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psw

Sustainer Ideas

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Lol, don't mention Wix hehe. He's full of arrogance so you wont get anything out of him even if he spoke all languages in the world fluently. I think his head is three times up his own ass, but thats another story.

Nice work psw, can't wait to see what this thing sounds like once the circuit has had a bit of the old LK magic on it.

Since there is talk from you now about going onto something else. I still think it would be beneficial to you to finish this project first, but the main point is that I just want to wish you luck with any future projects and hope I can play any kind of part in future projects. It's been a pleasure following this through the development, its been real fun and i would guess i've learned something from it too.

Cheers psw for the sustainer and much more!!!!! :D

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hey guys, I have just registered solely for the purpose of joining in on this topic.

I've been playing the Fernandes Revolver Pro 7 for a few years now and i absolutely love the possibilities i have with 7 strings and a 7string-sustainer!

My problem is: If i ever want to buy a new guitar i want a 7 string guitar and i want to put a sustainer in that one as well, only the 7 string sustainer kits can't be bought separately! And sustainiac has discontinued making 7 string sustainer kits. So I'd like to have a go at your sustainer PSW, it sounds about the same as the fernandes sustainer. Could you make me a prototype with a driver suited for a 7 string guitar?

Also, our bassist who plays a 6 string bass guitar would like the possibility of infinite sustain on his bass (needless to say there aren't any sustainers for 6 string basses). I know sustain on a bass is possible because Peter Steele from type o negative has a prototype of a Fernandes Bass Sustainer in his bass but the damn thing never went into production.

Anyways, you might wanna take a look at my bandsite. If you want an idea of why i use a sustainer check the videoclip for "drowning".

HiraedD.com

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Hi there fellas

r00ky and others...this last sustainer of mine actually sits on top of the bridge pickup. I'm really questioning this and am trying to think of ways other than the last idea to move it.

As far as seven strings go...if you've got a seven-string pickup, there's no reason it shouldn't work. The wound strings tend to be easier to drive cause there's more steel in them.

Now for bass...I hadn't thought about it but I guess something would work but my driver's are probably too small :D . Bass is kind of interesting though. I've had a fair bit of trouble with string bending and pickup distances but on a bass everything is bigger and string bending may not be a problem so maybe there's a project for me. I guess there's just not the market there but you could do some cool things...bowing, super long notes, harmonics and tapping licks would be so much easier on those big strings if something was driving them! Everything is market driven.

I actually got into this by getting into making pickups which is something I want to get back to. I may find the answer in combining the two to make a sustaining pickup as it gives me more options.

I saw Joe Satriani here the other night and was really inspired by his use of controlled feedback. Of course with two signiture stacks and his trademark saturated sound your going to get sustain aren't you, but it really is an area that's under explored.

I was chatting with emre/transient by pm/email about the project and I really didn't come up with what I wanted which is clean sustain. We also had a list of criteria that we wanted from a sustainer (choice of pickups, little or no mod, etc) and while meeting all of them was unlikely I don't know that I quite got the one's that I, myself, really wanted.

I looked at this and wondered if the "acoustic", vibrating transducer wasn't really the way to go but, after building an "exact" replica of the feedback generator article from a page or so back, I wasn't happy with the results (at least powered by batteries). You actually get more joy if you don't cut up the speaker! Emre/transient is into fretless guitars and that's an instrument area where sustainers are something of a must, hence his interest. He made a few things to try out also but everythings harder than it looks.

LK, if your reading this...haven't sent the drivers yet...busy on the domestic front but I'll get to it, promise!

BTW...does it really sound like the fernandes system?...I thought you could get a clean sound out of them...mine just overloads everything there's so much gain. It's actually a bit of a trick. It couples the pickup with the drivers to make a kind of transformer so it's not just the driver but the two of them together that creates the effect...well at least on my last version.

Anyhow, one thing I've done is put my Les Paul back together (I forgot how good the thing plays...and how heavy the thing is!) so I'll try out the thing on a humbucker guitar and see how that works. Ideally I'd want the thing right off the pickups completely. For me, I'd want it clean so I can play my own kind of novo surf/blues style...but then that's me.

psw

oh and Bio...I'd finish it if I could...I'm just stumped at the moment. My latest project is a wardrobe...so that might scare me back to think of something, sometimes you just gotta do something completely different....pete

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well, the only difference in seven-string sustainers is that their wider, so they fit nicely into the holes in the body, and so the magnetic vibration reaches all the strings :D I don't know how it is with bass sustainers... maybe it's just the same but i can imagine strings of that thickness need more power to be vibrated.

You might notice that my band's sustainer needs are way off-market which is exactly our problem since we're not rich or famous enough to "force" fernandes to make custom sustainers.

Anyways... Some local guitar tech friends of mine (í'm not a guitar tech myself) are trying to figure out how to make custom sustainers for me and our bassplayer (not for commercial purposes other than us rewarding them for their good work). So I wanna ask you to if you could lend them a hand with some tips or perhaps a fully illustrated step by step tutorial :D

So i dunno, if you're interrested in making us custom sustainers or lending my friends a hand in figuring out what to do please contact me at r00key@home.nl

(ofcourse we can negotiate a reward...)

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r00ky

Nice website...still downloading MP3 (ancient PC).

So your playing Ibanez 7 strings, am I right? with humbuckers.

Basically, at this stage my latest sustainers are very experimental and still need a bit of work. There's an incredible amount of gain (like x10 in volume) when the thing is on and I haven't tested it yet on proper humbuckers.

I've done experiments with just about anything I can think of. I believe people have had luck by getting a cheapo single coil and stripping the wires off it (a guitar repair place actually gave me two tele ones) and winding 8 ohms of wire around it. You use quite thick enameled wire like you find in crossovers from an electronics shop. You can wind by hand as your not looking at thousands of turns.

You'll have to make your own since your using 7 strings so I'd suggest a blade design. Get some steel and attach magnets to the bottom and glue up some kind of bobbin to keep the wire on.

You'll need some kind of amplifier such as the "little gem" which is based on an LM386 chip and gives about .5watts from a 9 volt battery. You may find an electronics shop will have a kit for an amp based on this chip. You'll also need some kind of preamp or it will suck a lot of power from your pickups.

Now the guitar will need to be wired so that all pickups are off except for the bridge and the "driver" you've made sit up close to the neck. You'll want to take a signal to your amplifier directly from the pickup before the controls, say where it attaches to the selector.

Now, will it work? As I say some people report that it works OK...not great but it works. Now sustainiac and fernandes are supposed to have all kinds of circuit trickery to address phase differences but I've had no problem getting a single string sustainer going based on this principle. This is basically how magnetic sustainers work but there's quite a bit of fiddling around. You could try holding the driver above the stings by the way to test it out but be aware that if you hold it above a pickup thats already in there, there is extra magnetism from it that may be helping or stopping it from working effectively.

As you can see from the length of this thread, once you start and get a result, you kind of get drawn in to the idea only to find that it's trickier than you think. Meanwhile your guitar at the very least will have wires and things sticking out!

My sustainer thing works a bit differently but is still very experimental and I would'nt what to attempt to use it in a live situation as yet...just to unreliable and a sudden 10x boost could deafen more than just the front row!

I'm still working on various ideas still and I'd be happy for you guys to get in touch if I could help but at the moment I don't know that I'd have anything that would really be of use just yet to you guys.

Basically, I'm sure there is some way that a more versitile sustaining system, and cheaper too, could be made to work, it just needs someone to work out how. If your guys are interested in working something out, that's great but it's quite a bit of fiddling about. You haven't thought of using an ebow by the way, that would work on any guitar and be cheaper too.

Anyway my email, etc is on my member's page here or simply post on this thread if you like. I know emre/transient has tried a few experiments with some success. If anyone else has or is giving it a go, perhaps you'd like to share your experiences here, even if they didn't quite work out, or maybe youv'e got some great idea that one of us could try out or shoot down in flames...no,no...actually I think the answer will be simple and probably seem a little silly at first. I'm sure that's the only reason my latest version doesn't seem to have been used before (or maybe it has but no one's saying).

Anyway, best of luck r00ky

psw / pete

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Hey Pete,

I'm actually playing a Fernandes Revolver Pro 7, which already has a sustainer. I'm just kind of planning on my next guitar which will need a custom 7 string sustainer simply because i don't really want to take the sustainer out of my fernandes. (my next guitar will probably be a custom built one because i want all kinds of abnormal features like 7 strings, a longscale neck, a U-bar tremolo and ofcourse the almighty sustainer)

Anyways. My band plays gothic doom... Doom meaning we have reeaaalllyy slow parts .. (60 bpm and less) and the sustainer keeps the chords from dying out. Plus i use it a lot for high squeeling feedback which sounds really cool before you do a pickslide. And i use the sustainer as a handy tool aswell, for when i'm grabbing my mic and singing with my hand on the mic or having a drink while playing riffs with only my left hand (people ask me how the hell i do that, you know the secret :D )

Our bassplayer has a 6 string bassguitar which doesn't have a sustainer but he uses the feedback from his speaker to do what i do with the sustainer but he'd actually like to have a sustainer on his bass aswell.. In the newer songs there are parts where we'll both just hold a note for a second or ten before continuing to the next part :D

Anyways, as soon as I have more news from my guitar tech friends i'll get in touch with you through email. I heard they were trying to analyse a Fernandes sustainer kit to see what parts they would need to build something similar and maybe even improved.

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sOUNDS GOOD r00ky

anything I can do to help...

If you look up the hoover patent (there's a link page on about page 7 of this thread I think) or Floyd Rose's sustainer patent you'll see the lengths that they go to address phase difference. On my system I actually addressed this problem in the design of the drivers and I also use very strong but unusually arranged magnetc fields from tiny rare earth magnets which keep the thing focused and cuts down on interferance with the other pickups. Therefore, my circuitry is much simpler (pretty much as I described above) because the driver/s are not simply modified pickups. It's another way to go I guess but not yet really ready as I say.

I actually have a guitar planned that's a kind of reversed strat (tribute to hendrix in a way) but will have the controls more conventionally placed. The top will be shaped (not flat) of aluminium sheet supported by expanded foam on a timber back. I really wanted to put a sustainer and my new bridge design on it but I might need a couple of prototypes to get it just right. Anyway, I was thinking of a single humbucker ('cause I've got one hanging around) and a sustainer of a more conventional design and working so, who knows, maybe I'll be doing some work in this area in the near future. Thicker strings and dropped tunings should actually help matters because the frequencies are lower (not so fast) and there's more metal to play around with magnetically so you never know, it may all work in your favour.

anyway, got to take my daughter to circus training...see ya

psw

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Hi, me again...

I'm supposed to have sworn off the sustainer project but since r00key and emre/transient are giving it a go, I did a few side experiments.

Firstly, I can get a really nice sustain if I use my cut down speaker "vibrator" to vibrate the string exactly where the string leaves the bridge. This confirms some of my ideas about this node being an ideal place to initiate vibrations. However it's a bit impractical to do and there's not enough power to shake the whole bridge it has to be in touch with the string.

Also, it makes a really interesting "powered" slide. Rubbing the back of the speaker along the strings provides infinite sustain an a slide...so there you go!

Secondly, I did some more tests on my 8 ohm "pickup" driver and it does work in a fashion. Can only use the bridge pickup, etc but it does work but seems to want more power. Posibly I used to thin a wire for it or the coil could be more compact to achieve more intensity. Also a blade design would be a lot better for string bending, etc. If I get time I'll try a more compact blade design (not as deep a coil).

I mention this, even though it goes right back to stuff we were going on about at the start of the thread and some experiments I did then because, this is exactly where r00key should start with his seven string driver...a blade with a magnet underneath and a coil of about 8 ohms of fairly thick insulated (enameled) wire around it.

Of course there are all those phase problems still to contend with and it might take more power to run than is practical but it's a place to start.

The more I think of it the more I'm appreciate the whole ebow concept. They get around problems of phase difference by allowing the driver to move. They also utilize the pickup's magnetic field and simplify driving the string geatly by only having to amplify one string...concentrating all the power on that one task. Really is a stroke of genius really...so simple. I was reading up on patents and someones got one that kind of incorporates the ebow concept into a glove! Well it's an idea I guess, I'd rather an ebow holster and treat the thing like a slide, something that inhibits normal playing technique but creates a whole new kind of effect.

Anyway, I hope that's of some help, I've a few other ideas to try but I'm running a little dry...

psw / pete :D

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ive read a few pages (hard to read all 44 in one day), but what is a hex you reffer to? Thanks.

-Jamie

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Hex is Latin for SIX. It's used to refer to a hex pickup such as roland systems use for their MIDI guitar synths. Basically it's a pickup for each string.

Here it refers to me using a driver for each string rather than a single driver across all the strings. It's a part of me being able to make them so small and opens the door to adjust the drivers for each string. Some strings are easier than others to drive as there's more metal in them and the tensions are different. The two highest strings tend to be more difficult for this reason to drive. Also the lowest notes tend to predominate and the hex system was pursued to try and get a better response when sustaining chords.

One problem with using some of my hex designs is that note bending would take the string out of the driver's very focused magnetic field. The only way to address this was to try and mount them closer to the bridge where the strings are fixed. The problem here is that it's harder to drive (try picking right at the bridge, there's not much give in the strings, for a start...) and they're too close to the bridge pickup to avoid interferance.

So in my last version, the driver actually sits on top of the pickup and this "interferance" is used to drive the system even harder. Unfortunately you get an enormous volume boost as the pickup is now picking up both the strings and the drive signal through its coils, and working in a manner similar to a transformer!

Now the fact that it works, and that it appears to use less power, means that it may indeed have some potential, probably in a specially built driver/pickup combination rather than sticking it on top of your existing pickup and lowering it 4-5mm to allow it to fit on there.

But it doesn't yet perform in the way I would have liked or met the criteria of this project which was to try and achieve the following...(or at leat some of them)

Little or no modification

able to sustain chords better

able to use pickup selector

able to use rechargable batteries

etc.

I'm taking a bit of a break for a bit on this project but I may return to basics and use conventional coil/s to make a sustainer system similar to what's available now that you could DIY. Ultimately, six pickups and drivers (hex, hex), like six ebows, one for each string would be the way to approach it but there's a lot of problems doing this so it's going to have to wait for another time.

As I said in my last post, the ebow itself, really is an elegantly simple device that overcomes a lot of problems like phase differences simply by the fact that it can be moved along the string and remains simple and power efficient because it is only trying to sense and drive the one string, not any or all from a mash of mixed signals. Perhaps I should look at some other way of making a really small ebow like device that wouldn't cramp the picking style so much.

so, hex means six...a driver for each string...

pete / psw

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Maybe, actually im sure you have thought about it, but what happens if you can take a regular single coil pickup and connect a driver some how to each magnet in the pickup. Wouldnt that give the correct range of field to pick up the bent and normal string, as well as give infinate sustain.

I am tired so if you have thought of that then im sorry, But i thought that would be a cool idea. But i dont know if the magnet will work like that for the sustainer.

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Well yes and no...

What you'd have is a hex driver...six drivers right. But they would only be as wide as the pole itself (1/4" maybe)...in the neck and middle positions a whole tone bend easily takes it into the field of another driver. My early drivers, and even the more recent ones have this problem.

There is also the influence of one driver to another to consider. Then, what signal are you feeding it...all the strings or do you also have a hex pickup...a pickup for every string? If you do that you'll need 6 amplifier circuits to drive them independently. If not, each string will recieve a mixed signal and it will be less efficient. You'll need to give it more power which means more interferance.

It all gets a little hairy. Now, if you wind an 4-8 ohm coil round a magnet and hold it over the string, say up near the neck away from the bridge pickup that's driving it, you will...like I did, immediately get an encouraging result. The test is if you played a number of strings would you get as good a result. Well no, but you will be able to get it to work if you move the driver to the sweet spot. Now if you have six drivers every fret and every string will have it's own "sweet" spot where the signal and the strings physical vibration are in sync. But then you can't move around the drivers all the time. What the current systems use are a system of capacitors to cause a progressive phase shift (or delay if you like)as the notes get higher to try and counteract the fact that the driver is fixed.

In my designs, I've tried to use separate drivers so that they can be set up to make a passable average for each string. They still receive mixed signals though. That's what I mean about the ebow...the driver can be moved to find the best spot and there is no mixed signal as it's only working on one string at a time. That makes it very simple electronically and of course is the ultimate in no mod sustainers if you like. But it does cramp the picking style somewhat.

anyway, there other ways to create sustain. I've always liked the idea of somehow vibrating the bridge. The strat/floyd tremolo is just asking for it as it already is on a piviot. I've been able to get something going on single strings with my little speaker experiment. Maybe it just needs some more powerfull transducer on the back of the block, away from the pickups...but then your looking at something that wouldn't run from batteries I suspect!

well, there you are, me thinking in circles again...thanks monkey!!!!

pete / psw

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psw, every thought you have is a mile long straight line, you're not thinking in circles. You've inspired so many people throughout this project (myself included) so even if this sustainer of yours implodes tomorrow, you've already had a massive sucess. Everyone throughout this thread has been captivated by you're stories, progress, reports etc, and look, you've now got two guys who want to do something that isn't out there on the market yet.

Good luck to those two guys who want to try a bass sustainer and a seven string sustainer, I don't know whether it would be as simple as just adding a bit more to a sustain to account for the 7th string, but i'm sure we'd all be interested in reading your progress with this, as we have been doing with psw's progress.

Good luck to you all!!!

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You've basically got two ways of dealing with this; there's the acoustical way, where you're shaking the bridge, and the elctrro-magnetic way, where you're shaking the magnetic field of the strings. the acoustical was is probably easier to perfect, but it's gonna take a lot of (phantom) power ; I think your best bet would be a hex pickup driving six piezo's on individual saddle's. The electrical way is obviously pretty cumbersome but I don't think you should just throw these 2 years of development away.

is it possible to physically overlap the driver elements so they have a wider range when string bending? also, maybe you could try driving the pickup rather than the string (as in tricking the magnetic field of the pickup directly rather than in trying to move the strings), I guess you're already doing this to an extent by stacking the driver on the pickup and effectively making use of the interference.

what if you put current through the strings itself. Could that in a way influence a magnetic field?

Anyway, i'm a firm believer of the credo "it can't be this bloody hard" :D ,so i really think you're close to solving this.

and about the ebow, yeah it's a great design but it doesn't sustain chords either now does it :D .

ready to help whenever you're ready,

Tim

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Acoustic sustainers suffer from the same problems as any other, once the signal is mixed there is a tendancy for the dominat frequency (string) to predominate. The hex system could be arranged so that each driver is more efficient at different frequencies and so perform better...that's perhaps the main reason I pursued the concept. I also found a way to easily make them small.

I did try overlaping them with twelve drivers but it worked no better and I suspect there was some interferance between them...also the power was now being outputed over twice the drivers so that the comparative strength in output was half that of six.

A wider driver may be adventageous as there is less chance that it would be sitting under a null point in the strings vibration. That's another reason why I was pursuing the bridge end of the string for the driver because, even though the bridge itself is a guaranteed null point (point of zero crossing) just ahead of it is a point where all harmonic vibrations exist.

I tried various piezo ideas but really they are quite fragile and don't really have the power to physically vibrate a string under that much tension over a bridge. Some kind of industrial piezo might do it with sufficient power I guess.

I also tried a small electric motor which was fun. Wire a motor to your amplifier and the motor will turn backwards and forwards just like a speaker move in and out. The electromagnetic interferance that's created from it's coil windings are also "in tune" with the frequencies of the notes. A relay or even a solanoid would have similar results. I thought there could be some scope for a vibration device in these experiments but they are just not sensitive enough for high frequencies and go all wierd when hit with multiple frequencies...they don't know which way to turn!

But no, I haven't given up on where I've come thus far, there may indeed be an ah-ha moment. But I'm a little short of time and ideas just now. Sometimes if you go back a bit you can see a new way forward, so I guess that's what I'm doing with my current thinking.

Anyway, must return to a cruel and dismal world...thanks for the encouragement, they brighten up some very dark days lately.

psw / pete

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I'm intrigued by the idea of a hex pickup and driver B)

My guitar tech knows someone that took the fernandes sustainer and replaced the driver with a EMG pickup because when the sustainer driver is in "off" position it will function as a normal pickup but it has a slight hiss in the sound. The guy didn't want this hiss so he replaced the driver with an EMG pickup and now the EMG pickup functions as a sustainer driver and when it's in "off" position it sounds as a regular EMG pickup. Now I don't know if this guy did any modifications on the EMG pickup itsself and we're trying to find out if he did and how...

If my guitar tech succeeds in replicating this EMG/Fernandes sustainer I could easily use a 7 string EMG pickup to make a 7 string sustainer :D

Or with a bit of luck even a 6 string bass sustainer!

(hell i'd have to pay for both the sustainer kit and the EMG pickup but it's well worth the money)

:D

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An EMG is just a normal pickup with an inbuilt preamp. That means it's got a high impedance and fine wires on the coil and would unlikely function as a sustainer, I would have thought. Generally, the current applied to a pickup through wires that fine and that many, will cause heat enough to destroy the pickup. The real problem is that a pickup is wound to thousands of ohms and a general poweramp will have an output impedance of 4,8 or 16 ohms. To put it another way, the driver acts simply like a speaker coil and the strings act as the cone, vibrating with the electromagnetic field generated in the coil by the amplifier. While the principle that the driver is a pickup in reverse is true, in a practical application, they are built to do different things.

That being said, the possible originator of the current sustainer systems, Micheal Brook, is supposed to use a seymour duncan pickup and all kinds of secret, probably impedance matching transformers to make it work (or he may simply have rewound the pickup as a driver. He has quiet a large contraption stuck to his guitar and external amplifiers to make the thing work, so perhaps it's possible but probably not practical. With an EMG you'd certainly have to bypass the preamp circuitry as you'd be passing the driving signal through the circuitry backwards!!

Perhaps he mean't that he used an EMG on his other pickup/s (not the driver), that would cirtainly make it quieter. It shouldn't make any extra noise when the thing is off if the guitar is sheilded right as the circuitry is bypassed and the guitar becomes a standard instrument. The sustainiac does have a preamp in their stelth plus model to allow the driver to act as a pickup when not in use for sustain that could make noise but I don't think that's whats been happening here.

Hex pickups and drivers would be the ultimate sustainer but difficult to achieve. Hex pickups exist for midi by roland and such...I'd be interested to know how they're made inside, simply six tiny coils I suspect. Bridge saddle piezo's are also hex pickups and I was working to try and use a DIY version of this to provide six individual signals. Then you'd need six drivers which also can be done but all of this would need to go down by the bridge and leave little if any room for your bridge pickup. It's all very difficult isn't it as your really redesigning the instrument!

pete /psw

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An EMG is just a normal pickup with an inbuilt preamp. That means it's got a high impedance and fine wires on the coil and would unlikely function as a sustainer, I would have thought. Generally, the current applied to a pickup through wires that fine and that many, will cause heat enough to destroy the pickup. The real problem is that a pickup is wound to thousands of ohms and a general poweramp will have an output impedance of 4,8 or 16 ohms. To put it another way, the driver acts simply like a speaker coil and the strings act as the cone, vibrating with the electromagnetic field generated in the coil by the amplifier. While the principle that the driver is a pickup in reverse is true, in a practical application, they are built to do different things.

That being said, the possible originator of the current sustainer systems, Micheal Brook, is supposed to use a seymour duncan pickup and all kinds of secret, probably impedance matching transformers to make it work (or he may simply have rewound the pickup as a driver. He has quiet a large contraption stuck to his guitar and external amplifiers to make the thing work, so perhaps it's possible but probably not practical. With an EMG you'd certainly have to bypass the preamp circuitry as you'd be passing the driving signal through the circuitry backwards!!

Perhaps he mean't that he used an EMG on his other pickup/s (not the driver), that would cirtainly make it quieter. It shouldn't make any extra noise when the thing is off if the guitar is sheilded right as the circuitry is bypassed and the guitar becomes a standard instrument. The sustainiac does have a preamp in their stelth plus model to allow the driver to act as a pickup when not in use for sustain that could make noise but I don't think that's whats been happening here.

Hex pickups and drivers would be the ultimate sustainer but difficult to achieve. Hex pickups exist for midi by roland and such...I'd be interested to know how they're made inside, simply six tiny coils I suspect. Bridge saddle piezo's are also hex pickups and I was working to try and use a DIY version of this to provide six individual signals. Then you'd need six drivers which also can be done but all of this would need to go down by the bridge and leave little if any room for your bridge pickup. It's all very difficult isn't it as your really redesigning the instrument!

pete /psw

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Well have you missed me?

Actually, I'll be away and probably out of internet access starting next week but I just thought I'd update things a little since people are still checking this thread out, even though it's found it's way back to page three.

Well, the good news is that after a short break from it, I pulled out some of my old prototypes, so if we all turn to about page 7 or so...

Basically I've gone back to winding a single pickup like coils of about 8-ohm and using some of these that I'd made back then with the circuitry that I've got now and it's all very encouraging.

This scheme has all the pitfalls of the current technology in that the thing is the size of a single coil (although I can probably get it smaller, but not tiny as I have done with my hex designs), you have to bypass all pickups but the bridge. In fact, it helps if you can find the sweet spot, which on my test guitar seems to be on the bridge side of the neck pickup.

That being said, it will work quite well if set up just right and is a fraction of the cost of the current technology. Best of all for you guys, there's nothing new or tricky going on for me to protect, so I don't mind sharing all the details so far so you can make your own, or at least try it out and maybe come up with some improvements to the basic design.

Most of all, I'd like it to be used to make some music with it and have some fun. I've got my Les Paul back together and am enjoying getting into playing again. It's important not to forget what these things are for sometimes, I think I've been guilty of losing sight of this but it's like finding an old friend again.

My present device is a 5mm deep bobbin with about 100 turns (I lost count as I was watching a die hard DVD at the time...it's therapy, ok), anyway you need to check it as you go with a multimeter so that you reach 8-ohms.

The wire I used was enamelled wire of 0.2mm of the type used in making crossover coils...you'll find it pretty easy to get and when I measured the whole reel I got about 60 ohms so you can make a few or screw them up and not panic. It's nothing like as thin as pickup wire (usually 0.063 and finer than most hair) so with care you shouldn't have a problem winding it by hand. Make sure that it's reasonably tight and even. When it's done solder some leads to it and make sure they dont touch. Also, this thing will try to vibrate any loose wiring so it will need to be potted. I simply used PVA making sure it gets right into the windings then tightly wound it with electricians tape. My coils still not set after a couple of days, but it will eventually I'm sure and it's working ok.

The core could be of steel and you can put ceramic magnets below it to provide the magnetism. Long ones like the one I found from an old junk pickup might be hard to find so look in a craft shop or somewhere and use a few...just make sure they are all up the same way. You could get tricky and use adjustable bolts and nuts for the core but the blade design has advantages to for spreading the magnetism evenly for string bending.

Now this thing will have to go up near the neck somewhere so once connected you can move it about to find the best position, be aware that the magnetism of installed pickups will effect it.

Anyway, first you need to build yourself a LM386 based amplifier like the little gem, check out your electronics store's kits as they may have exactly what you need. The little gem will probably work as it has a buffer stage but I've also got quite a bit of pre amp on mine (you'll need some kind of buffer or preamp to stop the circuit loading down your pickup and sucking up your output and tone in the process.)

Then again my pickups are a P'sOS so don't have the high output some of you guys will be using so it should work out with a simple buffer stage...well it should at least work.

Take a direct line from the bridge pickup and play around ebow style. You'll need to rig the on/off switch so that all of the pickups are bypassed or you'll get a deafening squeel...same if you let it get anywhere near the bridge pickup so be warned. Anyway, someone else can give us all a heads up on installation and switching.

For me, I've had in mind for a while an aluminium topped reverse strat with a humbucker in the bridge and a piezo pickup somewhere (DIY job). I'll be wanting a sustainer in there (of course) and since there's no neck pickup, and I'm building it, I can put the thing in, anywhere I want.

Just bear in mind that I can't guarrantee any of this but it should work. Also, I'm sure the sustainiac and fernandes systems probably work better and suspect the sustainiac guys have got this technology covered so if money's not an object, give them a call.

Oh, and one more thing, DIY means Do It YOURSELF ok. I'll help if I can but remember you have to do it and if you route out your guitar and don't like it, dont come running to me, ok. (personally routers make me nervous!)

Anyway, I hope this helps some of you guys. For Transient/emre who wants it for a fretless which has pretty thick strings (and a glass fretboard!) it should work really well. For R00key, who wants it for a 7 string, he'll just need to make it wider, the lower strings are far easier to drive so again, it may be just what he needs, especially if it's the low strings he particularly wants to sustain and get harmonics on. As for his bass player, it may work too for the same reasons but may need a bigger magnet and/or more power that could be added in the preamp stages and probably a change of output capacitor to work those super low frequencies.

So, you see I'm working to form with the super long posts but I thought I'd contribute this before they take me away (ha ha) and people bring the thread back saying, what ever happened to that sustainer guy!!!!

So get those questions in while you can as I've only got a few more days

psw / pete

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Whats happening to your internet connection? The austrailian government aren't taking you away are they due to threats to national security with your crazy devices :D . Anyway, good stuff psw, keep it up, i'm still watching and reading this thread.

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oh great!

I feel a lot better now it's back on page one...

It so happens I have some junk pickups lying around I can rip apart...so I'm gonna give

this a shot.

Any things to look out for with active pickups (as they are already buffered). Also, how much of an amplification factor is the circuit supposed to shoot for?

Tim

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OK Tim,

First...how bad are they? If the bobbin is the size of a regular pickup (about 1 cm high/thick) the bobbin is probbably too thick. I tried it with a conventional pickup with separate steel slugs and a ceramic mag and it struggled. The overlapping of the wires helps create a strong electromagnet and this spread them a little thin. I also used thinner wire (0.125) but the thinner the wire the less turns required to make the resistances and the less current will pass through it, so you lose power. so perhaps that's not a direct comparison.

If they are really bad, like the ones I found, they will be about half to a third the thickness of a regular pickup. Eitherway you could make some kind of bobbin...try thin cardboard reinforced with glue or cut up some plastic folders or something.

For the core cut up some steel or find some other ferromagnetic stuff and make a blade (you could make the bobbin around this). I'd avoid separate polepieces and pole piece magnets as these will be too focused on the string and stringbending could be a problem. Tou could get tricky and laminate a blade from thin steel plates or perhaps 12 bolts and nuts to make a continuous core like carvin do with their pickups.

My core is about 5 mm wide because thats the bobbin I had but a wider core like this may be of benefit to avoid null points in the strings vibration (see the width of the sustainiac blade core/s). I believe that too much and the type of material (at least from my experiments) the slower the electromagnet will change states (from north to south) causing phase problems.

I found ferrite and pure powdered iron cores worked well, but I think you'll be struggling to find and work with this stuff (unless you want to take a hacksaw to transformers and such...no don't do that!). These are all elements that were explored in my early work and the prototype I dug up was only 3mm thick including the magnet and worked ok.

Now wind the coil and stick your magnet/s to the bottom and your driver's ready. Don't get fancy with covers and all cause it does need to be close to the strings, work on the aesthetics later.

Now, with the LM386 the gain is set by pins 1 and 8 of the chip. not connected to anything gives 20x amplification, connected together gives 200x. Connect the two pins 1 and 8 with a 10uF electrolytic capacitor to give you that 200x amplification and help with high frequency oscillation. (I think that cap is in the Little Gem circuit). If you find a kit they usually have a resistor to make a less powerful for audio quality...replace it with a wire. The output capacitor is typically 220uF you can reduce it to improve high frequency response if you want to tinker. You'll find a circuit in the LM386 application notes, I just don't have it handy just now or check out the runoffgroove.com web site for the little gem circuit which will give a perfboard layout.

This should be enough to get you underway but if it's unclear after looking at the circuit, let me know.

No Bio, the Australian Government aren't with it...they're stuck in an era before electrification of the guitar so all my work I'm sure slips under the radar (actually, that's not hard as apparently they've found savings in flight control so that radar coverage isn't what it used to be either...).

No, I'm afraid, due to ill health I'm going to hospital...soon as the government free up some space in the corridors...Who knows, I might escape to an internet cafe somewhere.

I'd be really greatful if others were to take up the sustain project and get some variations on this theme. It would be a real coup for Project Guitar if this web site was to be able to offer a practical DIY sustainer that could be understood and easily built. Not only that, with more people working on bobbins, cores and such and finding their own solutions, we will no doubt further the development of the technology.

For those sceptics of my work who are thinking...what were the other 40 pages all for then...if you read the pages you'd see I was attempting to get a better system with pickup choice, polyphonic response and no-mod installation...I was able to get infinite sustain from the first design on with varying degrees of success and the first design actually works quite well, albeit on one string only!

Oh and Tim, no active pickups should not be a problem, may even be better but you'll need some more room for another battery I'm afraid. Also, remember that cutting up your guitar is a commitment so be sure your happy before you install anything permanently. This is the reasoning for my no-mod work. I'm sure I will be able to develop a compact driver with RE magnets that could be surface mounted, the original prototype for instance is able to do this, so the work has already been done, it just needs more refinement.

Anyway, bye for now...good luck

pete / psw

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You wouldn't need another battery for the sustainer, just splice off your 9V already in there, current consumption is not very high at all on either circuit. Active pickups are probably better for the sustainer because the impedance is lower and much more suited for the LM386. I might actually suggest a preamp based off of a FET or an Op-Amp so that you can have a very high impedance (what passive pickups are) at the input and be able to have lower impedance, from a few megohms down to 10Kohms or less. From what I understand, you'll have a wider frequency band and less noise coming from the LM386.

As for the driver, how about using soft iron laminations (like on a transformer or those old Gretsch pickups) if you don't have access to any rare earth, that way, you could have a humbucker-type configuration. It would NOT be a humbucker, although the sensor could being a single coil size humbucker if one wanted, I'm not sure whether or not the hum picked up by a single-coil would be induced upon the strings and picked up or not. The iron laminations would insure as much magnetic strength as possible, with little eddy currents nonetheless, is in the coil, increasing how much this sustainer will feedback. One coil would be a normal pickup coil as the "microphone" (input) and this coil, of course wound with MUCH thicker wire, would be the "speaker" (output). 28 AWG magnet wire got me in the 8 ohm region filling a humbucker bobbin and takes like 400 to 500ish winds. I'm planning to try making a sustainer really soon, it's mainly a matter of finding a guitar to put it in. I also just so happen to be ordering some Neodymium rod magnets for other reasons as well...

It could easily be made as a single coil sized device (stacked coils)

I'd definetely put such a device in the neck or middle pickup slot in a guitar.

Just my 2 cents.

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Hi Kyle

Obviously you have some extra knowledge and experience that this thread needs!

Now that you mention it Tim runs EMG's which due to their on board preamps are already low impedance so he could very well not require any buffering or preamps to the LM386 circuit. His case is the exception unless you also have active circuitry you'll need to heed my comments on preamps and buffers later and below...

Now, yes you could stack or even overwind a pickup over the top of the driver coil. But, you CAN NOT* have the source coil and the driver in one. You need to take a feed from a pickup furthest away from the driver.

Also beware of Rare Earth Magnets. Firstly, DO NOT** try to break or cut them they can be dangerous. Also, they are the most powerfull of magnets, I've used 300 in my experiments. Your better off with small ones and stacking them on top of each other. I've found that a 3x2mm disc to have sufficient power to act as an equivilent power for a pickup. What you have there though is a radically different and more focused field shape. This can then be modified with additional steel slugs or blades, etc. I'm hoping to get back to pickup development with RE mags as soon as I can but this project rather displaces everything else for some time. I've got some really interesting ideas I want to explore.

Another area is the use of laminated and powdered cores as you have suggested. It's not a matter of magnetic strength so much as the response to the signal in the case of a driver. There is always a lag as the core material has to demagnetise from one pole and remagnetise to another. This creates (along with other factors such as current lag, which is related) phase differences that interfere drastically with response.

My work, and the type of things your suggesting, can address these factors in the actual construction of the driver itself. I reckon this is far preferable than the way it's done in the patents where they use D/A conversion to electronically adjust for phase differences and coil inefficiencies because it seems to assume a monophonic source. Better to design something that is efficient for a frequency range than to design electronics to correct for inefficiencies. The ultimate expresion of this is of course the hex driver where each string has it's own driver built to resonate at typical frequencies for it's string. This is perhaps getting in way to deep, and I think I started to drown on this one.

Also, with separate poles you are really going to have to watch out for string bending. A RE mag is going to be pretty focused and once out of this focus the response will drop off dramatically. Also if you're using rods of any length you run the risk of altering the normal vibration of the strings by their magnetic pull. They are fabulous things though and are cheaper for the energy produced than alnico or ceramic and open up lot's of avenues to explore so enjoy.

Some kind of buffer or preamp with the LM386 is a must. The little Gem circuit has a simple FET buffer that, if you know how, could be altered to produce more gain quite simply I'm sure. I've got a more elaborate set up of various preamp posibilities, even a single chip based compressor, limitor, gate that I was using with experiments but you don't need quite that. My latest one is a simple op-amp low powered preamp with a x10 amp but I haven't run it yet with this type of driver but I'm confident of it working and the whole circuit will then be about the length and a half by as wide as a 9 volt battery and 1 cm thick.

I would'nt use the same battery for the pickups as the driver. The sustainer circuitry is a poweramp and with this type of coil will suck a lot of power. I'd be keeping the two quite separate. I have found that the circuits that I've been working with have quite happily run from rechargables and I'm sure other types of batteries could be used too. Even the runoffgroove guys suggest that the little gem amp will run use up batteries reasonably quickly as I recall and that's just driving a speaker. The thing puts out about 1/2 a watt as I recall, it's deceptive for such a little device.

Anyway, great to have your contribution and I look forward to hearing the buzz of little sustainers all over the globe. We may even have a whole knew breed of pickup/drivers come to fruition so I'd be really chuffed to have been of service to that cause.

see ya B)

:Dpete/psw :D

* when I say CAN NOT there is a reason but there may well be a way around it and I've got at least one idea that could work so you may well disregard that. If the driver and the source coil get too close you have the same effect as putting a microphone up against it's PA speaker, it squeels.

PS Kyle, I think I get what you mean...are you suggesting humbucker bobbins, one as a driver and the other as a single or stacked single. That's an elegant solution that I'm contemplating but I'd still suggest say packing up half of the bobbin from below to condense the driver coil and remember to pot it for vibrations. Also, you wont*** be able to use this neck single coil with the sustainer on as there has to be some distance between the source coil and the driver.

**When I say "do not" I mean DO NOT!!!!!!!!Danger ok.

*** for wont see can not* above.

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