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In electronic music, a "pumping" effect is often produced to accentuate the sound of the kick drum. To do this, usually a synthesizer's volume will be compressed when the kick drum is triggered. Basically, an increasing kick volume causes a synth's volume to decrease correspondingly.

Now, the question: Does anyone know of a way to reproduce this effect in a small band setting (electric guitars/bass guitar/drums)? The idea would be that, when the kick drum attacks, a specific guitar's volume decreases, for instance. Ideally this would work without having to route anything through a laptop.

  • Both of the answers from Tekkerue and cyco130 look correct - accepted Tekk's since they answered first. – Daniel Neel Jan 2 '16 at 8:59
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Any compressor unit that has a sidechain input should work fine for this.

Essentially, the kick drum mic is routed to the side chain input of the guitar's compressor. If you are using a mixer you should be able to do this while also routing your kick to the main PA speakers as well (either via an aux send or a direct line output). The kick drum would then cause the compressor to engage on the guitar causing the guitar to decrease in volume when the kick drum is played.

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It is sometimes done with kick and bass guitar in rock mixes and it's called "ducking the bass". Basically you need a compressor with a side chain input and you set it so that the bass volume decreases when there is a kick hit.

This Sound on Sound article has some information on the technique (under the "Ducking the Bass" heading).

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