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Experimental Fully Modular Bass Rig.

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Flux Jetson, Jul 26, 2012.

  1. Hello folks. This is about a bass system that starts from a custom bass and ends at the cabs. It's an experimental fully modular system that uses a fully modular mindset and approach to putting together an electric bass system from top to bottom.

    Essentially it begins at the bass itself. I'm in the midst of putting together a bass guitar that is as modular as I can design it. Using EMG pickup and electronics system in the bass itself, it won't have any type of onboard preamp of sorts, the pickups will have their own discrete output jacks. At most it will have volume controls for each pickup, and that's about it. I chose EMG basically for the ease of changing pickups. The experimental nature of this project assumes that the pickups will be changed to assist in the (insert huge dramatic reverb here) Neverending Quest for Tone. So I wanted it to be very easy to swap out pickups and be able to easily mix and match them.

    Out of the bass and on to the preamp. The preamps are a combination of analog modular synthesizer filters combined with Line 6 M13 models and Line 6 HD500 models as well. Also involved are several DIY overdrives, distortions, and compressors. The preamps are the heart and soul of this system, and the subject of this first installment in this thread. I will be adding info to this thread as the project progresses.

    Out from the preamps and on to amplification. The signals hit a Mackie 1400i. I wanted to use "plain old power amps" in this rig so as to be certain the amps are doing nothing but making the signal louder without adding color if possible. From the Mackie the signal hits the cabs. One cab is an 8ohm Baer ML112. This cab is loaded with a 12" neo driver, and a 6" driver with a crossover network. The other cab (currently on it's way here) is a Carvin BRX10.2 in 4ohm. Since the Mackie can run different impedances per channel the disparity between the 8ohm Baer and the 4ohm Carvin ain't no thang.

    So essentially that's the run down. The idea being to have the ability to run "stereo" or biamped, or mono. With the synth modules I can do some crazy signal splitiing and mixing as well. Onward ....

    I started with a single 14space synth cab from a vendor in Canada that goes by Amherst Design. The cabs ship "flat pack" so shipping is less expensive. However it also means to must assemble it.


    LCCkit-1. .



    After assembling that first cab I coated it with Rustoleum Bedliner for coating pickup truck beds.




    After some thought and early testing it was clear that 14 psaces were nowhere near enough to accomplish what I wanted to get done with this rig. So I decided to double it. A fabbed up a method to mount one cab on top of the other with a 1.5" gap between them. I cut large through-holes in the cabs to facilitate passing wiring in between them (such as power wiring and normalizing cables).



    I handmade all of the brackets as well.




    After the two cabs were screwed and glued together forming one single wooden structure, I started fabbing up an aluminum center strip out of 1/8" x 2" wide aluminum. The brackets were spaced pretty exactly, so the spacing between the mounting screws was uniform all the way across the strip. All of the hardware I used is Stainless Steel .. everything, including the nuts, flatwashers, lockwashers, dress washers as well as the machine screws and matching wood screws. Hole alignment is within 1/4mm. All metalwork was performed with a hacksaw and a file, all of the layout was done with a 16" steel ruler, all holes were drilled with a simple electric hand drill.



    The center strip will be used to add roughly 20+ jacks and roughly 20+ switches to perform normalized control voltage wiring to reduce the amount of external patchcords needed to execute commonly used patches and connections. The gap between the upper and lower houses provides enough working space for plenty of components, and the center strip is completely removable. The end-gaps between the two housings serves as carrying handles.

    So, after completing the cabs and applying five separate coats of bedliner spray (which took six days) I loaded the housing with the modules I had accumulated while I was building the cabs. Here's what we have so far (pardon the thumbprints on the aluminum) ...





    Here's a couple of gut shots ....


    I purposely mounted the power supply up on 2x2 blocks to allow room for the DC Squid (power wiring) to have room to spread out a little bit. Those blocks are glued and screwed to the cab's bottom, and the power supply is screwed to the blocks.


    There is still a LOT of wiring left to be done. Many of the jacks in several modules must be reomoved and exchanged for prewired switching jacks to provide normalizing abilities. I designed a normalizing scheme that will allow various modules to be simply switched in and out of a patch with just the flick of a minitoggle rather than using more patchcords. All efforts to keep the patchcord jungle less dense in certain patches.


    (next post) ...
    Cat-A-Tonic likes this.
  2. Ok ... this modular synth rig will allow me to test various filter arrays and different routings. If I am able to whittle it down to within 8 spaces, I'll be able to put what I need just for the bass in a rack mounted rig like this one ...




    The main beauty of this setup is the ability to actually sweep between two pickups with my foot using a few of the modular synth modules to get that done. Running one pickups signal chain through various filters and then out to what is known as a Pan/Fade module. A foot controller tells the Pan/Fader to sweep between two signals, exactly like a pickup mix knob does on certain basses.


    I can also manipulate various filter settings with the same foot control. So as I am sweeping between the two pickups, I can also retweak the filter array to suit the pickup mix at any given point of the pickup mixture. One foot controller can be assigned to many many functions, all of which can be taylored to respond however you see fit. These are two Moog pedals, and two Wah pedals. The Moogs can be patched in to the modular rig using a module called a Pedal Interface.

    So, to boil this down. 2 independant pickup feeds are run through two independant filter arrays. The filters are VERY powerful and can be set to perform as Low Pass filters, Notch filters, Bandpass filters, and High Pass filters ... all simultaneously. Those filtered signals can be mixed, or run in parallel, or run in series parallel. They can be run out to two separate amp channels in the MAckie, and then piped out to two separate speaker cabs. OR they can be mixed into a mono signal and run out to the Mackie as one signal where the two speaker cabs can be run off of independant channels. Whatever I wish to do.

    Here's the Line 6 part. The M13 is nearly as capable as this modular synth rig is. I can manipulate the M13 with footcontrollers just like I do with the modular synth. As I use the routing gear in the modular synth to sweep between pickups, I can also use a foot control to change aspects of the FX in the M13. Two foot controllers side-by-side can be manipulated at the same time with one foot. One working the modular synth, the other working the M13. So as the modular synth sweeps between pickups, the M13 can be foot-tweaked to deal with the pickup selection as it changes.

    I'll be adding more to this thread as I go along. I'm only doing this for entertainment of memebrs here that are interested in this type of thing.

    I've been playing bass since 1990. I've been playing analog synths since 1978. So it comes very naturally to me to meld the two together. I've owned many basses, many amps, many stompboxes. I'm at this point in my bass-life where it's time I did something like this. As I discover what works and what doesn't work for me, this system will get smaller and smaller and less complicated until I am at the point where I'll know exactly what pickups I will want to use, what electronics setup I will want to use, and how it will be outfitted and routed.

    This system is completely open ended. I can insert FX at any point along the chain. I can effect just one pickup and not the other if I chose to. If you can ~think it~ .. you can do it with this rig. Recording will be a ton of fun as well.

    So that's it for tonight. I'll answer questions along the way, and I'll be adding more as the system grows and I learn about different powers it has. I'll also be posting audio clips and I may even do a video or so (I'm horribly camera shy).

    I just barely covered the abilities of this rig. It's a total research rig and as soon as the new bass is finished it will be a Fully Operational Death Star (heheh).

    Oh, and it also is a fully functional synth as well. :)

    Cat-A-Tonic likes this.
  3. hachi kid

    hachi kid

    Jun 2, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Oh my god.....I've never experienced such GAS before!!!!!! Videos, PLEASE!!!
  4. TomA1234


    Jul 27, 2009
    Fareham, England
    Videos or no awesome modular synth. :)
  5. Bob Moog would be proud. Very impressive.
  6. Thanks. And you know what? This entire rig ... the modular synth, the Mackie, the Baer and the Carvin 210 is less money than an SVT head only! However there is quite a bit of DIY going on. If one were so inclined you can go all rackmount by using the all metal rack adaptors if you didin't want to goof with wooden cabs. The rack adaptors are $65 each, and they hold 8 spaces of modules. The adaptors take up 5U of rack space each.

    The thinner modules are one "space" wide, the wider ones pictured are two spaces wide. You have to kinda learn the lingo when planning out this stuff. You cna get blank panels too, so you can DIY FX pedal circuits and mount them in synth panels. If you build the circuits to deal with 18volts they'll even work from the synth's power supply (15vdc).

    Just thought I'd deepen the disease a bit with more info. :)

    Thanks for the encouraging remarks folks.
  7. DeltaPhoenix

    DeltaPhoenix Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2011
    Obviously this is for home use. Do you play out? If so, do you try to get any of the sounds that this unit makes, is so, how?
    I know you got an M13 but it can't cover that, can it?
  8. I will be playing out again soon. This type of rig has been used by synth players for nearly 4 decades. The M13 cannot cover the analog synth filters as well as the real thing. Like I was saying, this rig will reduce in size as I discover what is needed and what isn't needed. My guess is the bass will remain a 2-channel system.

    I'll be using the entire rig when my wife and I start gigging again. It will be used for processing the bass as well as doing synthesizer sounds. This type of gear is pretty robust. There are also prefabbed road-case mounted cabs for this stuff available as well.




    My rig as pictured would work well playing out (of course after I make a back panel for it!)
  9. behndy

    behndy Banned

    Nov 1, 2008
    i love the idea and you've attacked it beautifully. verrrrrrry interesting.

    it's very daunting and wayyyy more than i could keep track of live, but DAYUM that's hawt.
  10. DeltaPhoenix

    DeltaPhoenix Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2011
    Do you have roadies, lol?

    I have only seen larger acts pack around that much modular synth gear. I figured you were going to say some MoogerFoogers and the M13 get you by.

    I would like to hear this rig when you have it how you like it.
  11. INSANE ! but i love it !
  12. sleazy approved
  13. DannDubblewe

    DannDubblewe Knob Wrangler

    Apr 3, 2009
    This. Is. Insanely amazing. Looking forward to further developments for sure!!
  14. Flux Jetson... is that you ??:p

  15. *Strokes chin* I like the cut of your jib, sir.
  16. portlandguy


    Feb 15, 2011
    Portland, OR
    that is cool man
  17. This whole concept is amazing. I can't wait to spend more time reading this thread (I'm at work now).
  18. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    Wow! I love it!!! I don't know much about bass and synths. What's you tone goal? What do you hope to be able to do? Any influences I can find on youtube?
  19. Totally digging this.
  20. icecycle66


    Feb 4, 2009
    I'm out of breath.
    I think I'm having a GAS attack.
    I want this so mad.
    I may have just had a gear stroke.

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