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Sympathetic vibration dampening

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by dougazbass, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. dougazbass

    dougazbass Supporting Member

    May 6, 2011
    Mesa, AZ
    Has anyone ever tried to eliminate symaphetic string vibration electronically?
    For example, filter any signal amplitude under a certain amount.
    Or using a computer processor to not send a string vibration signal unless it starts with a vibration over a certain amplitude. I suppose that you would need separate pickup signals for each string for that one.
    Seeing as that I have never come up with an original idea, I am assuming that this exists or has been tried.
  2. Can you be much more specific about what the problem is you're trying to control? Your post is too vague.
  3. dougazbass

    dougazbass Supporting Member

    May 6, 2011
    Mesa, AZ
    Other strings vibrate when not being played or struck. Physical dampening of some sort, pads, wraps, or your thumb is always used.
    I'm thinking of an electronic control of that pickup transmission from the sensing of these strings.
  4. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Like a string-specific noise gate? If you had a separate pickup for each string (with fairly narrow aperture), you could possibly use something like a noise gate on each pickup. Otherwise, there's no way you could do it electronically without seriously altering your tone (effectively by filtering out the frequencies that will make up the sympathetic vibrations).

    If this is a serious problem, I'd first recommend a technique adjustment before attacking it electronically.
  5. Yep, a physical device or improved technique is the way to go. Its possible electronically (as mentioned above), but the cost would be prohibitive compared to the other solutions. Unless money is no object for you.
  6. Hactar


    Sep 25, 2011
    Boulder, CO
    Have you looked into guitar sustainer projects?
    There is a guy who has posted all over the place, usually known as 'psw', who has done a great deal of experimentation with handmade guitar sustainers, including hex-coil designs.
    Essentially, you would put a small driver coil under each string, and feed it the flipped phase of the signal that you want gone.
    Of course, this would require some sort of circuit or software that is able to determine which string is being played, and which strings should be muted.
  7. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    Damping sympathetic ringing is just one of the biggest challenges of playing our instrument. For me, it happens with the B string primarily. It's the hardest string for me to keep muted. I find myself making extra moves with my fretting hand, to touch the string. Sometimes when I'm playing on the D and G strings and I have to reach across to the B, with an unused finger, to stop it from vibrating. I guess I could mute with my plucking hand thumb, but then it changes my hand position and slightly affects my playing. I don't think the fret wraps work all that well, really. They're just a different hassle, to me.

    Not sure it's possible to do electronically.
  8. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    That's actually not a bad idea. Get individual string pickups, individuals string driver coils, and then it's just a matter of permanently passing each pickup's signal through to the respective driver coil unless the signal is above a certain threshold (effectively, single-string noise gates where the signal is passed to a driver circuit instead of ground).

    Interesting. I wonder how long it would take to mute the string's vibrations.
  9. joelb79


    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan
    It would take a long while I would think due to the inertia of the string movement being built up and the limited pull the device would exhibit to break that inertia. The devices build inertia in the string by adding some to each movement. But to stop something, you need far more force. I cannot think of anything electro-magnetic that could equal foam or my palm pressing against the string for raw stopping power. A device like that would take a lot of string cycles before it broke the inertia of the string; where-as adding to the inertia of the string with such a device would be more effective.
  10. dougazbass

    dougazbass Supporting Member

    May 6, 2011
    Mesa, AZ
    You would have to have separate pickups for each string.
    Then the processor would constantly watch all the string vibrations separately. When it sees one that exhibits a dramatic amplitude increase (it has been plucked), it can react and allow that strings pickup output to flow to the preamp.
    It would take miliseconds for the processor to react and a simple program to read the signal and pass along the signal from a string that has been plucked.
    I don't think one would sence the processor delay.

    This is not to solve any problem I might have with muting.
    I'm looking for new technology that would eliminate the muting issue with basses.
  11. As was mentioned by others, other than individual string pickups, a quad output from the bass, an adjustable noise gate for each string and a mixer after the gates, I personally can't think of a simpler electronic method.

    Any 'solution' to this 'problem' will probably cost as much or more than the bass.

    Would there really be a market for this electronic approach?
  12. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Moog make a guitar which does not only precisely that, but the opposite as well? In other words, not only does it have a mode which makes all of your notes sound "palm-muted" and dampened (even to the point that, I assume, the strings you aren't playing will not sympathetically vibrate), but also has an infinite sustain mode where you can strum a note and it will indefinitely hold it. It's not exactly what you are describing, but could be re-purposed to behave in that way I think.

    Here's a link to the Moog page: http://www.moogmusic.com/products/moog-guitars/moog-guitar-model-e1-butterscotch

    And here's a good example of the capabilities (and a fantastic song besides). The guitar player uses both the hold and sustain feature here:
  13. You've accurately spotted the technology.

    The features were in such demand that the guitar is no longer in production and the starting price for 'A' stock was $3500.
  14. That price actually doesn't sound too bad to me considering everything it can do (if I'm not mistaken it can also function as a midi controller as well, which is just tops in my opinion). I will agree that it's definitely not priced for entry level by any means and absolutely only appeals to a smaller niche market of musicians. Having said that, I'd love to own one if the funds should ever present themselves.

    But yeah, fascinating technology for sure.

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