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  • #31
    Originally posted by Enzo View Post
    A friend of mine picked up a banjo and cranked out the opening of Stairway on it. Unexpected, and a place I never thought a banjo would go.
    I've heard Bela Fleck play a banjo and make it actually sound beautiful. But he's the only banjo player I've ever heard who can do that.

    I once saw a video clip of an interview with Fleck in which he said that he became interested in the banjo because of its history, but was quickly frustrated by the rather primitive traditional playing techniques used by banjo players. So he started to apply classical guitar playing technique (which has had centuries of development in Europe, and evolved to become became very sophisticated and very extensive) to his banjo.

    The rest is history, he became the first true banjo virtuoso.

    We're a long way from 6AK6 sound now... (What happens if you blast a 6AK6 through a banjo? Should you be happy that you destroyed a banjo, or sad that you destroyed a 6AK6?)

    -Gnobuddy

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    • #32
      Only jazz banjoist I can think of.



      I may be missing something, but ins't there a joke:

      Guy wants to get rid of an accordion, so he leaves it in his unlocked car hoping someone steals it. COmes back to find two more accordions sitting in his car.
      Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by Gnobuddy View Post
        I've heard Bela Fleck play a banjo and make it actually sound beautiful. But he's the only banjo player I've ever heard who can do that.

        I once saw a video clip of an interview with Fleck in which he said that he became interested in the banjo because of its history, but was quickly frustrated by the rather primitive traditional playing techniques used by banjo players. So he started to apply classical guitar playing technique (which has had centuries of development in Europe, and evolved to become became very sophisticated and very extensive) to his banjo.

        The rest is history, he became the first true banjo virtuoso.
        if wonder if he tuned it like a guitar instead of keeping it in Gmaj.

        i think those open string chordal tunings have a way of fencing you in.
        "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

        "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

        Comment


        • #34
          I don't care that the thread is drifting. That good sounding clip is too convincing to be squashed by any "reasoning". I will be building this thing from mostly scraps and report at some later date. I mentioned I already have the OT, but I'm so intrigued by the prospect of line transformers that I might break the budget and order a thirteen dollar part just to see.

          I just shelled out some likes too. Some funny stuff here and I almost sprayed my keyboard with beer (again!). But my favorite moment is where Gnobuddy singled out that quote from Justin. It passes for banter in context, but reads like the sort of thing people just need to hear out loud sometimes to stay centered when featured on it's own. So special thanks Justin and Gnobuddy.
          "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

          "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

          "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

          Comment


          • #35
            Originally posted by Justin Thomas View Post
            "Using a compressor or limiter like this can be pretty interesting, I think it's easier to control the acoustic feedback this way..."

            Control? Where's the fun in that? Not to mention, CHEATING!
            well, if we're going to call people out for cheating, then we need to take aim at people who use attenuators.

            being one of the guilty i just can't bring myself to do it.
            "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

            "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

            Comment


            • #36
              Well, it was a joke, after all... But I can honestly say I've never used an attenuator or compressor. And I'm also always (okay, SOMEtimes) getting yelled at by soundguys. Well, the ones who want to CONTROL me. Some of them are still okay with a cranked 15W amp. Not many.

              Justin
              "Wow it's red! That doesn't look like the standard Marshall red. It's more like hooker lipstick/clown nose/poodle pecker red." - Chuck H. -
              "Of course that means playing **LOUD** , best but useless solution to modern sissy snowflake players." - J.M. Fahey -
              "All I ever managed to do with that amp was... kill small rodents within a 50 yard radius of my practice building." - Tone Meister -

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by Justin Thomas View Post
                But I can honestly say I've never used an attenuator or compressor.

                Justin
                So what? There isn't a medal for not using them, you know! They're just tools - use them if you want to, don't use them if you don't! No biggie either way.

                It's true that a compressor can cover up some types of bad guitar technique. But so can high volume, and uncontrolled acoustic feedback. Covering up bad technique is not the only reason to use a compressor - the instrument we love has a sustain problem, we only put energy into the string at the start of a note, unlike a saxophone or violin. Acoustic guitarists were thoroughly ignored as a breed because they were never loud enough, and nobody could hear them in the band.

                At our weekly jams, I often play single-note guitar solos with clean tone and using an acoustic guitar (plugged in). I can play without a compressor, sure, and have done so for years. But I started using one recently, and you know what? If I do use one, people hear me better, and my solos can be technically better, because I'm not forced to play barrages of fast notes just to be heard. With a few dB of compression, I can throw in some longer notes as well, and still be heard.

                I also play amateur recording engineer for my own compositions sometimes. Ever wonder why virtually every recording you ever hear has compression on it? Certainly it's not because all those hot-shot studio musicians can't play properly without a compressor. These days, with digital recordings, it's also not because the recording technology is incapable of handling the dynamic range. And let's leave off the made-for-radio crappy pop that's compressed for maximum loudness.

                So why is compression used almost universally on recordings, then? One reason is because a mix usually doesn't gel as well if all the instruments in it - particularly the ones providing the basic rhythm and harmony - are fluctuating in volume (for example, guitar and bass notes decay away after the initial attack, so volume isn't constant). Adding just a couple of decibels of compression to bass guitar and rhythm guitar can really improve the sound of a mix. This works live, in a band context, too; not just in a recorded mix.

                I agree entirely with what you said earlier: we're not all the same. We don't all have the same tastes. And life is too short to waste it worrying about whether someone uses a compressor or not!

                -Gnobuddy

                Comment


                • #38
                  I don't think Justin was knocking compressors. I think he was saying that he doesn't need one because his amps are being used at power and clipping levels as to create their own compression. Any one who's played an amp loud knows this and it's hard to go back once you get a taste. There's a big difference between using a dirt box and compressor and cranking an amp into clipping such that the power tube voltage sags in half whenever you touch the strings
                  "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                  "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                  "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Chuck H View Post
                    There's a big difference between using a dirt box and compressor and cranking an amp into clipping such that the power tube voltage sags in half whenever you touch the strings
                    And here's the "different strokes for different folks" thing popping up again!

                    My favourite guitar tones have all come off a recording (not live), played at comfortable listening levels in my living room. So I know it's perfectly possible to get great guitar tones without huge SPL - there they are, coming out of my speakers! For me, beyond a certain loudness, there is increasing physical discomfort - my ears hurt, my head hurts, my ability to discern fine details in the music decreases. It's not an enjoyable experience, but the reverse.

                    So, for me, the quest is to see if I can get great guitar tone no louder than a vacuum cleaner.

                    That's where the 6AK6 amp idea first came from - I was looking for a way to build a low powered amp that sounded great, but had no idea what valves to use. I figured there must be some devices from the era of valve radios and TVs which would have about the right level of power, but didn't know what they might be. Stumbling across Printer2's "mini 5E3" gave me a starting point. As a bonus, 6AK6's are inexpensive.

                    By the way, I find that using a small-signal beam tetrode in the preamp tends to generate lots of "squish", because the screen grid voltage sags when you start to overdrive the valve, taking the gain down with it. Electronically, it's pretty much the same mechanism at work as overdriven power tubes sagging the B+ voltage, and therefore their screen grid voltage, and therefore their gain. But the preamp version happens regardless of SPL at the speaker, depending instead on signal level. The master volume controls the speaker SPL.

                    -Gnobuddy

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Gnobuddy View Post
                      And here's the "different strokes for different folks" thing popping up again!

                      My favourite guitar tones have all come off a recording (not live), played at comfortable listening levels in my living room. So I know it's perfectly possible to get great guitar tones without huge SPL - there they are, coming out of my speakers! For me, beyond a certain loudness, there is increasing physical discomfort - my ears hurt, my head hurts, my ability to discern fine details in the music decreases. It's not an enjoyable experience, but the reverse.
                      An additional advantage, you can use small, lightweight speakers. There's a special attractive quality to being able to use small cones that have little momentum for recordings. Indeed I've done some in the mid 1980's using cheap mini stereo speakers, only 4 inch diameter. With Neumann U87 mics - the mics were bigger than the speakers. Huge sound! "What kinda stacks were you using for that???" was often asked. Mouse size stacks, heh heh heh....
                      Enjoy. Every. Sandwich.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        The sound may be coming out your stereo at a reasonable volume and sounding good, but that does not mean they were recorded that way. I can listen to old Jimi Hendrix records at polite levels and I can guarantee you won't get the sound by playing at that level.

                        Just one example of many is the sustain you get from auditory driving of the guitar strings. Happens at stage volume but not at dentist office volumes.
                        Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Justin Thomas View Post
                          Well, it was a joke, after all... But I can honestly say I've never used an attenuator or compressor.
                          Then you are missing out!

                          Compressors are very popular with country music pickers and acoustic guitarists, not so much with rockers who are only interested in compression at high gain. But they can do great things for you if you know how to use them. They're particularly helpful with effects like octave doublers and dividers, which rely on a reliable consistent signal for proper tracking. These kinds of pedals won't handle a sustaining note well because they lose tracking, and the effect ends up bouncing around inconsistently and ends up sounding like crap. I think the main reason these effects aren't very popular is because not that many people know how to use them. They get a new breath of life if you use them with a compressor and provide a constant signal to their input so they can track reliably. I prefer my Foxx Tone Machine, my Octavia and my Blue Box used in combination with a compressor. I've even re-housed two circuits into one box so that they'll always be together. I wouldn't play Fool in the Rain without one.

                          Attenuators are a necessary evil. If you piss off the sound guys with a 15 watter then you're really going to piss them off with a Plexi.
                          Last edited by bob p; 10-09-2017, 07:16 PM.
                          "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

                          "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Gnobuddy View Post
                            Ever wonder why virtually every recording you ever hear has compression on it?
                            Probably because vinyl and radio transmission have such limited dynamic range. Those were the main ways of selling recorded music in the Dark Ages. Could you imagine driving in an old noisy car and trying to listen to a radio broadcast that had wide dynamic range? You wouldn't hear the quiet passages over the road noise without turning the radio up so loud it would be deafening. Compressed dynamic range not only helps the signal fit onto a vinyl groove, it makes it possible to broadcast it and to listen to a broadcast in a noisy environment.
                            "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

                            "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Enzo View Post
                              The sound may be coming out your stereo at a reasonable volume and sounding good, but that does not mean they were recorded that way.
                              Sure thing. The musicians who made that music used the tools they had - and the big amps of the time only yielded those lovely distorted tones if you turned them up to ear-bleeding volume.

                              But a 2W amp doesn't need to be turned up quite that loud to get a similar level of distortion - all else being the same, 20 dB less SPL than a 200W amp, yes?

                              Originally posted by Enzo View Post
                              I can listen to old Jimi Hendrix records at polite levels and I can guarantee you won't get the sound by playing at that level.
                              Not with the equipment Jimi used, certainly. But that doesn't mean it's impossible - in fact we know that it *is* possible, since it comes out of your stereo. So the remaining big question is, what does it take to make an amp that sounds like, say, Eric Johnson playing on your stereo - but at volume levels like your stereo, and not 120 dB?

                              Originally posted by Enzo View Post
                              Just one example of many is the sustain you get from auditory driving of the guitar strings. Happens at stage volume but not at dentist office volumes.
                              Conventionally, yes.

                              But you're an electronics tech of vast experience. Tell me, what is the mathematical condition for an amp to oscillate? You have to have positive feedback, and the loop gain has to be unity, (slightly greater to start oscillating) right?

                              Notice that the oscillation condition says nothing at all about the amplitude of the output - only about the total gain in the loop.

                              The other thing we know about oscillations induced by having loop gain greater than unity is that the amplitude of the oscillation grows exponentially with time, until something happens to lower the loop gain to exactly unity, at which point the oscillation stabilizes. In a Wien bridge oscillator, we might deliberately use a thermistor, or LDR, or JFET to lower the gain to unity when the right amplitude is reached, to maintain stable oscillations.

                              Now, if you take a 100W Marshall, turn it up, and then move your Les Paul close to your 4x12 stacks, you can get the loop gain - including the acoustic transfer of vibrations from speaker to air to guitar strings - up above unity, and acoustic feedback starts. It very quickly gets louder and louder (exponential growth) until the amp begins to overdrive, meaning gain is lowered on signal peaks. The average gain falls, and eventually the oscillation stabilizes. Since the amp had to be pushed all the way to full output to begin to overdrive, you now have ear-bleeding SPL along with your acoustic feedback.

                              But this is not the only way to create acoustic feedback. Remember, we need only two ingredients: enough electronic gain to make the total loop gain greater than unity so that oscillation starts, and then some mechanism to to start to lower the gain as the amplitude grows, until average loop gain drops to exactly unity, and oscillation stabilizes.

                              Several years ago, I reasoned that I could use a compressor element that lowered the gain to unity once oscillations had started to build, and any kind of gain pedal to to get the loop gain high enough to start acoustic feedback. It turns out that this works quite well. Turn up the gain enough to get acoustic feedback oscillations from speaker to guitar to start; turn down the compressor threshold so that the gain drops to unity and maintains oscillations at an SPL that isn't ear-damaging. It helps to be using a fairly low-wattage amp, so that you don't blow your ears out before you get all the knobs set where you want them.

                              Compressor doesn't have enough gain? Then you have to add some more. A clean-boost pedal, or an overdrive pedal, will usually do the trick. The compressor will still do the job of stabilizing the acoustic feedback level once oscillation starts.

                              Will I sound exactly like Jimi with a compressor and a low powered amp? Surely not, there are other psychoacoustic and psychological factors at work, that give loud sounds an impact that quiet sounds never have. But then again, I wouldn't sound like Jimi if you gave me all the exact equipment he used, either. And I would be deaf in short order (Jimi would have gone deaf if he'd lived longer than he did.)

                              In the end, it comes down to something very simple. I love music, and therefore it makes no sense at all for me to do things that I know will cause me to lose my hearing; that's would be like a dancer who deliberately chooses to chop off a toe every time she performs, no?

                              So I have exactly the opposite philosophy from Chuck and Jason. If I have to lose some "tone" to keep my hearing, so be it. I'd rather have my hearing, and be able to still enjoy music, and the voices of the people I love.

                              But that viewpoint leaves open a window of opportunity: to hunt for ways to get great electric guitar tone without the deafening SPL levels.

                              As an aside, I started tinkering with solid-state electronics when I was quite young, around eight years old. By the time I was in my twenties, I had seen and learned and built enough stuff that the challenge had gone. Not to mention, the solid-state Hi-Fi audio chain had essentially reached perfection; now even cheap chip amps had so little distortion that the remaining imperfections were undetectable by ear. The only remaining progress to be had was in lowering cost, size, and weight, and those things didn't interest me much. So I pretty much stopped building my own electronics. I also started playing guitar at around the same time, more or less coincidentally.

                              Guitar faded out of my life when college, marriage, a mortgage, and my first real job all took over my life. But eventually, guitar clawed its way back into my consciousness; and this time, I discovered what I had not understood before, that it was imperfect amps that made electric guitars sound good. And that made electronics interesting again, because I didn't know how to make deliberately imperfect amps that sounded good when you put a guitar through them.

                              And now there is an additional challenge: making deliberately imperfect amps that sound good when you put a guitar through them - and do it at SPL levels that don't destroy human hearing!

                              Can it be done? What will it take? Tune in to the next thrilling installment to find out!

                              -Gnobuddy

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by bob p View Post
                                Attenuators are a necessary evil. If you piss off the sound guys with a 15 watter then you're really going to piss them off with a Plexi.
                                I went to a gig (as an audience member) to see a guy that owns two of my amps as well as a little Mesa Subway Blues that I modified (his smallest amp). I asked the sound guy which amp he liked the best.?. He said "The little one".
                                "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                                "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                                "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

                                Comment

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