Ask the Freaks – A Question on Compression (the Lion Tamer)

Occasionally we get questions from musicians to the site. Here’s one from “Tim”:


“…I was talking with (someone) today and he suggested I check out your stomp boxes, in particular your compression pedal. I am in need of a compressor and also looking for a Reverb/Effects Processor solution. I play guitar both acoustic and electric and have a home studio but will be playing out in the world on a infrequent basis. My question to you is what would you think the pros and cons of either solution… Racked vs stomp box besides the obvious such as ease of transport etc. Really up in the air on what way I should take, or hell maybe get them all right? LOL

Amy advise would really be appreciated. OH and I love the look of your stop boxes and your Brand kick ass !!”

Freak Answer:

Hi Tim-

Thx for the nice words & compliments…

Well, there’s lots of different ways you could go with this scenario (including the “I’ll take one of each” mindset), but when it comes right down to it, trust your own ears. If you like what a particular stomp box or rack mount piece of gear does for your sound, then run with it. That being said, there’s something about a “conventional” set up that definitely makes life easier, be it gigging or in the studio.

If you’re the type of person who isn’t afraid to dive into LCD menus on a rackmount piece in order to tweak your presets into submission, then using rackmounted gear in a live situation will allow you to cover a lot of ground sonically. However, depending on what you’re using, trying to marry “line level” pieces (unity gain to +4db) to instrument level gear (usually -20db) can sometimes be a challenge.

I’ve done this a multiple number of ways, but as I’ve gotten older (i.e., lazier), I find having a dedicated live rig & a separate studio setup to be the most ideal. I’ve got an old Yamaha analog rackmount delay that I love the sound of, and as many times as I’ve tried to incorporate it into my rig, it was always too cumbersome. So after much experimentation, I was able to find a happy compromise with a conventional stomp box (a EH Deluxe Memory Man). Keeping the rigs separate means I don’t have to rewire anything, saving me the time I need to be creative, and not get mired down in another “tech type” job.

At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself:

1. Can I live without the sound of this rackmount piece in my pedalboard setup, or do I want I want to try & shoehorn this piece into my live rig?

2. If my huge rig (let’s say, a combination of of a traditional pedalboard rig & some rackmount gear) takes a dump on me in a live situation, how easy is it to troubleshoot?

3. How many trips do I *really* want to make in & out of a venue to haul all my gear? And do I really want to have to get to a gig earlier than usual to patch all this stuff together?

Nothing against rackmount gear vs traditional- I’ve done either, and both, many times over the years. And while I’m currently using a rather sizable array of stompboxes in my current rig, it’s still easier to troubleshoot if need be than it would if I were also using outboard gear in the mix.

Hope this helps, and isn’t too much of a “ramble”. Thx for the question, Tim…

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