DisarmGoliath
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Join date: Dec 2008
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#1
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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ibanezguitars44
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Join date: Jul 2004
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#2
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.
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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Showiddlydiddly
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Join date: Apr 2012
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#3
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.
DisarmGoliath
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#4
Quote 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.

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.

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.

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 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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ibanezguitars44
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Join date: Jul 2004
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#5
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.
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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DisarmGoliath
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#6
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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ibanezguitars44
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#7
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
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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greeny23
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Join date: Aug 2007
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#8
you dont have enough pedals for me to care..
DisarmGoliath
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#9
Quote 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 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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MatrixClaw
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#10
No one likes you here, gtfo internets!
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maybe you're not saying the right things? an amp likes to know you care.





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DisarmGoliath
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#11
Quote by MatrixClaw
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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Cathbard
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#12
Or you could just turn up the volume on the amp and get your sustain like a real man.
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DisarmGoliath
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#13
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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Cathbard
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#14
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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#15
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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DisarmGoliath
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#16
Quote 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 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.

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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Cathbard
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#17
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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#18
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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Last edited by R45VT at Nov 4, 2012,
Kevin Saale
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#19
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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DisarmGoliath
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#20
Quote 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 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 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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Cathbard
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#21
I find that to get microphonic feedback out of my EMG's I have to physically touch the guitar to the cab and even then it's hard to get. What I'd try first if I were you is the old Ted Nugent trick; before the gig walk around the stage until you find the spots that give you the required level of feedback to do what you want and then mark those spots with a cross of gaffer tape.
Seems to me like you need to sort out this noise issue first. What you are experiencing is the problem that arises when you try to patch over noise with a noise gate instead of reducing the noise at the source.
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DisarmGoliath
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#22
Quote by Cathbard
I find that to get microphonic feedback out of my EMG's I have to physically touch the guitar to the cab and even then it's hard to get. What I'd try first if I were you is the old Ted Nugent trick; before the gig walk around the stage until you find the spots that give you the required level of feedback to do what you want and then mark those spots with a cross of gaffer tape.

What sort of style are you playing, for that sort of sensitivity/susceptibility to feedback? I know I'm full of questions, but you guys know a lot of the stuff I've neglected in favour of learning about audio engineering or other less-guitarey stuff

I admit, it's been a while since I've remembered to do that trick, though I used to do so. Will try doing that as well, although sometimes the setup times are tight and don't always allow for it if there's quite a few bands on.
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#23
I play blues/rock mostly these days but I spent a lot of my career playing punk/grunge type stuff.
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#24
Quote by DisarmGoliath



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




I think I mislead you there. He had huge problems sorting out the sustainer. It had HORRIBLE feedback when engaged. He had to use separate circuits to stop it(along with 2 power sources).
Quote by DeathByDestroyr
See, it's important that people clarify when they say "metal", because I pretty much always assume they are a Cannibal Corpse fanboi.
Cathbard
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#25
I probably should add that recently i have been switching in a second amp for my feedback needs, esp for what you quoted - Parisienne Walkways. When I need that level of feedback I kick in a 100W JCM900 combo that's sitting at my feet. A little bigger than a Fernandez sustainer but it does it right.
I'm pretty sure that Gary did the same thing. He ran multiple amps (DSL100's live) and kicked in an extra one before he hit that note.
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Last edited by Cathbard at Nov 4, 2012,
DisarmGoliath
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#26
Quote by R45VT
I think I mislead you there. He had huge problems sorting out the sustainer. It had HORRIBLE feedback when engaged. He had to use separate circuits to stop it(along with 2 power sources).

Oh, I understood you - I guess the smiley face at the end suggested I thought you were being positive about it, I was just thankful of someone sharing an experience with one

Quote by Cathbard
I probably should add that recently i have been switching in a second amp for my feedback needs, esp for what you quoted - Parisienne Walkways. When I need that level of feedback I kick in a 100W JCM900 that's sitting at my feet. A little bigger than a Fernandez sustainer but it does it right.

I guess that is a similar sort of method then, is it not? But yeah, in that case I can understand why you would need something to kick in the feedback in a more controlled/predictable manner.

I am probably going to make enemies with my neighbours, but I have the week off work with little to do so I could try and play around with different amp gain/gate threshold combinations I suppose.
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Cathbard
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#27
Do what I said about the noise problem first. If you can reduce the noise most of your issues will simply vanish.
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#28
Quote by Cathbard
Do what I said about the noise problem first. If you can reduce the noise most of your issues will simply vanish.

I will do, though that will be something I get someone else to check, so probably won't be tomorrow. We'll see though; in a way I kinda hope it is what you suggest as possible causes of excess noise as it would save me a few bob I'd imagine! The only dodgy noise I know of so far, and it's one that all my generation of Switchblades have, is the volume pot is a bit noisy as you turn it (i.e a sort of static-like interference, to some degree).
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#29
Quote by DisarmGoliath
I will do, though that will be something I get someone else to check, so probably won't be tomorrow. We'll see though; in a way I kinda hope it is what you suggest as possible causes of excess noise as it would save me a few bob I'd imagine! The only dodgy noise I know of so far, and it's one that all my generation of Switchblades have, is the volume pot is a bit noisy as you turn it (i.e a sort of static-like interference, to some degree).


Sounds like a bad pot. Next time you open it up replace it.
Quote by DeathByDestroyr
See, it's important that people clarify when they say "metal", because I pretty much always assume they are a Cannibal Corpse fanboi.
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#30
Replace the pot. When you are building a white noise generator you use the noise generated by a carbon resistor - that's what a pot is. A dirty/worn pot is a common source of noise.
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#31
Are there any other potential (no pun intended) reasons why the pot would be noisy like that? I only ask, because I recall reading a review of the amp back in 2008 and they mentioned the same problem with the test product they had, so I was under the impression it may be down to the circuit design more than the pot? I'll mention it to the tech though, and get 'em to check it anyway I guess.
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Cathbard
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#32
Crap pots, end of story. Even good ones wear out eventually though, it's just the nature of all things mechanical. Grab a Bourne.
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#33
Ah, fair enough. I have a series of things to go away and look into anyway - thanks everyone for your help in here
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#34
Quote by Cathbard
Crap pots, end of story. Even good ones wear out eventually though, it's just the nature of all things mechanical. Grab a Bourne.


x2. Some amps are just known for noisy pots. I know the DSL401s have a reputation for that. Normally the volume and gain pots.
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#35
Every Marshall made after the vertical 2203 has crap pots. I had to replace 2/3rd of the ones in my JCM900. I don't know what they make the pot tracks out of but I suspect that it's extruded dog turd.
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