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Distorted guitars are already naturally compressed, but a little extra compression can often make a lead guitar stand off from a track. In this segment, I'm going to illustrate the best way to compress a distorted solo guitar. First of all, listen to the track with the guitar just the way it is, without any compression. (music playing) It sounds pretty good already and as a result of the distortion on the amplifier, it already has a lot of natural compression.
The more distorted it is, the more compressed it will be, and obviously this isn't a metal guitar or even a hard rock guitar, and nonetheless you can still hear the edge on it. Let's listen to it, solo it up, just so you can hear. (music playing) So this won't need a lot, but just a little bit is all we need to take it to another level.
Once again we'll use just the generic Pro Tools Compressor/Limiter plug-in. There may be something that sounds a lot better out there that you might have, but this will give you the idea of how to set it up. So just as we did before, the attack is a real important part. We're going to set it up so we don't cut off the transient of the guitar. Let's solo everything up again and have a listen. (music playing) You can hear the compression there at the end.
(music playing) Obviously there is too much there, because what's happing is there is absolutely no transient at all. (music playing) The tone of the guitar is still pretty much there, but the attack is gone. The aggression is gone. So we'll move it back again, take the attack as long as we can, and we'll gradually move it down until that transient just starts to go away. (music playing) With the release, a little bit shorter is better.
We want this to breathe with the track. But now since it's not playing rhythm or anything with the track, I just wanted to sound natural. If it's too long, like this, it won't sound natural at all (music playing) And if we have it really short-- (music playing) Actually that's pretty good right about there.
(music playing) Let's listen with it bypassed. (music playing) Once again we'll even out between the bypassed sound without any compression and with the compression. (music playing) Let's listen in track.
(music playing) One more time. (music playing) We didn't add very much compression, but yet it stood out in the track.
We didn't add more level than we had before, but yet you can feel it coming forward a little bit in the track. If we wanted to add more level, we can do without even moving fader. We can do it with this gain control here. Let's have a listen. (music playing) So that's how we compress a distorted electric guitar. Start with the attack and release, set it so it breathes with the track, and adjust threshold and ratio controls for the right amount of compression. The more peaks the guitar has, the higher the ratio will need to be.
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