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Unread 06-24-2009, 08:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

I have a Big Muff and a Compressor and read somewhere that the comp should be after the Muff and others say before.

What are the opinions here?
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Unread 06-25-2009, 12:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

the general rule of thumb is that the compressor should be the first pedal in your chain before everything else (besides a tuner i suppose). however, i do know someone who puts a compressor after distortion to get a darker tone with increased sustain, but in this case, i think the compressor would have to be pretty transparent. ultimately it's up to you, as it is your sound. the guidelines are only there to prevent odd things from happening, but "odd" may be what you're after. just keep in mind that the next pedal in your chain is working off the signal sent by the pedal immediately before it. a logical, commonly accepted standard pedal chain setup would be: compressor -> wah -> distortion -> filters (chorus/phaser/flanger) -> delay -> reverb. again, you should take everything i'm saying with a grain of salt. pedals are easy to move around, so go crazy.
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Unread 06-25-2009, 12:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

the question is: do you want to compress the signal going into the muff or the signal going out of the muff....

I tend to put my compressor in front of any OD/Dist box I am using but no reason not to try it out and see if it works better for you...

IMHO, there are no strong and fast rules about where to put a box but, only what you like...(on the other hand there are some problem with wha and dist. but, sometimes I like the sound so I will do it "the wrong way")

Also, here is a forum that will have some really cool info about EH pedals...post your question there and, tell me what the "gods" of EH say: EHX.com | Electro-Harmonix Forums
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Unread 06-25-2009, 12:42 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

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Originally Posted by mizer357 View Post
the general rule of thumb is that the compressor should be the first pedal in your chain before everything else (besides a tuner i suppose). however, i do know someone who puts a compressor after distortion to get a darker tone with increased sustain, but in this case, i think the compressor would have to be pretty transparent. ultimately it's up to you, as it is your sound. the guidelines are only there to prevent odd things from happening, but "odd" may be what you're after. just keep in mind that the next pedal in your chain is working off the signal sent by the pedal immediately before it. a logical, commonly accepted standard pedal chain setup would be: compressor -> wah -> distortion -> filters (chorus/phaser/flanger) -> delay -> reverb. again, you should take everything i'm saying with a grain of salt. pedals are easy to move around, so go crazy.
I love it...we both said almost the same thing at the same time....cool
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Unread 06-25-2009, 12:59 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

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I love it...we both said almost the same thing at the same time....cool
nice
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Unread 06-25-2009, 02:56 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

Thanks Guys!
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Unread 06-30-2009, 12:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

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Originally Posted by Pink_Floyd View Post
I have a Big Muff and a Compressor and read somewhere that the comp should be after the Muff and others say before.

What are the opinions here?
I wouldn't use a compressor with a fuzz in any order. If you put it before the fuzz, it will dramatically change the character of the fuzz pedal making it much brighter sounding; if you put it afterward, the fuzz is going to sound darker and introduce a lot more noise.

If you're looking to do something out of the ordinary, I'd put it in front of the fuzz and be careful of the output level of the compressor going into the fuzz. You can keep the character of the fuzz somewhat intact by keeping the compressor output down at the same level or less than your guitar; or, by increasing the output, you can brighten up the fuzz to your taste.

Mess around with it and see what you like.
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Unread 06-30-2009, 07:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

this is where i start to go nuts.

compressed distortion, or distorted compression? wah'd fuzz, or fuzz'd wah? it just never ends. i have wah'd driven distortion and fuzz which is then boosted and preamped to be delayed and reverbed. but that's only today.

maybe we should set up some kind of therapy thread
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Unread 12-13-2009, 11:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

I think it depends on the fuzz...

A Fuzz Face is very touch sensitive. If I play lightly it cleans up, if I dig in it growls...
I run the compressor after the Fuzz so I get that effect. Then the compressor adds volume to the soft clean stuff...

Sometimes I run a noise gate after the compressor to kill the hash...

Don
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Unread 12-14-2009, 12:08 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

I found this discussion of effects pedals somewhere on the internet (forgot where), but I saved it. It's pretty long, so I cut & pasted it to a Word Doc and printed it out for reference. I found it helpful.

You Effects Lover You!!!
Just about everyone loves effects whether they’ll admit it or not! Some favor individual, analog stompboxes/pedals while others choose expensive, rack mounted units that provide one or more effects; and still others will go with the all-in-one multi-effect pedalboards (MFX). In addition to the various “form factor” choices there are also different flavors of the same effects: Vintage effects, reissue effects, and completely new types of effects (or twists on the old themes)… each with their respective evangelists. Then you have the boutique builders who push the envelope even further. So many fun choices!

Effects are great. I love them in all shapes and sizes. I don’t think I’d enjoy playing guitar as much if I didn’t have my delays, choruses, and everything else. Effects are just part of my personal connection with the craft I suppose. This is one of the main reasons why I do thestompbox.net and the forums… to learn and to share my love of effects in general – analog, digital, MFX, etc. They all have a place and a good use.

One of the coolest parts (arguably) of being a guitarist is finding the right combination of effects to go along with your uber amp/cab tones. Picking the right effect(s) could be the difference between a good tone and a fantastic tone. Likewise, the wrong choice of effect(s) could make you want to throw your whole rig out a fourth story window and forget about it altogether. However, once you do choose your set of effects, the next challenge is to find the best way to order them in your FX chain.

If you’re an old effects veteran then you’ve likely gotten it all figured out by now. Yet, there are countless n00bies out there who are still puzzled over which effect goes where in the chain. BTW, being a n00bie is not a bad thing… we were all n00bs once. If you doubt this, go lurk around some of the Guitar/Effects forums for a few days. There are frequent posts related to “where do I put [InsertEffectNameHere] in my FX chain?” So in the interest of helping to answer those questions - I’m going to layout some general rules for each main type of effect.

Rule #1: There are no rules – just good guidelines
Might as well tell you right up front: All of the stuff I’m about to get into is really just basic guidelines and traditional effect placements. There are always exceptions and alternative ways to set things up, but this article should clear up any initial confusion and give you a good place to start from. The only real rule is: If the effect(s) placement achieves the tone, effect and overall character you are looking for then use the effect that way. Tone and effects boil down to personal preferences. Lots of players have signature tones built around having specific effects in a certain order and tweaked in a particular way (e.g. Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, David Gilmour, and even SRV).

If you are completely new to effects placement then I recommend you start with the following suggestions as a foundation. Don’t let these ideas and comments lock you into some box either! If you find using an effect in a different placement/order sounds better for what you are playing – always, always, always refer back to Rule #1! The more you understand about an effect and how it works with your tone, the better you will be able to break out of the traditional box and move into new sonic territory.

Rule #2: Effect Levels - in almost every case, less equals more
I have mentioned this before in other articles, but it bears repeating right here: Don’t add too much of, or too many effects to your basic tone. Why? The more effects you have swirling and echoing around in your tone, the more washed out (less distinct) you’ll be in the mix… in fact, you will often find you disappear completely. Simply put, the effects are moving your guitar tone into the frequencies of other instruments and all sorts of bad mojo happens. So the next time you are having a hard time hearing yourself in a mix or on stage: If you are using effects heavily – turn the effect level/mix down by 50%. I bet your tone will start to be more distinct and you’ll still have the effects coming through.

How much you reduce your effects really depends on the room you’re playing. For example, if you are in a room that is very reflective (lots of hard, flat surfaces) then you aren’t gonna need much reverb at all. The room will provide it. A darker room with lots of carpet, chairs, and dampeners on the walls (like heavy drapes) might require bumping your effects a little more… you’ll have to do some sound checks and experiment. Once you learn how room dynamics affect your effects and tone – you’ll be able to dial things in and tweak them accordingly.

It also depends on how many other instruments you are playing along with. Generally speaking, the more there are – the less effect you should use. If it is just you, a bassist, a drummer, and a vocalist then you can take a lot more liberty because you are unlikely to mud out. Either way – find a reasonable balance.

Rule #3: The PRE effects go before the preamp
Certain types of effects work best up front in the FX chain, before going into your amplifier (thus “PRE” effects). There is no hard and fast law on these but there is a little logic behind these traditional placements.
Here is a suggested order for PRE effects. You can always place these in a different order to achieve a different type of effect. YMMV – remember Rule #1.
1. PRE Noise Gate
Some pickups (like traditional single coils on a Strat) are as noisy as can be. Likewise, some players generate a lot of finger-to-string noise. Another problem is when playing near electronic devices like PC monitors and fluorescent lighting. All of these things can cause hum/hiss/noise. You don’t usually want that to get into your signal chain. A noise gate will give you much more control by squelching out noise below a certain threshold you set. Be conservative and use subtle settings as noise gate effects can kill softer playing styles.
2. Pickup simulation/Acoustic processors
It makes sense that you would want any significant change to the character of your guitar pickups to happen first – before anything else happens to the tone.
3. PRE Equalizer
It is sometimes useful to adjust the EQ of your basic guitar tone before anything else by using a standard graphic or parametric EQ pedal. It can really go just about anywhere in the PRE effects chain. Many will use an EQ right after the distortion/overdrive effect in order to shape the tone or tighten it up. The PRE EQ can be used as a lead boost too.
4. Compressors/Limiters
This type of effect typically evens out the signal coming in from the guitar. It is usually used to boost sustain, level, and sometimes saturation. Be careful with it because it can make your tone plunky and squished... not good (unless you are aiming for that!).
5. Wah Wah/Auto-Wah
Wah’s are effective in a few different places in your FX chain. Traditionally this effect goes in front of the Overdrive/Distortion effect – however some famous axe-ologists have used it after the distortion stompbox to great effect. You can also stick the Wah in the POST section of the FX chain. The effect is very dramatic that way (everything including the basic preamp tone is mutated through the Wah’s sweep). I personally favor keeping these up in the PRE section.
6. Pitch Shifter/Whammy/Bender
Here we have pretty much the same logic as the Wah. The idea is to affect the basic guitar tone before it is fed into distortion or other devices.
7. Overdrive/Distortion/Booster/Fuzz
Next we have what could probably be called the most used set of effects ever. The overdrive effect is used to push your guitar amp’s tubes (or circuitry) into a thick saturated crunch. The distortion effect is intended to add a more intense, gainy crunch to your signal before going into your amplifier. Sometimes players will use an overdrive effect followed by a distortion effect (two separate pedals) in order to have a versatile set of crunches and a lead boost on demand. Rarely (if ever) will you put a distortion/overdrive pedal in the POST section of the FX chain.
Rule #4: The POST effects go after the preamp via an FX Loop (or post processing after recording)
These effects typically work best if you use them after the main preamp section of your FX chain. Like the PRE effects, some of these can be used effectively up in front of the preamp. As a rule you will have the most success using them after it. In order to use POST effects after your preamp your amplifier will need to have an Effects Loop (FX Loop).

There are a couple of types of FX Loops: Parallel and Series. Parallel FX Loops allow you to dial in the level of the FX Loop signal (0%-100%) that is mixed with your preamp’s signal (the FX Loop is processed along with the original preamp signal as separate signal paths). Series FX Loops are different in that they feed the preamp’s signal into the FX Loop and you cannot control the FX Loop level (it is always at 100% and all effects in the FX Loop are applied sequentially after the preamp in a single signal chain).

If you don’t have the luxury of an FX Loop on your amplifier then you can simply use the POST effects in order after the PRE effects as mentioned above. In this scenario, be sure to run your amplifier on a reasonably clean, neutral setting for best results.

Here is the suggested order for POST preamp effects (after your preamp):
1. POST Equalizer/Tone Modification-Shaper
As with the PRE EQ, you can insert an equalizer or other tone shaping effect (like BBE Sonic Maximizer) right after the preamp. This will give you lots of control over how the body and/or distortion of the tone sounds before it hits any modulation, time, or reverb effects. Some professional players will boost the preamp Mids and then scoop them a bit after the preamp for a very modern-esque distortion tone. This has a different sound than just scooping the Mids on the preamp itself. You can put a POST EQ pretty much anywhere you want in the POST section of the FX chain. This is also a good spot to use the EQ for a solo boost. Use it as needed.
2. POST Noise Gate
As with the PRE noise gate… one in the FX Loop can help control problems that are injected by previous effects and/or the amp itself. Note: High Gain amps can introduce a lot of hiss/hum/noise into your signal. A noise gate will mitigate this problem. A good rule of thumb is to use as little noise gate as possible – but as much as necessary. Too much noise gate will cut your signal off harshly at lower playing volumes. This can sound like a warbly mess.
3. Modulation/Flanger/Phaser/Rotary/Chorus/etc.
The world of modulation effects is vast and deep. You can find 50 flavors of phase, flange, LFOs, and everything else in this category of effect. There are no absolutes as to which effect to place before the other here – except that you keep them together. So you can run a Chorus into a Phaser into a Flanger (not that it would sound very good)… or a Tremolo into a Rotary into a Vibrato effect… again, not that you should – but you could. You will normally have these in some sequence and then only use one (or at the most two) effect(s) at a time in this category. Please go easy on the amount of modulation you use or else you will mud out and disappear in the mix! Of course you can use modulation effects in the PRE section of the FX chain and get some wild effects, but I find them most usable here in the POST section. To fend off mass amounts of flame emails – remember Rule #1 here…
4. Time/Delay/Echo
After all of your modulations are swirlin’, dippin’ and wigglin’ – now is the time for one of my favorite effects… Delays! Effective use of delay really opens up a lead line; or fills out a soft, clean tone; or adds dimension to an arpeggio/legato run. There are all kinds of ways to use time based effects. With a fast speed (usually in milliseconds) you can get rockabilly type slapback echo; slower speeds can get all kinda psychedelic. As with modulation effects, you want to be careful with the levels on your delays/echoes; usually you want them to be about 25% or less of your original signal level – and set the feedback (number of trails) so that the delay trails off smoothly and doesn’t interfere with chord progressions or melody lines. You can certainly push the limits though and go nuts here. Why not?!
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Unread 12-14-2009, 06:51 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

The only real answer is - try it both ways and see which way YOU like better.

I personally never use both at the same time. I only use compression on cleans. But - that's just my preference. There is no "correct" way to do it.
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Unread 12-14-2009, 11:02 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

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Originally Posted by The DUDE View Post
The only real answer is - try it both ways and see which way YOU like better.
I personally never use both at the same time. I only use compression on cleans. But - that's just my preference. There is no "correct" way to do it.
Yep, that's the ticket. Try different setups. I have a dozen or so pedals that I use in my setup. There are so many combinations that it becomes confusing. Therefore, I have a template with all my pedals and amps drawn on a piece of paper. When I get a tone that I like, I use a pencil to mark all the setting on each pedal and each knob on the amp. I keep a pad of these blank templates handy.

Yes, I'm a geek....

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Unread 12-15-2009, 03:53 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

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Originally Posted by The DUDE View Post
The only real answer is - try it both ways and see which way YOU like better.
+1

But given the OP's name, the classic Gilmour super dirty but somehow clean tone is into the compressor, then into the fuzz. First time I tried it I couldn't help but think of late 70s Pink Floyd.

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Unread 12-16-2009, 04:37 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Compressor in front of, or after Fuzz?

I like it before the fuzz, but fuzz is also a tricky pedal! So yeah, you gotta try it both ways...
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