Sunday, August 23, 2009

ErgoPlay Review/Further Blackbird Rider Thoughts

My initial review of the Blackbird Rider Nylon is here. The Rider came with a NeckUp support - and I now now why they did that - but the ErgoPlay works much better for me.

Here's the situation in a nutshell: The NeckUp has a single large suction cup, and it fits on the Rider's shallow sound chamber, while the ErgoPlay has three smaller suction cups, only two of which will adhere due to the shallowness of said sound chamber. Nevertheless, the leather NeckUp is too flexible, and I was not able to hold the guitar securely with it, while the ErgoPlay works fine, despite the fact that the third cup does not adhere to the ax.

As you can see, from the front all looks well with the ErgoPlay.

But if you look at it from the rear view, the third cup will not stick.

This is neither the fault of Blackbird or ErgoPlay, as the Rider is simply not a traditional classical guitar, and the ErgoPlay is obviously designed for a traditional ax. A model with a single cup front and rear would be best, but it isn't strictly speaking necessary.

Since I have the oversized suction cup from the NeckUp, I'll probably just fabricate another slider piece out of sheet metal and put that one on... or not. It works fine, and as I said, it is far more stable than the NeckUp in any event.

These are just the kinds of things you deal with on the bleeding edge of technology. LOL!


Now that I've played through my entire repertoire on the Rider a couple of times, I can definitively say that I love this guitar. I'm already thinking about getting a second with the RMC Triple Source Polydrive - it has the hex pickups, a condenser mic, and a ribbon transducer - and then I could sell the Godin and the Parker. That's right, sell the Godin and the Parker.

Back in the 80's when I got the Steinberger GL2T-GR to use with my Syncalvier, it totally ruined me for traditional wood electric guitars. They just felt very low tech and primitive in comparison. Well, the Rider has done exactly the same thing to me. The Godin feels positively archaic and even the classy Parker is just not in the same universe at all. This is one of those things I didn't see coming, but probably should have.

I'm currently programming my four Lexicon MPX-G2's for the Rider - I have both performance rigs and one recording rig done - and as soon as I have the sounds in the bag, I'll record some test tracks and post links to them here.

One great fringe benefit of the fact that every note on a given string sounds exactly the same with the Rider, and that every string is perfectly in balance, is that any EQ setting will work with it. Think about that, for a second: Any EQ used is purely for tone control with the Rider, since there aren't any quirks to iron out, and no matter how radical you want to get with the EQ, it will work!

This carries over to effects programming too: With the Godin and the Parker, very short delay-based effects, like phasing and flanging, could lead to unfortunate resonance peaks and valleys that the guitar's quirks would accentuate: Not with the Rider. This is great!


Blogger A Wolf said...

Just to weigh in on the NeckUp vs ergoplay issue:

The flexibility of the NeckUp is not always a negative. Flamenco approach favors the ability to move around more freely and expressively, for instance. And the main benefit is that it folds down so it is more portable than the ergoplay. I think it is fine that you have your preference, but the NeckUp is highly adjustable and good for a lot of people, so I don't think it's a lousier product, just not right for someone who wants absolutely set position with no flex to it. Of course I'm talking about the NeckUp with a normal guitar. Maybe it has issues with the rider...

9:01 PM  
Blogger Minicapt said...

... never the horse, always the rider?


12:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking forward to some test recordings.

Do you not find that you miss the idiosyncratic aspects of your wood instruments? I'm certainly not arguing for wood over modern materials, just curious.

-- Jay

10:05 AM  
Blogger Hucbald said...

Hi Jay,

The problem with those idiosyncratic elements - I guess I'd call that "character" - is that if you are in pursuit of the ultimate AMPLIFIED nylon string sound, they get accentuated through the amplification process, which means that, until the Rider, I had to resort to all kinds of shenanigans with the EQ and tone controls to get a relatively smooth sound.

One of the criticisms I anticipate the Rider will get is that it sounds "clinical" or "soulless" compared to a wood classical guitar of a high order, but that's just a subjective value judgement, and for amplification, it's actually an advantage.

I foresee that with advances in CF tech - carbon fiber nanotubes &c. - that some of this will be rectified and a more "colorful" CF guitar will be possible. But the Rider, as it is, is much better than any wood guitar for amplification purposes.

Since I use, at minimum, stereo reverb and stereo detune chorus in all of my "virtual acoustic environment" programs (Augmented by various phase, flange and other effects most of the time), the Rider's seeming lack of "character" is actually an advantage to me.

Admittedly, I'm kind of unique as an ex-rock and fusion guy who wants to play all-electric with nylon string guitars, so maybe the Rider was made just for me. LOL!


2:11 AM  

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