Seymour Duncan’s Studio Bass Compressor is a sterling example of what to offer in a pedal: ease of use—functional and ergonomical—and some features the users didn’t know they wanted ‘til they had them underfoot. The Studio Bass Compressor offers the typical Level, Compression and Attack controls, but it adds a Blend knob, which is further refined by a three-way toggle that informs how the Blend controls works. The pedal itself is modestly sized, with the added benefit of top-mounted jacks. So, we’re off to a good start already, and I haven’t event mentioned how well the pedal works.
Most studio compressors offer controls for attack and release, which determine how quickly and for how long the signal is compressed, while the compression ratio determines to what extent the signal is compressed. In my studio, I usually reserve compression for kick, vocals and bass. The first two tend to be fairly dynamic, and either need taming or—in the case of the kick—might need some help in order to get the groove of a track where you want it. Bass is a different story; I tend to use compression to help ensure all the notes over the bass’s fairly dramatic range are equally audible—compensating for speaker or microphone inefficiencies in the low end--but sometimes I need it to help even out a player’s performance.
In the case of vocals and drums, the fine control over transients that studio compressor’s provide is pretty important, but when I’m using compression to gently corral the bass player’s entire signal, I don’t necessarily need as much control, because I’m not worrying about extreme dynamics or a groove with sharp transients, I’m just gently bringing all the notes closer to a uniform volume. Clearly Seymour Duncan understands this, which is why you won’t have to sweat dialing in the Studio Bass Compressor’s attack and release times. In practice, I just used the Attack control to determine how much of the transient attack of the bass came through—essentially controlling amount of snap in the note-- which meant I could either dial in a fairly transparent tone, or I could do some tone shaping. Is a Rickenbacker 4001’s top end taking your head off? Roll back the Studio Bass Compressor’s Attack control and dial in the Compression to taste to get a more balanced bass tone.
For additional tone shaping, the Studio Bass Compressor’s Blend function allows you to dial back in the original signal, which helps fine tune the effect, but the three-way toggle goes a step further and allows you to select what you dial back in. So if, for example, the Attack and Compression are where they need to be but the low-end is now under-represented, you can select the Low setting (bottom position) and roll the Blend knob clockwise to bring back in the right amount of bottom while leaving the top end properly tamed. This approach worked wonderfully with the bridge pick up on a G&L SB-2 (think a very hi-fi Fender Jazz Bass); I clamped down on the bright attack then rolled back in more body than I’d typically find without the pedal inline.
At no time did I find the Attack setting too slow. Similarly, I found it difficult to (audibly) overdo it on the Compression. The forgiving parameters on these settings mean you can fix the signal at the source (in this case, the performance itself) quickly and easily, so the Studio Bass Compressor seems like a godsend to those who track bass in their studios and, like me, often find they need some compression or, worse, that the players they’re tracking need some help.
I didn’t find the Mids settings on the toggle to be very helpful, but I liked it for fattening up bridge pickups… of six-string guitars. The Low setting could be used to similar effect. So, yeah, I’d totally recommend this for guitars, too.
What we like: Fantastic functionality, versatility, user friendliness and clean sound
Concerns: Um, the font is pretty bland? The name is a mouthful? None?