For those unfamiliar with the useful nature of compressors, here’s a brief primer. Essentially, adding one to your board will even out the dynamics of your sound and through evening out the highs and lows of your guitar signal, you’ll be able to produce a rounder, more expansive version of your tone.
The NeoComp is based on the legendary Blackmer VCA, a circuit used across a wide range of recordings throughout the early 1970’s. Think of that glossy studio guitar tone and you’ll be on the right track. With four controls of gain, compression, attack and release, the stripped back design takes the guess work out of setting up a great compressed tone right out of the box.
In saying that, adjusting the gain control correctly in tandem with the comp control is tantamount to finding the sweet spot on the NeoComp. That’ll need to be tweaked on a case-by-case basis, depending on what guitar you’re playing. For example, you’ll want to dial the gain and comp back a little with a more high-output humbucking guitar – unless you’re going for a particularly squashed sound. However, rules are meant to be broken. Cranking up both the gain and compression controls while running through some dirt will result in sustain for days, perfect for nailing those smooth, singing legato lines in the vein of Santana, Gary Moore or Gregg Allman.
On the more subtle side of things, keeping the comp and gain tones around noon or below while adjusting the attack and release controls to taste works wonders for finger-picking on an electric. Similarly, the NeoComp works wonders with acoustic guitars in either a live or studio setting, offering more prominence to quieter phrases that might get lost in a mix or a noisy room.
Naturally, the other reason you’ll want to get the compressed tones of classic funk, R&B and country recordings. Bring the compression control between three and five o’clock, dial in a hard attack and release and you’ll be good to go. This shines for the type of percussive, single-note rhythmic lines that are a hallmark of anything Quincy Jones has touched. Similarly, these same settings will do fine for that bouncy, chicken pickin’ style of guitar – a match made in heaven with some twang and a telecaster.
For a studio-grade compressor in a convenient and sturdy housing that’ll perform well as a polishing tool and as a creative tool – the NeoComp is well worth a look into.