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Sustainer Ideas

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Hi Pete,

I just received the circuit and sustainer coils from Juán, and although I won't be able to get started on trying it all out before next week (the suspense is killing me!) I am sure it is better not to rush it. Anyway, I just had an idea regarding the different harmonic modes: has anyone tried using a blend pot to change between the harmonic modes, rather than just switching between them? As a guitarist, I think this would be perhaps more useful...for example my RMC piezzo/midi bridge uses a blend pot to enable mixing the piezzo with the magnetic p/ups, and provided that they are correctly balanced volume wise, it is an excellent way of creating a hybrid sound.

I must say that Juán's coils - he sent me a variety of slightly different designs - seem to be quite a bit thinner than 2mm, there is one in particular that would hardly take any space at all and I can see it happily fitting between the cover and coil top of a single coil p/up, or if not, then certainly with just the very top cut off. Shame I decided to go for the Fender noiseless p/ups in the Strat, as now I don't suppose I will be able to use the sustainer driver with that setup, as the secondary coil of the silent pickup will probably interfere with the magnetic field. But then again, I suppose I could just fit two and put the middle position one in my Ibanez, and take the Ibanez middle pickup and put it in the neck position of the Strat? In which case I can fit the original white cover and chop it out for the sustain driver and voilà!

But as I am going to first use the Ibanez as my project guitar, and that has a HSH configuration, I am going to mount either one or two thin driver coils over the humbucker coils. Juán has come up with a totally encapsulated design that just sits right on top of the actual pole-pieces or screws of the pickup. There are 3 slightly distinct designs based on this principle, and I am going to opt for these as being the best candidates for the project. The others have very narrow apertures between the coil windings and I do not see them fitting flush over the pole pieces. They would need to have been a little wider. But the point is that these encapsulated coils are so small that being all black, they would hardly be visible - the only slight disadvantage being that the pole pieces or screws would no longer be visible either. But they are completely flat for a flush fit over the bobbin.

I do not want to mount the system inside my Ibanez, because the body is just too thin, and standard it only has one volume and tone control (one of which I have converted into a p/p pot to enable adding the bridge p/up to any other p/up, very useful invisible mod, btw), and I do not want to add any switches. So I am going to make a small project box to house the circuits, controls and battery, then just run a thin cable along one side of the guitar to the coils. One real hurdle to overcome is that I cannot fit heavier than 0.010 guage strings on either of my guitars. Ibanez say that the S series necks will not stand up to the additional stress of higher tension strings than that, otherwise one risks damaging the very slim profiled neck. Unfortunately I had a big reprofiling job done on my Strat, so that is even thinner than the S neck of the Ibanez. But then again, you never know, Juán's circuit might just be powerful enough anyway, I seem to remember him saying that he has always used 009's (like most of us in this day and age, unlike when guys like Jeff Beck started out, and you were hard pressed to find anything finer than a 013 guage 1st string! - well subsequent generations have been well and truly spoiled, and I am certainly not happy with anything heavier, unless it is 012s or 013s on a flat wound jazz guitar, but then the action would also be very low, so it is not so much of a problem).

I will keep you posted on my progress...

Speak soon,

David

Edited by Truth_David

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...I just had an idea regarding the different harmonic modes: has anyone tried using a blend pot to change between the harmonic modes, rather than just switching between them? As a guitarist, I think this would be perhaps more useful...for example my RMC piezzo/midi bridge uses a blend pot so enable mixing the piezzo with the magnetic p/ups, and provided that they are correctly balanced volume wise, it is an excellent way of creating a hybrid sound.

The different harmonic modes work by a combination of filtering and phase alteration...

A blend pot similar to those for mixing pickups would not work as you expect. It would be possible to set up a knob that can give some sort of variable control over one or more of the harmonic modes, however my experience is that you find a setting that works better than the rest and stick with it, so theres no need for a knob.

An example of why a blend wont work is modes 2 and 3.... 2 is a high pass filter that doesn't let the first octave or 2 of the guitars range through, so you get harmonics for the first 5 or so frets of the neck.... mode 3 uses all pass filtering so that the low strings ring true, but the higher notes... about 5-7th fret upwards start getting high harmonics... if you tried to blend these two modes together, they would fight each other and you would get a big old mess.... of course there are also technical reasons why it would be tricky (wouldn't you just know it :D) - I designed the harmonic mode circuitry so that the different filters for the different modes could all share the same op-amp... if you wanted to have more than one mode on at the same time, you would need to add more op-amps into the circuit == more $$ more work more to go wrong and a bigger circuit. (I'm not sure which revision of the harmonic modes Juán used on his circuit... or if he designed his own variant, so your setup may be different)

I did try using a knob to vary the point at which the harmonics kick in (or drop out depending on the mode), but I found that this really wasn't worth it - because of the way the circuit works, one control doesn't give you enough variation to be worth while, and you'd need a knob per mode, so instead I tweaked the resistors until I had it setup to give the best response (a good range of different harmonic responses for different modes accross and up the neck)... I don't think the most up-to-date revision ever made it online, so if anyone wants it for implementation, please ask...

Does the circuit Juán sent you have normal 'pin through hole' resistors or tiny surface mount ones?

If they are pin-through-hole and you don't like the response of the modes, you can have a go a tweaking things by changing resistors (assuming you're happy with a soldering iron in your hand)

...One real hurdle to overcome is that I cannot fit heavier than 0.010 guage strings on either of my guitars. Ibanez say that the S series necks will not stand up to the additional stress of higher tension strings than that, otherwise one risks damaging the very slim profiled neck.

Don't worry, 10s will be fine. I think with 9s and lower you may start getting into difficult territory. You have the added benefit of Ibanez axes tending to have low actions, so you shouldn't have too much trouble with the string to driver gap being too big when playing at the low frets.

Remember, before you start thinking about installing anything, setup the circuit and driver(s) and test them by holding the driver above the strings - you can try out the different drivers and get a rough idea of how the whole thing works.

Good luck

Col

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but the speaker is replaced by the driver ?

yes

then just and op amp power booster ?

no, for the basic setup, you just need the fetzer ruby, the driver and a battery (oh, and you'll need a guitar :D)

then a phaze reversal switch ?

for basic 'extreme' harmonic mode, you use a DPDT switch to swap the connections of the driver.

crude diagram :

harmonicswitch.jpg

Why do you want to attach leds ?

My thought are that if you need to look at your guitar to know if you're in harmonic or not, then the setting is not working or isn't worth having.... also, if you want to set it to be 'ready' before playing, 'know your instrument' - just use a toggle switch and remember which way is normal and which way is harmonic...

There is a very good reason for not having leds - the sustainer sucks battery juice like no other device so any unnecessary extras that also suck juice should be avoided.

Good Luck

Col

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i dunno

to look pretty

ok , but would that be wired up right ?

and whats the power amp ? just an op amp circuit before the driver and switch ?

something like this :

fetzer-poweramp-driver.jpg

(might to view full size to see clearly)

Edited by METALSUSTAIN

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i dunno

to look pretty

ok , but would that be wired up right ?

I dunno about your LED wiring - I would leave LEDs out at least until the basic circuit is built and working.

and whats the power amp ? just an op amp circuit before the driver and switch ?

No, as I said: "for the basic setup, you just need the fetzer ruby, the driver and a battery"

The Fetzer is a preamp circuit, the Ruby is a poweramp circuit - some time ago someone on this thread spliced the two together to create the 'Fetzer/Ruby' - it has two sections, a preamp based around a FET transistor and a poweramp based on the venerable LM386. You don't need to add anything other than a battery, driver and input from your guitar pickup.

If you want to get fancy and have Gain control and/or more harmonic modes, then you should have a look at the more complex circuit I posted (or zfrittz6s version of it). Best to get a basic system going with the fetzer/ruby first though.

Col

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hmm

i think it seems a little to complez for me

i think ill go for a compressor/sustain pedal , cheaper and less hassle

but thanks anyway

would i make a harmonic mode by phazing my bridge pickup then running it through the guitar , into the pedal ?

its a little off topic but it still involves sustain

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hmm

i think it seems a little to complez for me

Thats a shame. The fetzer/ruby is a pretty simple circuit to build, and the driver is fairly easy to construct if you follow the examples posted here and in the 'how to build a sustainer driver' thread. There's not much else you need to do to get a basic sustainer up and running. It really is just a low powered no frills guitar amp with a 'driver' instead of a speaker.

i think ill go for a compressor/sustain pedal , cheaper and less hassle

commpressor/sustain pedals are cool, but not at all the same as a 'sustainer'. It may be a good idea to use a compressor pedal in the signal chain when using a sustainer.

would i make a harmonic mode by phazing my bridge pickup then running it through the guitar , into the pedal ?

That depends on what you mean by phazing. What pedal are you talking about ?

Col

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The different harmonic modes work by a combination of filtering and phase alteration...

A blend pot similar to those for mixing pickups would not work as you expect. It would be possible to set up a knob that can give some sort of variable control over one or more of the harmonic modes, however my experience is that you find a setting that works better than the rest and stick with it, so theres no need for a knob.

Ok Col, strike that idea :D

An example of why a blend wont work is modes 2 and 3.... 2 is a high pass filter that doesn't let the first octave or 2 of the guitars range through, so you get harmonics for the first 5 or so frets of the neck.... mode 3 uses all pass filtering so that the low strings ring true, but the higher notes... about 5-7th fret upwards start getting high harmonics... if you tried to blend these two modes together, they would fight each other and you would get a big old mess.... of course there are also technical reasons why it would be tricky (wouldn't you just know it B) ) - I designed the harmonic mode circuitry so that the different filters for the different modes could all share the same op-amp... if you wanted to have more than one mode on at the same time, you would need to add more op-amps into the circuit == more $ more work more to go wrong and a bigger circuit. (I'm not sure which revision of the harmonic modes Juán used on his circuit... or if he designed his own variant, so your setup may be different)

That is a possibility I have not discussed with Juán, as it never crossed my mind. But being the type of boffin he seems to be, I bet he would be interested in exploring that route, lol.

BTW, speaking of switches, what do think about the idea of a rotary switch for harmonic mode selection and on/off for the the sustainer? I have a couple of 4 pole variable rotary switches - you can change a key in them which allows you to choose between 1 and 12 possible switch positions. From their appearance, I think they are designed to be circuit board mounted, but otherwise if I understood how to wire them, I would probably be able to fit one of them. In the centre are the 4 poles (circuits) then the outside has the connections arranged in a circle, numbered 1-12. But the only switch I have successfully wired so far was a push/pull pot, and all it does is add in one of my humbuckers together with whichever other pickups are selected already by the current 5 way switch position. It doesn't get much simpler than that, but the rotary switch seems a little more complicated, and I am not sure where to start...(it would help if I were capable of deciphering a schematic, but for the moment I cannot)

My idea would be Sustainer OFF, Sustainer ON, Harmonic mode ON, Harmonic mode 1 Harmonic mode 2. That would only use 5 positions of the rotary switch, and sounds fairly easy to remember and identify whilst playing. Or alternatively only use it for the harmonic modes, and have a separate simple ON/OFF switch for the sustainer itself.

I did try using a knob to vary the point at which the harmonics kick in (or drop out depending on the mode), but I found that this really wasn't worth it - because of the way the circuit works, one control doesn't give you enough variation to be worth while, and you'd need a knob per mode, so instead I tweaked the resistors until I had it setup to give the best response (a good range of different harmonic responses for different modes accross and up the neck)... I don't think the most up-to-date revision ever made it online, so if anyone wants it for implementation, please ask...

Does the circuit Juán sent you have normal 'pin through hole' resistors or tiny surface mount ones?

Well, from the little I am able to identify, yes, it does appear to have a tiny resistor with pin through hole connections. But the circuit board itself is single sided, I've never seen one like that before - only on the separate harmonic switch circuit, the others are double sided pcb's I think. (Remember you are asking a complete ignoramus, when it comes to electronics :D )

If they are pin-through-hole and you don't like the response of the modes, you can have a go a tweaking things by changing resistors (assuming you're happy with a soldering iron in your hand)

Well yes, up to a point, but with such a tiny circuit and with such miniscule components .....uhm, don't think so somehow.....

Don't worry, 10s will be fine. I think with 9s and lower you may start getting into difficult territory. You have the added benefit of Ibanez axes tending to have low actions, so you shouldn't have too much trouble with the string to driver gap being too big when playing at the low frets.

I have a set of 095's I am going to try. The next set I order will be a set of 010's. I thought someone was saying that the action needed to be high, to avoid string buzz when the sustainer kicks in? If that is not the case, then I am far happier about that. I don't mind heavier strings so much as an uncomfortably high action. That just kills the playing experience for me. The subtle techniques all go out the window.....and as for my two handed style - forget it.

Remember, before you start thinking about installing anything, setup the circuit and driver(s) and test them by holding the driver above the strings - you can try out the different drivers and get a rough idea of how the whole thing works.

Good advice, thank you, I will do that, especially as I have such a wide choice of slim drivers that Juán made me. He has explained that the very thinnest version of the drivers is for a completely flat topped pickup. But to me, once you drop the screws of the pole pieces, it should be pretty much flat anyway, and given that the drivers themselves are so thin, I don't suppose it will make any difference to the output of the pickup if the screws are beneath the driver coil and fully screwed in flush with the coil bobbin top. But the entire pickup will need to be as close to the string as possible so as to reduce the battery consumption. When I was voicing my concerns earlier regarding distance of the pickup from the strings, I never imagined that the driver coils could be so very thin. The thinnest is under a 16th of an inch in depth, and the next up is only minutely thicker! The potted and encapsulated driver coil is not uniform, but is still within the same parameters, i.e. not thicker than an 8th of an inch at it's widest point. And I think any lack of uniformity is probably due to the epoxy or whatever it is that Juán used, rather than the construction of the coil.

Good luck

Thanks Col,

I'll keep y'all posted of my progress.....

David

BTW, has anyone kept tabs on the posts when Pete I think it was was advising me to go for a solid state DI and forget the Pod XT? I am about to acquire an all valve combo that does not have either an FX loop or DI/speaker simulator, but I would like to be able to DI it into the desk in case it is not loud enough for our church hall, as it is too much hassle to mike up (it is only 16w pentode and 5w triode, but I would prefer to run it in pure A class triode mode), and I remember him recommending a DIY circuit that knocked spots off everything, including a Sans Amp and Line 6 modeling gear. But I really don't remember which post it was.....

Also, I know that it is somewhat off topic, but does anyone have any suggestions for getting around not having an FX loop? It is a very basic vintage type amplifier (3 12AX7s and 2 EL84s, single channel with power soak), and I still want to use a couple of digital time - based effects, but without putting them into the pre-amp stage, as I don't want to colour the sound. The only effects that will go in the front end will be Xotic pedals that do not colour the sound at all (they say....but then again so do Scott Henderson, and Allen Hinds - they both have a tone to die for). I have been recommended to have the digital FX between the amp and the desk if I cannot put them at the end of an FX loop - hence the need for a DI, but perhaps someone here knows of another means of having an FX loop between the pre-amp and power amp?

Thanks

Edited by Truth_David

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BTW, speaking of switches, what do think about the idea of a rotary switch for harmonic mode selection and on/off for the the sustainer? I have a couple of 4 pole variable rotary switches - you can change a key in them which allows you to choose between 1 and 12 possible switch positions. From their appearance, I think they are designed to be circuit board mounted, but otherwise if I understood how to wire them, I would probably be able to fit one of them. In the centre are the 4 poles (circuits) then the outside has the connections arranged in a circle, numbered 1-12. But the only switch I have successfully wired so far was a push/pull pot, and all it does it add in one of my humbuckers together with whichever other pickups are selected already by the current 5 way switch position. It doesn't get much simpler than that, but the rotary switch seems a little more complicated, and I am not sure where to start...

My idea would be Sustainer OFF, Sustainer ON, Harmonic mode ON, Harmonic mode 1 Harmonic mode 2. That would only use 5 positions of the rotary switch, and sounds fairly easy to remember and identify whilst playing. Or alternatively only use it for the harmonic modes, and have a separate simple ON/OFF switch for the sustainer itself.

B) search the thread for 'rotary switch'.

I tried a 5 position rotary switch with off, normal, H1, H2, H3. But found that it is not ideal for a number of reasons.

#1 Its nice to have on/off seperate from the mode switch, so you can leave the mode setting alone and switch the sustainer in and out.

#2 With 4 rotary positions instead of 5 its much easier to 'find' the setting you want - you only need a maximum of two actions:

slam it all the way to one end (or the other)

then 1 click in (or not)

#3 chosing a 4 way switch allowed me to have more complex mode circuitry because it allowed me to use a 3 pole 4 way switch (not a 2 pole 6 way or 1 pole 12 way). This means that turning the switch can reconnect 3 wires instead of only 2 or 1. That allowed me to fine tune the filters a bit better (I think - it was a while ago now).

So what I've ended up with is a single on/off toggle switch and a 4 way rotary mode switch with normal/H1/H2/H3

look here at the wiring, the nest of connections at the upper right is the backside of the rotary switch (I think this is the earlier 5 way version)

Look here for a nice moody shot that includes the black 'chicken head' knob for my rotary switch and also the mini chrome on/off toggle switch.

Well yes, up to a point, but with such a tiny circuit and with such miniscule components .....uhm, don't think so somehow.....

Oh well not to worry - better to get it all setup and tested before even thinking about modifications...

I have a set of 095's I am going to try. The next set I order will be a set of 010's. I thought someone was saying that the action needed to be high, to avoid string buzz when the sustainer kicks in? If that is not the case, then I am far happier about that. I don't mind heavier strings so much as an uncomfortably high action. That just kills the playing experience for me. The subtle techniques all go out the window.....and as for my two handed style - forget it.

even if you use 9s or 8s, all that will happen is you won't get good sustain from some of the high E string (and maybe the :D - mostly at the lower frets, it should be fine higher up the neck.

As far as the action, if you get the strings rattling on the frets, you should be able to turn that down somehow, the AGC circuit will give a reasonably flat response, so a low(ish) action should be fine. The real problem is with the non-agc circuits like the fetzer/ruby- to get sustain on the high B and E with them, they have to be turned up so much that the D and G go wild - you need a medium to high action in that case :D

If the action is so low that you get lots of fret rattle any time you play hard, then it might cause a litle trouble with the sustainer.

When I was voicing my concerns earlier regarding distance of the pickup from the strings, I never imagined that the driver coils could be so very thin. The thinnest is under a 16th of an inch in depth, and the next up is only minutely thicker! The potted and encapsulated driver coil is not uniform, but is still within the same parameters, i.e. not thicker than an 8th of an inch at it's widest point. And I think any lack of uniformity is probably due to the epoxy or whatever it is that Juán used, rather than the construction of the coil.

It will be interesting to hear your reports about how the different drivers work - I would guess that the very thin ones don't work quite as well as some of the others... but you never know B) (hurry up and get them tested)

BTW, has anyone kept tabs on the posts when Pete I think it was was advising me to go for a solid state DI? I am about to acquire an all valve combo that does not have either an FX loop or DI/speaker simulator, but I would like to be able to DI it into the desk in case it is not loud enough for our church hall, as it is too much hassle to mike up (it is only 16w pentode and 5w triode, but I would prefer to run it in pure A class triode mode), and I remember him recommending a DIY circuit that knocked spots off everything, including a Sans Amp and Line 6 modeling gear. But I really don't remember which post it was.....

Not sure, but I was certainly singing the praises of the circuits at runoffgroove.com. I've built their cab sim, the 'eighteen' and the 'thunderchief' These all give great DI sounds. (will have to upload a sample now that I've fixed the bug in the cab sim).

FWIW IMNSHO, If you are going to need to DI the amp, you shouldn't buy one that doesn't have the required outputs. Do some research and get an amp that has the features you need rather than buying one that doesn't and trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

How much money do you have to spend ? There are some fantastic rack mount valve amps that you should be able to pick up on ebay - Hughes and Kettner made some great ones in the 90s - blues master, crunch master, cream machine etc. should be able to pick up one of those for about £70. The real deal though is the Lexicon Signature 284 read about it here. If you can find one of those and have the cash, I don't think you will be disappointed (and I will be jealous :D)

I have a crunch master, and its a good piece of kit - very flexible - can be DI'd, has a basic amp sim built in, also has a valve amp power out, so I can plug it into a cabinet for a surprisingly loud 1 watt valve amp. Unfortunately, it neads servicing, hence the fun I've been having with the runoffgroove circuits.

Also, I know that it is somewhat off topic, but does anyone have any suggestions for getting around not having an FX loop? It is a very basic vintage type amplifier, and I still want to use a couple of digital time - based effects, but without putting them into the pre-amp stage, as I don't want to colour the sound. The only effects that will go in the front end will be Xotic pedals that do not colour the sound at all (they say....but then again so do Scott Henderson, and Allen Hinds). I have been recommended to have the digital FX between the amp and the desk - hence the need for a DI, but perhaps someone here knows of another means of having an FX loop between the pre-amp and power amp?

You are correct that any digital FX should not be added between the guitar and valve amp. Really you need to either mic the amp and send that signal through fx to the desk, or use some sort of powersoak with a cab sim... Whether its possible or easy to use a powersoak will depend on the particular amp so best to do some research to make sure its possible with the amp you're thinking of buying.

Col

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hi

ok , so , im planning to check out getting components and perf board

how do you split the signal of the bridge so that part of it goes to the 5 way switch and the rest goes to the fetzer / ruby circuit ?

also , how do you wire a bypass switch so that it cuts of the 5 way selector , activating only the driver and the bridge pickup ?

thanks

im currently working out the layout of the circuit on perfboard

i have the layout sorted

the only thing i have to figure out is just the harmonic switch , im guetting there with it any help /

and the other switch as detailed above

Edited by METALSUSTAIN

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how do you split the signal of the bridge so that part of it goes to the 5 way switch and the rest goes to the fetzer / ruby circuit ?

take a wire from the input of the fetzer ruby and connect it to the same tab that the pickup signal wire is connected to... so basically, there is a parallel connection to the pickup signal wire - one lead to the selector switch and the other to the sustainer circuit.

also , how do you wire a bypass switch so that it cuts of the 5 way selector , activating only the driver and the bridge pickup ?

Have a good search through the thread, Pete posted some diagrams for bypass switching a while ago.

the only thing i have to figure out is just the harmonic switch , im guetting there with it any help /

and the other switch as detailed above

for the harmonic switch you will need a DPDT switch, again you will find the correct wiring for it in one of Petes diagrams

EDIT:

I did a thread search, here are a couple of pages that have wiring diagrams (scroll down to find the pics)

heres 1 and heres the other

Good luck

Col

Edited by col

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right so :

switch4pdt1.jpg

what is the name of this switch ? quadruple pole double throw ?

it looks complicated , is this placed before or after the original pickup selector ?

or does it replace the pickup selector ?

hswitchdpdt1.jpg

secondly , on the fetzer / ruby , there is only one output wire so do you just connect this to one midde pin , then connect that to the pin next to it ?

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Hi guys....not well and very stressed, plus my ISP is still causing me troubles on intermitent dial up and lost my email address so not getting the usual notifications...still col and others seem to the right advice...

All I can suggest to anyone wanting to do this project, especially if they fear it may be a little comples is to take it a stage at a time...even if you know what you are doing, the 'experts' and even myself have all done this...

Make the circuit and driver and test it out before any modifications to the guitar....

I made a "sustain box" for just this purpose (I think a good pic is on the sounds thread)...basically it is a stand alone driver with a magnet on the back and a box with the circuit and battery and two jacks. You plug it into the guitar and int the amp plu there is a lead for the driver...

This is not a performance tool but a testing device (you don't need the box or the switches)...

So you want to make the basic circuit, test it works as a practice amp with a small speaker. Then connect the driver and test it over the neck away from the pickups. Reverse the driver leads for the harmonic effect, or flip the magnet over, disconnect the battery for off!!!!

This is the cheapest way to go and you will have enough wire from a small roll for several other drivers. If this works ok, plan how you might mount a driver or convert a pickup. If this works out ok then work out how you will switch it, install the circuit and the battery....and ONLY then modify the guitar.

Nothing is wasted in this approach, and each stage should cost only a small amount extra...

I don't really like the word "sustainer" and it is trademarked so we shouldn't really use it, but most people know what it means. It is a means to create a physical feedback loop that excites the strings so that they continue to vibrate. Other forms of "sustain" such as compressors and digital sampling techniques will help sustain, the first by increasing the volume as the string vibrations get less (it does not make the string vibrate longer) and digital sampling devices record and playback a sample of the note after the string has long since stopped vibrating (but again it does not make the string vibrate more)...

The only other way to do this is with an ebow (which is a hand held one string "sustainer") or by feedback from a really loud amp. Another variation is the so called "acoustic sustainer" or "model C" from sustainiac which causes the whole instrument to vibrate (and so too the strings) but the inefficiencies of this means heavy amplification and a transducer mounted on the headstock with extra leads and an annoying rattling buzzing effect) and a need to power the thing from a mains source, not batteries...

I did try various other ways to acheive the effect (such as vibrating the bridge and such) but they really weren't too successful, especially on the high frequency high strings...

I'd be interested to see some photos of the circuits and drivers David, it sounds like there could be some interesting variations that have been lost in the translations along the way...

Anyway, lots on my mind...see ya... pete

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B) search the thread for \'rotary switch\'.

Thanks Col...

I tried a 5 position rotary switch with off, normal, H1, H2, H3. But found that it is not ideal for a number of reasons.

#1 Its nice to have on/off seperate from the mode switch, so you can leave the mode setting alone and switch the sustainer in and out.

#2 With 4 rotary positions instead of 5 its much easier to \'find\' the setting you want - you only need a maximum of two actions:

slam it all the way to one end (or the other)

then 1 click in (or not)

#3 chosing a 4 way switch allowed me to have more complex mode circuitry because it allowed me to use a 3 pole 4 way switch (not a 2 pole 6 way or 1 pole 12 way). This means that turning the switch can reconnect 3 wires instead of only 2 or 1. That allowed me to fine tune the filters a bit better (I think - it was a while ago now).

So what I\'ve ended up with is a single on/off toggle switch and a 4 way rotary mode switch with normal/H1/H2/H3

That makes sense......

even if you use 9s or 8s, all that will happen is you won\'t get good sustain from some of the high E string (and maybe the :D - mostly at the lower frets, it should be fine higher up the neck.

That's good to know...thanks

As far as the action, if you get the strings rattling on the frets, you should be able to turn that down somehow, the AGC circuit will give a reasonably flat response, so a low(ish) action should be fine. The real problem is with the non-agc circuits like the fetzer/ruby- to get sustain on the high B and E with them, they have to be turned up so much that the D and G go wild - you need a medium to high action in that case :D

Juán's circuit is AGC based, so that should not be such a problem....

If the action is so low that you get lots of fret rattle any time you play hard, then it might cause a litle trouble with the sustainer.

It will be interesting to hear your reports about how the different drivers work - I would guess that the very thin ones don\'t work quite as well as some of the others... but you never know B) (hurry up and get them tested)

Well, my first venture into sustainer territory ended up in a minor disaster - as soon as I tried to work with the wires of the encapsulated coil, one detatched itself, and it is so small that I really cannot find the other end of the wire in the coil - I scratched a bit of epoxy off, hoping I might be able to find it, but no way....that saddened me somewhat.

Now I am having to be patient waiting for the silicone to dry at the bottom of my metal project enclosure. I decided to do that in order to avoid the possibility of short circuits. It should also make for a fairly good way to fit the battery. So no real movement yet, but I'll keep you posted on my progress. I am having real problems getting any sort of reading from the driver coils on my digital multimeter set to read Ohms (or anything else). I was trying to test the output from the series wired driver coils, when the problem arose with the wire breaking off from the coil bobbin. In the Ohms reading mode, the multimeter just reads '1' continuously, whether I connect the probes to the wires from the coils or not....

I just replaced the multi-meter, it was faulty, so now I should be able to get on with wiring the system correctly....

Juán has recommended combining two coils in series, in order to act as a dual coil driver. That is something that I will try once I verify which of the coils work best with the circuit and mounted on the Ibanez humbucker in the neck position. I'll try them in the middle position too, you never know.....

OK an update on that - the silicone never dried - it looked and felt reasonably firm, but as soon as I placed the circuits on it it started to suck them into itself, and I had a hell of a job getting the silicone off them, as I was worried about it causing them to overheat once connected to the battery.

So I have now cleaned out as much of the silicone as possible, and for the time being have substituted a fine piece of sponge. Don\'t know whether that will provide sufficient insulation from the case? But aside from that, I was thinking about using hot glue from a glue gun as an insulator. It is transparent, and once cool hardens well but without being brittle, and can be molded to some degree, especially when hot.

I was wondering also whether that might not be a usable alternative to epoxy resin for coating the driver coils?

I want to protect the copper wires coming out of the bobbins of the driver coil, and that seems like a good way to cover the wires I will be soldering to them and stick them against the body of the bobbin so they are less likely to break off in the process of trying each driver side by side.

Those copper single filament wires seem to be very brittle, and just break off with the smallest amount of movement. When you are trying to put test probes across them, that is pretty much unavoidable.

Not sure, but I was certainly singing the praises of the circuits at runoffgroove.com. I\'ve built their cab sim, the \'eighteen\' and the \'thunderchief\' These all give great DI sounds. (will have to upload a sample now that I\'ve fixed the bug in the cab sim).

Must have been you then....

FWIW IMNSHO, If you are going to need to DI the amp, you shouldn\'t buy one that doesn\'t have the required outputs. Do some research and get an amp that has the features you need rather than buying one that doesn\'t and trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Too late, the amp is on its way already.....

How much money do you have to spend ? There are some fantastic rack mount valve amps that you should be able to pick up on ebay - Hughes and Kettner made some great ones in the 90s - blues master, crunch master, cream machine etc. should be able to pick up one of those for about £70. The real deal though is the Lexicon Signature 284 read about it here. If you can find one of those and have the cash, I don\'t think you will be disappointed (and I will be jealous :D )

The Lexicon is way out of my ball park price wise, I only had budgeted around 500€ max for the moment, as I was playing with the idea of building myself an 18w all valve combo. If I had that much to spend though, and felt like waiting for London Amps to bring out their new models around the $1000 mark, I would probably go for one of those, and having read everything on their website, I am pretty sure they really know what they are doing, and the new models will really be something special. But I cannot justify spending so much on a guitar amp at the moment, even if I had the funds available. And it just may be that 18w will be enough for my needs .

The Carvin Vintage 16 was a lot cheaper (not the usual European price of 599€) and I ended up paying 459€ for a pentode/triode 16/5watt amp, with 3x 12AX7s and 2 EL84s and a built in power soak. But the downside is that it has no FX loop or DI out. There is a kit available from the next model up - the 50w Nomad, which has both, but that would void the warranty. I would have gone for the Nomad had it been a more similar size to the V16, but it is twice as wide and substantially heavier, whereas the V16 is almost identical in size to my old Roland Cube 60 and weighs 16kilos. But apparently the power soak was developed with input from Allan Holdsworth, and the reports I read of the Vintage series amps were nearly all glowing. But a friend sent me information about a new product that looks as though it might be the answer to my FX routing dilemma: http://diamondpedals.com/images/alter_ego/alter_ego.jpg

here is his description of what it does: "The Alter Ego can also be used by guitarists to insert modulation and delay pedal effects AFTER mic'ing an amp and before going to the house system. Also, an instrument input allows the Alter Ego to be used as a DI for bass and guitar applications live and in the studio.

A special internal power supply converts a regular 9V negative tip adapter input to a split +/- 15V supply that provides headroom for pro input and output levels. Bi-color LED's provide both function and signal level indications for input and FX return levels."

I have a crunch master, and its a good piece of kit - very flexible - can be DI\'d, has a basic amp sim built in, also has a valve amp power out, so I can plug it into a cabinet for a surprisingly loud 1 watt valve amp. Unfortunately, it neads servicing, hence the fun I\'ve been having with the runoffgroove circuits.

I spent some time weighing up the pros and cons of either buying or building one of the half watt, one watt or 5 watt or similar amps in kit form, but I decided in the end that given the fact that most were relatively expensive, especially taking into account import duties and freight, when I compared them to the Carvin, they lost any appeal they might have had, especially the overpriced kits. In that price range I really found nothing to touch it.

Had I known previously about the second hand prices of the Hughes and Kettner amps, I might have thought about trying to find one.

But for a 1/2 watt amp, I have still to hear something as good as the Lovepedal. It sells for only $160, but I have never seen it actually in stock anywhere. It is not valve, but it sure sounds as if it were. Another similar tiny amp is the Cricket, and soon to be put into production the valve version, The Tube Cricket.

The best 1 watt all tube amp I have heard is the Stephenson Stage Hog. But it is relatively expensive and there is a 4 month backlog on production.

The best 18 watt amp I have heard is the Suhr Badger. Both these amps use London Amps power scaling, and sound incredible. But the Badger is only available as a head, and I needed a small combo. Not that I could afford a Badger either!

You are correct that any digital FX should not be added between the guitar and valve amp. Really you need to either mic the amp and send that signal through fx to the desk, or use some sort of powersoak with a cab sim... Whether its possible or easy to use a powersoak will depend on the particular amp so best to do some research to make sure its possible with the amp you\'re thinking of buying.

The Carvin V series already have a power soak built in (ever since the earliest models like the discontinued 33w), but if I don't get on with it, I will probably fit a power scaling kit from London Amplifiers in modular form, rather than kit form.

Col, do you know whether or not it is possible to combine the function of a volume pedal with an expression pedal? I have a Roland Expression pedal, and I have been trying to convert it so that it will simultaneously work as a volume pedal. The idea is to be able to have it functioning as a volume pedal between the guitar and my stomp pedals, while simultaneously controlling parameters in my Boss SE-70. Unfortunately this is where I come unstuck due to my lack of knowledge in electronics. What made me believe it was possible is that I had an old Korg pedal which had a very similar setup: it had an output to a stereo wire that was meant to go to the input of a MIDI device, in order to act as an expression controller. At the same time it also had an input from an instrument (guitar etc.) and a mono output to an amp or whatever. The downside was that the system used by the pedal to physically turn the shaft of the volume pot was very poorly conceived and jerky, whereas that of the Roland is dead smooth. So I tried to transfer the dual pot from the Korg to the mechanics of the Roland expression pedal, then I added the mono I/O for the volume pedal. But what I did not take into account was the difference in travel between the different value pots. So while it might have worked, the system employed by the Roland pedal did not move the shaft of the pot sufficiently to have any effect. So I then replaced the original pot, checked that it still worked as an expression controller, and wired the connections to the mono I/Os. But I could not get it to work. As the Korg used a dual pot, one for the expression pedal and one for the volume pedal side, I deduce that I will have to do the same on the Roland? But I don't understand why they cannot be combined...

David

Col

Edited by Truth_David

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All I can suggest to anyone wanting to do this project, especially if they fear it may be a little comples is to take it a stage at a time...even if you know what you are doing, the 'experts' and even myself have all done this...

Make the circuit and driver and test it out before any modifications to the guitar....

I made a "sustain box" for just this purpose (I think a good pic is on the sounds thread)...basically it is a stand alone driver with a magnet on the back and a box with the circuit and battery and two jacks. You plug it into the guitar and int the amp plu there is a lead for the driver...

Very good advice - My first few versions didn't even comit the components to solder !

driver.jpg

This is an early version of my first ACG circuit - but I built the Fetzer ruby first in the same way. So if you have a plug board handy, it's a good way to get started.

I don't really like the word "sustainer" and it is trademarked so we shouldn't really use it...

This bothers me - the word 'sustainer' is in the dictionary 'noun - a person or thing that sustains.', how can the trademark stand up legally ? A phrase like 'The guitar sustainer' or a made up word like 'sustainiac' is on thing, but one single pre-existing word?... its like trademarking the word polisher and then not allowing any other company to describe a product as a polisher - rediculous. I bet if we were calling this diy thing a sustainiac, the lawyers would be all over us like a rash, but because we call it a sustainer they are not, because they know it won't hold up (not that I would want to try and find out :D).... maybe we can describe it as 'a sustainer' but not use the word in the product title? seems unlikely and unfair though. "Probably... the best sustainer in the world" anyone? B)

I wonder if Carlsberg could trademark 'Probably' or just 'Probably...' ?

Maybe we should trademark sUSt41n0RZ111 so we are more 1337 than Sustainiac and we can pwn them ? :D

I would like to find a good catchy unambiguous name for our device though - too many people don't understand to what extent it differs from a compression based 'sustainer' pedal.

What about some play on time travel.... like 'blue shift' or 'red shift' or 'time traveller'

"You wanna control time? Now you can with a Blue Shift Time Traveller"

"who wants to play forever? There can be only one - INFINITY MACHINE"

"Axiter - steroids for your tone"

"It's ALIIIVE... FRANKENSTAINER"

Electrolung, BreathaliZer, Infinibow, Eonizer....

bah

Col

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hey guys im new to this thread

seems pretty cool

but i dont want to look through the 165 pages.

i dont really understand how to make any part of the sustainer.

if you guys could will you please explain how to make it(specifically the ruby) because im new to electronics(i can solder though).

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Welcome zeppelinchld

Yes, well I wouldn't read the thread either...way too long and confusing

Better to try some of the other threads that are listed as links on my signiture at the bottom of this post...try the tutorial...

The circuit is pretty basic for the fetzer / ruby and there is a better layout somewhere, perhaps someone can bring it forward for you, that uses stripboard...

Basically it is a little practice amplifier. The fetzer is a preamp that prevents tone robbing loading of the pickups and gives the amp a bit of a boost, the ruby is a basic LM386 amp in a chip circuit...

But the real heart of the DIY sustainer is the thin drivers that we have developed. See my driver winding pictorial to see what this entails...it is not hard, but more arts and crafts than electronics really...

The last bit is the tricky bit, interfacing and installing the whole thing into your guitar, but you can make it and test it first before you need get into the switching and stuff as I explained a few posts back...

Before all that, it might be worth describing what this thing is. Unlike an effect that processes the signal on a guitar, this thing physically vibrates the strings to create controlled feedback. There is a coil and magnet under the strings that is fed a signal from the little amplifier circuit. I like to think of this coil like a speaker coil and the strings like the speaker's cone.

The string is picked and the pickup senses the vibration. Our little circuit amplifies it so that there are sufficient pulses of electrical energy that is transformed into magnetic energy by the driving coil. This makes the string vibrate more, which is sensed by the pickup...and so it goes...infinite sustain.

Another effect is harmonic feedback. With this the pulses are reversed and so the string is dampened. The end result however is that the harmonics of a note are driven so that the string vibrates an octave or more above it's original pitch.

So, the circuit is pretty simple, but that is the easy part. The hard part is getting an effective driver and the installation down. Once you have the simple thing working, you may be tempted to take the thing a little further as Col has done and build a more sophisticated circuit and or a more elaborate driver. Even this type of circuit is pretty simple, but unlike a stompbox, this is not something that you just plug your guitar into, it does take some modification to the guitar and experimentation with each instrument...

Still, this is "Project Guitar" so I guess it has found it's best home in this forum...

Feel free to join in with questions and check out the links below... pete

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Hi, I follow this thread for a while (but i didn't found the courage to read it all, like many other members) and i'd like to build a DIY sustainer (I think it will sound great with slide)

I think I will have no problem to build the circuit, I have a little experience on DIY guitar effects.. But about the driver, I'm a newbie, and I have some questions:

Can I replace the metallic core by a rare-earth Neodymium magnet (with a custom size to fit the core)?

What is (approximatively) the length of wire needed to wind a driver? I found a website selling 700meters of #38 copper wire, will it fit?

And finally, I saw some members making some "humucker-drivers", with two drivers gathered, what are the advantages of doing this?

uh, and can I put it close to an other pickup (for example between neck and middle pickups on a strat), without causing some noise or magnetical buzz? (what kind of shielding do I have to use?)

[sorry for my english and for the flood of questions.. :blush ]

Edited by Franky

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...I think I will have no problem to build the circuit, I have a little experience on DIY guitar effects.. But about the driver, I'm a newbie, and I have some questions:

Can I replace the metallic core by a rare-earth Neodymium magnet (with a custom size to fit the core)?

What is (approximatively) the length of wire needed to wind a driver? I found a website selling 700meters of #38 copper wire, will it fit?

It is important that the wire is 'winding wire' - ie. it has an insulated coating on it (e.g. some sort of ceramic or resin). It is also important according to Pete's research that the diameter of the wire is in the range 0.2mm to 0.25mm. Does #38 wire match these requirements ?

And finally, I saw some members making some "humucker-drivers", with two drivers gathered, what are the advantages of doing this?

Tha advantage is that the magnetic flux doesn't radiate as far - basically, the dual core driver creates much less magnetic interference.

uh, and can I put it close to an other pickup (for example between neck and middle pickups on a strat), without causing some noise or magnetical buzz? (what kind of shielding do I have to use?)

No you can't. The hunt is still on for a driver that can be placed between the bridge and neck pickups without interference. My setup keeps the driver and pickup as far apart as possible - pickup at bridge, driver in neck position.

cheers

Col

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Hum, okay, the wire is enameled, and available diameters are: 0,1mm ; 0,15mm ; 0,3mm... but I think 0,15 or 0,3 can be okay, even if it's not in the range, don't you?

About the dual-core driver, do you think it can work without (or with the fewest) buzz if I keep my neck pickup, and if I replace the middle pickup by a HotRails-like dual-core driver?

The problem is that I usually play with both of the humbucking configurations on my 3 single-coil strat...

And with 3 or 4 layers of aluminium shielding tape covering the driver, connected to the ground? no effects?

Hum, I think I will have to build a custom pickup... Pickup on bottom and dual-core driver on top..

Edited by Franky

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Hi, me again :D....

A further question on switching: I have a 4 pole variable rotary switch. Variable in the sense that you can slot a chuck key in the pot to select between 1 and 12 possible switch positions. I only have the readings from my multi-meter to go by, but this is the way it seems to work as a 4 way 3 position switch:

1) Circuit A switch position 1 - 2 - 3

2) Circuit B " " 4 - 5 - 6

3) Circuit C " " 7 - 8 - 9

4) Circuit D " " 10-11-12

Would this be suitable for the sustainer circuit for switching as in the switch 4pdt jpg1 diagram? I know there is no off position, but there must be a way to configure the switch for that?

Would someone mind please clarifying the circuit for someone not at all versed in electronics? The problem I have is with the following:

what is the differenciation between the bridge volume and bridge circuit in the sustainer ON position? Aren't they the same thing?

how do I determine the positive pole of the circuit?

what do neck/mid a and b refer to?

where exactly do I take the connections from in my Ibanez? from before or after the 5-way switch?

There must be a simpler way of wiring this..... :D

Speak soon,

David

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Hi, me again :D....

A further question on switching: I have a 4 pole variable rotary switch. Variable in the sense that you can slot a chuck key in the pot to select between 1 and 12 possible switch positions. I only have the readings from my multi-meter to go by, but this is the way it seems to work as a 4 way 3 position switch:

1) Circuit A switch position 1 - 2 - 3

2) Circuit B " " 4 - 5 - 6

3) Circuit C " " 7 - 8 - 9

4) Circuit D " " 10-11-12

(sorry if you know all this, I just want to make sure) poles of a switch, are like switches within a switch - so a 4 pole switch is like 4 seperate switches that are operated by the same physical actuator (knob in the case of a rotay)

so a 2 pole 2 way switch would have 6 connections, 2 poles, and 2 'ways' for each pole.... so a 4 pole 12 way would have 4 + 4*12 = 52 connections!

The switch I have is a 3 pole 4 way - it will has 12 connectors around the edge - 4 ways for each pole - and in the center it will have three more pins 1 for each pole... Unfortunately, at least with my switch, there are 12 physical positions for the actuator even though only 4 of them make sense (thats what the key is for). Thats because they use mostly the same plastic parts to make 1 pole 12 way, 2 pole 6 way and 3 pole 4 way.....

...Ah, I think I understand what you were meaning... The circuit A, B, C & D are the pole connectors in the center? and your 'switch positions' are the outer pins numbered 1 to 12 ?

If that is correct, you should set the 'chuck key' so there are no more than 3 physical positions available. depending on which of the three physical positions is selected each of the central poles will be connected to one of its 3 'throw' pins... probably A to 1, 2 or 3... B to 4, 5 or 6... C to 7, 8 or 9... D to 10, 11 or 12... thats your 4 switches within a switch...

If you want your rotary to be the switch that bypasses the midlle and neck pickups when the sustainer is on as in Petes diagram, you need to set the key so that only two physical switch positions are available - one will be on, the other off.

The middle row of 4 dots in the diagram are your A, B, C & D connections, the top row will be 1, 4, 7 & 10 and the bottom row will be 2, 5, 8 & 11 (3, 6, 9 & 12 will be unused)

thats assuming that A -> 1,2or3 and B->4,5or6 etc. (always triple check the ramblings of an internet aquaintance)

enough rambling from me, I hope that's now as clear as mud :D

Col

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Hum, okay, the wire is enameled, and available diameters are: 0,1mm ; 0,15mm ; 0,3mm... but I think 0,15 or 0,3 can be okay, even if it's not in the range, don't you?

the area of the cross section is the best way to compare the sizes....

diameter = 0.15..... area of cross section = PI*radius^2 = 0.01767

diameter = 0.3..... area of cross section = PI*radius^2 = 0.07068

diameter = 0.2..... area of cross section = PI*radius^2 = 0.0314

so 0.3 diameter is more than twice the size of 0.2 diameter !

and 0.2 diameter is 1.8 times the size of 0.15...

Another thing to consider is the impedence, thicker wire will have a lower impedence for the same number of turns, thinner will have higher impedence... to get .3 wire to 8ohm will require a BIG driver (260 turns), while an 8ohm coil of .15 wire will not have enough turns(~71) or mass to create the required magnetic force...

Have a play with this 'pickup calculator' to get an good visualisation

About the dual-core driver, do you think it can work without (or with the fewest) buzz if I keep my neck pickup, and if I replace the middle pickup by a HotRails-like dual-core driver?

The problem is that I usually play with both of the humbucking configurations on my 3 single-coil strat...

And with 3 or 4 layers of aluminium shielding tape covering the driver, connected to the ground? no effects?

Hum, I think I will have to build a custom pickup... Pickup on bottom and dual-core driver on top..

I don't think the basic single or dual core drivers will be very good in the middle position. Zfritz6 has some interesting designs that he says will do the job, but as yet no-one has any evidence that they work, or what compromises they may involve.

Grounded aluminium will provide electrical shielding, but not magnetic shielding - you need materials with good 'soft magnetic' properties - certain types of steel, or some more exotic specially designed materials are what you need to use... don't worry about grounding either, the 'shield' is really just a conduit to encourage the magnetic flux to stay close to the driver (away rom the pickups) as it finds it's way back to the opposite magnetic pole within it's magnetic circuit.

cheers

Col

Edited by col

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