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View Full Version : Heroes (David Bowie) using Electro-Harmonix Mel9



uke4ia
04-21-2017, 12:28 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFIzCbDeVAA

I just picked up an Electro Harmonix Mel9 effects box. It mimics the Mellotron keyboard sounds of the '60s and '70s (strings, choir, flute, etc.) This was done using the cello sound.

The box also appears to pick up the noise of strumming the strings. You can hear strange bass sounds, and I think that's what is causing them. Using some of the Mel9 sounds, it sounds almost like a tympani. On the choir sounds, it sounds like the Wicked Witch of the West's guards singing bass notes.

Jim Hanks
04-21-2017, 01:23 PM
Pretty cool. You probably need a high pass filter between the uke and the Mel9 to throw out the bass gunk. Of course, if you want to play tympani, use a low pass filter so you're only sending the bass gunk. Sounds like fun!

jimavery
04-22-2017, 07:32 AM
Hours of fun, I'm sure! Thanks for the demo.

uke4ia
04-22-2017, 07:43 AM
Pretty cool. You probably need a high pass filter between the uke and the Mel9 to throw out the bass gunk. Of course, if you want to play tympani, use a low pass filter so you're only sending the bass gunk. Sounds like fun!

I'm trying different things to eliminate it, because I don't hear it on the YouTube guitar demos for the box. So far, all I can do is minimize it by just playing legato and setting the box for a slower attack time. I've tried using a pick, using different ukes, a low-intensity fingerpicking style, etc.

uke4ia
04-22-2017, 07:57 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2CvSFIzWPw

This is what the Mel9's high choir sound is like.

Jim Hanks
04-22-2017, 09:22 AM
Could it be strap rubbing noise coming through the pickup? Again, a high pass filter might clean that up. Or if you have a preamp, turn the bass on it all the way down.

uke4ia
04-22-2017, 02:17 PM
It's definitely not from the strap, because the same thing happens with my Fluke that doesn't have a strap. I think it's a combination of the nylon string and the shorter string length of a ukulele. It ends up with the sound created by plucking the string being a larger percentage of the overall sound made by the string than with a guitar. It doesn't bother me much, because it's not as if I'm recording an album with it.

If I use the Mel9 brass sound and turn down the attack speed on the box, the brass sound will come in a second after the uke sound. So I did that, and then ran the whole uke and effect output through the compression/distortion/delay effect I like to use, from the effects processor module in my Yamaha MOX6 synthesizer. I really liked the sound it made, so I needed something to play with it. I looked at what printed chord sheets I had handy that I hadn't recorded yet. And what I had was -- "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins. I had printed it out to try with the Mel9's string section sound. It made no sense at all to use it with this particular sound. Until I jammed on it for a while, and then it made perfect sense.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQYHEarGNU8

timmit65
04-24-2017, 03:28 PM
Wow. That pedal fits really well with Heros!

uke4ia
04-25-2017, 10:22 AM
I sent an e-mail to Electro Harmonix about the extraneous sounds. The fellow there felt that it was a combination of nylon strings, and the fact that the pickups installed in ukes are much different than the bridge pickup on an electric guitar. So picking a note on the uke creates more percussive sound, which the Mel9 box picks up and doesn't find enough harmonic content to make sense of. He said he'd tried running a drum machine through a Mel9, and the result was very strange. He suggested that maybe putting a compressor before the Mel9 would smooth out the attack thumps.

I understand I'm using a ukulele with a device that was specifically designed for an electric guitar. Even if that means there are limitations, it's still a lot of fun to use. Running Kiwaya K-Wave (which I didn't use in any of these videos) through it created some interesting sounds that I now have to figure out a good place to use.