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NPD ~ VFE White Horse optical compressor


Caevan O’Shite

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Short version: new VFE White Horse Optical-Compressor pedal. Very transparent and versatile; works great with my Les Paul! :cool:

 

I just got a final-run/custom-graphic VFE White Horse Optical Compressor pedal, which I dubbed "Bubbles" for the fine little bubbles that look like they were supposed to be part of the custom limited run graphic anyway, but are blemishes that netted me a reduced price on top of the already reduced price, while still coming in the limited edition wooden box and draw-string bag and everything. (I'll post photos soon, I promise- new cell phone w/ camera on the way.) Pretty cool, huh?

 

Now, I already have two Home Brew Electronics compressors, high-quality upgrades based on the old vintage Ross Compressor pedals, that sound FANTASTIC with a Tele or a Strat. (One was a gift, the second one I snagged for $70.) But they don't sound or feel right with my Les Paul. This VFE White Horse does NOT disappoint when squeezing my sunburst!

 

A Blend control allows balancing natural straight-signal and compression as desired, so initial attack can be preserved and dialed-in. All around this is a more transparent compression and sustain, as opposed to the exaggerated squish of Ross, Orange Squeezer, and Dynacomp style compressor-pedals, though a lot of that kind of character can be dialed-in if desired, especially if its internal Pre-Gain trimpot is cranked up. Smooth, clear compression and limiting and sustain is this pedal's forte, and that's what I wanted it for with my Les Paul. :cool: Dialing back the internal Pre-Gain trimpot allows it to respond very cleanly to my guitar's hot humbuckers.

 

The White Horse also has a MOSFET circuit for dialing in dynamic grit and biting overdrive to taste; that's pretty cool and it can be set for just the right amount coming in when one digs in hard.

 

It turns out that the two pedal circuits that VFE's Peter Rutter first did R&D on, which led to his forming VFE and making pedals, were Slow-Gear style envelope/swell and compressor pedals; and he wound up combining them in his own unique circuit in what became the Bumblebee, which I also own and LOVE. He's cultivated an expertise in swell and compressor pedals, and the results in the Bumblebee and White Horse certainly show that.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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:thu:

 

I am ignorant about compressors- feel free to educate me- but it sounds like you got a real honey.

 

In short, a compressor, or compressor/limiter, boosts low-level signal-content while putting a limit on just how loud higher-level signal-content can get, smoothing out dynamics and enhancing sustain- sometimes immensely so. This can make the sound of a guitar really "pop", as well. They can be good for overdriving an amp or other pedals and adding lots of sustain and enhanced harmonic feedback, clean or dirty.

 

Some classic vintage compressor pedals, such as the Ross, Orange Squeezer, and Dyna Comp, tend to have an exaggerated, squishy squeeze, which can be a GOOD thing, especially with Teles and Strats and other guitars with low/mid output pickups, particularly single-coils.

 

My Les Paul and its rather hot humbuckers does NOT fair well with those types, however; humbuckers tend to have an effectively compressed signal to begin with, along with a lot more low-mids and lows. On top of that, their stronger signal and blunter attack muddy up those types of compressor pedals even more.

 

 

I'll throw some videos at ya, as well:

 

 

 

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Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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+1 Have fun with that baby!

 

I did not care for the MXR Dyna Comp but my old MXR Compressor lasted many years and it made a great clean boost pedal for my Strat. I sold it to my buddy that I played with for many years and he's still using it in-line! The Dyna Comp worked well in front of a distortion but could easily cut the signal if you accidently moved the knob with your foot the wrong way. LOL! :cool:

 

 

Take care, Larryz
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Back when it was more or less the only compressor available I used to think the MXR Dynacomp, on full, just made everything sound better. I pulled mine out last year after not using it for maybe 20 years, and dang if it didn't make everything sound horrible. I've been using the Barber Tone Press for the last decade & I guess I've gotten accustomed to having natural attacks, something the MXR absolutely mangles.
Scott Fraser
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Compressors can totally take away your initial pick attack and they will murder your highs. Figuring out how to exactly set a compressor can be tricky. A blend control is great. It allows you to dial up as much squish as you want while using the blend control to bring your inital clean attack and high back in.

 

Dirt pedals are also a FORM of compression. My favorite dirt pedals have clean blends also like the Sparkle Drive, Sparkle Drive Mod and Wampler Hot Wired. I can use the blend on a dirt pedal just to dial in a bit of little sparkle or you can make it sound like you are playing through two amps at the same time.

 

My compressor is a Wampler Ego which is also basically a modified Ross circuit with a blend control. Barber Tone press is good, so is the Suhr Koji..... basically any comrpessor with a blend is good. About the only compressor I have found without a blend control I would still consider would be a Diamond.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Nice choice from the demo's. I hope you get years of tonal bliss outta that thing.

 

I never use compressors in my pedal board. I do use several hardware compressors in my recording signal chain.

 

They do have their uses, and I would love something to mitigate the highs in the pick attack, more like a peak attack envelope in a synthesizer without the rest of the effects of the compressor.

 

Still I use the lack of compressors to practice a very light touch on the pick and fretting hand to mitigate the pick attack peaks.

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Thanks for the education! :thu:

 

Hmph! Clearly a tool for subtle tone crafting, they are.

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I use to use compressors more as an effect . The old Soul Preacher would do an interesting volume swell if you played it just right. You could almost sound backwards. After i could afford and new how to select good guitars and amps ive never needed compressors for sustain except back in the early 90s and an ill advised stint with rack preamps and such. Im not going for endless violin sustain anymore. I like a natural decay to notes. It makes lead phrasing more conversational. The secret to sustain is clean headroom imo. However post production mixing is different. I like to glue mixes together with all kinds of compression and frequently go a little too far.

FunMachine.

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I hate to always be the dork on these posts, but I have to assume one or two people might have some interest in this kinds of stuff. I'm going to assume from the previous posts that most people get the idea of what a compressor DOES. So why specifically "optical" compressor?

 

Even though they differentiate non-optical compressors, with the exception of digital, all analog compressors are essentially a VCA (voltage controlled amplifier). Think of it this way - you have a preamp with a gain knob. Instead of turning the knob, a voltage determines the knob position. Well guess what, playing louder is higher voltage. On typical VCA compressors you can set a trigger and release threshold - meaning the "knob" doesn't change until you exceed an input, then you change the knob until you drop below a level, then change the knob back. You can also adjust timing - thus the familiar parameters of "threshold", "Compression Ratio", "attack", "release". Those are very static in that you're compressing or not and have a linear fixed compression slope usually.

 

So what's an Optical Compressor? It refers to the technology to control the compression amount - an optoisolator. Look up the CLM6000 on google - very popular. It's basically an LED glued to a Photoresistor. A photo resistor changes its resistance based on amount of light, and obviously an LED produces more light at higher voltages. A pot with a knob is a variable resistor - turn the knob, change the resistance. Very easy to substitute an optoisolator to make a voltage controlled resistor. EXCEPT, between the response of the LED to voltage and the response of the photoresistor to light, this special unit has a very non-linear response. Low signal levels act pretty linearly and as you increase the effect is more and more dramatic. It's a much smoother, non-linear, musical, natural response that is easier to make work than trying to figure out the best parameters.

 

Kind of like the difference between the harder clipping of transistors vs the softer clipping of tubes.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I hate to always be the dork on these posts

 

Not at all!

 

...but I have to assume one or two people might have some interest in this kinds of stuff.

 

We do! Excellent post.

 

Caevan where do you set the controls on that for the Les Paul? Also, do you have that at the front of your pedal board?

 

I do run it early in the signal-chain, though some fuzz-types will typically go before it.

 

Its controls are very interactive, and its internal Pre-Gain trim-pot has a LOT of impact on the overall compression character and transparency. I have not quite settled yet, but I tend to set its Blend and Speed anywhere from 9:00 to 1:00 O'Clock, Drive all the way off, Bass all the way up, Sustain very high, and Level accordingly to be just a smidgen above the normal/bypassed volume-level. I have been playing around with the internal Pre-Gain setting, and will likely wind up settling on having it a tad below the stock setting, for rather transparent enhanced sustain with little 'squish'. Bear in mind that the stock humbuckers in my Les Paul are pretty hot, much more so than typical vintage-flavored P.A.F.'s usually are.

 

I am much more likely to be using this compressor pedal primarily with clean tones, but occasionally also with overdrive and distortion. I wanted it mainly for super clean, extra long sustaining Jazzy/Poppy kinda tones where, if my technique isn't too sloppy, I can hold a bass-note beneath chords, or even-out fingerstyle chord-melody/voice-leading type parts and the like with motion in the middle of chord-voicings, legato licks, etc..

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Oh, no! It started yielding very unwanted blatting, farty, crackly distortion to all but the gentlest playing! I've e-mailed Mr. Rutter about it...

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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+1 Best of luck to you Caevan, I hope you can get her working soon and/or Mr. Rutter sends you a replacement... :cool:

 

Thanks! Though I think that it's most likely that he'll check it out and fix it, instead of replacing it- it's among the very last final ones to be made, his "Standard" line being completely phased out now, and it was a reduced-price (on top of an already reduced-price) "blem", due to some fine bubbles in the cool limnited-edition custom graphic gracing the top, hence my dubbing it "Bubbles". I'd be completely satisfied to just have it fixed, I don't need it replaced. I'm sure that he'll take care of me.

 

This is my fourth VFE "Standard" pedal, and the second custom/ltd. graphic final-run edition of those four. He's a great guy and I love his work! My Fiery Red Horse "Saturated Fuzz" (upgraded/modded Big Muff Pi stylee), Enterprise Phaser, Bumble Bee "swell" w/ optical-compressor, and White Horse 7-control optical-compressor are all fantastic, low-noise, and extremely versatile pedals.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Glad that seems like it's going to work out for you, Caevan. I know how excited you were about ordering that pedal. All the best, brother.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

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Glad that seems like it's going to work out for you, Caevan. I know how excited you were about ordering that pedal. All the best, brother.

 

Thanks! I'll keep everyone posted with updates...

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Li'l update: Communicated with Mr. Rutter, who suspects a failed, socketed Op-Amp; he's sending me a new one to pop into "Bubbles". I'll keep ya posted.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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