|NEW DREAM OWNER'S MANUAL
Some (hopefully) Useful Information
The New Dream Harp-Sympitar
built for Bob Gore by Fred Carlson, Santa Cruz, California, 2004-2006
(Copyright September, 2007, Fred Carlson)
Note: this was written and formatted as a printed/paper
document. Maybe someday I'll figure out how to turn it into a PDF document
so it can retain the pagination and so on; at this point that is beyond
what I want to or am able to do. I'll indicate in large, white font where
the page changes would be, to help locate things more easily.
This is an abridged version of the "Owner's Manual",
edited for a wider audience than the original document was intended. I hope
you find it useful and/or of interest.
Table of Contents
¨ Basic Information- page 2
¨ Strings- page 3
Tunings and Gauges
Note about the New Dream Sympathetics
¨ Treble Harp Tuning Methods and Re-stringing- pages 4, 5
Banjo 5th-string Tuners-page 5
Stringing- page 5
¨ Sympathetic Strings- page 6
Re-stringing or replacing a broken
sympathetic string- pages 6, 7, 8, 9
¨ Rear Access Panel- pages 9,
¨ Individual Sub-bass Capos- page
¨ Sympathetic Mute/Damper- page 10
¨ Sharping Levers- pages 10
¨ Electronics- page 11
Replacing the 9-volt batteries- pages
Tips for getting the best sound from
the pickups- pages 13, 14
¨ New Dream and MIDI- page 15
Þ top = Sitka spruce
Þ Back and sides = big leaf maple (quilted figure with spalting)
Þ neck = black walnut
Þ bass peghead = black walnut
Þ main fretboard, main bridge = ebony
Þ bass fretboard, treble bridge, treble tuner block and fine-tuner
plate = black walnut
Þ bindings = black walnut
Þ main fretboard inlay = maple
Þ bass fretboard decoration = gold ink
Þ top finish = French polished shellac
Þ back, sides, neck, (and other parts) finish = French polished oil
Þ main tuners = 3 standard Schaller gold guitar tuners with mini-ebony
knobs; 3 Waverly Vintage 2-Band planetary banjo tuners, gold with ebony
Þ bass tuners = same as main
Þ sympathetic string tuners = Schaller mini nylon-bodied 12-string
tuners with ebony knobs
Þ treble harp tuners = Waverly Vintage 2-Band banjo 5th-string tuners,
gold with custom-shaped ebony knobs; Wittner Uni Midget (violin) fine tuners
Þ treble harp sharping levers = Truitt (Dragonwhispers)
Þ pickups = RMC hexaphonic for main (Acoustic Gold) and bass (Bass
Excellence) with outboard RMC Polydrive preamp/buffer unit for each; custom
piezo-cable pickup (undersaddle) for treble harp; custom piezo-ceramic element
built into sympathetic bridge; 2 Bartolini pre-amps
Þ bass capos = brass and rubber
Þ neck reinforcing = custom epoxy-graphite channel provides a path
for the sympathetic strings and supports/stabilizes the neck
Tunings and gauges
As shipped (Sept., 2007), the instrument has been set up with the following
basic tunings and string gauges. Damage caused by increasing stress/tension
on the instrument via tuning or string gauge changes will be the responsibility
of the owner:
Þ main strings, phosphor bronze/steel = D2A2D3G3A3D4; string gauges
Þ bass strings, phosphor bronze wound on steel = D1E1G1A1B1C2; gauges
= .080-.070-.064-.062-.059-.056 (D1 .080" is a DAddario acoustic
bass guitar string; the others are DAddario guitar)
Þ treble harp strings with no sharping levers in use = D4Eb4F4G4A4Bb4C4D5Eb5F5G5A5Bb5C5D6;
gauges = .026-.024-.022-.020-.018-.017-.016-.016-.015-.014-.014-.013-.012-.011-.010
(.026"through .018" are phosphor bronze wound, www.juststrings.com
label guitar, .017" through .010" are brass-plated steel DAddario
Þ sympathetic strings, plain steel = (from left to right) F#4E4D4C4A3G3
G4F4D4C#4B3A3; string gauges = .007" all (.008" will work)
Note about the New Dream sympathetics
In general, the internal sympathetics on my Sympitars are in two groups
of 6. Tuning is usually set up so that the lowest pitches go to the furthest
distant tuners on the peghead, highest pitches go to the nearest (of the
12 sympathetic string) tuners. This means that the centermost string of
each group of 6 is the lowest in pitch of that group, the outermost strings
are the highest pitches. However, each Sympitar has its own idiosyncrasies
that take precedent over this general rule. Because of the peghead design
of the New Dream, the string tension on the right-side (treble-side) sympathetic
nut might tend to tip or displace the nut if tuned in the usual way. On
the New Dream, this right-hand group of sympathetic strings is tuned in
reverse order from the usual, making each group of 6 sympathetic strings
go from high to low, left to right. The pitches given above as a nominal
sympathetic tuning are in this latter order.
Treble Harp Tuning Methods and Re-stringing
The treble harp strings have 3 options for tuning/changing pitches. The
Waverly banjo 5th-string tuners are for gross tuning (i.e. bringing a newly
installed string up to basic pitch); the violin fine-tuners are for general
tuning of the strings once theyre brought up to approximate final
pitch, and will often be the easiest way to effect tuning modifications
of less than ½ step (fine tuning). They can also be used for larger
tuning modifications, limited by the amount of travel of the thumbscrew.
For very quick re-tunings of one half-step, the harp "sharping levers"
can be used. Ideally, a player will develop their own basic tuning(s) for
the treble harp strings (generally similar in tension to that recommended
above), taking into account the sharping lever positions. Each lever has
two positions, achieved by moving the lever as far as it will go (without
forcing it) in either direction. For example: from the basic tuning given
above, with no sharping levers effecting the strings (all in "off"
position), a D-major scale is quickly achieved by flipping the 2nd, 3rd,
6th , 7th, 9th, 10th, 13th, and 14th levers into "on" position
so they "fret" the strings. To go from there to a D natural-minor
scale, set levers 3, 7, 10 and 14 back to "off" position....and
The treble harp string fine-tuners function via two moving parts: a metal
arm with a forked end that holds the ball end of the string, and a thumbscrew.
Turning the thumbscrew clockwise (screwing it in) causes the metal arm to
move back toward the thumbscrew, tightening the string and raising its
pitch. Unscrewing the screw (counterclockwise) lets the arm move out, toward
the string, releasing tension on it and lowering its pitch. Before replacing
a string on the treble harp section, be sure that the thumbscrew on the
fine-tuner for that string is unscrewed enough to put the little fine-tuning
arm in its furthest-extended position, or nearly so. If you unscrew the
thumbscrew too far, it will simply come out of the fine tuner, and need
to be re-inserted. The fine-tuners are held in place by little, knurled
lock-nuts below the thumbscrews. These may eventually work loose, and can
cause buzzing and possibly other problems. They can be tightened with the
fingers, or very carefully with a needle-nose pliers.
Banjo 5th-string tuners
The Waverly banjo 5th-string tuners have a (mostly hidden) central shaft
that rotates when you turn the knob. This shaft has a hole in it, like the
string post on a more typical tuner, which you thread the string through.
Access to this is in the space between the body of the tuner and the wooden
(walnut) tuner block, Here, there are openings on two opposite side of the
tuner that allow the string to be inserted.
First, turn the knob until the string hole in the inner shaft lines up with
the openings in the body, so you can see clear through. Thread the end of
the string through the hole. Pull the string through far enough that you
can attach the ball end of the string to the appropriate fine- tuner. Hook
the ball onto the fine-tuner, making sure it is centered on the tuner arm,
with the string itself going between the two prongs of the arm-fork. Hold
the ball end in place with one hand, and pull the string fully through the
banjo tuner on the other end. With a wire-cutting tool (i.e. diagonal nippers)
cut the string to length at about 1 inch beyond the tuner it is threaded
through (a little shorter for the heavier wound strings). Keeping the ball
end in place on the fine tuner, pull the string back until its end just
barely sticks out through the inner shaft of the banjo tuner. Turning the
tuner knob should now pull the string into the tuner and wind it around
the inner shaft. Theres not a lot of room in there, which is why the
string must be cut fairly short, especially for the thicker strings. Theres
also not much room for ones fingers to turn the knobs (due to the
necessary close spacing of the tuners). A plastic string-winder can be modified
to fit, making the initial tuning-up easier.
Once the slack in the string is taken up and it begins to tighten, make
sure the ball end is still in place correctly, and that the string rests
in its proper groove in the saddle at either end. Now you can bring
the string up to pitch using the banjo tuner. If you have trouble getting
the ball end to stay put on the fine-tuner arm, try screwing in the thumbscrew
a bit to move the arm back; that position will grab the ball more securely.
Once the string is up to pitch and has settled in, you can use the fine-tuner
for most tuning purposes. Occasionally you may have to make an adjustment
with the banjo tuner if you run out of travel with the fine-tuner thumbscrew.
When removing an old or broken string for replacement, make sure not to
leave any of the old string end stuck inside the banjo tuner.
The ease-of-turning of the banjo tuners
(knobs) can be adjusted somewhat by the screw in the top of each knob.
The sympathetic strings anchor (their ball
ends) on the outside of the main bridge and run inside the instrument and
neck. They go over two small nuts at the peghead and attach to the furthermost
12 (black/chrome) tuners on the main peghead.
Inside the instrument, they rest on a free-floating bridge with a wide,
flattish brass-capped surface (table). This is the jiwari bridge, an E.
Indian word meaning to "give life" Each symp. string sits in a
small slot/groove in the back edge of that table. Behind that string resting
point, coming off the back end of the jiwari bridge, toward the butt of
the instrument, are two wooden arms, angled on their underside, which rest
on the main bridge-pad (or bridge-plate). Fine adjustments of the jiwari
(buzzing quality) can be made by sliding the bridge very slightly forward
or back (toward or away from the peghead). There is very little side-to-side
clearance in the neck channel, so if the bridge should get displaced too
much too one side or the other, one of the outer (or center-most, because
the channel has a center wall as well) strings may get muted by touching
the channel wall, or cause an unusual buzz to occur. The sympathetic string
pickup is inside the jiwari bridge, on the underside of the brass top-plate.
Care must be taken when adjusting the bridge not to disturb the pickup wire
coming out of the side of the bridge.
Re-stringing or replacing a broken sympathetic
The sympathetic strings get little wear and virtually no buildup from finger
oil or dirt. Therefore they rarely need to be replaced; Ive never
changed a sympathetic string unless it broke. Some of the symps. on my personal
instrument have been on for over ten years and still sound fine. You probably
will break one occasionally, so heres how to put a new one on when
Youll need a bit of masking (or other)
tape, and an approximately 3 foot long strip of thin material, narrow and
stiff enough to insert into the neck channel from the peghead end. Im
including a strip of wood veneer for this use. Ill call this strip
the fish-stick, since its used to fish the string through the channel.
Youll want to work on a large, clear surface, with something soft
(i.e. a blanket) covering it.
Good lighting is important, and a flashlight can be very helpful.
1) remove the old string (by pulling on the ball end, unless thats
where it broke), and remove any string left on the tuning peg post
2) with the instrument lying on its back, insert the fish-stick into
the symp-string channel at the peghead. Note that the channel is divided
longitudinally into two, with 6 symp. strings in each side. Insert the fish-stick
into the side where the new string needs to go; insert it on top of the
remaining strings and push it in until it appears inside the instrument
and meets with the jiwari bridge. Note that in doing this it will go through
any holes in the bracing; this makes sure that the new string doesnt
get wrapped around anything inside the instrument. If the fish-stick encounters
resistance, you may need to pull it out and pre-bend the leading end a bit
one way or the other to clear any obstacles (bracing) inside.
3) insert a new, .007" or .008" ball end string into the hole
in the bridge and push it in a few inches.
4) Position the instrument to rest on the bass side (bass side down), so
you can get to the access door in the back of the instrument. You can also
lay the instrument face down (after getting the string inserted), instead
of on its side, which is safer (more stable) but may make pulling the string
through a bit more difficult. Open the trap door in the back by pushing
downward on the left corner/point of the door until the opposite edge lifts
enough to grab onto it (see more on the trap door later in this document).
Grab the door and pull up to release it from the magnetic attachments. Set
the door aside in a safe place.
5) youll need good lighting for this part; a flashlight may be helpful
or necessary. Theres a lot of pickup wires in there; you want to be
sure to get the new string following a path where it will not wrap around
and/or put pressure on those wires. The string will need to pass between
two of the six RMC pickup wires coming down from the main-string pickups,
to get to the sympathetic bridge. You need to identify which of those two
wires youll be pulling the new string between. Then locate the end
of that new string that youve threaded in from outside, grab it and
pull it between the two appropriate pickup wires and out the back door (being
sure you keep it clear of any other wires in the process). Pull it carefully,
guiding the ball end to be sure it doesnt hit against the top, and
that the string doesnt kink, until the ball end anchors securely against
the ebony of the main bridge.
6) Next, you need to get the end of the string taped to the end of the fish-stick
so you can thread it through the neck. This involves first pulling the end
of the fish-stick up to the open door from its position between the
sympathetic strings and the instrument top. To do this, you have to take
into account the position of the missing string within the group of 6 sympathetics.
Essentially, you need to pull the end of the fish-stick up through the space
where the missing string had been, in order to assure the new string goes
in its proper place and does not wrap around some other string(s). If either
outer string of the group of 6 is the one youre replacing, you just
pull the end of the fish-stick around that side of the remaining strings.
If, say, the 3rd string in the group is the one you must replace, youll
need to pull the end of the fish-stick up between the 2nd and 4th strings
of the group. This should be pretty obvious once you get in there; if you
are sure to get the new string following the same path as the one youre
replacing did, you wont have any problems. If the new string gets
wrapped around another string, neither will work.
You may need to be creative about how you get the end of the fish-stick
pulled into position between or around the other strings, as theres
not a lot of finger-room in there. A very small needle-nose pliers, or perhaps
medical forceps, can help. It tends to be easier to pull the fish-stick
end up around the outside of the group of strings, rather than between two
of them. If you dont have luck getting it pulled up between two strings,
you can instead pull it up around the outside of the group. Then you need
to thread the end of your new string down into the gap between strings (where
your missing string was), and pull it out from beneath the other strings
in the same direction as you pulled the fish-stick end. Whew! Still with
me? Somehow, you have to get the end of the fish stick into a position where
you can tape the end of the new string to it, and when you pull the fish-stick
back out of the neck from the peghead end, the new string will come with
it, and end up in the same place as the old string youre replacing,
without being wrapped around other strings, pickup wires, old pieces of
sandwich, or whatever else you might have in there!
7) OK, youve taken a little piece of tape (masking tape works good),
and taped the end of the string to the end of the fish-stick, covering the
string end itself with tape, so it wont catch on anything as its
pulled through. Now, you gently pull the fish-stick out of the neck from
the peghead end, watching to be sure that the string is not kinking or wrapping
8) turn the instrument over, so you can easily get to the peghead and tuners.
Be sure the ball end is pulled tight to the ebony of the main bridge. Pull
the string end free from the tape and attach it to the appropriate tuning
peg (with this thin of a string, I like to go through the post hole and
around the post, then through the hole and around again, a couple times
to insure against slippage, before winding the string on the post). Turn
the tuner to tighten the string, being sure that the string is riding in
the correct groove in the sympathetic string nut.
9) Before attempting to bring the string up to pitch, turn the instrument
over on its belly again, and look in the trap door to make sure that the
new string is riding in the correct groove in the jiwari bridge. It probably
isnt, and youll need to position it there. The tool I use for
this is a tiny crochet-hook (#8/1.4mm, available at a place that sells sewing/knitting
supplies); Ill include one, fitted with a wooden handle, for this
purpose. With this tool its pretty simple: you locate the string,
grab it with the little hook on the end of the tool, and lift it over to
its groove. Again, be sure the string is not wrapping around other
strings, or pushing heavily on a pickup wire (if it is, somethings
wrong and you may have to repeat the whole process).
10) Once the new string is in place at nut and bridge, you can proceed to
bring it up to pitch.
This is a lot of words to describe a process
that is not that difficult to learn to do, and takes me about 10-15 minutes.
PAGE 9, 10
Rear Access Panel
The trap door located in the center of the maple back is held in place by
strong, small magnets in a three-point attachment configuration. Pushing
down/inward on the furthest left edge of the door causes it to pivot on
the two central points, and lift up from the third, right-side point, allowing
you to grab the door and pull it up free of the magnets. To replace the
door, place the right corner of the door in place first, then gently lower
the rest into place.
The attachment points are height-adjustable
with a 1/8" Allen (hex)wrench, so the door can be leveled with the
instrument back (differences in the way the door and the back respond to
humidity and temperature may make it impossible to get the door perfectly
level with the back; the adjusters should be able to get it pretty close
in most situations).
In addition to allowing access to the sympathetic
strings and the pickups/pre-amps/batteries, the trap door can provide additional
tonal variety. However, the magnets can come loose with repeated use, and
the door itself could be damaged if dropped. I recommend leaving the door
in place and keeping unnecessary opening to a minimum.
Individual Sub-bass Capos
The sub-bass strings are fitted with a system of individual capos. Included
are 6 capos (1 for each string) and 6 extra capos (12 in all). There is
a small white container with a screw-top in the case for storing the capos.
I have on file in my shop a sample capo I can use to copy, should enough
these get worn or lost that you need more.
The function of the capo is very simple: you insert the small, brass end
into the hole behind the fret you choose, with the rubber-coated "capo"
pointing up toward the peghead. While inserting, gently attempt to rotate
the capo, in its hole, towards the string. When the brass head on the bottom
end of the capo shaft lines up with a corresponding recess under the fretboard,
the capo will (fairly) easily rotate over the string, holding it down onto
the fret (you might need to hold the string down while turning the capo).
This may take a little practice, but should be pretty quick once you get
The sympathetic strings are fitted with a damping mechanism that can be
used to stop their sounding. This is controlled by an ebony knob on the
side of the instrument, beneath the neck where the neck heel would usually
be. When the knob points more-or-less toward the back of the instrument,
the strings are free to vibrate; turning the knob more-or-less ¼
turn, to point away from the bass body extension, mutes the strings. Dont
rotate the knob any more than necessary to mute the strings, or you may
damage the mechanism. The mechanism can be accessed through the trap door
if repairs or adjustments are needed.
The Truitt folk-harp sharping levers on the treble harp strings have two
positions to their function. Moving the lever to the extreme end of its
travel in either direction will either fret the string, raising the pitch
by one half-step, or unfret it, lowering the pitch by one half-step (never
force the lever in either direction beyond its natural stopping point).
The levers can be adjusted for intonation by loosening the mounting screws
with the included hex/Allen wrench and sliding the entire lever forward
or back. Be careful not to tighten the screws more than needed to hold the
lever in place; excessive force could compress the spruce (topwood) and
cause intonation or other problems.
The levers are comprised of several removable/replaceable parts.
The main and sub-bass strings each use a separate set of RMC pickups, each
set wired to its own multi-pin DIN jack. Included are two outboard
RMC Polydrive II units, one optimized for bass frequencies, one for standard
guitar (Ive marked them on the underside), and two cables to connect
the jacks to the Polydrives. The Polydrives each use a 9-volt battery (Ive
installed fresh ones, 8/2007). On the instrument, the jack for the sub-basses
is the one toward the bass side of the body.
The treble harp strings have a custom piezo-cable
pickup (made by me), boosted and buffered by an onboard Bartolini MPB-1
pre-amp/buffer (powered by a 9-volt battery). This pre-amp has a both a
piezo and a magnetic channel; only the piezo channel is being used by this
pickup. The piezo cable sits underneath the ebony treble harp saddle, in
the bridge that is near the treble harp fine-tuners.
The sympathetic string pickup (also built
by me, initially designed by Rick Turner; Ive used a different piezo
element) has a piezo-ceramic element attached to the underside of the brass
table of the jiwari bridge. This pickup also uses its own Bartolini
MPB-1, and 9-volt battery.
Both the treble harp pickup and the sympathetic
pickup feed to ¼ inch endpin jacks near the butt of the instrument,
just above the RMC jacks. The ¼" jack further toward the treble
side is for the harp strings, the one toward the left/bass is the symp jack.
The jacks for these two pickups are wired so that fully inserting the mono
¼" plug of standard a instrument cable completes the connection
of battery to pre-amp; removing the plug disconnects the battery so it wont
drain when not in use.
The internal pre-amps and their batteries
are accessible through the rear trap door. All are attached to the interior
of the treble side of the instrument with Velcro (hook and loop tape), so
are removable for battery replacement or wiring modifications/repairs. You
likely wont need to mess with the pre-amps themselves, but you will
occasionally need to change batteries. Each battery is in its own,
separate, padded rubber holder that is closed with Velcro to keep the battery
from coming loose in the instrument. The batteries are located (stuck via
Velcro to the guitars side) in the upper waist area of the side, toward
the leg-hook of the cutaway.
PAGE 12, 13
To replace the 9-volt batteries
you might find it useful to have on hand
a small flashlight, and an automotive inspection mirror. This latter is
a small (2" diameter or so) mirror on a telescoping or flexible arm
(available at auto parts stores; Stewart-MacDonald Guitar Shop Supply sells
one that has an integrated light- www.stewmac.com ) that can be positioned
to see the insides of the instrument through the trap door.
Each battery wiring terminal clip is marked indicating which pickup it goes
1) place the instrument, face down, on
a large, clear surface covered with a blanket or something soft. Open/remove
the access panel/trap door. In this position, the batteries will be on your
left, attached to the guitar side, up toward the cutaway. The pre-amps will
be attached to that same side but down further toward the butt of the instrument.
If you have a mirror, use it to look around inside and familiarize your
self with where things are. Notice that the many wires are held by little
foam blocks glued to the back and or side of the instrument. Each block
has a slit in it that the wires sit in.
2) locate the batteries in their padded
holders (packs). Reach in with one hand and (being careful of wires) grab
onto a battery pack and pull it until it releases from the Velcro on the
guitar side. Lift it out through the trap door. The wiring attaching each
battery to its pre-amp is plenty long enough to be able to pull the battery-pack
well out of the instrument, but some of that wire may be gathered up in
one or more of the foam retaining blocks, and may have to be gently pulled
or slipped out of the slit in the block to release the wire. Or, there may
be enough free wire that you can get the pack out far enough to replace
the battery without having to release the extra wire. Youll figure
all this out by trying. Using the mirror and light can be helpful.
3) when youve gotten one of the battery-packs
out, remove the wiring clip from the battery terminals (be careful not to
pull too hard on the wire at any point in the process). Unwrap/loosen the
Velcro belt holding the battery in place and remove the battery from the
pack/holder. Insert a fresh battery into the pack and tighten the Velcro
belt so the battery is gripped in place in the pack. Replace the battery
wiring clip onto the terminals and install the entire battery pack back
onto the Velcro patch inside, right where you removed it from (note one
side of the battery pack is covered with Velcro to mate with the patch on
the instrument side).
4) repeat this process with the other battery.
5) secure loose wiring back in retaining
blocks as necessary, to avoid rattling or buzzing from wires. Replace trap
PAGE 13, 14
Tips for getting the best sound from the
Youll learn through experience what
works for you and your own set-up. If you have a 2-channel pre-amp or amp
that youre going into (stereo), you can use a "Y" cable
that has two mono ¼" plugs and a stereo ¼" plug,
for the treble harp and sympathetic pickups. The mono plugs go into the
instrument jacks, the stereo plug goes to the amp/pre-amp. A lot of systems
are set up to do this these days. You shouldnt need to go through
a pre-amp with the treble harp and sympathetic pickups, since they have
their own internal pre-amps. But if your set-up has a pre-amp as part of
it, Id run these through it rather than the RMCs, though either should
work fine. I just think the RMCs will benefit the least from it, as the
Polydrives probably do more than the little Bartolini preamps. You might
need a small mixer, to get all four signals from the New Dream into your
amp, unless the amp has enough input possibilities. A mixer will give you
a simple way of adjusting levels, too.
In my tests, I found that the sub-bass
RMCs are VERY sensitive, and keeping their level (gain) as low as possible
(while still achieving a balance with the other strings) helped. They tend
to pick up the harmonics produced by the sub-bass strings, even when youre
just playing the other (main, harp) strings, and it can get very muddy fast.
And there can be feedback problems if theyre turned up too high, as
well. Muting the sub-bass strings with the right arm when not playing them
helps with the muddiness.
The sympathetic string pickup is VERY hot,
and tends to be a bit harsh and trebley when turned up too high. Also, since
it is located beneath the main strings, in the center of the top, it will
tend to pick up the other strings, especially the main strings, more so
the higher its turned up.
1) keep the bass RMCs as low gain as you
can, and learn to mute the sub-bass strings when not playing them
2) experiment with the gain on the sympathetic channel to see how high you
can get before the overall sound becomes too unpleasant, and too much of
the other strings bleed through. Ive found I can get plenty of symp.
sound out of this pickup, without needing to crank it up high.
3) using EQ, roll off (cut) the bass frequencies on the sympathetic channel,
to cut everything below 250 Hz. This will help with bleed through from the
main and bass strings (youll still get some, but this will help a
4) using EQ, try cutting the frequencies on the sympathetic channel around
4k Hz, to ease the edginess
5) using EQ on the treble harp pickup channel, cut/roll off the low end
up to 250 Hz, to help with bleed-through from main and sub-bass strings
6) the lowest main string seems a bit hot through the RMCs. I found that
turning the LOW band on the Polydrive unit down helped; probably a more
exacting EQ-ing could be done. It didnt seem like a serious problem
Note: when tuning with an electronic tuner,
you can plug some tuners directly into a ¼" pickup jack. I use
a Peterson Virtual Strobe Tuner, which does this, and also seems to work
better than some tuners for reading the sub-bass pitches. Tuning the treble
harp strings by plugging the tuner directly in to the treble harp pickup
works great; plugging it into the symp pickup works both for the symps as
well as for the main strings. The tuner seems to read the sub-basses best
if I perch it on top of the main strings and use its built-in microphone.
New Dream and MIDI
So far, Ive had some success using
the two sets of RMCs on the New Dream to drive two guitar synthesizers:
the Roland GR-30 for the mains, and the Axon 100 mkII for the sub-basses.
The sub-basses are definitely the tricky ones here. Youll need to
get a firmware update for the Axon unit, which you can download from the
Terratec Producer website. They also have a great users forum with tech
people who really answer questions and help. The forum URL is http://producerde.terratec.net/axonf/viewforum.php?
Back to New Dream Text
and you should be able to get to the update downloading page from there.
The update of the firmware I installed was V5.02; there are probably more
recent versions that are even better, but this one allows you to specify
your own tunings. I was able to easily set it for the tuning of the sub-basses,
and get it to work.
In order to do the firmware update, you have to have the Axon Editor program
installed on your computer, and you have to be able to make a MIDI connection
between the Axon and your computer to transfer the update to your Axon unit,
once youve downloaded it. There are instructions for doing the firmware
update available on the website for printing out, which tell you exactly
how to make the transfer from your computer to the Axon unit.
All this takes a bit of work, but it is possible, with some patience and
Once youve gotten the firmware successfully updated, and figured out
how to set the tuning and get the Axon to track OK, find some patches that
work, and try it out. I discovered that because of the sensitivity of the
sub-bass RMCs, I had to set the string sensitivity settings on the Axon
to the lowest possible setting for each sub-bass string, otherwise they
would respond to sounds from the other strings. But on the lowest sensitivity
setting they work OK, and only occasionally, if I played the lowest string
on the main-neck really hard, would I get enough crossover to activate the
sub-bass MIDI. I played around with various patches and settings; some worked
a lot better than others, but I think itll just take a lot of experimenting.
The only thing I noticed when driving the Roland GR-30 with the main string
RMCs was that the lowest string was a little hot. Turning down the LOW band
on the Polydrive (as mentioned above) helped, and perhaps turning down the
sensitivity setting on the GR-30 for that string would also be useful. It
wasnt too bad, though, and worked fine.