the compressor starts reducing the gain looks like a sharp angle, like the break of a knee, on a gain-reduction graph.  If the angle is exceedingly steep, the compressor clamps down on the signal very rapidly and strongly, and the graph’s “knee” looks very steep, almost like a sitting upright person’s knee.  The compressor kicks in extremely slowly as the signal reaches the threshold if the angle is very gentle, and the “knee” is “soft,” like the knee of a person sitting in a recliner.

Many compressors let you choose between hard-knee compression and soft-knee compression.  Others  provide a slider for adjusting the “knee’s” reaction.

Both hard and soft knee compression have their applications; for example, if you want to squash a signal’s transients quickly, hard knee compression is the way to go.  You’ll need a soft-knee compressor if you wish to employ a compressor to softly glue a mix together by tightening transients.

So, What Is The Purpose Of A Compressor Pedal?

To put it another way, it decreases the guitar’s dynamic range.  As a result, it slightly increases the volume of notes you pluck gently while decreasing the volume of notes you pick harder.  As a result, you get a considerably smoother guitar tone.  On most compressors, the ratio control can be used to alter the dynamic range.  Because a compressor puts a cap on your sound, it will offer you greater sustain and eliminate any harsh high frequencies.