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Trouble-shooting String Volume Imbalances (mic vs pickup) - video

Sep 28, 2023 - 12:14:31 PM
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586 posts since 11/28/2012

For a couple years now, the string volume imbalances on the Fishman Nashville pickup (via JD Aura pedal) have been driving me nuts. It happens on both my pickup-equipped resonators - one installed at National, the other installed at Beard.

I finally got around to doing a comparison to try to get my arms around this.

Same simple 6-note arpeggio played once, with split signal.

First signal captured via SDC mic.

Second signal captured via Fishman Nashville pickup, thru JD Aura and into DI box.

I included video so you can see the gain meter and audio waveforms.

It's crazy how the 2nd string (high B) is rogue. It simple doesn't decay via the pickup like the other strings. This does not happen acoustically (via mic).

It forces me to alter my playing when plugged in, which I don't like. I can't drone that string, and I need to lay off it a bit in general.

Any idea what may be causing this, and if any fixes?  I swear, the exact same thing happens on both my resonators.

Again, to repeat, this is the exact same passage (played once), so it is a direct apples-to-apples comparison of mic vs pickup. Here's the quick video via YouTube.

https://youtu.be/PwwkDANcX98

Any thoughts appreciated. Thanks!

Sep 29, 2023 - 4:28:54 AM

lap dog

USA

30 posts since 9/25/2020

So many points on a resonator guitar that could cause sympathetic vibration of certain strings, and get amplified by a pick up . Have you tried temporarily muting the second string between the bridge and tail piece? I've seen this on electric guitars and there are devices out there to dampen wolf tones if the break angle over the bridge cannot be increased.

Edited by - lap dog on 09/29/2023 04:29:30

Sep 29, 2023 - 5:17:18 AM

586 posts since 11/28/2012

quote:
Originally posted by lap dog

So many points on a resonator guitar that could cause sympathetic vibration of certain strings, and get amplified by a pick up . Have you tried temporarily muting the second string between the bridge and tail piece? I've seen this on electric guitars and there are devices out there to dampen wolf tones if the break angle over the bridge cannot be increased.


Thanks.  I have rubber grommets between the bridge and tailpiece to dampen.  What baffles me is there is no evidence of a wolf tone on that string when played acoustically, as evidenced by the first audio clip (isolated microphone audio).

Appreciate the thoughts, along with any others.

I've tried to EQ this out, with very minimal luck.  As you can see, the attack is hot, but the bigger problem is the notes don't decay on that string when amplified, unlike the other strings.

Edited by - JC Dobro on 09/29/2023 05:17:57

Sep 29, 2023 - 5:30:25 AM

Anonyrat

Australia

27 posts since 3/28/2022

What does it do without the aura pedal?
Does it still happen if you de-tune the string?

Sep 29, 2023 - 6:26:47 AM

586 posts since 11/28/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Anonyrat

What does it do without the aura pedal?
Does it still happen if you de-tune the string?


Aha!  Thanks.  It looks like the JD Aura pedal is exacerbating this problem.  The rogue #2 string is not as evident when bypassing the JD Aura.

2 images below.  In both images, the bottom audio clip is the pickup signal recording.  (The top half of both clips show the mic'd audio waveform for comparison...) 

As you can see, the problem is still evident with the JD Aura pedal and a detuned #2 string (second photo).

The problem is not as apparent (if at all) when bypassing the pedal with my pickup (first photo).

This is my 2nd JD Aura pedal, and I've had this issue on both pedals.  And both of my guitars.

OK any other thoughts and/or ways to deal with this?  Would hate to abandon the JD Aura pedal.  Have not found any adequate substitutes.  I'm going to tinker with Aura settings, to see if any settings are worse or better than others.

Surprised I'm the only one dealing with this issue.  It has been bugging me for a while.  This is the first time I've done some analytics to confirm what my ears already knew.


Edited by - JC Dobro on 09/29/2023 06:27:59

Sep 29, 2023 - 4:01:26 PM

Anonyrat

Australia

27 posts since 3/28/2022

Interesting. It does seem that the Aura is either to blame or exacerbates the problem.
I use a Nux Optima Air pedal, where you record your acoustic instrument using the method that you have used so far. That is via mic and direct. It then creates a response for your unique instrument which you can mix in the amount vs direct, EQ it and save it as a preset. Works very well and is affordable albeit that it has not got the "Aura" of the "Aura" pedal.
I hope you solve your problem soon as once that worm gets into your head that's it, cannot be ignored.

Sep 29, 2023 - 4:41 PM

586 posts since 11/28/2012

Thanks. Yep, the issue affects my playing when plugged in, as I can’t dig in on that second string like the other strings. Pretty obvious why, when I recorded the audio waveforms and compared them to the mic’d audio.

I found a fully refundable “blem” Spectrum DI on Amazon Prime for $287 (33% discount). If it doesn’t work out, no blood, no foul, it’s a simple return. If it does work out, it replaces both my new JD Aura and Baggs Venue DI. Those would go up for sale as excellent condition items.

Rob and a few others use the Spectrum. Frankly, I’d settle for a slightly less authentic Dobro tone if it eliminates this runaway #2 string. I have 30 days (return policy) to see what I can coax out of it.

Sep 30, 2023 - 7:34:47 AM

507 posts since 1/29/2013

I assume you picked low to high and the culprit is the high B. It’s interesting that in my experience that string is often the one that is in one way or another problematic in sounding different or causing buzzing.

If it occurs as you say unamplified and the issue isn’t a wolf tone, I’d think it’s mechanical sympathy and try laying different materials between the string and bridge cut. Foil, yarn, cardboard, folded paper,rubber band piece. Easy, fast and cheap to try. Keep in mind I’m a shade tree mechanic.

Good luck!

Sep 30, 2023 - 8:03:51 AM

586 posts since 11/28/2012

quote:
Originally posted by BrianMac

I assume you picked low to high and the culprit is the high B. It’s interesting that in my experience that string is often the one that is in one way or another problematic in sounding different or causing buzzing.

If it occurs as you say unamplified and the issue isn’t a wolf tone, I’d think it’s mechanical sympathy and try laying different materials between the string and bridge cut. Foil, yarn, cardboard, folded paper,rubber band piece. Easy, fast and cheap to try. Keep in mind I’m a shade tree mechanic.

Good luck!


Thanks Brian.  The issue does not occur acoustically...the strings are reasonably in balance and there are no discernible wolf tones.  I do have rubber grommets as dampers behind the bridge, fwiw.

Nor does the issue occur with a Fishman Nashville pickup UNLESS the signal is run through the JD Aura.

I've attached the sound clips and waveform comparisons earlier in this thread.

Somehow the JD Aura pedal is causing a volume issue on the #2 high B string - both in terms of attack, and the extended decay.

As you can see in the video link, that same note/passage isolated through the mic'd signal path is not a problem.

https://youtu.be/PwwkDANcX98?si=MxXfJS-gUUaP-khY
 

Cheers!

Sep 30, 2023 - 8:22:36 AM

507 posts since 1/29/2013

Oops, I didn’t watch the video and misunderstood your post. Sorry JC.

Oct 10, 2023 - 6:10:34 AM

586 posts since 11/28/2012

Well, the Spectrum DI is being returned to Amazon for a refund. I messed with it for a couple days, but couldn't get any results that outperformed the JD Aura as far as amplified Dobro tone. I even downloaded the Spectrum Aura images for my specific guitar (Beard MA-6), but the JD Aura is superior to my ear. I'd rank some of the Spectrum results as "passable" but not quite on par with the JD Aura.

I'll live with the volume imbalances. In situations where I can mic the instrument to preserve tone, I'll do that...but those situations are few and far between.

Side note. How old is the JD Aura technology now? 16 years? (introduced 2007). That is an eternity in the world of guitar pedal technology.

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