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Author Topic:  Sympathetic Steel Console
Bill Sinclair


From:
Hagerstown, Maryland, USA
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 12:49 pm    
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I rewired this Rickenbacker DW16 console steel with a stereo plug so that the two necks can be amplified in different channels of the amp. This allows me to use the outside neck for sympathetic strings that resonate in sympathy with the notes that are being played on the inside neck. Since the outside neck is just a retune using the same strings as an A6 tuning, the heavy gauge strings resonating sound a bit like holding down the damper pedal on a piano.

Theoretically, since a string resonates most readily with its fundamental and fifth, I should be able to get all twelve tones of the western scale with just six sympathetic strings. In practice, the fundamental definitely dominates so I'll probably build a guitar with twelve sympathetic strings if I keep this up. Early experimental stage and I'm not sure what direction this will take but I'm having fun with it. I'll try to post more details about the tuning, etc. tomorrow if anyone is interested.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu_nL3iwXYA&feature=youtu.be
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2019 3:13 pm    
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I'm tinkering with something similar, albeit for Indian classical. The effect was more strongly noticed on my Stringmaster T8, because it just resonates a bit more I find, but it has one master volume...and it seems like the trick is to amplify the symp neck a lot more. So I tried it on my Magnatone D8, and basically adjusted my B11 neck to have a lydian scale in B (sharp the fourth and natural the seventh), then adjusted the C6 neck to a B...lydian, again. And with both necks on but the "melody" neck backed way off in volume, I get a fair amount of resonance. I was playing Raag Yaman ( n R G M D N S' N D P M G R S) which is basically Lydian scale (Kalyan thaat) with Sa (root) and Pa (fifth) skipped in ascent.

That Rick sounds good. Mostly I hear root and fifth, probably because it was the lower strings mostly activating? I had basically the same issue. If I were designing an instrument from the ground up (which I yet may do when I'm ready to spend some money) I would make the sympathetics light gauge strings with varying scales, like on a sitar...doesn't take as much to set them off, and then a bone or delrin jawari bridge which gives it the "sizzle". Those are really hard to get right, unfortunately. But when it is right it just fills out the sound so nicely...an example of sitar on the same raag from Ustad Vilayat Khan (my guru was Ustad Imrat Khan, his brother):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGBKs7swowk

The nice thing about these being electric instruments is that you can balance main strings to sympathetics at will. With acoustic instruments it's a difficult art...some instruments will have it, others, not so much. And filing the jawari bridge to get that perfect sound (not too open/buzzy and not too closed/lute-like) is quite a challenge (I took my instrument to an expert in Indiana, Tony Karasek, who was responsible for the care and feeding of Ravi Shankar's sitars for many years).
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James Mayer


From:
back in Portland Oregon, USA (via Arkansas and London, UK)
Post  Posted 19 Aug 2019 9:41 am    
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I have a hollowbody six-string guitar that has "split" pickups that I've wired for "stereo" controls. The 3 treble and 3 bass strings have independent volume and tone controls. I like rolling the treble string volume all the way down and just listening to the bass strings ring out sympathetically. Sounds good with some echo.

I've thought about doing something similar with a simple acoustic auto-harp with a stick-on piezo pickup. I figure you can just lay the harp in front of your steel amp, and run the pickup from the harp to another amp. I figure there will be some feedback issues but could be resolved by experimenting with amp placement.

I like this idea better than building the sympathetic strings into an instrument. The method above could be applied to any instrument you play through the primary amp. You could also change the tuning of the auto-harp by putting weights on the keys, resulting in different scales or chords being available.

You guys see any problems with the above idea?
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Bill Sinclair


From:
Hagerstown, Maryland, USA
Post  Posted 19 Aug 2019 11:17 am    
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James,
Have you ever listened to the modern 10 string classical guitar as played by Narciso Yepes and others? The extended range of strings is used primarily to provide a sympathetic underpinning to the melodic strings more than being plucked. It's fairly subtle but similar, I think, to what you are getting with your split pickup guitar. Neat idea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQGBbLBShzk

I think your autoharp idea is pretty cool too. It's kind of hard to find one that isn't warped from all that string tension and years of being stored in the attic. Oh Well I purchased one a while back with the intention of possibly modifying the damper mechanism to use on the sympathetic console I'd like to build someday. Your idea sounds a lot simpler! Please try it and post the results.

Nic,

Thanks for weighing in. While I'm not very knowledgeable about Indian classical, I have listened to a number of Gottuvadyam players on youtube and I love the sound. Is that sort of what you're going for in an electric instrument? I started this road to experimentation similar to the way you did, playing the neck that was turned off and cranking the volume up on the unplayed neck of a Fender Stringmaster. My (then) teenage son paused his computer game and came to listen quietly in the doorway while I played. That’s when I figured, man, I should try to do something with this – if I can tear a teenager away from his computer for a few minutes there must be something to it! Even if it's just for my own hypnotic noodling enjoyment.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 19 Aug 2019 12:34 pm    
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I don't know how many of you are Norwegian, but they have a fiddle called a "Hardinger".
It is an 8 string instrument with 4 of the strings lying under the fretboard and are vibrated sympathetically. Very Happy
Erv
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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 19 Aug 2019 1:19 pm    
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Oh yeah, the Hardanger fiddle...and the similar and slightly more exotic Swedish cousin, the nyckelharpa:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zs3aUCM8BX8

The sympathetics on those instruments seem to not ring out in the same manner as a sitar (with jawari bridge) but manifest less as a distinct "zing" that follows a note strike and more like this fascinating "tuned reverb". One bowed instrument that is similar is the sarangi...just a few playing strings and several dozen sympathetics, it sounds like a reverb tank right in front of you!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUYyw5YuD1k


Gottuvadyam sounds like the South Indian / Carnatic term for the vichitra veena. It's a rare instrument (particularly in my teacher's tradition, which is North Indian / Hindustani). It was played with a stone egg. The new (often Tau Moe inspired) steel players tend to be making use of adapted western style guitars, the old veenas are less and less common. Even the rudra vina is very rare, used primarily for really old, really slow dhrupad. I can't imagine playing one of those...sitars feel decidely "modern" in comparison!

One consideration...in the Indian traditions things are fixed and modal, so the sympathetics are tuned to the notes of the scale or raag. If you have chromatic sympathetics, I think you'll find the sound may still be interesting but will be more melodically chaotic, not quite as clean sounding...ie., if you were sliding from note to note and it resonated with each little half-step, would sound a bit garbled, but it could still be a neat effect.
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Waikīkī, at night when the shadows are falling
I hear the rolling surf calling
Calling and calling to me
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Bill Sinclair


From:
Hagerstown, Maryland, USA
Post  Posted 19 Aug 2019 2:42 pm    
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Nic Neufeld wrote:

Gottuvadyam sounds like the South Indian / Carnatic term for the vichitra veena.


Yeah, chitra veena is the other name for it. This guy is using some kind of cylinder as a slide.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlpT9f26w1U

I'd like to experiment with tuning the sympathetic strings to a mode or scale. There are just so many different directions! Right now I'm just retuning the A6 neck to the following: (low to high) F#,A,C,E,G#,Bb,D,E
The notes were chosen based on skipping every other note in the circle of fifths. The tendency of each string to resonate with its fifth as well as its fundamental should give me a little bit of the in-between notes I skipped. Since I had two left over strings, I added an A and doubled up on the E. I'll probably play with this tuning for a while since it's pretty easy to return to A6. The played neck is Amaj9 or E over A tuning. I wired in stacked volume pots and a stereo/mono switch so I can still use it as a standard D8.



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Nic Neufeld


From:
Kansas City, Missouri
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2019 3:12 am    
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Here's something you guys will want to try, if you have an iOS device like an iPhone or iPad. I went Android years back so not useful for me anymore but it's amazing:

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/samvada/id551119231?ls=1


It essentially uses the input of the mic to trigger synthesized sympathetic strings to the headphone out put. You'd probably need a quick crash course in sargam notation...Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni As is a Do Re Mi equivalent, ie root, second third etc. Re Ga Dha and Ni (2,3,6,7) can be natural (shuddh) or flat (khomal) and Ma (4th) can be natural or sharp (tivra). Clear as mud eh! If they have presets setting it to bhupali (SRGPDS, major pentatonic) is a fun, sweet sounding starting point).
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Waikīkī, at night when the shadows are falling
I hear the rolling surf calling
Calling and calling to me
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Paul McEvoy


From:
Baltimore, USA
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2019 5:30 am    
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Nic I switched to Android also but have a few old iphones I use for music stuff. Itabla pro and ireal pro both work nicer on IOS and then I have my Pixel phone (which has a better microphone anyway) for making recordings.

Iphone SEs are about $100 on ebay and work great for this. I just downloaded Samvada thanks.
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James Mayer


From:
back in Portland Oregon, USA (via Arkansas and London, UK)
Post  Posted 20 Aug 2019 12:44 pm    
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I've got Samvada but it hasn't been updated in ages. It isn't IAA enabled so i can't use it in AUM, which I much prefer to using Audiobus. I use my iPad for just about everything right now so I would love it if this app was more usable.
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James Mayer


From:
back in Portland Oregon, USA (via Arkansas and London, UK)
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2019 3:37 pm    
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I found a good alternative to Samvada. It’s free and works in an Audio Unit host (Garageband, AUM, etc). It’s doesn’t have the jawari buzz and is meant to sound like sympathetic piano strings. I’ve been laying around with it and am happy with it. The resonance sounds natural.

CuSnP by Neon Silicon

https://itunes.apple.com/dk/app/cusnp/id1418236738?l=da&mt=8&uo=4&at=10l4Ky&ct=forum
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