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7 String, Sustainer And Midi?


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Hey all, I haven't posted in a while but now I'm getting a little closer to actually being able to build my dream guitar so the questions are popping into my head again.

I want to build a 7 string neck through and I'd really like a sustainer and Midi output (really sweet for those midi violin sounds and stuff) I understandably haven't been able to find a 7 String Midi pickup, so if if anyone knows of one let me know, otherwise I was thinking of taking the Roland 6 string midi pickup (or something similar) and using that, as long as the string spacing is alright I should be able to use that but I'll lose the 7th strings use in Midi... Should that work?

And a 7 string sustainer, I know there has been ALOT of discussion in this forum about sustainers, but I am really too lazy to go through 126 pages on sustainers, so quick and simple, is it possible and how difficult will it be?

Thanks guys!

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the sustainer will definately possible! I haven't erad too much, so I don't know if any adjustments would need to be made (try searching the thread for a bass sustainer..that would let you know if you can use a stock sstainer circuit with other string spaces)

As for the midi thingy, email Graphtech to see what they say...I know you could buy 7 piezo saddles, but not sure if there is a circuit to work with this.

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You can get the Ghost Modular Piezo system for 7 string and just buy the hexaphonic preamp instead of (or as well as depending on budget) the acousti-phonic preamp. Check it out here. This will allow you to have acoustic and synth sounds.

As for the sustainer, It will work fine with seven strings you just have to build your driver to cover the extra spacing. I don't think the circuit will need to be changed. I've been using the fetzer-ruby circuit with good results on a 6 string but the boys on the sustainer thread are devising a new and improved circuit. Read the last 2 pages to find out about it. The sustainer will work best with only one other magnetic pickup in the bridge position. but that, combined with piezo acoustic and midi synth sounds still leaves you with a silly amount of tonal options. :D

Good luck

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Well...I hope you are planning a hollowbody because you will nee a LOT of space for all the electronics and batteries for this thing...

In many respects the ultimate type of system for the sustainer and for midi applications is something like the Line 6 concept of modelling stuff only from a piezo system with no magnetic pickups...

Although there is a little interest, there are no 7 string sustainers on the market though the build it yourself option is there...the DIY sustainer project is still underdevelopment and I am not sure how it compares with the commercial systems and it does rely on skill and perserverance to get it to work...mine works ok!

You could also have issues with the sustainers EMI output getting into other electronics within this system and if battery powered, you could be chewing through the batteries...

I think Parker have an interesting Adrian Belew artist model with synth and sustaniac features...looks kind of neat and approaching the kind of tool you seem to be wanting...


BTW...as yet no one has made a 7 string sustainer on the thread...

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I dont think batteries would be an issue, as midi cables are capable of carrying current, so you could power both the midi pickup and the sustainer in one! Then just stick a switch or something in to run the sustainer on batteries when the midi cable isn't plugged in! You could maybe build a little router box externally to take the magnetic signal down the midi cable too, so that you didn't hve to plug both a jack and a midi cable in at once...couldbe either/or!

probably far too much development and hard work for a single guitar project, but in theory, a mdidi pickup is just 6 individual string pickups in one and i THINK the roland system outputs purely the induced signal from the pickups. I kno that you need to use the VG-88 or similar "guitar synth" to convert the signal to real MIDI data. If the VG88 does take regular electromagnetic signals, just via a MIDI cable, then surely theoretically you could build a sustainer and midi pickup in one? In the same way that a sustainer driver can be used as a magnetic pickup?

I wouldn't recommend developing ths for your project though, as it seems like a LOT of hard work and might take a long time to get everything working...it would also mean you couldn't have a midi pickup and sustainer on at once.

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No...a lot of work...however...

We did have the DIY sustainer tested on an electro-acoustic and except for the bronze (non-magnetic strings) it did work...so running from piezos aren't a problem...

The roland pickup is magnetic but needs a pickup for each string to do the synth thing (similarly the ghost and other undersaddle piezo systems. The synth box then converts each individual string's signal with an A/D converter...

You couldn't have both the sustainer and hex pickup like the roland close to eachother and I cant see anyway of sending the drive signal through the guitar lead without direct interferance with the signal leads in there too...

There may well be a future for remote power or remote power control of the sustainer and it would work with synth systems if there was enough distance from the pickup...

One thing to note is that with some synth a psudo sustain can be had where it holds it's digital note infinitely, or until another note is played (electonically...ie, long after a string has stopped vibrating or a keyboard key is released)...that way you can get the kind of sustained violin type sounds in the digital domain!

Synth stuff is a whole different ball game, in many ways artificial and the guitar is not a good controller of it, but it is getting better...

I tend to look at the sustainer guitar as a whole different thing, it actually changes the nature of the instrument, much like a violin bow changes the potential of the violin, when it is on...

Really, it is a feedback device with a lot of control and produces organic sounds not possible with synth technology...I'm not even sure how synth technology would respond to what the sustainer does to the physical vibration of the string...it could have a lot of trouble tracking the bloom and octave morphing that occurs and the harmonic mode is way above the normal guitar's range...

The sustainer draws a lot of current compared to midi and preamp systems so a mix of the two is probably not the best idea...

Interesting things will emerge in the next few years though...A/D converters and digital electronics are getting tiny with a push from mobile phone and MP3 player technology. It may well be that the electric guitar is superceded by the electronic guitar in the future which would offer all of what you desire and more...

While vintage guitars, valve amps and analogue effects may rule the "tone" roost, even now the desire to have these modeled in a digital box cheaply, to have easy interface with the computer and to be able to use the instrument to record midi data and or samples for manipulation and editing via a synth interface, is coming to the fore...and tecnology is catching up...

As for the floyd, once in a digital realm you could program or manipulate pitch bends to an infinite degree (as with a keyboards pitch wheel) without any detuning of the strings...in fact, the pitch of the string may make no difference with a truely "digital guitar" and already you can program and switch between tunings digitally with the click of the switch....

Just some thoughts, a lot of what you may be seeking to achieve may already be possible with a synth product on it's own... pete

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I'm not sure there is anything for a 7 string on the market...and with a floyd, I don't know if a ghost system is possible anyway...

If you were thinking of a roland...and they have the most experience in synth guitars...they have a special midi pickup that surface mounts which is probably the easiest way to go...

hope that helps.. pete

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  • 2 weeks later...

The answer is yes and no. The sustainer should be easy. Follow the directions in the sustainer thread (its like 150 pages long, but only takes about 2 hours to skim through, which is worth it). The only difference, is that your "driver" (which looks like a pickup, but is actually responsible for making the strings vibrate), will be longer to accommodate the extra string.

As for the synth output, as far as I know, its not possible, and I feel your pain. I have an Ibanez RG 7620 that I wanted to install a Roland or similar pickup on, but no go. Roland doesn't sell a 7 string version of their split pickup, and there are no piezo saddles made for Floyd Roses, except for the special ones on a few RGs, but you can't buy those.

Actually, I made my own Floyd Rose piezo system, although it can't be used for synth, because there are only two piezos (not split per string). Basically, I attached two small piezos with hot glue to the underside of the bridge, one on the treble end and one on the bass end (if you only want to do one, put it on the bass side). With a small preamp, I mix this together with the passive Seymour Duncan set, and it can make some AMAZING sounds. It has a very trebly sound by itself, which is cool for doing sitar type stuff. The real fun comes with mixing it with the neck pickup, in which case it sounds A LOT like an accoustic, not only do you get the sharp steel string sound from the piezos, but the "body reverberation" from the bassy neck pickup.

I recommend using a preamp of some sort (the fetzer would work, but there are simpler buffer preamps out there, available as kits, or can be built from parts from any half-decent radioshack). A piezo system sounds pretty bad without the preamp, and the volume is a lot lower than the regular pickups.

Of course, you can't play piezos with any overdrive or distortion, and the volume before feedback is a lot lower than the magnetic pickups (although still usable for gigs and stuff, I just have to be careful with the volume knob).

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