Saturday, May 27, 2006

Further Glissentar Modifications

Sorry for the infrequent blogging. It's not that I don't have plenty to blog about, it's just that I've been busy with various non-musical "chores" this month. In any event...

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Working the fretted Glissentar into my set is going according to plan. I have hit some sort of critical mass point with it, and it has suddenly become much more managable to play. Accordingly, I'm now starting off my performances with it - my indoor performances, anyway: It's too much of a PITA to keep in tune outside - and it "works" fine through the first two suites (A minor and C major as my set is organized). Then I switch to the Grand Concert SA.

The problem is, and has always been, that I don't care for the sound I get from the Glissentar. I didn't care for it fretless, and it's not much better in the tone department fretted either. If I simply play the instrument unamplified - as when I'm practicing - it has a fine sound with the string set I have put together for it (Savarez Alliance High Tension Carbon Fiber B's and E's, the standard Godin Glissentar A's, D's and G's, and a Hannabach .047 Super Hard low E), so the problem is definitely the L.R. Baggs ribbon transducer pickup system (The rest of my amplification system consists of a Lexicon MPX-G2 Preamp/FX unit, a Bryston 2B-LP stereo power amp, and a pair of Yamaha AS108-II mini PA speakers).

This piezoelectric transducer is the same unit which was half of the L.R. Baggs Duet system on the first Godin Multiac Grand Concert guitar I had, and it wasn't very successful in that application either. The internal condenser mic was better, and I used the sound mixed on that guitar about 60/40 in favor of the mic. The problem with the tone of this regrettable unit is that it is thin and has a nasal quality no matter how you EQ it. It is also prone to feedback.

The RMC Pickups Polydrive system on my Godin Multiac Grand Concert Synth Access is positively brilliant by comparison: It has a gargantuan sound which is deep, broad, and smooth, and I've never been able to MAKE it feed back. I've never used it to drive a synth, and I wouldn't care if it didn't have that feature: It's simply the best pickup system for electric nylon string guitars I've ever experienced. By far.

Well, Ed Reynolds (The luthier who made the fretted neck for my Glissentar) is always ranting and raving about how good B-Band pickups are, so I decided to check them out. I like that the system is based on electret film technology - I had a pair of electret headphones back in the 80's which required that they be plugged into the speaker posts (!) of my stereo, and they were BY FAR the best headphones I've ever heard for fidelity - and I think this simple fact will give the B-Band system a better chance of sounding similar to the RMC Polydrive I like so much.

The problem is, I don't want to rip out the current amplification system: It would be much better if I could just add a second pickup to the guitar. As I perused the B-Band product line, I came across the UST (Under Saddle Transducer) and the A1 preamp, which is an endpin unit for acoustic guitar.

As luck would have it, the UST comes in steel string and nylon string versions, so... I ordered both, of course. Hey, I don't care if a unit is designed for steel string guitars, if it sounds better on the Glisentar, that is all that matters. I'm going to experiment.

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Fortuantely, there is plenty of room inside the Glissentar for all this stuff:



As you can see, the units are tiny. I have to remove the screw-on shell from the preamp, and it will have to be glued into the axe, but there is juuuust enough room for it before it encounters the stock pickup system's battery housing. I'll simply use some hook-and-loop tape to Velcro the new battery under the bridge plate, and then if you don't look closely, you won't even notice that there are two pickup systems in the guitar.

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I did have to drill a hole for the endpin preamp:



No problem.

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I'll let you know how this all turns out, but it will be a while: The steel string units were on hand, but the nylon string variety had to be special ordered.

Let's just think happy thoughts:



I like the far-away perspective of this fractal image: The central Mandelbrot figure is very small.

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One of the things I've been spending a lot of time on recently is exercise: Two hour-long walks every day plus 1,250 reps on my Bowflex every other day. I'm sure some of the ease with which I can now play the Glissentar is due to my strength training (Which was part of the point).



Now I just need a workout partner like this.

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