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psw

Sustainer Ideas

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I'm still hoping for a stable prototype some day. :D I may not post much to this thread, but trust me the interest is still there.

Greg

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B) Thanks...I don't give up easily!

A more conventional approach may get results quicker...sometimes I get a little to clever, clever...getting ahead of oneself slows the process down quite a bit, believe me! :D

psw

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Hey we havn't herd much of late, hows it going, plus I thought it would be a good idea to put a post so its still in peoples minds

Matt

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Thank's Matt

I'm still committed - or at least I should be!

I'm glad to see someone missed it, it was an exciting thread with thousands of hits!

So, what happened to the sustainer project? Well, it's been put on hold for a number of reasons. One reason is that I was reaching the end of my abilities, resources and time to make it happen. Another is that the system was becoming too complicated and impractical for what I was trying to achieve.

It's at moments like these that it's time to take a step back. I've learn't an amazing amount doing it and have made some important discoveries applicable to pickup designs, etc. Mainly it was fun. By the way, Lovecraft, the most active sparing partner on this thread has a prototype driver and can confirm that it will produce sustain. His experiments though don't use the same amplifier and guitar so the results vary from mine.

I have an idea for making a more conventional sustainer/pickup for the centre position and even an idea for a hidden device that will operate through that pickup.

The above, from my last post here, is still a possibility. I need to do some alterations to my test guitar. I't's still apart because I have a new project that I'm working on.

My bridge idea is coming along but it's really hard to make prototypes in metal.

I'm really excited by it but Kevan has given me the heebee-geebee's over idea theft so I'm being a little more cagey about things than I was on this thread. Which is a shame as I appreciate working with others, tossing ideas about and it keeps me motivated...oh well.

Basically, it's a bridge which can vary the tension (tuned pitch) of each string between two preset pitches. Kind of like the hipshot but simpler, smaller and with more features. What I would do is tune it to standard (EADGBE) and then use levers to drop the pitches to dropped D, DADGAD, open G and open D. Another option is to tune it to standard but with the B string lever in the up position. This would allow up-bends while playing chords...just like a B-bender...but by using the heel of the hand on the bridge. It's also a locking tremolo, to allow the tension changes. I also have plans for a spring system that will allow it to be surface mounted, i.e. no routing. This will enable it to be fitted to both strat and LP type guitars.

So far I've made a few simple prototypes and have shown that it can be done but it takes a lot of work to physically make them. The shape of the pieces are critical, as is strength...otherwise it doesn't work. But it's coming along and promises to look really good. I started a couple of threads on the solid body section of the forum but it sank without a trace. Apparently everybody wants a floyd or there just not so interested as those who lurk here!

On the electronics side of things (besides the sustainer, of course), I'm looking at making a stereo amp. Basically, a small self contained pair of preamps (or something) driving this 200 watt power amp I picked up recently. Kind of two small amps with it's own built in PA. The idea is too have a pair of small speakers inside so that it will work on it's own...and a pair of extension boxes for the full on surround sound stereo effect. It could also be used as a vocal/guitar amp or two channel PA. Ultra compact...if anyone's got some thoughts on this one, let me know...I might do another thread when I get onto it...next year!

I also had a dream (I don't sleep too well) about a pickup design that is quite a bit different from the norm. This seems really exciting but again my have to wait. I might not be able to give details either because it really is different. It came from Kevan wanting to test out my "moon dust" pickups. The potential for rare earth magnets in pickups has really not been explored. Most people who have mucked about with them have tryed to get them to act like conventional magnets but the potential, a fact of there small size and intense localized field, offers an amazing amount of unexplored territory. I'd been working with Rare Earth Pickups for a while now but this idea seems like a winner.

A hint is that it is a humbucking pickup with an adjustable magnetic field shape.

Anyway, got to go :D

psw

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B) Thank's Bio...I'll try and get these things a little more developed before unleashing them on the forum, but I think I've got a few good ideas going.

And the sustainer is not dead...just resting! :D

psw

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It took me a few days to read through all 23 pages of this thread (!), and I found it to be quite interesting. I don't follow everything completely as far as theory goes, but it sure seems to have some real potential, as the sound clips speak for themselves.

I hope you get it perfected. I think it could be a marketable alternative to the ebow and sustainiac pickups. I like how the ebow sounds, but I find it to be a PITA to use one. I certainly would love to have a built in gizmo that gave me that same effect! :D

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Well Paul, your a brave man to read all the way through! :D

There was a point where the technology swapped from simple coil based designs to descrete components. This is where I got a bit secretive and so a lot was not disclosed. The sound clips used drivers with this technology.

Currently I'm working on some new pickup ideas. I'm approaching the designs from the point af aesthetics, ease of manufactuer and novel ideas. What they'll sound like....hmmm. The idea though is not to reinvent the wheel bt to create something new and unique. Also affordable and practical to make!

My current thinking is to build the sustainer technology into the pickup. My novel use of magnets should provide enough room in say a humbucker format. In this concept the sustainer would share the pickup magnets. It's unlikely from my experiments that you could use the sustainer and the same pickup at the same time but this is no more of a restraint than current sustainer systems. I would use hex drivers most likely but mono/stereo amplification as the circuitry was getting too complex.

Anyway, I'm still resting the idea. I can waste a lot of time mucking about with this stuff and I tend to make things more complex than they need to be. Eventually, things come down to a simple solution, but for me, the solution's twist comes from the bigger concept.

So I see that the sustainer thread still has legs and has now topped well over 4000 hits. I wonder what the record is!

Best wishes to all...

B)psw :D

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This photo of the test sustainer strat came up when I had the roll developed.

sustainerstrat.jpg

The green knobed box is a compressor/limiter with an inbuilt LM386 driver amp. The black box nex to it is the original test amp.

The test driver is taped below the B string between the neck and middle pickups.

The project is on hold while I work on a few other projects and work out how to proceed. This guitar is presently the test bed for a new type of tremolo system.

I'm constantly amazed at the number of people interested in getting hold of some sort of sustainer device. I can only assume there is some collective, creative drive to have an instrument with this capabilities. Perhaps thats how the violin developed it's bow

peace :D

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Yeah, a sustainer would be cool and I don't think anyone would disagree (whether they could make use of it or not). How long are you postponing development on the sustainer for?

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Thanks Bio for your interest. I'm always happy to talk sustainers. Check out this ongoing hi-jack over here:

PSW Hi-jacks Paul Marossy's First Project !

Could be some new blood in the ring here...but is he strong enough to defeat the many and varied invisible magnetic forces to sieze the holy grail....infinite sustain...from the outreaching hands of psw and win the day!

We will see, we will see! Bring it on B)

psw :D

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LOL, if you keep at it I wouldn't mind betting you'll come up with the holy grail of the guitar world :D .

A while ago you asked for people's input into what they would like out of a sustainer. These points have probably been mentioned but I will metion them again. A dream sustainer for me would have all the features of the Fernandes Sustainer (as in normal sustain, harmonic sustain mode and mix sustain mode with all the pots for adjustments etc). Although, it would be small and discreet so that I wouldn't have to sacrifice my neck pickup to install it (i'm using a Rio Grande Punchbox so I think you can see why I wouldn't want to replace it). It would also not interfere with the bridge and neck pickups, maybe fit near the bridge like the Roland GK-2A MIDI pickup does.

Is what I have described above actually physically possible?

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Well biohazard, you want it all, don't you?! :D

I would also like a system that would allow you to keep the neck pickup as well. The Sustainiac Model C is a cool gadget, but I can't see myself using it except for in a studio environment, which would be cool, but I would like to be able to use it for live performance, too. It seems like it would be a PITA to use anywhere else but a studio...

There's got to be a way to do it. That must have been what psw said when he started on his "sustainer quest". Or would that be "Sustainer Trek"? Oh, never mind... B)

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Both of you guys have hit the nail on the head...that is the meaning of the sustainer thread :D (24 pages and people are just getting the idea! LOL :D )

It's such a relief to have the project turn back to it's raison d'etre. It was a major reason for the sustainer project's postponement that it/I had lost it's way somewhat and I was reaching the limits of what I could do electronically.

Also, typical of me, I wanted to solve all of the problems of current systems, and, got into a whole new realm of "natural synthesis" that went over most people's heads I think, where the sustainer is used not so much to simply sustain the string, but to actually change the way in which it vibrates to mimic other instruments and create totally new sounds and areas to explore...and you thought Bio wanted it all!~.

It was put to me earlier on by LK that I should concentrate my efforts on the driver and ignore the circuitry details given in the patents. It was even suggested that these details were largely there as a furphy to get the a patent over previous ones and that it should work OK (without phase lead and lag components, etc) using straight amplification. The Ebow was used as evidence of this and it still remains something of a mystery why it should avoid some of the problems I've encountered!

So, being not so good in electronic practice, but having come here from working with pickup designs and developed an interest in magnetic fields, I took up this challenge on faith and thats how we got to the stage where we are now. (Well, after hundreds of hours of work and about twenty completely different prototyed driver designs!...oh and a bit of money as well on this...errrr....folly)

Ok, so I set out a list of criteria not unlike Bio's

o to have very little modification to the instrument and be possibly removable.

o to be able to select any pickups I like

o to not effect playability and the tone and setup of the instrument

o To be truely polyphonic...play chords without one note dominating over the others

o to be able to recharge batterries

I know I had half a page of them in my notes! (I may have wanted to rule the guitar kingdom at one point, LOL B) )

The driver designs were originally wound like a semi-conventional coil. Eventually I got one only 3mm thick with a special "cage" to deflect and concentrate the magnetic pulses. This one was the exact shape of a single coil and was designed to stick on to the pickguard of a strat (the sustainer guinea pig pictured) next to the bridge pickup!

I realized that there were a few problems that seemed insurmountable with these kind of conventional approaches and so, at at one point, I made a technological leap to address them. Two of these problems were that you would go insane trying to wind coils this small (one design had a handwound coil 5mm square!) and the other was that the magnetic driving signal would travel along the string to be picked up by other pickups.

The last generation required no coil winding at all and a range of unique magnetic arrangements to make a mutually attracting, transverse, circular field under the string. (This has been discussed before Kevan so don't worry...also even if they do understand that last sentance they wont know how I did it...edit not my friend!)

Now I have drivers very small...The one in the last photo is about twice the size of the most recent creations. They still will interfere with nearby pickups but can be much closer as you can also se in this photo. LK and I, (who discuss under an NDA some more details of the device) felt that the way to go was a hex driver system...hmmm...so now I needed a hex pickup system. I detirmined that the only way to get the separation required, and avoid electromagnetic interferance, was to go piezo...so now I was making this.

Innocently, I took apart the strat to work on this and started eyeing off the spring cavity for the sustainer electronics and battery. One thing lead to another, and i revisited a set of concepts I was toying with over a decade ago...last century in fact! Now I've got even more projects to distract me:

o The ultimate tremolo (and more) system

o The adaption of this to Les Paul type guitars

o An amazing single coil sized humbucking pickup with a unique and tunable magnetic field that looks amazing.

o Some ideas fo a metal front guitar...perhaps future GOTM...featuring this stuff.

So the soldering iron has been set aside for hacksaws and files and my workroom is littered with metal filings and failed prototypes, and, is such a mess I can, literally, hardly get in. This work is also really pissing off the family and does not pay the bills...(also I rarely play guitar for all this work!) if you get the idea.

How long will the project be posponed is anyones guess, Bio. I think I had been getting a little too ambitious with it. I'm thinking now of backing off to a position of (got the edit button ready Kevan!), limited pickup selection, a discrete surface mount or internal cunning driver design (yet to be devised) and simple electronics. I would use some kind of crossover network mooted earlier but no hex pickup arrangement.

This would suit most people's requirements, including most of yours and be somewhat achievable. It is unlikely that you would get it situated by the bridge, (althouth that is what I was originally aiming for) as you would likely loose the use of the bridge pickup and it is physically harder to move the string at it's end point than it's mid point due to vibration modes (i.e. there is more swing to the oscilations near it's mid point than at its ends...the bridge saddle and nut having none, theoretically)

There is the posibility that a different (or several different approaches actually :D ) requiring the replacement and redesign of the whole bridge might work and I'm making allowances for this in my bridge design...sorry Floyd but you may have to move over!

Anyway, not to go on too long (oh I have!), that's where the "PSW Sustainer Project" is up to at the moment. It will be a while before I personaly get back to the practical construction of designs as I'm terminally distracted. Perhaps, the 4000 plus visitors will spur others to continue my work while I'm doing this other stuff...it's good to see the thread slowly return out of general interest.

I'm more than happy to contribute to discussions so that you can learn from my mistakes and hope that someone cracks the "sustainer code". I kind of feel a little guilty for all those who have followed along this far but without much tangible result

psw

sustain is forever guys!

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where the sustainer is used not so much to simply sustain the string, but to actually change the way in which it vibrates to mimic other instruments and create totally new sounds and areas to explore...and you thought Bio wanted it all!

Whoa! You are way over the top dude! :D

I didn't quite catch your drift when I read this thread thru the first time, but that would be really cool. Sounds basically like the Roland Guitar Synth in concept, but with a built-in sustainer, too. I really do hope that you figure the thing out, I think it would make waves! B)

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No, No it's a far more dangerous concept. It's "natural synthisis". The string in fact vibrates in a manner to produce these different sounds...it's not a synthesiser in any conventional way...the strings are actually forced to vibrate differently, say like a bowed or blown instrument, by modifying the drive signal which suppresses or accentualtes varoius harmonics, attack and decay characteristics....oh no...I scare myself!!!!!

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Having a sustainer concept in a bridge could be cool but that goes against one of the spec points of having little or no instrument modification. i wouldn't mind having the sustainer fitted to my guitar and drill a hole through to the cavity for the corcuitry etc, but I wouldn't want to replace my bridge. Could the sustainer go just below the neck pickup or would interference occurr?

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Could the sustainer go just below the neck pickup or would interference occurr?

No. From what I gather reading at the Sustainiac website, the driver-transducer must be a certain distance from any pickups, or a lot of unwanted side effects will occur. Psw has had those sorts of problems, too. If you go back and read the earlier parts of this thread, he was grappling with weird noises, oscillation etc. which were minimized or exaggerated depending on what he used and where it was located. :D

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Listen Guys, only I am allowed to memorize the thread... :D

Yes these effects do happen.

Firstly, who said my bridge idea was magnetic (not that I'm saying it's not) or that you actually have to replace the bridge as a whole. Besides, replacing a bridge without modifying the instrument is not so bad.

Wait till you guys see my ultra-secret bridge. Not only no permanent modification but it has features never before offered...I'm so proud of this thing that I don't want anyone to know till it works just right. Even then, everybody's going to want to have one...so I won't be able to tell you as someone will pinch it.

Remember your looking at modifications to the circuitry, finding room for a battery (or two) and the circuit, new pickups and a range of controls...your going to have to drill a whole sometime...otherwise it's the model c for you.

OK...consider this...multiple driver arrays that are selected in relation to the pickup selection. Normally, this would be not be cost effective but the ultra small, non-coil construction, means that it could be constructed pretty cheaply and quickly.

Actually, I got pretty close...working in the mid position and almost working between the bridge and mid...as seen in the photo...but you couldnt select combined positions.

Some oscillations are actually caused by extreme efficiency...the signal instantly compounding upon itself, beyond saturation, to the resonant frequency of the system...pickup, driver and amp....you can hear some of this in the sound bites.

When a note is played it will sustain as the string is now the dominant frequency in the system...when you want no sound, thats when your problems start out and it finds that frequency. Trying to block it out...though it's not my forte...seems to only change the resonant frequency, not remove it.

LK thought that we could somehow get the resonant frequency above hearing range... his giant Afgan Hounds might have something to say about that...but I don't really think that's going to be possible as you want it to operate within the vibrations of the strings.

Now, I built a compressor/limiter to try to tame it but to no avail. It helped but it was asking a bit much of it. I say use this phenomenon...you'd need very little power to run it. Bear in mind that a lot of people have spent years on this and not cracked it!

Just one question...why doesnt the Ebow (which is ridiculously simple) not suffer from the same problems...or does it, I've never played one!

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Just one question...why doesnt the Ebow (which is ridiculously simple) not suffer from the same problems...or does it, I've never played one!

I think a lot of problems are solved when you only concentrate on one string. I played a friend's ebow for a little while. It pretty much just vibrates the string without making the guitar create noises other than the note being played. I really like the ebow effect, but it doesn't work at all with my style. :D

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This is probably exactly what your trying to do, but cant you near enoguh copy the ebow technology, make it tiny and make six for each individual string, something like that?

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Well, I did that, didn't I :D ...oh I forgot, only I'm allowed to memorize the thread!

Yes, I think I made the world's smallest ebow! The original Ebow patent even describes just this application...it proposed six little buttons that you push to activate each little bow....hmmm...cute!

Unfortunately, I still had the same problems. You know I really must buy an Ebow!!!

This was where why we started going with the hex pickup/drivers idea...effectively six ebows! So why can't I get it to work....you tell me!

When I get back to it, this is exactly where I'll start from...again!

Getting an Ebow and taking it apart (not easy to do apparently) won't help a lot. I've got the patent, and from trolling around, it looks like it uses essentially the same amp set up I started with. If someone does take it apart, I guess the resistance and dimensions of it's pickup and driver coils and their orientation might help.

It might be that, as you can move the device along the string you don't need as much power as you can move it to each notes sweet spot. This is where the string is oscillating most for it's frequency. You can get opposite effects with the fixed drivers where a notes null point is directly over the driver so it has not much to work with.

This is part of the problem mounting it near the bridge...not enough movement (I called it swing, didn't I...) at this point (though plenty of harmonics...null points) so it is mechanically more difficult.

Then you have to consider string bending...near the bridge ok, that's why your synth pickup is down there, separation...near the neck, lateral displacement (opps, sideways movement) and the strings no longer over it's driver. This was particularly a problem for my tiny drivers as their design brief was to focus and contain magnetic radiation....doh!

:D Now I remember why I posponed working too hard on this :D ...doctor's orders :D ...nurse! B)

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