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Post new topic Odd noise when playing double stops with overdrive pedal?
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Author Topic:  Odd noise when playing double stops with overdrive pedal?
Bob Watson


From:
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.
Post Posted 10 Mar 2017 1:18 am     Reply with quote

I've been toying around with overdrive pedals lately and I've noticed that when I play double stops while also using the A pedal I get an odd harmonic that sounds like a descending note. A good example is when I play strings 4 and 5 at the same time and hit the A pedal, I'll hear a faint, sometimes not so faint, harmonic which is descending although the dominant sound is the 5th string ascending a whole step. Is this common and is there something that can be done about it?
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post Posted 10 Mar 2017 4:10 am     Reply with quote

That the harmonics created by differentials between two real notes behave like you describe, is perfectly normal. All units that distort the signal behaves this way - as do our ears when the signal becomes loud enough, and, no, there is nothing you can do about it, except to play on these harmonics so they sound right in context.
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 10 Mar 2017 5:15 am     Reply with quote

It's called "intermodulation distortion", and it's a function of the "beats" between two tones being so numerous as to make a tone of their own.
Overdrive/distortion makes beats sound much stronger; if you tune by ear, turn on the fuzz and hear how the intervals drop into tune.

As for what to do about them; either stop playing double stops with the overdrive engaged, or learn to work with the diving and swooping of the third tone.
BTW, if you listen closely, it is happening with pure sine waves too, but much farther in the background.
_________________
2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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Bob Watson


From:
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.
Post Posted 10 Mar 2017 7:16 pm     Reply with quote

I'm curious as to why I can play the same lick on an electric guitar using a distortion pedal without hearing any intermodulation distortion?
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Lane Gray


From:
Topeka, KS
Post Posted 10 Mar 2017 7:30 pm     Reply with quote

You mean you don't hear that dive and swoop if you bend a minor third to a major third to a perfect fourth?
Might be you're not listening for it, or maybe the pickups just aren't as sensitive. It's pure physics. It should be happening
_________________
2 pedal steels, a lapStrat, and an 8-string Dobro (and 3 ukes)
More amps than guitars, and not many effects
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Bob Watson


From:
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.
Post Posted 10 Mar 2017 9:12 pm     Reply with quote

Lane, I just plugged a Tele into my steel rig with the overdrive pedal and I can hear it, but its barely audible compared to the steel. I would bet that you're right about the p/u not being as sensitive. The lick I'm talking about is bending ( or pedaling ) a 4th up to a 5th while playing a b7 at the same time. I've never noticed it on guitar before, even with distortion pedals. I figured it was some sort of harmonic but its a lot more distinct on a pedal steel than on a six string. I've even tried it with a slant on a stringmaster and you can hear it. I guess its because the steel p/u's are a lot hotter. I'd like to thank you and Georg for your responses.
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Justin Brown


From:
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Post Posted 11 Mar 2017 6:37 pm     Reply with quote

I've never really heard a clear explanation of what causes this effect and why it happens in some cases and not others. Most overdrive pedals are tricky to use with steel because of it. But the Sarno Earth Drive barely causes it even at high gain settings. With amps cranked up, Fenders (bf/sf) don't do it much and sound good with steel... but a Matchless Lighting, which sounds great for guitar, emphasizes these weird overtones so much it's hard to even hear the fundamentals of the notes in some cases.
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Carl Mesrobian


From:
Salem, Massachusetts, USA
Post Posted 13 Mar 2017 4:31 pm     Reply with quote

If you are using the plated steel bar, try using a glass bar, such as Brass'N'Glass.

Also try playing with the tone setting if there is one.

I had a Boss Distortion that I had trouble with. I use a Fulltone OCD and it's fine.

Guitar->Black Box->VP->OCD->Princeton Reverb
_________________
--carl

"Just because I'm not paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me!" --Pat Farrell, Salem, MA
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post Posted 14 Mar 2017 4:10 am     Reply with quote

To minimize the "differential tones" produced by distortion units, roll off the low frequencies coming out of the steel hard before the signal reaches the distortion unit. For E9 that means attenuate frequencies below about 110Hz.
Only beat-sounds (and rumble), that few steel amps/speakers can properly reproduce, are coming out in that low range anyway, and by rolling those pretty useless lows off the steel will drive the distortion units much more like a 6-string guitar does.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post Posted 14 Mar 2017 4:57 am     Reply with quote

Be careful about getting rid of that sound. It is a very major part of the mojo of great sounding amps and overdrives. Take Stevie Ray Vaughn , those low tones are always there in his sound. It's just that guitar doesn't bend notes the same as a steel. With the pedal steel you get a contrary motion as the notes move so it is more noticeable.

In recordings and on the bandstand I have never had those low frequencies be a problem. I have had a problem with the overdriven steel sounding nasal and thin. Like a bee stuck in a bucket. That is exactly what you get if you make your tone anticeptic by removing all the artifacts. If you ever wondered why the overdriven sounds of the pedalsteel often sound weak and annoying compared to the powerful and massive sound guitar players get it is because we carefully remove the good stuff.

If one bend doesn't work with those difference tones use another one or play a single note. If you know you have a bend that makes a wild loud low moving rumble keep it in your back pocket and use it when the lead guitar player thinks you are out of bullets.

Don't let the typical pedalsteel player OCD disorder take awaythe fun of making big noises !
_________________
Bob
http://themoodillusion.com/home
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post Posted 14 Mar 2017 5:35 am     Reply with quote

Bob Hoffnar wrote:
Don't let the typical pedalsteel player OCD disorder take away the fun of making big noises !
+1 Laughing
I love big, but musical, noises...

There's a difference between playing more or less clean, and playing with distortion.
- When playing "clean" the steel makes nearly all the sound/noise, and we apply equalization and effects to, and play, on that.
- When playing with distortion most sound/noise is produced and/or shaped by the distorting unit based on the input to this unit, so it makes sense to set eq both before and after the dist unit to get the particular mix of sound and noise the individual player wants.
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