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 Post subject: Re: Me and Billie
PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:54 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm
Posts: 1874
The devil is definitely in the details. It looks really good. I did fret leveling and dressing today, definitely not my favorite part of building.


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 Post subject: Re: Me and Billie
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:14 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
Posts: 104
Diane Kauffmds wrote:
The devil is definitely in the details. It looks really good. I did fret leveling and dressing today, definitely not my favorite part of building.


This is where you might want to check out luthiers who are more attuned to electric guitars. As there are fewer things to go wrong on an electric, they have to make their names largely on fit and finish. This in turn means they have a workflow for getting setups done properly and efficiently. They know necks because that's where they spend a much larger proportion of their time.


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 Post subject: Re: Me and Billie
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:06 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
Posts: 104
So here we are three and a half days later, and the latest revision of neck bending seems to be holding. Tuning is more stable than it has ever been. I can set the guitar down and pick it up later and find nothing has shifted. This even applies if it's 12 hours or more later. If there are temperature swings in the interim, then strings may drift 5 to 10 cents in either direction. Naturally, all bets are off if the tuning machine heads touch anything.

The problem I'm having is that the low E has a bit of fret buzzing when played hard at the 2nd fret, then in general (played hard or not) from the 6th to 11th frets (but oddly, not frets 3, 4, or 5). I will probably have to raise it slightly, and then tweak the action height of the A and D to give the gradual taper down to the 4/64" of the G-B-E strings. Other than that, things seem to be working much better than before. I did heavy bending tests which used to be sufficient to throw the string(s) in question up to 20 cents flat. Now it's more like 2 or 3 cents. The cheap clip-on tuner with its 5 cent increments doesn't always register the difference, but it's easily audible when comparing strings. The tuner on the RP90 is much more precise. When it says everything is good, it's probably not worth chasing the rest by ear because the perfection will be lost the moment the tremolo bridge is used. It's not terrible, and a yank on the whammy bar will get things almost back to perfect, but it's a cheap Squier-style six-point bridge. I don't think it will ever be perfect, but it's better than some (all?) real Squiers I've played that still had the original bridge. I think this is inherent to having the knife-edge bearing directly into the wood of the body, instead of into metal posts like two-point bridges – so replacement and retrofitting with a two-point bridge is probably going to end up happening too.

If (or when) the neck proves stable, this is going to be a heck of a player. I mean it already is, when it wants to play nice, but once I can get it to stop drifting it will be awesome. If I do have to reset the neck, I'll probably modify the heel of the neck pocket and move the one screw necessary to make that happen (and drill through the heel plate to match) because that's another thing that distinguishes the high-end bolt-on necks from the cheap ones. It would improve high fret access, particularly when bending. But if I don't have to reset the neck, I'll probably continue to live with the blocky heel rather than disassembling, because the screws go straight into wood and there is a limit to how many times they'll snug up nicely before the holes have to be lined with something. More expensive guitars would use tapped brass inserts for maximum stability and repeatability, and a tilt adjustment to eliminate the need to use a shim. If I take the neck off, I would expect to need a massive amount of adjustment after reassembly, but that should not be the case if it had the tapped inserts. I am fine with using a shim though, the tilt adjustment doesn't save that much time when doing a setup.


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 Post subject: Re: Me and Billie
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 1:48 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
Posts: 104
Here's a follow-up since it has been a while.

1. Something other than strings or the bridge is rattling in sympathetic vibration, and I can't figure out what. It comes through the amplifier, but this is quite possibly only because the cheap pickups are very microphonic. If I speak into them, it can be heard at the amp. So maybe I will pot the pickups.
2. The neck still isn't quite as I'd like. There remains a back bow from the nut to the fourth fret, although I have managed to eliminate it from the remainder of the neck.
3. Due to reason #2, the action is currently set higher than I would like, to deal with the fret buzzing.
4. I still suck at playing guitar. However, I still put it to productive use in my music production -- by sampling it! I have released my prototype VST, which you can get here. I am attaching a guitar-only sample for your consideration. Simulators for both the amplifier and cabinet are in use, but I can't tell you much beyond it being the clean channel in the amp/cab sim that comes with Cubase, and cabinet 4. I don't know what is supposedly being emulated. Steinberg doesn't generally use clever, referential names to tell us what they used as a model, the way many plugin makers (and pedal makers) do. (Exception: "Bass Woman" is a pretty clear reference to a Fender Bassman, but it's the only named amp in the list.)
5. Only the bridge pickup is represented thus far, but everything other than the effects chain is built into the instrument. That includes the "chuck" sound used percussively in the sample, pick noises (not in the demo), four different banks of harmonics, and palm muting (which can be heard in the full mix track).


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Last edited by Mal-2 on Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Me and Billie
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:04 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
Posts: 104
Since I can only place one link per post, I need a separate post to point you at my Bandcamp page where I have set up a new "album" for these demos. There are now four, and I'm not done yet. So far I have two clean, one twelve string (also clean), one distorted. I figure if it sounds convincing on a clean channel, it will work just fine when the gain is turned up. In fact that's why I tended to turn the gain way up on my guitar parts in the past, as it tends to cover the moments that aren't quite right.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:20 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
Posts: 104
Version 0.4.1 has been posted, and this is the version that should be going up on VST4FREE. It is available as Windows VST in both 32 and 64 bit, Mac VST, and Mac AU.

Blue Jeans and Moonbeams demos.
Download links are on the Bandcamp page.


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 Post subject: Re: Me and Billie
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:20 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
Posts: 104
It's been rather busy the last month, but I've completed BJAM Guitar sufficiently for any purposes I have for it. Any feature additions will now have to be requested from outside. Here's the same blurb I asked be used on VST4FREE:

BJAM Guitar 1.0 is a sampled S-Type electric guitar.
• All samples are derived from a real guitar, not synthesized.
• Sounding range from C0 (below a bass guitar) to C#7.
• Raw guitar output. Amp and cabinet sims still required.
• Bridge, middle, and neck pickup instruments, which output six and twelve string modes simultaneously.
• Five dynamic samples per string.
• Four fret hand positions available, one optimized to match the Hammer-Pulloff-Slide mode.
• Hammer-Pulloff-Slide mode offers notes with no attack envelope for legato.
• Palm muting. Also useful for sweep picking.
• Slap and pop.
• Sustain.
• Harmonics 2 to 5, also useful for pinch harmonics and pick squeals.
• -1 octave used to provide effects such as swipe, chuck, pick and picktap noises.
• -2 octave reserved for keyswitches.
• Single strings available by MIDI channel.
• Pitch bend +/-2 semitones (unfortunately not alterable).
• Includes four audio samples and the MIDI sources used to create them.
• Includes PDF and graphic documentation.

In any case, the download page at VST4FREE link is gone.

Next project will be an acoustic, but I've already run into a problem with missing samples in the pack I thought I was going to use. It looks like it will have to wait until I can borrow an instrument or two to sample.


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Last edited by Mal-2 on Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Me and Billie
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:17 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:50 am
Posts: 661
Location: Chadds Ford, PA
I don't know what I was listening to, but it sounded really good. Reminded me of Johnson's cross road blues. All the tech stuff is way over my head. Way over. What's sampling anyhow?


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 Post subject: Re: Me and Billie
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:50 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
Posts: 104
Danl8 wrote:
I don't know what I was listening to, but it sounded really good. Reminded me of Johnson's cross road blues. All the tech stuff is way over my head. Way over. What's sampling anyhow?


Heh, "Crossroads" is exactly what it was supposed to sound like. You know guitar but not electronic music production. The people downloading and attempting to use my plugin (obviously without RTFM because it explains how to set up everything) know electronic music production but NOT guitar, and they universally dislike the plugin, which is why I have asked that it be withdrawn from VST4FREE.

The plugin (all platforms in a singe archive: Win 32, Win 64, Mac VST, Mac AU, and source files) will continue to be available from my relevant Bandcamp page.

If you wish to contact me, I'd advise doing it there because I have no real reason to keep up here any longer. I'm not going to build acoustic guitar kits, and very few people are interested in anything electric. So be it.


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 Post subject: Re: Me and Billie
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:19 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
Posts: 104
Just a note: I have borrowed a Fender DG8S dreadnought acoustic -- for a $150 guitar, it's OK but not great (would neither discourage or encourage a purchase -- if you like it, buy it, and if you don't, don't). The truss rod desperately needed tightening (you could drive a truck under the action before), but otherwise I haven't done anything to it other than boil the wound strings and replace the plain steels, and then sample it. This is truly representative of a random "living room guitar", both in price and in setup.

These samples have also been hand-tweaked to make them "smooth" or more neutral without buzzes and weird harmonics. I made one instrument out of each set -- raw samples and massaged "smooth" samples. These have been added to the Blue Jeans and Moonbeams VST, but internally are called Ella Gitauru and Ella Gitauru Smooth. I have already put these to work in my own tracks, so if you liked BJAM, there's now a steel-string acoustic instrument included that uses the same interface. The only major differences are that the "sustain" switch does nothing on the acoustic, and picktap noises are far too subtle to be useful on acoustic (though they are quite audible in high-gain electric guitar settings) so I have replaced them with percussive noises. Basically I played the back of the guitar like it was a drum, like the second guitarist in Antonio Banderas's "El Mariachi" video. Thump, pop, slap, and knock are the four names I have assigned to the percussive sounds.

Like BJAM Guitar, I have extended the range far beyond norms. I actually tuned the low E string down to B to create a 7th string sample set, and this is used for the lower extended range. Merely pitch-shifting samples is more problematic on an acoustic than on an electric, because of body resonances that don't move when the note changes, so I had to physically fake it rather than computationally fake it. Also I use the same "6-string left, 12-string extras right" formula as BJAM, which further justified merging the instruments.

Even if you don't like the sound of the guitar I sampled, you may still find the percussive samples useful, and all source material is included in the package now so you will be getting raw samples to play with. If you want to use my interface but provide your own samples, the Maize Sampler files are included for you to play with.

I have a set of Elixir Nanoweb Light (this guitar is designed to take 12-52, so I'm sticking with that) on the way and may or may not resample the whole package depending on how much different the strings sound.

A nylon string version is still on the table, should I manage to borrow one. I don't want to buy one just for the purpose even though they are cheap. I'd rather borrow, and then return with a fresh set of strings and a setup. It's cheaper for me and I don't end up with a bunch of unplayed guitars lying around.


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