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Sustainer And Two Functionnal Humbuckers.


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Hello, to all of you, electronic gurus !

I'm currently working on a "swiss army knife" custom guitar, but I want everything planned out, before actually buying anything critical.

(features: tremolo, on-board FFactory clone, coil split, MAYBE a sustainer...)

So. I've been hearing that market-available sustainers don't work with a neck pickup, because of interferences.

But, I want a sustainer (thanks to the amazing "sustainer ideas", i could do the sustainer system myself, possibly modifying it to fit my demands), and I want my two sh2 and sh4 seymour duncan pickups :P

BUT, I've come across this, during my journey on the internet (it fits !!)

Fernandes Sustainer Website's FAQ says the sustainer needs to be at least 2cm away from any selected pickup.

So, as I'm ordering a custom body at Warmoth, do you think the "24-frets humbucker relocation" option could solve the interferences problem ? (Would it make possible for me to use the sustainer with the neck pickup selected ?)

If not, I could still chose to "relocate it", in order to have room for a real neck pickup, and a sustainer (at least)

But, would it alter the sound of my neck pickup, "in a dramatical way" ?

( i'm sure it does change the sound, but, how much does it change ?)

Thanks in advance, ladies and gentlemen !

And please let me apologize for my approximate english !

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None of the info on the sustainer ideas thread will tell you how to have neck and bridge pickup that can both work with a sustainer driver. Its pretty much pickup at bridge with sustainer driver at the neck. Pete's 'piggy back' idea is neat if you want to keep the neck pickup, although you won't be able to have sustain on when using the neck pickup. It works by having the driver and neck pickup share a permanent magnetic field. I think that this will have minimal impact on the sound of the neck pickup, assuming you can modify it to make room for a thin coil to stack on top (not easy with some pickup designs).

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Thanks for the reply.

So, I think I'm gonna go with the 2pickups +sustainer configuration, as shown on the picture above, possibly making the driver as thin as possible to become nearly invisible ;p

Making the driver very narrow will compromise it's performance.

Having a driver with its own permanent magnetic field so close to a pickup will change the sound of the pickup noticeably because it will significantly alter the shape of it's magnetic field.

Moving the pickup further from the neck to allow space for the driver will also alter the sound of the pickup.

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Has anyone on the main thread ever put a driver "inside" a humbucker ?

I could still do this, but I guess it would alter the sound oh the pickup too (or is it just a matter of impedence?)

That would certainly be reassuring and instructive to see how one could do this.

Edited by T4GG
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I've tried to make a sustainer inside a PAF humbucker's magnetic field, it's possible to do but it was far from efficient or effective because the humbucker's magnetic field is far from ideal. It had trouble driving the b and high e string.

While pete's diy driver is fairly resilient and will function under a number of less than ideal conditions, the farther away you get from 'the design' the less effective the driver will be in either efficiency or effectiveness or both. I would suggest you first try winding a standard 3mm driver and running it to a buffer/preamp and LM386 amp circuit with variable gain(or something similar) If you can successfully build the basic version, you'll get an idea of what your working with and from there consider other options if you'd like.

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Alright, I'll begin with this, then.

Still, as I was wondering whether I'd make my own pickups or buy some famous ones, I figured, I could do the neck humbucker (or maybe P-90, to resolve the magnetic field issue) pickup myself, thus winding a driver inside ! (as shown many times in the main thread with single-coils)

@DarkAvenger: the problem persisted even with the downside of the driver close to the strings ?

Edited by T4GG
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  • 2 months later...

The DIY thing is tricky. Certainly the basic DIY thing is not going to work with both pickups and surprised that fernandes would suggest 2cm, that sounds way over optimistic and extreme skepticalism is advised on that. It could be,k technically (here are patents) possible and have even 'heard' one in a clip that was the middle driver...but be careful what you wish for.

Reality is that the sound of the sustainer when on is not the bridge pup with sustain but it's own sound as it is driving the string at the neck position.

The interferances are no small thing, the only thing that really protects the interaction of magnets is the distance. I've played enough with mine to get a feel for what would be achieved and it is nothing like as great as people imagine and if it were easily possible, people would be selling them already, no?

That said, the DIY model can be made pretty compact...but you need to be good at this kind of thing and wiring tends to be uber tricky....


My tele here has it's driver surface mounted and is thinner than the already thin tele SCn neck pickup it sits next to. The switching is such that regardless of the selector, when activated the bridge pup is selected and the power turned on and all coils both hot and ground are disconnected as the sustainer driver will generate signals in any nearby coil especially, even the ground plane if not careful.

If you can afford a commercial unit, I'd be doing that, same with making pickups, it seems 'simple' but it's not worth it for the hit and miss results and cost a lot more to tool up to do it well. There is an art to these things and the makers know what they are doing, there is an art to such things.

I'd also caution throwing everything into some 'uber guitar' project, they rarely if ever live up to the dreams and can easily become a nightmare.

I just happened across this so shy away from such threads, but if you'd like some more explanation or thoughts or want to float a few ideas I can be contacted by the email or PM on this forum.

I don't make these things for others, but can give some explanations as to my ideas. The sustainer project from my side developed further still, being more compact (infact invisible) and low impact on the instrument, but that like many things are not DIY projects and has for the time being been abandoned as it's simply not a cost effective commercial proposition at this point in time. There are a lot more intersting things than sustainers too, but just making a really good guitar is enough, remember a lot more can be achieved in spending the hours on developing the playing side of things than anything that these technologies can offer and always there is going to have to be compromise. Anyway, the offer is there...pete

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