Jump to content

Entry for April 2020's Guitar Of The Month is open - ENTER HERE!

Galaga_Mike

How To Make A Guitar Sustainer System, Tutorial

Recommended Posts

Fabulous, I can't wait to try it! And thanks for the links to this tutorial and the sound clips.

Do you have a link to whatever preamp circuit you're currently recommending? I think I saw you mention that the Felzer/Ruby preamp wasn't effective for the harmonic mode, what's working best? Or is it jsut any old preamp?

thanks,

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

welcome x189player

No the fetzer/ruby seems to work out ok. I use a more elaborate preamp but anything should work (tillman, etc). The problem with the harmonics are more a factor of the driver. Mikes Tutorial was written some time ago and his driver does not follow my concept/receipe of a "thin driver" in all aspects. His magnet choice and in particular his use of a different guage wire to me (i recommend 0.2-0.22 wire) is most likely at fault here. Also the wide core/blade of some kind of Stainless Steel is an "unusual" choice especially as Stainless Steel (if that is what it is) is non-magnetic!!

Join us over at the main thread and I'll review any aspects as needed. You'll also find a range of other peoples attempts to study as well.

I've been reviewing the fetzer/ruby option for a while now and may have a different circuit option later in the year. Sounds like a few people will be giving this a go so that's great and we can all learn more with this fabulous device...welcome aboard...pete

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see that this tread is still regularly visited B) . You will find that the main Sustainer Ideas thread in the electronics forum is still going strong and people should feel free to contribute or to ask questions there...

There will hopefully be further developments in this project. One thing of interest is that I do not use the Fetzer/Ruby circuit in my guitar. My preamp has far more gain, though I am assured this circuit will work too. I am currently looking into making my circuit more easily available or improved...but that is still in the works yet!

I am still convinced though that the secret to this project is in the driver design. There have been a few variations but the main characteristic of a thin driver is still the technology that's being promoted for this project.

Anyway...if you are reading this...welcome...and feel free to contact me and especially to join in in developing the DIY Sustainer even further...

:Dpete :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hi, i searched radio shack for the 30awg wire and it seems to be insulated, should it be insulated, i can't really tell from the pictures (i wouldn't say so) and search hasn't been helpfull.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi cr_XD

This is the reference section...the main thread is over in the electronics section (there is a link in posts above but it has grown even further since then!)

Anyway...I used 0.2mm wire and yes it should be insulated. Often it is refered to as Magnet Wire, or choke wire...it is used for winding coils, often in speaker crossovers and inductors and is commonly available, at least down here (in :D:D ).

If it wasn't insulated it would short out! The insulation is a thin clear enamel coating, you don't really see it but it will need to be lightly sanded to conduct for testing the coil and for soldering. The driver coil has to be potted too (to stop it vibrating), preferably as you wind it. I used white woodworking glue, but for more details I suggest joining the main thread for further ideas...or add comments and see if you get some helpful suggestions.

My "Sustainer" guitar is still working fine. It has a driver coil built on top of a single coil pickup and this driver is only 3mm (1/8") thick. The thin driver idea is important, don't make the mistake of thinking of the thing as a pickup itself which is more like 10mm thick and wound with very fine wires...this thing should be thin and wound with much thicker wire.

Anyway...welcome to the sustainer project... "Mr. Sustainer" pete

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am currently reading the 84 page thread, but i feel fairly lost, and would really appreciate it if someone were to fill me in on a few things. First, the thing does not physically vibrate, it just sends electromagnetic waves to be picked up? Are these picked up by the strings or pickups? Also, which poles of the magnet get attached to the bottom of the sustainer.

I'm sorry if i sound stupid or ignorant, I'm just try to be educated on the basics of this marvel so that I can experiment with it, and hopefully discover something usefull.

Thanks

-Ryan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am currently reading the 84 page thread, but i feel fairly lost, and would really appreciate it if someone were to fill me in on a few things. First, the thing does not physically vibrate, it just sends electromagnetic waves to be picked up? Are these picked up by the strings or pickups? Also, which poles of the magnet get attached to the bottom of the sustainer.

I'm no expert, but I can tell you that it doesnt vibrate.

A pickup works by converting the movement of the strings into an electric current- the sustainer does the opposite basically, it uses a changing magnetic field to vibrate the strings

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/...ctionrev2.shtml

On that page there’s a diagram illustrating that when you move a magnet through a coil of wire it creates a current in the wire. Move it one way, its a +ve current, move it the other and its -ve.

Although the arrangement is a little different that’s how a guitar pickup works.

The pickup consists of a coil of wire with a magnet in the middle, and the string disturbs the magnetic field- and the change in magnetic field in the coil creates a current in the coil.

Because of the fact that if you move the string one way, its a +ve current, and if you move it the other and its -ve, the frequency of change in current is the same as the frequency of the vibration string.

The frequency of the vibration is what gives the vibrating string its pitch, so the frequency of the oscillation of the current is also dictated by the pitch of the plucked string. That electric signal then goes to the amp which then makes it louder and converts it back into sound.

Anyway..

Back on track;

The sustainer works in reverse, it takes an electric signal and converts it into motion of the strings. So if you take the signal from the bridge pickup, amplify it, and then feed it into the sustainer (which is the same as a pickup- a coil and a magnet*), it should make the strings move at the same frequency as its input signal = infinite sustain.

*sort of… read the sustainer thread, the basic theory is the same, but in reality a pickup doesn’t work well as a sustainer as the wire used is too thin and the shape isn’t ideal.

Hope that makes sense!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A pickup works by converting the movement of the strings into an electric current- the sustainer does the opposite basically, it uses a changing magnetic field to vibrate the strings

Well said Ben...exactly.

You can think of the "driver" like the coil and magnet in a speaker, and the strings react like a speaker cone, moving with the frequencies that it hears. It creates a physical feedback loop because the pickup will sense this vibration and feed the driver more.

An interesting phenomenon also occurs when you reverse the wires...the "driven" strings sound as harmonics! What happens is the driver tries to stop the fundumental frequency but vibrates the note at its higher harmonics, usually an octave above, but sometimes an octave and a fifth or two octaves.

There are a couple of places where you can look into the sustainer on this site. There is that massive thread....but really, don't try and read it all, most of it is esoteric development stuff about all things sustain...just the last few pages will do. There is this thread which gives some examples and this one, where I have posted various clips so you can hear what the thing sounds like....

Sustainer Sounds Thread

A little rough but you will get some idea...beckistan is perhaps my favorite there. Those really high notes in the middle section are all fretted below the 12th fret on the g string. An example of the harmonics thing I was talking about...here's a direct link to that clip...Beckistan

It is the same principles as used in the ebow, sustainiac and fernandes systems. My DIY proposal is simpler and features a unique driver design. It will however work really well. The driver's main unique feature is that it is very thin. Mine is 3mm and sits on top of a single coil neck pickup on a strat.

Oh...but while on my guitar I can use the other pickups as normal....while using any sustainer, only the bridge pickup can be used in sustain mode.

It is a really fun device to play around with with many techniques to explore, not just the obvious infinite sustain. You can imagine it as playing through a really loud amp, but the feedback is predictable and controlled and available at any volume...you don't even need to plug in.

Forum member Myka, from Myka guitars is about to attempt one for a synth/piezo equiped guitar so that is something to look forward to...an infinite acoustic!

But...you should really add to the main thread, otherwise we will end up with to monster threads...or your questions my be missed...see you over there, and thanks again ben... pete :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright, thanks guys. I have basic knowledge of electromagnetic theory; I just had a few conceptions. I listened to those clips, and I definately plan on putting one of these into my next guitar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, thought I'd post a link (click on the little pink arrow at the top of the quote below) to a new thread in this section...a pictorial on how I made my pickup/driver. The steps are idetical for making separate drivers too, and should make it a lot clearer for those attempting this project.

As the main thread is now 91 pages long and has well over a thousand posts and approaching 50,000 visits, this kind of stuff, which is in the main thread, can be lost...so now I have given it a home.

The end result...not bad...

pup-driver1a.jpg

the blue part is the driver...thin isn't it...that's the secret!!!...do'h, I just told you!!!

pup-driver1b.jpg

here it is in the guitar...works a charm...

StratTop.jpg

As always though, it is best to join in on the end of the main thread (don't bother reading it all or anything) if you have questions...sustain on... pete :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the info I have found. I'm just learning how to read a schematic ( I started today) but some help would be greatly appreciated! What would be really helpful is some detailed pics of this thing so I can compare the schematic to the pic and the pic to my own work.

Amplifier:

The guys over at runoffgroove.com have a circuit for a small 386-based amplifier called the Ruby which is very well suited to our needs here. I built this and found that it worked great with hot pickups but did not have enough gain for lower-output pickups. Fortunately, they also have a preamp design called the Fetzer valve which is enough of a preamp to get sustain with about any pickup I've tried. The schematic is given below, and more info and troubleshooting tips can be found in the forum at runoffgroove. Thanks to runoffgroove for allowing the use of this circuit in this tutorial. The only difference here is that our "speaker" will be our driver, which is discussed next.

fetzer-ruby.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hello! i found this forum searching for sustainers on google, this is very good as the main thread, i registered here just to participate , im starting to build my first sustainer, i have all parts i thing tomorrow i have some results , but i ask something, i saw some of the forum pages but didn´t found any information about dthe mix mode, as anybody tried it yet? i mean we have normal and harmonic what about mix?

thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hi guitartreck...join us over at the main thread...page 92 sustainer thread link

Anyway..."mix"

Yes, well I have read that it isn't really a mix...I mean two tones? I think the idea is similar to the effect I get on my guitar which is on the lower strings and lower tones, in normal mode it gradually morphs from the fundumental tone to the octave above. Higher notes continue to sound at their normal pitch. Very cool sound.

Now, this is a result of the output capacitor that I use I beleive that is 100uF meaning it has a higher frequency bias. From information from Sustainiacs instalation literature as I recall, they switch in a cap for the mix position and I think that is what they are doing there.

There is a limit to the amount of controls you want and the true effect you will achieve. For instance, the sensitivity control is scraped on fernandes' system and even though I have one, I don't use it and wouldn't suggest it. Similarly, this mix control, the wiring can be difficult enough...better to build it to the characteristics of your guitar and pickups.

A lot of the control in a sustainer really is in the hands and touch. You can do swells into the notes by picking softly, or just tapping to swell up from nothing. You can use a tremolo arm to manipulate tones. It allows you to mess with tones with extreme signal processing...chopping the long notes with tremolo, jet flanging and the like. A light touch will provide more rewards.

The harmonic mode is kind of different to the mix idea. This works by reversing the signal and killing the fundumental and driving the higher harmonics. The note that comes out may be an ocatve or a fifth or some other natural harmonic above the note played. This can be a little confusing and you need to get used to the idea that the notes don't necessarily rise sequentially with the fretted notes. It is extremely cool though as you can play notes far higher than you can normally play and every note comes out as a harmonic. Being natural harmonics they tend to blend with the fundumental notes so they will blend with a normally tracked guitar well which is also neat. The other neat thing is that with chords, the notes will sound as normal, but the sustained lower tone will sound well above the rest of the tones.

Anyway, thanks for the question...I guess there would be all kinds of things you could do to the drive signal but there is probably enough in it's basic form. As I found I needed to use a 4PDT switch to turn the thing on (and I still get a click on turn off...grrr) adding yet another switch to exchange output caps or some kind of fancy three way would probably be a little much.

Welcome to PG and to sustainer land... pete

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Come over to the main thread in the electronics section and we can discuss it some. (there is a link above) Congratulations on getting a good result first go though...a little tweaking should fix it! pete

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright, I've finally gotten the bugs worked out and I'm ready to show off my handiwork here. Here comes some pictures and some explainations.

circuit.jpg

This first picture shows the driver's amplifier. I wish I could say that this was my personal handiwork, but that credit goes to my stepdad, who provided a TON of assistance with this project. You can see that I chose to house the circuit in the pickup switch cavity. It was a big of a bear trying to keep the circuit size small enough, but with a little dremeling it turned out great. I tried to get a close up of the circuit, but my camera couldn't get in that close.

circuitinstalled.jpg

This just shows the circuit wrapped in electrical tape to insulate it from the switch and the conductive paint on the inside of the cavity.

driver.jpg

This picture shows the labotomized neck pickup that I used as my driver. The driver was wound around the grey bobbin, while the other coil I left untouched. At the moment, the coil is not hooked up to the output, because the volume is too low to be of use when compared to the bridge pickup. I used small pieces of wood to shim the coil so that it ended up somewhere between 4-5mm thick.

controls.jpg

This picture shows my controls. Starting with the switch on the left and going clockwise, the controls are on/off switch for the sustainer, sustainer volume, pickup volume, and tone. Mounted on the pickguard are the indicator LED and a DPDT slide switch for switching between fundamental ad harmonic mode.

front2.jpg

Here is the front of my guitar. In my opinion, this mod is rather descrete and doesn't seem to detract too much from the overall look of the guitar.

Thats all for now. My next project may include tinkering with different poweramp sections. I would like to thank EVERYONE who has participated in this discussion, with much thanks going to pete for all his research and advice that has gone into this project.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately I have no means of recording here at my house. It does work though... I promise! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I would like to thank EVERYONE who has participated in this discussion, with much thanks going to pete for all his research and advice that has gone into this project.

That really does mean a lot to me and I hope it serves of some encouragement for those who wish to follow in the footsteps of sustain. Hope you enjoy playing it and thanks Primal for all the support you have given to others in recent times... pete

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Unfortunately I have no means of recording here at my house. It does work though... I promise!

Grab some shareware audio software and plug 'er into your computer. I'm dying to hear this thing! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Software isn't the problem, its finding space in my room near my computer for an amp. There is absolutely no room, haha. I've got my room PACKED, with 2 fish tanks, a TV, bed, computer, book case, gun cabinet, and a dresser.

I'm hoping to get some original stuff recorded sometime in the near future. I'll try to incorporate some of the sustainer in them. Most of the stuff I write is heavily distorted sort of stuff, so if you are wanting to hear nice clean sounds, sorry. Because I really only play distorted stuff, I haven't set my guitar's action for optimum height for the sustainer to not vibrate the strings against the fret.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...