Jump to content

Entry for June 2018's Guitar Of The Month contest is open!
ENTER HERE!

psw

Sustainer Ideas

Recommended Posts

Ok, first the bad news - that 400mV peak to peak signal I mentioned was just an example. That said, 400mV peak to peak figure I gave is probably from an actual reading I took (I seem to recall that's the type of signal level I was seeing across my driver ... during my first 'stint' of sustainer experimentation, I did a lot of initial experiments with my associated notes scribbled on the back of scrap paper ...I really must get more disciplined with my notation this time!)

Hi Hank, some more crazy ideas

It could be important information to know how much power exactly is needed for a single string driver. It would be great if you would be able to use a quadopamp IC like a OPA4134 together with a dualopamp OPA2134. Of course the driver's specs have to be changed. Higher impedance, more windings(?). Two batteries instead of one for more headroom. 6 LM386s deliver way too much power and take too much space inside a guitar!

The big stumbling block I have with the 'standard issue' driver that has been adopted by many on here, (ie a one coil driver breaching all strings), is that for most 'sustainer' situations (certainly when soloing) - at any one time, you really only need a dominant string to be sustained ...but the driver adpoted by many here, presents the required one note across all six strings - highly inefficient & which I reckon is wasting a lot of scarce battery power as the driver attempts to sustain strings which aren't meant to be sustained ....far better to find a way of 'routing' the dominant required note for sustaining to the correct string(s), therefore two options I can think of....

1. Take a bog standard merged/mono guitar pickup signal & bandpass filter it to get the right frequencies 'routed' to the right strings (obviously there'll be some overlap, as for example a high 'B' could come from the B string itself or the two strings below fretted high up) & have six drivers (and preamps/power amps)

or (far better)...

2. Take a hex input feed from the likes of a midi/hex pickup etc.

How about using PIC only as a switching system? For instance build 2 poweramps. You need 6 pickups to be used as sensors (which string is played). The actual sound signal could be taken from the bridge guitar pickup. When you play the high E string it will be detected by the sensor and PIC will, according to a decision table, connect the high E string driver to poweramp A and the B string driver to poweramp B.

I may pursue a non Hex input solution (too many 'decision point forks' with this project ....& I blow hot & cold as to which path to beat first!) ...but if I do go with a 'driver across all six strings' approach, one avenue I'll certainly explore is to customize the 'turns' needed per string across the strings by using six coils below in series ...less turns on the coils for the lower strings....more turns for the higher strings. This won't save power, but at least it'll help get the string balance right.

Re the power need for your driver...I can't say what's best in your case - but that's the whole point of my 'call to arms' for those of us ith scopes.

If you can scope the signal across your driver for each open string in turn, at a known distance (eg use a drill bit to slide between driver top & sting bottom to establish the distance) where you just get past the edge of sustain (a subjective term, but can be described where the sustain is just enough to keep the string sustaining)...with sufficient data we should be able to glean how much power is needed per string etc. This will at least allow us all to address the "My top two strings don't sustain at all" type posts we see.

It's a little puzzling to me how a thread can be this old & yet still have no meaningful technical data!

I wonder if the data can be meaningful. Guitars are so different. Some guitars have a good sustain by them self. In that case you probably won't need that much power to obtain endless sustain. I have no idea how efficient my driver is compared to what other people built. I just used the scrap materials that were available to me. It's every guitar for itsself I'm affraid.

I would certainly experiment first with the hexapup you are planning to use. Is it a Roland synthesizer type, a piezo type or a home made one? I've managed to build a hexaphonic pickup out of 12 relay coils (Never implemented though, too much work! - And it looks pretty awful).

Build a simple analog sustainer for the high E string only. Because the hexaphonic pickup is so close to the bridge and because of the use of different technologies (in case of the piezo) it could be a pain in the ass to get sustain at all. With your hexaPIC mcSpankster you are certainly entering unexploited territory.

Anyway good luck may the MMF be with you

Fresh Fizz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Fresh,

Well, I hope to have meaningful power levels per string at my next run of tests (which hopefully will recommence soon, just after I bottom out these other sideline projectettes ...target date - about a fortnight)

Re using the PIC for switching - I'd pondered that already...it makes sense as it'll save a lot of battery power (& I'll likely be using output ICs with 'standby' pins on them, therefore the PIC should dovetail well with such a method).

Re the type of Hex input - I have both to hand (an old GK2 pickup & an old electronics debowelled Variax that still has a Hex piezo bridge)

Re the technical data...I understand what you're saying about variants (which is why I propose trying to remove as many as possible!), but it might be suprising how aligned everyone's results turn out - we'll not know until people start taking such measurements & posting them up!

Having some ballpark power levels per string (either with 'six string' drivers or 'single' string drivers) will be essential & if this project is to be nailed once & for all ....it's the only way to go (else we'll all just be trialling & erroring until the cows come home!).

I suspect that there just aren't enough techy types with measurement tools tuned into this thread to get any meaningful 'depth of data'...which ultimately means most will come to this thread, build the driver that's been derived mainly from trial & error...connecting it up to a circuit whose only attribute being is that it's readily available, easy & cheap (the Fetzer Ruby!) & then getting very average results. There's only one way to tackle this project - technical data, else ....we're all just following the lead of those who have trialled/errored ...& how does that proverb go again? "The one eyed man is king in the valley of the blind....?"

"MMF ...it's where the stimulation is!" :D

Edited by Hank McSpank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi Fresh,

Well, I hope to have meaningful power levels per string at my next run of tests (which hopefully will recommence soon, just after I bottom out these other sideline projectettes ...target date - about a fortnight)

Re using the PIC for switching - I'd pondered that already...it makes sense as it'll save a lot of battery power (& I'll likely be using output ICs with 'standby' pins on them, therefore the PIC should dovetail well with such a method).

Re the type of Hex input - I have both to hand (an old GK2 pickup & an old electronics debowelled Variax that still has a Hex piezo bridge)

Re the technical data...I understand what you're saying about variants (which is why I propose trying to remove as many as possible!), but it might be suprising how aligned everyone's results turn out - we'll not know until people start taking such measurements & posting them up!

Having some ballpark power levels per string (either with 'six string' drivers or 'single' string drivers) will be essential & if this project is to be nailed once & for all ....it's the only way to go (else we'll all just be trialling & erroring until the cows come home!).

I suspect that there just aren't enough techy types with measurement tools tuned into this thread to get any meaningful 'depth of data'...which ultimately means most will come to this thread, build the driver that's been derived mainly from trial & error...connecting it up to a circuit whose only attribute being is that it's readily available, easy & cheap (the Fetzer Ruby!) & then getting very average results. There's only one way to tackle this project - technical data, else ....we're all just following the lead of those who have trialled/errored ...& how does that proverb go again? "The one eyed man is king in the valley of the blind....?"

"MMF ...it's where the stimulation is!" :D

Hmm, one thing this thread does seem to do is encourage people to keep on repeating the same old same old... they get stuck in a feedback loop :D.

Ideally for the best chance of success, we'd need three things not one.

we need to try out ideas and develop them iteratively, we need to collect data, and we need an understanding of the physics in order that we can use the data to inform the iterative development.

To say that technical data is the one and only is is no better than to say trial and error is best or that you only need theory.

----------------------------

At one point, I offered to write up a document with all the most up-to-date knowledge that we had if folk were interested. Not a single person was interested, IIRC no-one even responded to the post. The vast majority of people can't get past the idea that there is something called impedance that's different from resistance - its too difficult.

What folk want is a ready to go design that's easy to build and doesn't require difficult to get parts or intermediate/advanced tech (e.g. SMD, PIC). Unfortunately, that and a high quality sustainer are mutually exclusive - 'end of'.

If you are looking through the thread for technical data, you are wasting your time.

If you want a better understanding of sustainers and are able to wade through all the masses of crap, then it _might_ just be worth while.

(but you knew all that before you posted anyway ;p

cheers

Col

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hmm, one thing this thread does seem to do is encourage people to keep on repeating the same old same old... they get stuck in a feedback loop .

Col-

What this thread DOES need is organization.

Why not have one post that you repeatedly edit with the most up to date, clostest thing to success that each of you have. When you make progress, simply come back and edit it. Make it all inclusive, so that all you have to do is point us less technically adept folks to it and let us sink or swim. IMO, PSW should have done that at post #1, but why not start now and help cut down on the chapters of needless reading you mentioned?

At one point, I offered to write up a document with all the most up-to-date knowledge that we had if folk were interested. Not a single person was interested, IIRC no-one even responded to the post.

If it's well-written and coherent and speaks to the intended audience (those of us without a PHD in quantum mechanics), it would be very well received.

Write it and they will come. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Col-

What this thread DOES need is organization.

Why not have one post that you repeatedly edit with the most up to date, clostest thing to success that each of you have. When you make progress, simply come back and edit it. Make it all inclusive, so that all you have to do is point us less technically adept folks to it and let us sink or swim. IMO, PSW should have done that at post #1, but why not start now and help cut down on the chapters of needless reading you mentioned?

Completely agree about the organization.

I'd have thought a FAQ on page 1 might have evolved after 5 years?!!

Seriously, I'm wading through treacle with those first 120 pages. i reckon if you took out the repetition (& also had a FAQ), then you could easily slim those first 120 pages down to about 25 pages....if I was cynical, I could have have almost thought the thread was being kept purposely long for the Kudos?!

Col, about me wanting more technical info...I didn't mean in isolation (you are correct ....technical info on it's own isn't a whole lot better than just trial & error results!). But we've had the trial & error (lots of it) , we have the theories (some good...some waaay bad!)...surely after 5 years, it's time to give the project a little more disicplined scientific approach?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok,

after having followed this thread for a long time keeping it in my bookmarks, I wanted to add a small point:

Being a guitar player who thinks that Sustainiac could be improved I am finding this thread at the peak of my interest.

Being a guitar player who doesn't have any electronic skills, I am finding this thread at the peak of my frustations.

I mean, I would love to find one of the two possibilities:

-find a detailed summary of the state of the art reached by the thread so that I can give someone all the informations to build my new sustain circuit, or

-find someone on this list who's able and available to make one for me.

There are some really brilliant heads working on this theme and it's a pity this thing is staying reserved "to the ones who know how to do it" instead of being available "to the ones who want to use it".

I have no friends with electronic skills who love me enough to swim into this huge book of thoughts to make a sustain thing for me :-(

anyway, enjoy the sustaining thread.

my best,

Luca

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi... i am a begginer in this area...

i need help with my project...

this is mi design.... i don't know if is correct .. please help.

5072982.bad63d22.560.jpg

and.. sorry about my english... i am from spain ...

thanks...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi... i am a begginer in this area...

i need help with my project...

this is mi design.... i don't know if is correct .. please help.

5072982.bad63d22.560.jpg

and.. sorry about my english... i am from spain ...

thanks...

Hi camilo,

I see no fatal errors, nice fancy switch on your tone pot!

1. In your configuration the signal that is used by the sustainer is the same as the one that is selected with the pickup switch. The bridge position should work properly. The middle and combination postion could give squeal noise, but that is nothing unusual.

2. No cap in series with VR3 (between pin 1 and 8). This could affect the DC offset (voltage at pin 5 not exactly 4.5 volt). This is not a big problem. Without limiter/compressor the IC will go into overdrive anyway!

3. No Zobel network. (100 nF cap + 10 ohm resistor.) This could lead to oscillation. I see you have some space left on the printboard so If you have oscillation add the network after C5.

Good luck with the installation and tell us the results

Fresh Fizz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@camilo

I would add the Zobel network, like C7 and R8 in this schematic.

For the rest I would say: Stick to your plan and build it!

@col and everybody who likes it longwinded -if not, sorry guys [Yawn on]

I think that there are 2 types of people who visit this forum. People who want to build a sustainer device but aren't interested in theories at all. And then there is a group of people who like to brainstorm and show up with new schematics and theories, the visitors of the forum that stick, I would say.

Personally I don't believe in a scientific approach if that means we need to know scientific theories in order to build a sustainer device. (Though that doesn't mean that I'm not interested in theories.) And it's certainly possible that a new aquired insight could help us develop a completely different and better sustainer device.

But something else is missing. A systematic approach to get the optimal performance. Systematic is a big word for collecting data while changing one parameter at a time. That's how Pete has optimized his driver for use with an LM386. In my first post I came up with a calculation method for the phase shift of a sustainer driver. The electric specs of my driver appeared to be optimal. The bigger the self-inductance, the stronger the magnetic field. But when the self-inductance gets too big compared to the 8 ohms (real component) resistance you loose bandwidth. How did Pete do it? He took copper wire of different thickness and made 8 ohm coils using the same type iron core and magnet and compared the drivers.

I applied the same method while building the electrical part of the sustainer device.

I tested the driver with a simple preamp (TDA7231A). In my case that didn't work well, I couldn't get decent sustain on a large part of the fretboard. In Pete's case this simple configuration worked. I would say it's because the difference in guitars. Maybe my guitar doesn't sustain as well or the sounds per string per note are not so well-balanced. I had to resort to performing enhancing drugs!

First came the experiments with overdrive. But no matter how I varied gain level, output level, pre distortion eq, post distortion eq, I always ended up with good sustain that was no matter what accompanied by fizz.

So there was no way around building a limiter. I chose the MXR Dynacomp/Ross because I'm familiar with that one. My sustainer performs really well except for some fizz on the bass strings when playing more than one string. But I only did one rough setup for the output level, ± 1 Watt (circuitry at midpup position, too lazy to remove, put back and tune strings!) But I'm confident that when I would experiment with output level, compression level and low-cut I could reduce fizz significantly or even make it disappear.

I've listened to some of the sustainer videos on YouTube. The only thing I like to know is how to get that mixed mode sound, it starts with a sustaining fundamental but then goes into a harmonic note.

What I'm trying to say is that there is no reason not to have an operating sustainer even when using a simple LM386 and a simple compressor. What I feel is needed is a sustainer endorsed by the forum and a sustainer cookbook with instructions how to build that sustainer. That would be basically a recap of the mainstream of the 300 pages up to now. Take a few drivers to choose from: single coil strat-like, single coil with blade and ceramic bar magnet, humbucker. Use a design based on the LM Squeezer as sustainer/poweramp.

Of course I would appreciate it when somebody would elaborate on the cutting edge sustainer he is designing. But I can tell how it works for myself, I'd like figuring out things by myself and have the honor be the first to publish it on the forum. [/Yawn off]

Cheers

Fresh Fizz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello again...just looking in after moving to my island...getting a bit chilly down here! Good to see the thread continues the tradition of long threads!

Still...the computer didn't survive the move too well...blew the power supply and CPU...but am now on dial up and awaiting ADSL service in the near future...fingers crossed!

...

camilo...I suspect there are some problems with that switching system...the tone pot switches on power, but how is the other pickups bypassed so that only the bridge pickup is operational when the sustainer is switched on? I'd also add any of the mods like the zobel that can help control potential oscillation as per the hi-gain LM386 data sheet and seen here from time to time and discussed a fair bit. Perhaps the wiring of the selector could be used so that the sustainer works only when the bridge pickup is selected but it may take some working.

...

There are a few streams or camps I guess that have become more polarized in recent times. One is the pursuit of an improved sustaining device which by necessity takes a lot of work and innovation. Then there are the simple approaches with the restrictions on performance that can come from that. However, I think that you can, and people have, created quite good, even professional performance from the simple approaches that compare well with the sustainiac and fernandes systems and if the limitations of such devices are accepted. In some aspects there are "improvements" such as not using any power when not in use and significantly smaller circuits as well as the option of driver types and switching to suit the installation type.

However, once you start looking for improved polyphonic response or things like a mid driver things get very complicated indeed. And, having done some work in these directions including the hex systems there are perhaps not the returns one might expect for the amount of effort that is required to make the things.

...

Meanwhile, given my present situation/location, all my project work has been boxed up and not likely to re-emerge till at least after winter at this stage. I am likely to be doing a bit more playing and possibly recording and I may well have some use for the sustainer along the way that might demonstrate what can be achieved with the simpler approach.

More power to those that seek to push the boundaries of course. For myself I found there to be some fundamental obstacles and I don't think that necessarily 'theory' will surmount...but I may well be wrong and perseverance may well rule the way. The end result may well be more complex than the average DIYer might wish to embrace of course. In my hex designs cross talk was a fundamental problem...in some of the mid driver things I could get it to work with one or other of the pickups selected, but not both at once...hmmm...and every guitar seems to have it's own idiosyncrasies to tackle.

Still, I am happy with the way the tele worked out for instance and it is worth while addition to what has become my main guitar and workhorse instrument. One of these days I will attempt to finish my strat project with the ultra thin coil pickup/driver (the sustainer has been tested as working and built into other guitars).

Anyway...just passing, thought I'd drop in and see what's happening and if progress has been made...

pete

ps...thaks FF for all the references to my work. I don't think that the LM386 is a secret to the success of my builds, it was just a cheap and available poweramp chip for battery operation. I did try some others, but found that the LM386 to be adequate and cheaper than the alternatives I tried at least with the same drivers...they all seemed to work. I always included the zobel and other components as the data sheet version was what came as standard with the CHAmp kits I originally used (these are cheaper than the sum of individual components in them!)...various preamps were tried and all worked in their fashion...originally a lot of gain was used, but in my more recent versions very little gain if any is involved in the preamp stage, mainly it is there to prevent loading.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 04/08/2008 at 7:03 PM, psw said:

Good news...the tele project has made a leap forward today and I have been able to get the sustainer wired in and a few other features to this guitar. The sustainer seems to work really well and after much fiddling around go it all to fit into this guitar. The circuit fitted easily under the bridge HB but the rest and the battery are housed into a standard tele cavity which is pretty amazing given the amount of wiring in the thing.

 

There is still a little switch pop, but better than some I have done. The guitar is totally passive except when the sustainer is in

 

Controls are volume, drive and tone (for some reason I am having trouble with this). I have used a three way gibson style selector and a push pull on the volume as a phase switch. A push pull on the drive control operates the harmonic function. A single toggle turns the sustainer on. A small LED lights up when on (I couldn't resist but is pretty subtle) and I even found a tiny SMD push button for a secret kill switch!

 

The guitar is very quiet but the sustainer puts out a huge sound maxed out...pretty stunning IMHO :D

 

I hope to post some pics soon once...but it is pretty cool that it worked out and after I re-setup the guitar again I will be giving it a good workout and see if I can do some sound clips so you can hear the thing.

hi Pete i live in australia I am a 78 Y,old amature guitarist i found this site & your GREAT SUSTAINER work MAGIC..

I AM BUILDING ONE for my old 20th  annaver ery squire STRAT.

I WILL LET YOU KNOW my progress.

Many thanks & have a great xmas .barry in oz.

 

pete

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 08/10/2008 at 8:25 AM, psw said:

 

No, no...I've made my mistakes and tried to learn...

 

The sustainer will also do that...I remember the first time I saw the string jumping about...I showed my daughter and she was amazed at it....I caught her sneeking in and trying it just to see the thing move...

 

Part of the attraction of these things is this "magic"...

 

The ebow is particularly good at it because it is only picking up the signal from one string...no cross talk...and the driver only driving that one string..plus you can move it to the most advantageous spot and it can draw on the magnetic energy of the pickup. Get close to the pickup...and it pickups up the sound emanating from the driver too...

 

A sustainer has to put out more energy and the resonance of the string decides from the mono signal how it will vibrate from this mix of signals. The fundamental mode sustains chords better, as the physical properties of the strings are better able to 'filter' what parts of the signal will drive them...

 

The problem is as I say...the cross talk between driver and pickups that are intrinsically magnetically linked at any close proximity and avoiding the pickup hearing the driver and so going into oscillation when powered up enough to move the string.

 

pete

Hi Guys I AM NEW Here,,,to this site because of my interest in this magic sustainer thread that PETE has done the ground work,for us DIY FELLERS,,.

MY Advice to all interested in building this SUSTAINER, is "READ,THE WHOLE,THREAD, Before asking to many questions,

Cheers from an old 78 y,old diy guitarist...BARRY IN SA..

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/05/2009 at 12:52 PM, psw said:

Hi there...

 

Long time readers of the thread will perhaps have wondered what has happened of late...so for people who subscribe to this thread I thought I'd share some personal news.

 

Obviously things have gotten on top of me in recent times...to top it off the house I rent is going to be sold so a while back I was given a 60 day notice...in the middle of a housing crisis and rapidly increasing rents due to the economic crisis.

 

It has been something of a panic of course and having difficulty remaining where I am I have made a far left field life changing decision that I hope will improve my health and attitude.

 

I will be moving in a couple of weeks to an island! Largely rural and small it is a little cold (is famous for it's penguins!) but a beautiful spot...I will be close to a beach and can even see the sea from my bedroom window. Although cold and isolated in winter it is a well known destination for tourists and holiday makers and the little 8,000 population swells to 40,000 when the weather picks up. 3.5 million visit the island each year to see the wildlife, surf and such.

 

As a city boy all my life, this will be a dramatic and sudden change but one I hope for the better. The house I have got is beautiful and hopefully the time away (at least a year) in the back of beyond will do me some good and help me reassess my priorities and get back to a more open mind.

 

I may even resurrect my playing, get a handle on recording...mainly though I will be trying to eat well and exercise, take in the fresh air and let go of some of the major problems that have associated from the loss of my children and in more recent times my work.

 

Anyway...not sure how the internet access will be, most likely my normal email and other connections will require termination due to my ISP not being able to operate in this remote area in a couple of weeks..but I will be looking in with interest when I can for sure.

 

Good luck to all with their projects and thanks to all those who have been supportive or simply put up with my long winded posts over the years. There are links in my signature to a few other related threads and a bit of a presence related to this thread at various sites like aron's stompbox forum and guitar nuts 2.

 

pete

Hi pete I wish you well for your future life &very much THANKYOU For all the ground work you have given us on the sustainer project..it has been invaluable ,advice & you have proved it can be done with patience & the following of the entire thread.

All the best Mate,BARRY IN SA.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×