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Old 11-04-2012, 06:28 PM   #1
DisarmGoliath
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Mod In Need Of Advice/Assistance

Right, now that I have your attention...


I could do with some help and advice about a potential mod I am considering on my prize beauty of a guitar (i.e I need to know what will work/best solutions and also to make sure I don't fuck it up!). Basically, I've never really bothered to find out what a Fernandes Sustainer actually is (obviously I knew it has something to do with pickups and sustain, but not much more) despite being a guitarist of 16 years, and when I recently ended up on a YouTube vid discussing one it got me thinking.

Apart from the various possibilities of allowing the guitar to sustain (presumably) infinitely, if continuous power is applied to the Sustainer, I would presume that this would allow for a signal to sustain at a level above the threshold for a noise gate. With my current live setup (I'll detail it at the end of the post) I have an ISP Decimator (the bog standard, single channel, pedal-form) and due to the high-gain nature of the stuff I'm playing (metal) I have the gate set with a higher threshold than, say, someone playing indie, jazz (if they even use them!) and classic rock. It's not ultra-high-gain modern death metal - think Judas Priest/Iron Maiden meets Firewind and Metallica - but even with the channel gain rolled back to a relatively conservative amount in smaller venues (and let's face it, for the majority of us that is most gigs) I still have to set the gate to cut feedback between staccato rhythm parts, which typically means that when I go for a whammy dive with a 3rd fret harmonic, for example, the note will usually die off far too quickly.

Am I correct that throwing a Sustainer in the guitar would allow me to switch it in when I would typically just turn the noise gate off, and pull off feedback-enhanced effects?


Secondly, I see there are two kits currently advertised on the Fernandes website (FSK-101 and FSK-401); the 101 would be of less use to me as it requires replacing one of the guitar's humbuckers, but the 401 intrigues me as it would appear I could take out the middle pickup (single-coil) in my guitar and replace it with the single-coil sustainer, and (in theory) keep my neck and bridge pickups instead of fitting the humbucker that comes in the Fernandes set (the website claims this, if used with high-gain pickups, anyway) and all would be *metaphorically* gravy.

So can I keep my neck and bridge as they are, and swap out the single-coil in the middle for the single-coil Sustainer and use it as I suggested earlier?


Finally...

Would this be a difficult/expensive mod, if I were to get a professional to do the mod for me (no way I'm going near my beauty with anything remotely dangerous ) and do you have any other suggestions for a better way of going about this?



Gear Spec.

Guitar
LAG AP2000BSH - Clicky)
24-fret, Master Series (handmade) with official Floyd Rose.
Pickups (bridge to neck): EMG 81, S, and 89 (coil tap on 81).

Pedals
ISP Decimator.
Yep, that's it.

Amp
Hughes & Kettner Switchblade 100H (into H&K VC412A cab).
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Old 11-04-2012, 06:37 PM   #2
ibanezguitars44
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It's a super expensive solution that is unnecessary. Just turn off the gate when you want some feedback.

also, have you tried using less gain?

Maybe you have a microphonic tube.

I don't know. The sustainer just seems like a terrible idea for what you want.
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Old 11-04-2012, 06:42 PM   #3
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IIRC, the sustainer jiggles the strings with a magnetic field to create infinite sustain/feedback, right? So yeah, theoretically, it could sustain a signal above the threshold of a noise gate and fit your bill.

(Don't quote me on that, though, I've had no practical experience with them.)

But I'd imagine that it wouldn't come cheap, seeing how expensive the sustainers themselves are. I'd always advocate getting stuff like that professionally installed anyway.
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Old 11-04-2012, 06:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ibanezguitars44
It's a super expensive solution that is unnecessary. Just turn off the gate when you want some feedback.

Money isn't really an object (for once) in this scenario - I paid 1,899 for the guitar (with a 400 discount off the RRP), so I don't mind paying for the best solution. I appreciate the input though; but the main thing that grates me about currently switching the gate on and off is the fact that I have to be in front of my gate/MIDIboard (switches amp's channels) whenever I wanna use such effects which requires pre-planning rather than more spontaneous movement onstage.

Quote:
also, have you tried using less gain?

I actually use relatively low gain (relative to the stereotypical metal player) - I'm a sound engineer and learnt long ago that less gain often increases clarity of tone, and helps the guitar sit in the mix better.

Quote:
Maybe you have a microphonic tube.

Possible, but I don't think so. I say 'possible' because I haven't checked for a dodgy tube in a long time, but I haven't heard anything suggesting it.

Quote:
I don't know. The sustainer just seems like a terrible idea for what you want.

That's ok, I appreciate any input, even if it doesn't sway me to a specific point of view



Quote:
Originally Posted by Showiddlydiddly
IIRC, the sustainer jiggles the strings with a magnetic field to create infinite sustain/feedback, right? So yeah, theoretically, it could sustain a signal above the threshold of a noise gate and fit your bill.

(Don't quote me on that, though, I've had no practical experience with them.)

But I'd imagine that it wouldn't come cheap, seeing how expensive the sustainers themselves are. I'd always advocate getting stuff like that professionally installed anyway.

Yeah, that's my problem too - I have no hands-on experience with the device, so I have no idea how it actually handles physically, nor do I know the sort of output levels it gives off etc.



Another thing that comes to mind, btw, is that eventually I'll be hoping to get the rackmount, dual-channel Decimator (amp input channel, and fx loop channel) which I would need to leave on (without devising some complicated way of switching it in and out via MIDI loops) so if I could nail down a solution to my current problem that doesn't involve switching the gate in and out, it would be preferable even if it does cost that bit extra.
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Old 11-04-2012, 06:57 PM   #5
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Well for me it seems that if you're using low gain, you shouldn't have feedback problems. If you are, there are two possibilities, 1. something wrong like a tube or 2. You're using more gain than you think. I've never had problems with feedback until I got up into really high gain territory. And my isp decimator worked fine for getting rid of that. The onyl other time it's a problem is when standing really close to the amp.

I guess the whole point of this rant is: don't blow all this money to patch up a potential problem when fixing the problem could be the cheaper and more effective answer.
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Quote:
Originally posted by primusfan
When you crank up the gain to 10 and switch to the lead channel, it actually sounds like you are unjustifiably bombing an innocent foreign land.


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Old 11-04-2012, 07:04 PM   #6
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I know what you're getting at, and it may be partly down to the output of the EMG's, but it's not really the feedback that is the problem - it's that when I want to use feedback/do harmonic dives/whammy tricks, there isn't quite enough gain for it to ring out as long as I'd like due to the gate kicking in.

It is less of a problem in larger venues, where I can have the gate set a bit less aggressively, but I can see where you're coming from, money-wise. I'll check for any faults with the amp tomorrow though.
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:07 PM   #7
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Maybe invest in a tubescreamer or other overdrive pedal to boost yourself a bit for those kind of parts?

Anyway, I think the sustainer MIGHT do what you want. But I don't want you to go through all that trouble and have it not work out the way you want. Hope I didn't come across like I was calling you dumb or something haha
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Originally posted by primusfan
When you crank up the gain to 10 and switch to the lead channel, it actually sounds like you are unjustifiably bombing an innocent foreign land.


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Old 11-04-2012, 07:11 PM   #8
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you dont have enough pedals for me to care..
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ibanezguitars44
Maybe invest in a tubescreamer or other overdrive pedal to boost yourself a bit for those kind of parts?

Anyway, I think the sustainer MIGHT do what you want. But I don't want you to go through all that trouble and have it not work out the way you want. Hope I didn't come across like I was calling you dumb or something haha

No, not at all - but even if you had implied it, I'm no expert on guitar gear so would have tried to take it with a pinch of salt

I think I'm just going to have to try a guitar with one out (I'll have to start asking around the bands/guitarists I know) through my rig and see if it does what I want, or (long shot) try and see if Fernandes customer support/enquiries are any good (and not just ignorant salespeople).


Quote:
Originally Posted by greeny23
you dont have enough pedals for me to care..

I have plenty of them, I just tend to not use them live I sometimes use some live, but I just tend to keep it simple a lot of the time - the amp's onboard reverb/delay is good enough, and only other thing I use is a light chorus on the clean channel.
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:45 PM   #10
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:50 PM   #11
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No one likes you here, gtfo internets!

Don't make me edit into all your posts in the Recordings chat thread... but thanks for the bump
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:09 PM   #12
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Or you could just turn up the volume on the amp and get your sustain like a real man.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:14 PM   #13
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When I saw a new post, and the poster was Cathbard I was expecting a lecture

I wish I could, but sadly most smaller venues' engineers get cranky (I probably would too) if it goes anywhere past 4 master volume (amp is 100watt all-valve; 4 master is enough to compete with the drums' on-stage volume). It would also increase the feedback potential, meaning I'd in turn probably need to increase the threshold of the gate for gigs where I'm only a few feet from the amp most of the time. At least, that's what I imagine!
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:17 PM   #14
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Feedback is how you get that infinite sustain thing going. You just need good, well potted pickups that don't feedback microphonically. You need the air off the amp to move the strings and not the coils.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:21 PM   #15
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If you're having feedback issues with medium gain (which is what it sounds like you're using) and EMGs I'd say there is a larger issue afoot. I'm surprised you need a noisegate for anything. EMGS and a quality amp (which I assume the HK to be) should be relatively noiseless.

I know you said money is no object, but I'd try to solve your noise issues before I threw more money at it. I think the sustainer is just gonna give you more problems than it solves.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathbard
Feedback is how you get that infinite sustain thing going. You just need good, well potted pickups that don't feedback microphonically. You need the air off the amp to move the strings and not the coils.

Well, I wouldn't know about the pickups too much (EMG 81/89... are they 'well-potted'? Gah, I hate not understanding things *runs to google*). It's not Gary Moore - THAT note in Parisienne Walkways-esque sustain I need/want, just the ability to have a harmonic ring out for a few seconds, when it is just tapped as the bar raises back up. I know it's all related with the feedback, but I guess I just presume the Sustainer would allow more control over this without having to worry about undesirable feedback, and allowing me to leave the gate on. It also allows me to not have to find feedback points (nodes?) about the stage to avoid certain harmonics affecting the dives.

What do you think of my idea itself (i.e is it technically/theoretically sound or am I heading down the wrong path)?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Saale
If you're having feedback issues with medium gain (which is what it sounds like you're using) and EMGs I'd say there is a larger issue afoot. I'm surprised you need a noisegate for anything. EMGS and a quality amp (which I assume the HK to be) should be relatively noiseless.

I'd describe it as high-gain... but 80's definition of high-gain. I would say I use no more gain than Metallica circa Black album, somewhere in that sort of ballpark.

Quote:
I know you said money is no object, but I'd try to solve your noise issues before I threw more money at it. I think the sustainer is just gonna give you more problems than it solves.

Fair enough, I think that's definitely something I need to consider now after a few people have mentioned it. Will also see if rolling back the gain a tad would help, although I'd imagine that will also weaken the harmonics, bringing them lower into the original threshold of the gate. I guess there's a fine balance somewhere, but I'm struggling to find it.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:25 PM   #17
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You could try to tame the noise by fitting a JJ ECC803 to V1. Also, clean everything - phono sockets, tube sockets, speaker connections. If it has a connector, clean it.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:26 PM   #18
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A friend put a sustainer in one of his EMG guitars and had a terrible time trying to get it to function properly. He ended up having to run 2 9vs, 1 for the EMG and 1 for the sustainer. Apparently he had a ton of feedback from what I can remember.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:29 PM   #19
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Well, what I was saying was get the noise down and ditch the gate altogether (unless you need it for djenty stuff) and then you won't have the issue you're talking about (which is why I hate gates altogether).
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:30 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathbard
You could try to tame the noise by fitting a JJ ECC803 to V1. Also, clean everything - phono sockets, tube sockets, speaker connections. If it has a connector, clean it.

Thanks, I'll get someone more qualified than me to give it a look over in the near future then. I presume the JJ ECC803 is a preamp valve? Can't remember which it is I have in at the moment, the amp uses 12AX7's in the preamp... think it was Groove Tubes I put in, though I don't fully remember.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R45VT
A friend put a sustainer in one of his EMG guitars and had a terrible time trying to get it to function properly. He ended up having to run 2 9vs, 1 for the EMG and 1 for the sustainer. Apparently he had a ton of feedback from what I can remember.

That's interesting, and is at least secondary evidence as opposed to me guessing from YouTube videos, Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Saale
Well, what I was saying was get the noise down and ditch the gate altogether (unless you need it for djenty stuff) and then you won't have the issue you're talking about (which is why I hate gates altogether).

I'm not sure I'd be comfortable going out without a gate altogether (I know it sounds stupid, but it's a sort of safety blanket I guess), though I guess I could try it at lower thresholds if there does turn out to be an underlying noise issue elsewhere that is giving me the main grief.
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