It's all just circuits

Amps, Cabs, Effects, Pickups, Onboard Preamps
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DeadlyErnest
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It's all just circuits

Post by DeadlyErnest » 08 Jul 2018, 10:26

Having done some training in electronics I find I can't get too excited about magicl "sounds".

It's all just electrons winding their way through various twists and turns, with various complications to help or retard them on their way.

In theory there should be many ways to get to the sound you want if you aren't too fussy about something being 'exactly' what you think you need.

Back in the day Leo Fender just used off the shelf parts to build his creations. They worked well, but there was nothing magical about the process he followed.

Once you understand what a circuit designer is getting at there is no reason that can't be replicated. Especially these days with DSP being so good.

I think the only reason you don't have the "universal" pedal is that it would just be too complex for most people to understand how to get what you want out of it. Hence the pedals that specialise in one type of sound or another typically have a "preset" sound and sound modification profile.

So, umm, that's about it I think. :blah:
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Petebass
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by Petebass » 08 Jul 2018, 10:35

You're gonna get flamed. But I concur wholeheartedly.
* 2 Stingray 5's (one heavily modded), Ibanez SR805, Ashbory, + more...
* Carvin B1500, Epifani PS1000, Ashdown Superfly amps.
* Lots of DIY neo/lightweight cabs including one made from composites http://www.ozbassforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2546

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petersemple
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by petersemple » 08 Jul 2018, 11:38

You haven't accounted for the mojo though!!

Seriously though I did see a fairly in depth analysis of a vintage wah vs a modern one once. The measured outputs were jut slightly different using oscilloscopes and frequency measures. It turned out that the most likely reason was that the iron core of the inductor had picked up a permanent magnetic field over time and use. That of course is something that can be deliberately duplicated once it is known, but is something that a new part off the shelf won't have (unless it was designed in). The aging of components in a similar way I guess can mean that older pedals don't always sound exactly the same as a new equivalent (for better or for worse).

In general though I agree with you.

I also have a very strong suspicion that if you have an old design that relies on an insanely rare and out of production transistor, and you substitute a more modern one that has very close specs, then it will sound similar enough that it won't matter (especially when you consider that all parts have a tolerance as well).
Basses: Wasburn Status 4, Fretless 4 made from parts, Fretted through neck 5 made by me
Amp: Eminar bass 400 into home made cab with JBL 15"

packrat
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by packrat » 08 Jul 2018, 11:42

Nonlinearity is hard to model and it’s the non ideal characteristics that are often interesting aurally.

The reductionist approach doesn’t really huy that much. Sound is all “just” vibrating air but that doesn’t buy you much understanding of complex acoustic instruments.

B>

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noplanb
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by noplanb » 08 Jul 2018, 11:50

An example of simple but effective - pickups sound a bit dark ? Don't rewind/replace/add pedal; just try taping different small pieces of iron or steel to the underside first, - voila! - different types of mid boost. I have a few basses with this now.
Eg, cut a thick nail to same length as pickup and tape to the underside.
I see..............basses!

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Petebass
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by Petebass » 08 Jul 2018, 12:30

Hey remember that thread ages ago started by Slowlearner that was similar to this except the gist was "It's all just wood. No magic voodoo..." I wonder if this thread will replicate that one?
* 2 Stingray 5's (one heavily modded), Ibanez SR805, Ashbory, + more...
* Carvin B1500, Epifani PS1000, Ashdown Superfly amps.
* Lots of DIY neo/lightweight cabs including one made from composites http://www.ozbassforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2546

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BazzBass
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by BazzBass » 08 Jul 2018, 13:41

everything's digital now, just noughts and ones
Loud things: Markbass LittleMark 250, Hartke HA2500 amps, Hartke XL210 cabs
Pretty things: Fender MIA P, MIM P and J, SX J, Takamine ABG
Bands: Los Mescalitos , Distorted Tarts

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DeadlyErnest
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by DeadlyErnest » 08 Jul 2018, 14:41

I keep reading about everyone going DI.
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petersemple
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by petersemple » 08 Jul 2018, 16:08

I think that it is possible to model analog effects digitally. I am not convinced that it always responds and sounds exactly the same. As packrat says, a circuit that is quite simple electronically can still be complicated acoustically. I suspect that is more a failing of our current software design that an indication that the concept is impossible though. The software is definitely getting better with time as well. One thing that makes a difference though is that it is relatively easy for somebody sitting at home with a bit on electronic knowledge to design up and then construct analog circuitry. It does not take much though before digital circuitry gets beyond a small tinkerer - even before you add in the extra skill set needed to write the software. My guess is that's why you see any number of boutique analogue pedal manufacturers, but the complex digital stuff tends to be the domain of large companies.
Basses: Wasburn Status 4, Fretless 4 made from parts, Fretted through neck 5 made by me
Amp: Eminar bass 400 into home made cab with JBL 15"

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BassLine
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by BassLine » 08 Jul 2018, 16:41

I'm time-poor.... I'll just buy one. :neener:
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bassbass
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by bassbass » 08 Jul 2018, 19:59

It's all just circuits
Behind my circuits is close to 30 years of playing gigs on bass, recording, touring, winding pickups, making and trying out countless preamp ideas, effects, amps, pa, hifi etc. So I have to respectfully disagree. A circuit may look simple, but like playing basslines, it's often not about what you put in, but what you leave out.

I know where you are coming from though. As an electronics guy, a tube screamer clone is every bit as good as an actual tube screamer. I've seen off-brand pedals that are part-for-part copies. They even copy the parts that have no bearing on the sound. But why a stompbox with this circuit in it can cost anywhere from $30 to $300 is hard to understand. In fact getting my head around this is far harder than actually getting my head around how the circuit works! In medical research, placebos often cure people. And we have no clue why this is. In music, the way you feel about your bass or pedal or preamp or whatever really does effect how you interact with it, and how it sounds to you. Again, as an electronics guy, this gives me migraines trying to work out why this is! :/ (And don't get me started on why some bloke in a factory builds a better guitar because he/she is in America instead of Japan, China, Indonesia or wherever! 8/ )
Back in the day Leo Fender just used off the shelf parts to build his creations. They worked well, but there was nothing magical about the process he followed.
I doubt there has been any other audio electronics designer who's work has been put under more scrutiny than Leo Fender's. I actually love to speculate about say, the original 2-band stingray pre and pickup, and how this was designed in the context of the mid 70's, and the first years of Music Man as a company. Why the design choices/compromises were made they way they were. One opamp? Asymmetrical filters? Low inductance pickup with huge magnets? Treble response that extends far higher than any bass cab of the 70's. So again, I respectfully disagree. All of Leo's experience up to this date was behind this bass. In music gear industrial design, the number of times a radical departure from the tried and true actually stands the test of time is very very rare. For that reason alone, this eccentric little bass circuit is magical for sure.

As for digital stuff, well there is a growing number of tinkerers out there, especially in the synth and computer music world. These days kids can learn to program Arduinos and Raspberry Pies in high school, so I'd think it's only a matter of time...

Great thread!
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packrat
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by packrat » 08 Jul 2018, 21:02

The instrument to instrument variation in early stingrays as Leo tinkered is testament to him not just bodging something together to work out of available parts for his first active bass.

There are small companies doing digital, (see modular eurorack) but they are outliers.

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petersemple
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by petersemple » 08 Jul 2018, 21:06

I think that it is starting to happen, but one day somebody is going to come up with a digital effect that does not even attempt to mimic the sound of an analog effect unit and yet still does something musically useful. That will be pretty cool - and most people will hate it because it won't be "traditional". Closest I think I have heard is Dave Gilmour running a guitar into a modular synth and using the tone shaping parts of the synth - but that was still an analog synth.
Basses: Wasburn Status 4, Fretless 4 made from parts, Fretted through neck 5 made by me
Amp: Eminar bass 400 into home made cab with JBL 15"

packrat
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by packrat » 08 Jul 2018, 22:03

One day? There's a whole bunch of interesting non-physical reverbish processing, granular resynthesis, bit crusher distortions that have been around for ages, are interesting for at least some genres.

Most modular synths are at least partially digital these days. Many modules are wholly digital. (disclaimer, i've got a large modular synth and know this space well)

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petersemple
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Re: It's all just circuits

Post by petersemple » 09 Jul 2018, 07:22

Yeah, it's some of those things like bit-crushing etc that I had in mind when I said that it's starting to happen. I think it will be cool to see just where that concept can get to.
Basses: Wasburn Status 4, Fretless 4 made from parts, Fretted through neck 5 made by me
Amp: Eminar bass 400 into home made cab with JBL 15"

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