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bacchettadavid
10-08-2018, 04:26 PM
This post will be the first in a series about 'ukulele amplification and effects.

About 1.5 years ago, I set out to explore affected ‘ukulele tone. This journey began innocently enough with the decision to build a pedalboard for my preamp and looping setup but soon veered into obsession as I delved into the darker arts of sea-sickeningly affected ‘ukulele soundscapes. Having now returned to the surface with a newfound appreciation for effects, I feel it’s time I distill the experience I've acquired and share what I’ve learned.

This series will focus on pedalboards and effects pedals in a general application. I will omit such topics as ring modulation, long dirty reverb tails, or chopped up delay repeats and will instead address concerns arising from the more common approach of using effects to thicken or enhance your ukulele’s amplified tone. Throughout this thread, I will share my successes as well as my failures. The thread will be broken up into a handful of parts organized as follows:

PART I - Pedalboard design and construction
PART II - Core effects for amplified acoustic performance
PART III - Auxiliary and expressive effects and signal chain considerations
PART IV - Power supplies and pedalboard layout
PART V - 'Ukulele esoterica

I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the many UUers who freely share their knowledge of ‘ukulele amplification and effects, without whom this entire experiment might never have taken place. I would especially like to thank the following UUers for so generously sharing their knowledge: Booli, Braga2966, Hippie Guy, hollisdwyer, iamesperambient, Jim Hanks, kissing, kohanmike, photoshooter, and ricdoug.

May many UUers find this thread inspirational. Part I will go up shortly.

Bill Sheehan
10-08-2018, 04:35 PM
Sounds awesome! Looking forward to it!

ukuleleabe
10-08-2018, 05:20 PM
Can't wait! I play through some effects and love to hear how others are doing it.

Spicysteve
10-08-2018, 06:30 PM
Fabulous idea, can’t wait to review the series.

Jim Hanks
10-08-2018, 06:35 PM
Watching the thread with interest. I don’t use a pedalboard but the principles and techniques should apply to virtual signal chains as well which is what I use on iOS and Windows. Have a rough idea of what I’m doing but mostly I throw boxes in the chain and twist knobs until I’m reasonably happy.

bacchettadavid
10-08-2018, 07:00 PM
PART I - Pedalboard Design and Construction

To get this thread kicked off, a picture of my board in a layout relevant to this thread:
112603

Let me begin by stating that the design of this board contains several significant flaws, which I will explore later in this section. For now, enjoy a very brief introduction to pedalboards.

INTRODUCTION

One of the problems with stringing effects pedals together is all the accoutrements they bring with them: the pedals, patch cables, and power cables and power supplies all make for quite a bit of clutter, and constantly unplugging and moving around your equipment leads to undue wear. The predominant method for organizing and protecting a chain of effects pedals is to use a pedalboard. In its simplest form, a pedalboard is simply a platform on which pedals are placed in an already-connected fashion for protection and convenience.

Pedalboards are certainly one of the blander topics covered here, but they are an essential component of an effects chain. In addition to the obvious benefits in convenience and protection, they also serve as a stable substrate for the interface between the player and the effects chain itself. Unfortunately, the basal nature of a pedalboard within an effects chain often means that the board itself has the potential to become the limiting factor in later pedal-related decisions. In theory, you could build a pedalboard that stores all of your effects all the time, but there are reasons this is not desirable (weight, size, noise, and signal loss being major concerns). When designing or selecting a pedalboard, the player should endeavor to anticipate the following needs:

Size – bigger is not always better when it comes to pedalboards, but leave a bit of room to expand early on (when the player’s away, the pedals will play)
Ergonomics – your legs are only so long, your ankles so flexible, and your toes dexterous. Enough said
Mounting options – the more flexible your mounting system is, the better off you are. Don’t forget to account for a power supply (more on them later)
Cable routing – you don’t want a rat’s nest of patch and power cables on your board; troubleshooting faulty connections is made simpler by well-organized cables
Special considerations – do you really like an especially large pedal with wonky power requirements? Make sure to account for it early on

MY BOARD

In my board's case, the design process consisted of laying mock-ups of pedals on a piece of plywood resting on some books. These tests gave me a rough idea of things like overall dimensions, tilt angle, etc., and from these tests I designed a pedalboard that met the following criteria:

total cost under $90 USD (including the Dual Lock tape)
small enough to fit between my stool and music and microphone stands
large enough to accommodate between 12 and 15 Boss-style pedals
flexible mounting options allowing for the placement of pedals in either portrait or landscape orientations
shallow tilt angle
sufficient room underneath the board to mount a power supply

The board itself is constructed of 1" x 2" (20 mm x 45 mm) pieces of red oak "scrap" from the local lumber yard and measures roughly 22" x 13.5" (560 mm x 350 mm). The top surface of the board contains 5 rails for mounting pedals and is tilted toward the player at an angle of 13 degrees, yielding approximately 2" (50 mm) of relative elevation on the side opposite the player. Extending under the board towards the rear are a pair of supports connected by a 6th rail. A handle has been affixed to the 6th rail, theoretically allowing for the board to be carried without the need for a case. A pair of rubber sliders are mounted to the underside of the 6th rail to keep the board from sliding around. 3M dual lock has been affixed to all rails (including the player-facing side of the aforementioned 6th rail).

This pedalboard design met each of my criteria, but a year of constant use has taught me that the rail-based design is deeply flawed. The major flaws in the design are as follows:

inferior mounting options compared to large flat platforms
cable routing is unnecessarily complicated due to the rails and placement of the power supply underneath the board
space underneath the board is barely sufficient for my chosen power supply; I was fortunate that I did not have to cut out a part of the board to mount a power supply
the centrally located handle on the rear of the board is not sufficient to bear the weight of the complete board, and the board's center of gravity causes it to be very unbalanced when held in this manner; handles located vertically on either side of the board would be far superior
3M Dual Lock is too strong for general use, requiring tools for safe dismounting of pedals; industrial velcro would suffice

I am currently designing a Mk. II version of the board. The redesign abandons the rails design in favor of a flat platform (probably lined with industrial velcro or perhaps even regular carpet with small patches of velcro). I have also eliminated the tilt (except for under the volume pedal...will probably include a tilted mounting block for the volume pedal) and will instead incorporate a second level above the rear row on the main platform. The power supply and always-on pedals can then be placed underneath the second level without sacrificing space while also allowing for cleaner cable lines and better access when troubleshooting connections.

Rllink
10-09-2018, 04:13 AM
I have a few pedals that I use, but I've not made a board for them. I would like to get more organized. I just use one or two at any given time, depending on the situation and I just put them on the ground. That limits me. Will you be doing anything later on about how you are using them in different venues? I ask because I find that some effects work well in some venues, say a small space like a coffee shop, while others seem to work better in larger venues or outdoors. Some seem to work in both. So I am interested in your experiences. Do you take the whole board with you and then just use what you need? That is why I have yet to expand and put them on a board, because I sometimes use different setup depending on the venue. I am interested in what you are doing. I have no idea what I'm doing, I'm still trying to sort it out.Thanks.

hollisdwyer
10-09-2018, 04:44 AM
David, bravo for taking on this exercise. I believe that it will be immensely valuable to all those afflicted with PAS or have plans to soon be afflicted by PAS. To have the benefit of your experience in one place will be great.

Osprey
10-09-2018, 04:50 AM
I am keenly intereted in this topic as well. I have not yet bought my first pedal, but I have been thinking about a few. This thread is a timely one for me.

Kenn2018
10-09-2018, 08:29 AM
I am new to all of this. I have some effects through my small Boss amp. But want to know more. Geat topic.

bacchettadavid
10-09-2018, 02:52 PM
Part I is finished.


Watching the thread with interest. I don’t use a pedalboard but the principles and techniques should apply to virtual signal chains as well which is what I use on iOS and Windows. Have a rough idea of what I’m doing but mostly I throw boxes in the chain and twist knobs until I’m reasonably happy.

Jim, I hope this thread will elucidate some of the finer points of effects and the 'ukulele. Your own posts featuring you on the konablaster are part of what spurred me into affected 'ukulele in the first place place (although I went the more "traditional" route).


I have a few pedals that I use, but I've not made a board for them. . . I just use one or two at any given time, depending on the situation . . . Will you be doing anything later on about how you are using them in different venues? . . . Do you take the whole board with you and then just use what you need? That is why I have yet to expand and put them on a board, because I sometimes use different setup depending on the venue.

Rllink, yes, I take the whole board with me. I actually switch between a few different pedal configurations (I'll elaborate on that in Parts III and V) depending on venue and musical genre, but most of the time, the pedalboard is in a similar configuration to what I posted in Part I. Like you, I generally use a few pedals at a time, but I certainly go through more than just one or two combinations during a given show.

Also like you, I started out with just a couple of effects pedals: preamp, tuner, and looper and footswitch controller. At first, I placed them on a piece of upholstered plywood for easy transport and didn't bother with a full-blown pedalboard until I added reverb and delay pedals. For what you're doing now, it's hard to say if a pedalboard is necessary. I will say that my life became much easier once I quit juggling 4 pedals, 3 additional power supplies, and 3 loose patch cables during every setup and takedown.


David, bravo for taking on this exercise. I believe that it will be immensely valuable to all those afflicted with PAS or have plans to soon be afflicted by PAS. To have the benefit of your experience in one place will be great.

Hollis, THANK YOU for everything you've shared as well although I'm not sure anyone PLANS to be afflicted with PAS (least of all me). I maintain that my pedals reproduce whenever I'm not looking.

Well, that's it for now. I'll post the rough draft of "Part II - Core effects for amplified acoustic performance" in the next 2 or 3 days.

haole
10-10-2018, 07:04 AM
Looking forward to more posts about this kind of stuff! I use pedals when I plug in and my biggest issue is noise. A lot of cheap power supplies like daisy chains are supposed to accommodate up to 5 pedals but the manufacturer doesn’t usuallly tell you that it’ll sound like hornets. Let us know (when you get there!) what kind of power supply you use!

Brad Bordessa
10-10-2018, 08:36 AM
Looking forward to more posts about this kind of stuff! I use pedals when I plug in and my biggest issue is noise. A lot of cheap power supplies like daisy chains are supposed to accommodate up to 5 pedals but the manufacturer doesn’t usuallly tell you that it’ll sound like hornets. Let us know (when you get there!) what kind of power supply you use!

Best and most boring money you'll spend is on a "real" power supply. I forked out for a Strymon a while back and it's shocking how much quieter everything is.

etudes
10-10-2018, 06:42 PM
I have a Pedaltrain-mini pedalboard. It's a start but I could certainly use some fresh ideas. What a great topic! Thanks for taking it on.

hollisdwyer
10-10-2018, 08:43 PM
I have a Pedaltrain-mini pedalboard. It's a start but I could certainly use some fresh ideas. What a great topic! Thanks for taking it on.

My small board is the pedaltrain nova+, one size down from yours (18”X5”). It is battery powered. It’s in its fourth iteration. Here’s a quick snapshot.

112658

These are the pedals that are on the board pictured above:
TC Electronic Polytune2 Noir
LR Baggs Session pre-amp & DI
Electro-harmonix Nano POG Octaver
Keeley Caverns Reverb & Delay
Keeley Super Phat Mod Overdrive
Keeley Red Dirt Mini Overdrive (soon to disappear and be replaced by my TC Electronic Ditti looper)
All of the above are powered by a Rockboard Power LT XL rechargeable battery pack which is mounted under the board (Note to allow this to fit I had to glue on taller rubber feet that I got from a hardware store. I can get at least 6-8 hours out of this before having to recharge).

bacchettadavid
10-11-2018, 03:15 PM
PART II - Core effects for amplified acoustic performance

INTRODUCTION

When applied sparingly, effects in acoustic-electric performances can be used to subtly reshape the sound of an instrument or to thicken the tone of the pickups.

Part II of this series focuses on the effects most frequently found in an electroacoustic setting. These effects collectively serve as the backbone of an amplified acoustic tonal palette, with many becoming increasingly useful as a signal chain expands to include more intrusive effects. If you use an acoustic multi-effects pedal, every effect it provides is most likely covered here.

Part II is long, but bear with me; I promise not to waste your time. Part II is broken up into two sections: essential core effects and non-essential core effects.

SECTION A: ESSENTIALS - PREAMPS, EQUALIZATION, TUNERS, MUTE & BOOST SWITCHES, AND REVERB

Special note: Although I am considering each effect separately in this post, many items in the section are often combined into a single unit (preamp/DI box, acoustic amplifer, or PA system mixer).

A.1: Preamps

I'll begin by addressing the elephant in the room: preamps. In short, just get it over with and buy a decent preamp. You'll thank me later when you start dabbling in other effects; even active ukulele pickups often don't generate enough signal for many effects pedals to work correctly, but the outputs and effects loop sends on preamps do. If your instrument is equipped with a passive pickup and you intend to use effects, you need a preamp/DI box. For a thorough explanation of why you should invest in a preamp for your passive pickups and how to choose the right preamp for your needs, see UUer Booli's website: http://bd.entropyadept.com/faq.html.

Even if you use an active pickup, a preamp/DI box might be a wise investment. Many preamps and DI boxes provide myriad benefits to the effects-savvy 'ukulelist, including but not limited to:

EQ controls for tone shaping
Anti-feedback features like high-pass filters. notch filters (high-Q, narrow-band EQ cuts; see A.2: Equalizers) and phase reversal switches
Noise control features like a mute. boost. and ground lift switches
Effects loop for keeping your other pedals out of your signal chain when not in use
Balanced XLR outputs for longer cable runs to a mixer or PA system

And that summarizes preamps: not exciting or glamorous, but imminently practical. That brings us to our next boring-but-oh-so-useful "effect"....

A.2: Equalization (EQ)

A feature common to many acoustic amplifiers and PA systems, EQ is not always located on the pedalboard itself. EQ allows the player to boost or cut different bandwidths (called bands) of the frequency spectrum to modify the timbre of the output signal. A dedicated equalizer is generally broken up into several roughly discrete bands, each with the following properties:

Gain - the degree of cut or boost applied
Center - the median frequency value in the band
Quality factor (Q) - a ratio of the frequency to the bandwidth. A high Q means a sharper peak or valley will form within the response curve of the band whereas a low Q means the cut or boost in gain will be dispersed over a broader part of the band

Technically, most pedals can be thought of as EQ pedals, but I will limit this discussion to dedicated EQ pedals. Three types of dedicated EQ pedals are commonly available:

Graphic - visually represents frequency response settings with a set of vertical sliders. Easy to use and affordable, but often voiced specifically for electric guitar
Parametric - flexible, with highly editable bands and robust anti-feedback features. Present a steep learning curve and can be expensive
Semiparametric - combines a 2- or 3-band EQ with a parametric mid-band. An effective compromise between the complexity of a fully parametric EQ and the ease-of-use of a graphic EQ

Many semiparametric and parametric EQs include anti-feedback features like phase reversal switches and notch filters.

A.3: Tuners

Put a tuner on your pedalboard; your audience demands it.

Tuners come in four main forms:

Stroboscopic - compares an input signal to an internally generated pitch. Latches on almost immediately. Can be extremely accurate but expensive
Microprocessor - processes a few cycles of a tone before latching on. Noticeably slower and slightly less accurate, but more affordable
Otic organs (left or right) - extremely fast once trained, but prone to fatigue and is rendered dysfunctional by background noise

Many tuners come with additional features. Common features of tuners include:

backlit needle or LCD or LED display
buffered output, sometimes true bypass with a switch
polyphonic tuning
display brightness controls
mute switch that turns off the output when the tuner is activated
power jack out for powering another pedal when not in use
Ménière's disease, vertigo, and tinnitus

One special factor to consider is the brightness of the readout display. Some are blindingly bright in the bedroom while other are too dim to use in direct sunlight.

With a bit of practice, you can learn to watch a pedal tuner's readout in your peripheral vision and pretend you are the master sommelier of intonation or a demigod born from the loins of Apollo and Euterpe.

A.4: Mute Switch

Does what you'd expect: turns the signal off when activated. This is surprisingly valuable when trying to control feedback or limit instrument handling noise.

Please note that many tuners and DI boxes feature a mute switch. If you don't already have a mute switch in your chain, you should consider adding one. They're listed here in the Essentials section for a reason (just make sure you find a quiet one unless you want to hear a pop every time you unmute).

A.5: Clean Boost Switch

Raises signal level. A boost switch can help your solos cut through the mix or give you a second gain stage to adjust to changes in audience size. Alternatively, you can use a clean boost to drive an overdrive pedal into a greater amount of distortion. Note that a "clean" boost will raise gain and almost always color your sound a bit. As before, boost switches are common on preamps and DI boxes.

Special note: preferences regarding boost are varied, and many alternatives to accomplish this effect exist. Some options include:

Graphic equalizer - very clean option. cut the bass and highs, boost the other bands a bit, and you'll cut through the mix very effectively. Very unobtrusive
Volume pedal - set your level at the amplifier for soloing, then back off the volume pedal until you're ready for a boost. This can prove especially helpful if you use dirt in your rhythm tone
Overdrive/distortion/fuzz - set the level high to boost your signal and introduce a bit of grit and compression. A very popular method
Compressor - set the compression/sustain low and the level high. This will sometimes limit your maximum volume but will minimize distortion while also adding a bit of your compressor's EQ


Second special note: a clean boost expects a high-impedance signal and generally won't work as intended if you plug a passive pickup straight into one. For this application of a clean boost, you will most likely need a preamp.

A.6: Reverb

In many cases, you can rely on the PA system or acoustic amplifier for a touch of reverb, but you can also put highly editable, dedicated digital reverbs at your feet.

Most reverb pedals feature several different algorithms for generating different types of reverb (usually based on analog analogues like plate reverb or spring reverb), with each algorithm category having its own unique flavor. Common algorithms include:

Room - decay starts out simple but becomes complex. Especially useful for subtler touches or livening up an acoustically lackluster space
Hall - nice wash of reverb with long tails; useful for soaring melodies or ambient harmonies
Spring - classic electric and archtop guitar or organ reverb type. Extremely flexible and an evergreen option
Plate - similar but not identical to room reverb, with greater complexity and more evenness across the decay

Many reverb pedals supplement these algorithms with additional features. Examples include:

shimmer - pitch-shifted (generally augmented) decay tails
predelay - varies the time between the attack and first reflection of the decay

hollisdwyer
10-11-2018, 03:38 PM
Wow David, well researched and articulated. This is going to be so helpful to so many people. Once again, Bravo!

bacchettadavid
10-11-2018, 05:28 PM
A lot of cheap power supplies like daisy chains are supposed to accommodate up to 5 pedals but the manufacturer doesn’t usuallly tell you that it’ll sound like hornets.

Haole, mind if I ask what pedals you are trying to power? I might be able to recommend a quick fix that will bring the noise down to a usable level.

In the meantime, I second Brad's sentiment that a good power supply is some of the best money you'll sink into a pedalboard and ask that you stay tuned for Part IV when I get into the nitty-gritty of power supply selection.


Let us know (when you get there!) what kind of power supply you use!

My ambition for this thread is not so much to recommend specific products as to provide a convenient place for ukulelists to become informed about the world of effects. Before I posted Part I, I actually thought about censoring all the pedals on my board specifically to obfuscate what I was using. I am still reevaluating that position, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.

Power supplies are especially difficult to recommend. I will examine the subject in detail in Part IV, but a power supply should be chosen with respect to the particular configuration of jack, voltage, amperage, and polarity requirements of all the pedals on your board (in addition to other considerations). I will say that my power needs are extremely specific, that my power supply is pink, and that I might find myself on thin ice with the moderators were I to post a picture of my board's undercarriage.


My small board is the pedaltrain nova+ . . . It is battery powered. It’s in its fourth iteration. Here’s a quick snapshot.

112658

Hollis, I love your placement of the reverb and delay before the stacked overdrives. You might be getting pretty deep into fizz and feedback territory there, but I bet that sounds wicked! I can see why you're switching out the second overdrive for a looper, but I'll be sad to see it go.

etudes
10-11-2018, 05:58 PM
David,

Good job distilling a lot of technical data into an easily readable guide. A real service to the uke community! We'll stay tuned.

bacchettadavid
10-11-2018, 06:50 PM
I have a Pedaltrain-mini pedalboard. It's a start but I could certainly use some fresh ideas. What a great topic! Thanks for taking it on.

My pleaure, Etude - I'm getting at least as much out of posting this thread as anyone else is reading it. What pedals do you currently have? I might be able to give you some ideas for experimentation while you wait for the later parts that will be more closely aligned with your own needs.

jelow1966
10-11-2018, 07:42 PM
Great thread. While I preferred rack mount multi-effect units when I was doing a lot of treated uke playing, mainly because I was recording so the stereo out on them was a nice feature, I have a few pedals as well. I'd list a much different set as essential:

Compression. Allows one to tweak the sound that goes into everything after
Distortion
Flanger (or 2, a double flanger sound can be incredible if done right)
Wah
Delay
Reverb (but here I would use a rack unit though the pedals now are probably much better then when I was doing this in the early 90's)

Others that could be added:

EQ ( I prefer a rack mount parametric, perfect for dialing in reverbs )
Octave pedal /harmonizer (mine are the old style, single note so not as useful as the newer ones)
Whammy pedal (loads of fun)
Phaser
A/B box. Allows for switching chains with just a single button, great for when you want the solo section to stand out

Sadly half my old rack units have died which is probably just as well since what I could get now is likely way better anyway if I ever want to get into that sound again. Not sure I'd want to go the pedal route, but maybe a pedal board and a power supply would eliminate much of what bugged me about using them.

John

hollisdwyer
10-11-2018, 10:50 PM
..........

Hollis, I love your placement of the reverb and delay before the stacked overdrives. You might be getting pretty deep into fizz and feedback territory there, but I bet that sounds wicked! I can see why you're switching out the second overdrive for a looper, but I'll be sad to see it go.

David, my current small board set up matches 99% of my current requirements. It’s rare that I have to plug into a desk so everything is focused on live sound at my weekly Farmers Market gig. The red dirt overdrive was an experiment to see if I could loose the larger Super Phat Mod. It was on sale but the answer is no, I like the Phat Mod best which I use on a number of specific songs every week. Same goes for the POG. I put my Baggs Para DI on my larger board and replaced it with the Sessions unit which, in my opinion, is more useful in a no desk, live gig, environment. It still gives me feedback control, some EQ and compression (although not as sophisticated as my Strymon compressor that is now also on my larger board). I just also treated myself to a ZT Lunchbox guitar amp. 200 watts, drives a separate cab(same size as the amp) but must be plugged into a power outlet. I used it today at a rehearsal that included an electric piano, saxophone, stand up bass fiddle and another ukulele. It had no problem being heard at 25% power. I am now dreading becoming an amplifier collector.

bacchettadavid
10-12-2018, 01:04 AM
I'd list a much different set as essential:

Compression. Allows one to tweak the sound that goes into everything after
Distortion
Flanger (or 2, a double flanger sound can be incredible if done right)
Wah
Delay
Reverb (but here I would use a rack unit though the pedals now are probably much better then when I was doing this in the early 90's)

Others that could be added:

EQ ( I prefer a rack mount parametric, perfect for dialing in reverbs )
Octave pedal /harmonizer (mine are the old style, single note so not as useful as the newer ones)
Whammy pedal (loads of fun)
Phaser
A/B box. Allows for switching chains with just a single button, great for when you want the solo section to stand out

Jelow, thanks for joining in!

The main difference between our lists is your inclusion of compression, distortion, flanger, and wah as essential. I'm currently fleshing out Part II of this thread, and I will be sure to include a special note under compressors indicating that a compressor would be considered essential for a player who intends to use more heavily affected sounds. I'll also be addding a section to the boost switch section that discusses the alternatives to clean boost (compressor, overdrive, etc.).

I didn't list a wah as essential simply because my own list is inteded to address needs of live sound reinforcement rather than recording, and wah pedals can be an absolute feedback monsters at stage SPLs without a dialed-in parametric EQ or at least a notch filter. Having said that, I love a good wah myself and will definitely be treating them in Part III. As for flangers, I was split (no pun intended, honest) between whether to list chorus or flanger as a core effect. I ended up listing chorus because a subtle chorus does more to round out and reinforce the 'ukulele's natural tone.

Distortion and flanger effects both represent significant departures from the 'ukulele's acoustic tone and so will be treated in Part III. The same goes for octave effects. A/B boxes and bypass loopers will also be covered in Part III since they don't really grow into their own until a player expands into broader sonic horizons.

....Now I'm really curious to try stacking flangers myself. I've not tried *that* yet!


The red dirt overdrive was an experiment to see if I could loose the larger Super Phat Mod. It was on sale but the answer is no, I like the Phat Mod best which I use on a number of specific songs every week. Same goes for the POG. I put my Baggs Para DI on my larger board and replaced it with the Sessions unit which, in my opinion, is more useful in a no desk, live gig, environment.

Yeah, I can understand your preference for the Phat Mod. On my own board, I tend to place a POG after my TS-9 to restore some of the low end cut by TS-style pedals.

I used a Para DI for a while myself (and loved it), but I had similar issues with it in dimly lit, deskless venues. That's part of what drove me towards the PZ-Pre on my own board.

And with that, I'll sign out of the thread and finish Part II. The final draft of Part II and rough draft of Part III will be posted over the weekend.

Arcy
10-12-2018, 03:00 PM
Thanks for these posts, David! The options are there are truly bewildering, and your explanations here are really helpful. At the moment I'm plugging into the computer and trying make heads and tails of synthesized pedals, and you've already clarified a few pieces to experiment with. I'm looking forward to the rest of Part II and Parts III-V.

Once you get those posted, can you edit the main post to link to the individual parts? That will make it easier to find them amongst the comments.

photoshooter
10-13-2018, 04:27 AM
Thank you so much for taking the time to put this tutorial together. I went through a similar journey recently and mostly fumbled my way through it because there wasn't a lot of info available that pertained to ukulele. I was able to find a lot of general info mostly related to guitar that helped. I had planned to only get a pedal or two to experiment with fattening up the uke sound or adding a little more bottom. Well, I think we all know how that goes... One leads to two, four....


I'm a woodworking hobbyist so I ended up making a small pedalboard. I bought some pedals that interested me. My choices were based on curiosity, reviews and price point. I'm not a gigging musician so I wanted to keep my investment on the low side. As far as what order to put the pedals in, I did as much research as I could and came up with an arrangement that seems to be working for me. I mounted a power supply under the pedalboard. I'm still fumbling my way through it but it's a fun learning process.

I'm eager to read the rest of your tutorial to see if I did reasonably well in my pedal choices and set up.

Some pics:

112693112693112694112695112696112697

I like the Donner pedals because they're inexpensive and small. I didn't want a big pedalboard. The order of the pedals is:

Baggs Para Acoustic
Donner Tuner
Donner Compressor
DigiTech Trio+
Donner Blues Drive
MicroPog
Donner Tutti Love (chorus pedal)
Donner Yellow Fall (delay pedal)
Hall of Fame Reverb has replaced the Behringer Reverb pictured

The Donner pedals are typically in the $25-$30 dollar range. The non-Donner pedals listed were all purchased on my local Craigs List except for the Trio+.

This arrangement allows me to easily isolate the Para Acoustic or to just use the bottom row of pedals.

This is all still quite foreign to me so if David or anyone else has suggestions, criticisms, feedback it would be most welcomed.

jelow1966
10-13-2018, 07:53 AM
Thank you so much for taking the time to put this tutorial together. I went through a similar journey recently and mostly fumbled my way through it because there wasn't a lot of info available that pertained to ukulele. I was able to find a lot of general info mostly related to guitar that helped. I had planned to only get a pedal or two to experiment with fattening up the uke sound or adding a little more bottom. Well, I think we all know how that goes... One leads to two, four....


I'm a woodworking hobbyist so I ended up making a small pedalboard. I bought some pedals that interested me. My choices were based on curiosity, reviews and price point. I'm not a gigging musician so I wanted to keep my investment on the low side. As far as what order to put the pedals in, I did as much research as I could and came up with an arrangement that seems to be working for me. I mounted a power supply under the pedalboard. I'm still fumbling my way through it but it's a fun learning process.

I'm eager to read the rest of your tutorial to see if I did reasonably well in my pedal choices and set up.

Some pics:

112693112693112694112695112696112697

I like the Donner pedals because they're inexpensive and small. I didn't want a big pedalboard. The order of the pedals is:

Baggs Para Acoustic
Donner Tuner
Donner Compressor
DigiTech Trio+
Donner Blues Drive
MicroPog
Donner Tutti Love (chorus pedal)
Donner Yellow Fall (delay pedal)
Hall of Fame Reverb has replaced the Behringer Reverb pictured

The Donner pedals are typically in the $25-$30 dollar range. The non-Donner pedals listed were all purchased on my local Craigs List except for the Trio+.

This arrangement allows me to easily isolate the Para Acoustic or to just use the bottom row of pedals.

This is all still quite foreign to me so if David or anyone else has suggestions, criticisms, feedback it would be most welcomed.

How does the Trio+ work? I'm not familiar with it but if it's meant to just add backing to what you are playing then I would think it should be on the end of the chain or else it all ends up going thru the same effects as your uke. Or do you send it's output separately? Other than that question your arraignment seems logical for a traditional approach. A beautiful job on the board too, very nice work! My one other piece of advice is to just experiment, that's the best thing about pedals, it's easy to put the reverb first and then run that signal thru distortion etc and see what happens.

John

photoshooter
10-13-2018, 03:18 PM
Thanks for the compliment and the tips!

I've mostly be experimenting with the pedals individually or in pairs. Yes the Trio provides backing track and also has some modest looping capability. If I remember correctly the Trio performs best if it's fed a guitar/uke signal without effects so I only put the tone "shaping" pedals in front of it. I haven't really exploited all it's features yet but you can send the backing track out to the amp as a separate signal from the effects loop. Honestly it's still all a bit overwhelming but I am certainly having fun exploring the possibilities.

jelow1966
10-13-2018, 04:51 PM
You've got the right idea, get a feel for what one pedal does then add another to the chain. Get a feel for what you can do with those and then add a third. Get a feel for that then switch two of them around etc. It's generally a good idea to keep the compressor first too, though I'm now wondering what would happen if it was after the distortion...hmmm.

John

ksiegel
10-14-2018, 06:54 AM
I find this all very interesting, but far from my needs. At least, since I don't really understand what all effects do with a ukulele, I don't need them. If I understood what you guys are talking about, that might be different.

I like the clean sound of a uke, and all but three are strictly mic'ed to get into the system. My Donaldson, with the K&K Twinspot goes through a K&K Pure preamp, the Fluke has a B&B active pickup (although I use it very infrequently, and the Ohana has the MiSi. i generally plug my instruments and mics into a mixer with minimal reverb, and then into the amp (Currently using a JBL EON-One), and that's it.

I've been considering a looper, so I can do the backing track thing while playing solo, but that's the only other effect I've thought about.

So please, instead of just telling us "this is what I use, and the best way to use it", how about "This is what I use, and this is what it does..."


Thanks!


-Kurt

etudes
10-14-2018, 03:11 PM
My pleaure, Etude - I'm getting at least as much out of posting this thread as anyone else is reading it. What pedals do you currently have? I might be able to give you some ideas for experimentation while you wait for the later parts that will be more closely aligned with your own needs.

Thanks for asking- I've been accumulating pedals for some years, mostly tailored for acoustic guitar. In the last 3 years I'm using them for ukulele.
On the board now:

Baggs Session DI
TCE ND-1 Nova Delay
TCE Hall of Fame Reverb
TCE Ditto
the Fuel Tank power supply

On the sidelines
Xotic SP compressor
MXR carbon copy
TCE Corona chorus
BBE Sonic Stomp
Fulltone OCD

112738

I punted and put the power supply on top. I ran into some difficulty mounting it to the bottom. Cable management leaves a lot to be desired, a work in progress. More of an example of how NOT to do it, but better than having them on the floor ala carte with no board. My focus is more towards playing solo ukulele instrumentals.


Cheers

bacchettadavid
10-14-2018, 07:24 PM
PART II cont'd - Core effects for amplified acoustic performance

SECTION B: NON-ESSENTIAL CORE EFFECTS - COMPRESSION, DELAY, CHORUS, AND TREMOLO

B.1: Compression

Compressors either reduce volume of parts of the signal exceeding a certain threshold or increase volume of parts below a certain threshold. This has the effect of shrinking a signal's dynamic range. Most compressors offer control over at least some of the following settings:

Threshold - the minimum and maximum volumes allowed to go uncompressed
Ratio - the amount of compression applied to the parts of a signal outside the minimum and maximum thresholds
Attack - the amount of time allowed to pass before an offending signal is compressed
Release - the amount of time that must pass once a signal falls below the threshold before the compressor stops
Knee - the profile of the compression itself. hard knee means it quickly reigns in offending parts, soft knee means it massages the signal into acceptable limits

Most compressor pedals combine many of these features into one or two simplified controls, usually labelled "sustain" or "compression". My experience has taught me to seek out simple-to-operate compressors that don't color the tone or mess with the attack in overly obvious ways.

Before you ignore compressors because they undermine the 'ukulele's already limited dynamic range, consider the following:

a compressor can prevent the wolf notes from popping out of the mix
you can make your 'ukulele a bit louder in the mix without worrying about occasionally covering up your bandmates
a compressor can bring the volume of hammer-ons to the same volume as picked notes
placing a compressor before overdrive or distortion will go a long way toward getting a more even response out of the pedal
at higher sound pressure levels, a compressor can help you eke more sustain out of certain notes or induce musical feedback

Special note: running the signal from a piezo pickup into a compressor can have unintended consequences. Because the pickup turns any "extraneous" vibration into a signal (including transient sounds such as the sound of nails on strings or background sounds such as skin brushing across the soundboard), these vibrations can be further amplified by the compressor. Compressors can also induce quite a bit of feedback. The more resonant your pickup, the more apparent these side effects will be.

B.2: Delay

Records the input in a buffer than recalls it after a certain interval of time to create an "echo" of an incoming signal. Common controls include:

time - time between the attack and delay; also the time between each repeat thereafter
level - the level of the first repeats in relation to the original signal
repeats - the number of repeats across which the initial level fades. In analog delays (see below), this is accomplished by feeding the delays themselves back into the unit, resulting in rapidly decaying tails and a certain amount of feedback within the delay unit itself

Delays can be classified into three major categories:

Analog - short maximum delay times, each repeat of the echo is more decayed than the previous one, giving a dark tone to the delays. Low fidelity, generally unobtrusive but very obvious in more extreme settings
Tape - uses a looping tape and recording and playback heads to reproduce delays recorded to a strip of magnetic tape. The repeats degrade more slowly than with analog delays, and various modulation effects become increasingly prevalant in the repeats as the tape ages
Digital - abritrarily long maximum delay times, echoes can be pristine or processed in a variety of ways, including assigning the echoes to various rhythmic pattern

Some delays include additional features such as tap tempo (tap a momentary switch a few times to set the length of the delay), and the most powerful digital delay pedals offer convincing emulations of both analog and tape delay types.

With the possible exception of EQ, compression and delay are probably the most versatile effects in all of Part II. Compressors can be used to even out dynamics when chicken picking or playing rhythm parts, bring the 'ukulele forward in a mix, change the responsiveness of later pedals in the chain, or even provide a slight boost to the instrument's sustain. Delays can be set short with with one or two repeats to get more of a slapback kind of effect, set short with many repeats to emulate reverb, set long with one or two repeats to tastefully gird up your tone for a solo, or set long with many repeats for some crazy spacey sound effects.

B.3: Chorus

Copies your signal, delays the copy by some amount of time, then modulates the delay (changes the delay by an amount which varies over time) before mixing it back into your signal. The modulation of delay in the copy results in a modulation of pitch per the Doppler effect, and when the two signals are combined, the net result is a sound reminiscent of multiple musicians playing roughly in unison.

When played on a reentrant-tuned 'ukulele, many chords already possess a chorus-like quality due to differences in pitch and phase between the 1st and 4th strings. A chorus pedal broadens this effect to encompass more of your signal.

Chorus pedals generally provide the following controls:

Delay - sets the minimum delay time
Depth - controls the amount of pitch and delay modulation
Rate - sets the rate at which the pitch and delay times sweep through their range

Generally speaking, a subtle chorus can be used to thicken the sound of the 'ukulele whereas a wetter chorus will interfere with the perception of accurate intonation. Both are useful.

B.4: Tremolo

Modulates the amplitude of your signal, resulting in a cycling of volume over time. This causes your sound to pulse in a manner similar to the diaphragm vibrato often used by flutists. The exact profile of this pulsing effect varies hugely, both in general waveform and in precise properties of the volume swing.

The general waveform for the modulation can fall into one of three categories (keep in mind that this waveform will usually be somewhat lopsided rather than symmetrical; in other words, the waves themselves will be steeper on one side than the other):

triangle - very defined peaks and valleys, with very clear difference between the rises and falls in volume
sinusoidal - a smoother undulation
square - a very forward, "hard" dip and rise in volume. can sound like a helicopter at high speeds

Tremolo as an effect was popularized in guitar amplifiers, where it was accomplished by several means. In addition to cylcing the volume, each of these of these means produced particular side effects in the overall tone. The methods most commonly emulated by pedals (in the case of photocells, many pedals actually contain a photocell circuit in them) and their effects on tone are summarized below:

photocell - the overall EQ contour of the signal changes subtly as the volume shifts. generally more square than triangle
tube bias - the quiet parts see a slight cut to the fundamental and a boost to the 3rd and 5th partials while the loud parts exhibit more obvious harmonic distortion
harmonic tremolo - not so much a shift in volume as a shift between a bright high band of EQ and a dark low band of EQ

Special note: many ring modulators and certain pitch shifters (see Part III) can emulate this form of modulation.

bacchettadavid
10-14-2018, 08:40 PM
I'm a woodworking hobbyist so I ended up making a small pedalboard. I bought some pedals that interested me. . . . The order of the pedals is:

Baggs Para Acoustic
Donner Tuner
Donner Compressor
DigiTech Trio+
Donner Blues Drive
MicroPog
Donner Tutti Love (chorus pedal)
Donner Yellow Fall (delay pedal)
Hall of Fame Reverb has replaced the Behringer Reverb pictured

. . . This is all still quite foreign to me so if David or anyone else has suggestions, criticisms, feedback it would be most welcomed.

Photoshooter, what a beautiful board! If you're willing to build a board to my own specs, I would gladly pay you. Mind if I shoot you a PM?

Try the following signal chain modification: move everything after the Trio+ into its effects loop. I'd actually recommend the following chain:
Instrument -> Para DI -> effects loop send (requires stereo Y cable to 2 mono plugs) -> tuner -> compressor -> effects loop return on Para DI -> Blues Drive -> Trio+ -> effects loop send on Trio+ -> Everything else -> Trio+ effects loop return -> amp.

With this chain, you can EQ after the compressor (useful) and keep the compressor from interacting with changes to the level controls on the Para DI. It will also allow you to shape the blues driver with the Para DI's eq settings and leave the reverb and delay on while training the Trio+.

Alternatively, if you were going out to a PA or needed a balanced signal, I'd nest the above chain inside the Para DI's effects loop.


It's generally a good idea to keep the compressor first too, though I'm now wondering what would happen if it was after the distortion...hmmm.

I've tried it; the exact effect will depend on the particular distortion and compressor, but you will generally get a lot of noise from the piezo pickups. Interestingly, running a compressor that affects the attack after a more dynamically responsive overdrive really allows you to shape the amount of distortion without affecting the overall level too much.


I find this all very interesting, but far from my needs. At least, since I don't really understand what all effects do with a ukulele, I don't need them. If I understood what you guys are talking about, that might be different.
. . .
So please, instead of just telling us "this is what I use, and the best way to use it", how about "This is what I use, and this is what it does..."

-Kurt

Kurt, now that Part II is up, let me know if it provides enough "this is what it does" for your needs. Your input is very much appreciated as I craft Part III.


Thanks for asking- I've been accumulating pedals for some years, mostly tailored for acoustic guitar. . . . My focus is more towards playing solo ukulele instrumentals.

Etudes, I'm digging that delay pedal. As an experiment, try the following: kick the reverb or looper off the board, (if the reverb, set the Nova for a short delay time to emulate a reverb or a longer delay when you want something more like an echo), then stick the OCD after the Sessions (that way you can control the OCD a bit more with the saturation and compression settings on the DI). That would give you a broader array of tones to experiment with.

Alternatively, replace the delay pedal with the OCD, and stick the reverb before the OCD. The result won't be clean, but it might inspire some new ideas for how to use the looper. You might also be able to cram the SP comp on the board and use it as a boost.

P.S. Nothing wrong with the power supply on top. I'm actually going to be moving mine to the top of my board for its Mk. II iteration. Also, my own cable management leaves a lot to be desired.

And with that, I'm off to draft Part III.

photoshooter
10-15-2018, 03:01 PM
Woo hoo! Lots to digest here. And yes, some of it just a tad over my head. But that keeps it fun. Thanks for the feedback David and thanks for all the effort you put into this thread. I sent you a PM :)

Booli
10-15-2018, 04:07 PM
@ https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/image.php?u=136444&dateline=1444890095 (https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/member.php?136444-bacchettadavid) bacchettadavid (https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/member.php?136444-bacchettadavid)

Thanks for the nod!

I am glad my contributions here on the forum were helpful.

This thread is a great idea, and your detailed presentation on this topic is wonderful.

I will admit that I've not had time to read it all, but will come back and do so later on, as well as share how I use effects and how I have them set up.

This is a great start, and I am eagerly looking forward to seeing this thread evolve...:)

bacchettadavid
10-15-2018, 11:57 PM
Part III - Auxiliary and expressive effects and signal chain considerations

INTRODUCTION

Whereas Part II of this guide focuses on the subtler applications of effects, Part III directs its gaze towards more overtly affected sounds.

Part III is broken into two parts: the first is on effects themselves while the second is on how their order in the signal chain affects how they work. Please note that the taxonomy below (filter, gain, modulation, time, etc.) is somewhat arbitrary as many effects in Part III operate in multiple domains of the signal.

There's a lot of ground to cover here, so let's get started.

A. GAIN - OVERDRIVE AND DISTORTION, FUZZ, AND VOLUME

A.1: Clean/gain boost and compression - see Part II

A.2: Overdrive and Distortion

When a clean/gain boost is put in front of a tube amp, that boost can be used to push the amp to the point that the power tubes begin to distort. As the output volume of a tube amp increases, the power tubes begin to compress the signal. Once this compression reaches a certain point, the power tubes begin to distort the signal in the following ways:

the dynamics become noticeably compressed
peaks begin to form at the even-numbered harmonics
the most prominent peaks and valleys of the waveform are sheared off, resulting in clipping
Together, these features "saturate" the sound and create a type of distortion many listeners find pleasing; however, this sort of tube amp distortion is usually achieved only in an amp's upper volume tiers.

Overdrive and distortion are both attempts to recreate this effect at somewhat lower volumes. Overdrive pedals combine a focused EQ boost designed to push a tube amp into distortion at lower volumes with a harsh level-dependent distortion coming from "soft" clipping diodes in its circuit. In contrast to overdrive pedals, distortion pedals rely less on a gain boost to the amp and instead saturate the signal themselves.

Most overdrive and distortion pedals feature the following controls:

Gain/Distortion - alters the amount of distortion applied by the pedal
Tone - functions as an EQ. The exact behavior of this knob varies with the type of overdrive
Level - level of the output signal
In addition to these controls, some overdrive and distortion pedals provide 2- or 3-band EQ controls (whether these controls affect the signal before or after the distortion is applied varies with the model).

Neither of these effects will work as intended in most amplified 'ukulele contexts. The focused EQ boost of overdrive pedals will not push most PA or monitor speakers into distortion but will instead function as a signal coloration, and the nail noise and harmonic complexity picked up by piezo transducers will make many distortion pedals sound harsh and fizzy. A pseudo-solution to the former problem exists in the form of either guitar amps or amp modellers (see section E), but the latter problem is inherent to the design of the offending distortion pedals themselves.

Special note: anti-feedback tools are often necessary to render overdrive or distortion usable at anything above bedroom sound levels.

A.3: Fuzz

Fuzz represents an attempt to reproduce the sound of a fundamentally broken amplifier (usually punctured or torn speaker cones or misaligned tubes). First pedals to make tubes distort, then pedals to replace distorted tubes, and now pedals to reproduce the sound of broken speaker cones and misaligned tubes; what is up with people and malfunctioning tube amps?

Anyways, fuzz pedals press the signal into a square waveform, resulting in a sonic texture that is fuzzy or wooly. This adds a harsh squelch to your tone that almost completely destroys any hint of 'ukulele, but it's a loveable sound nonetheless. Unfortunately, WILL BE DEVELOPED IN A REVISION.

Special note: fuzz is a *very* feedback-inducing effect, with many fuzz pedals creating spontaneous feedback in certain settings. Anti-feedback tools are strongly recommended here.

A.4: Volume

Volume pedals are probably the least interesting of all the pedals in Part III, and because I love you all so much, I'm going to spare you the details and get to the point.

Just kidding. I am going to microscopically analyze volume pedals with a level of detail so precise you're almost guaranteed to find it literally excruciating.

Volume pedals come in several physical form factors: rocker pedals, knobs, and rollers. Rockers are the most common and are useful for swells, maintaining constant volume across a decay, or for dynamically phrasing in; knobs take up less space on a crowded pedalboard and are good for "set and forget" operation (typically to keep levels in check towards the end of a signal chain), and rollers (at least the single model I know to exist) offer a compromise between the two form factors.

Different rocker pedals also feature differing amounts of travel. Since most volume pedals use the rocker format, I feel it necessary to discuss the two most prominent rocker designs: potentiometer, or "pot", and electro-optical. In an pot-based design, a drum connected to logarithmic potentiometer mounted to the base of the enclosure is connected to the enclosure lid via a string. Rotational movement of the lid is transferred to the potentiometer via the string and drum in one of two ways:

Spring method - in this method, a spring takes up any slack in the string. The string makes several loops around the drum and passes through a ring on the underside of the lid and a shaft located along the posterior margin of the base. Both ends of the string are affixed to hooks on either end of a spring that takes up any slack in the system
Set screw method - the necessary friction comes from a small loop around a set screw screwed into the drum. Both ends of the string are affixed to mounting plates located on the underside of the lid on either side of the potentiometer. The length of the string is wrapped around the drum in two partial loops connected by a perpendicular loop around a set screw. Any undue slack in the system resulting is easily removed by pulling more of the working ends into the mounting brackets
In contrast, electro-optical designs are mechanically simple. A light mounted to the underside of the lid moves either closer to or further away from a photoresistor, thereby controlling the output signal level.

In addition to these differences in construction, the following functional differences persist between the two designs:

Maintenance - pots, strings, and springs all wear out and require periodic replacement (a simple operation). The only moving part in an electro-optical design is the lid itself
Smoothness of swell - since a potentiometer cannot be "half-on", pot-based design always exhibit a bump in volume when the rocker is moved from "fully off" to "slightly on". Electro-optical designs provide continuously variable output all the way down to completely off
Passive vs. active - pot-based designs come in both passive and active variants. Electro-optical designs, requiring current for the aforementioned light, are always active

As noted in the list above, volume pedals can be either passive or active. Passive volume pedals don't require external power and are basically guitar volume knobs in rocker pedal format. When they feature a tuner out, the output is usually split between the tuner out and amp out, and this can create high-end rolloff in the signal due to the tuner loading the signal when powered up (a true bypass tuner can solve some of this problem when turned off alhough this defeats the point of a tuner out). Active volume pedals require a power supply and usually provide a buffer (see section E) or low-gain preamp and isolated tuner output.

Passive volume pedals also come in varying input impedance. The most common values are 25 kOhm, 50 kOhm, 250 kOhm, 500 kOhm, 1 MOhm, and 10 MOhm. If you are using a passive pickup with no preamp and intend to use a volume pedal, you should seek a volume pedal with an input impedance of no less than 1 MOhm (10 MOhm wwould probably be preferable). Alternatively, a buffered pedal (not true bypass) placed between your instrument and volume pedal will allow you to use a 25 kOhm passive volume pedal, but you'll still have to worry about loading from the buffered pedal itself.

And in the end, all a volume pedal does is place a volume fader at your foot, usually in a rocker pedal format. Roll forward to increase volume or roll back to reduce volume.

Simple, ain't it?

Ready to tar and feather me yet? I promise I won't do that to you again, so stay tuned for the rest of Part III.

etudes
10-16-2018, 06:41 PM
Thanks for another installment.. might be the weekend before I have time to give it a proper reading!

etudes
10-20-2018, 07:19 PM
I'm still playing catch up. Good section on compressors (and taming wolf notes) you've got me thinking of re-introducing my xotic compressor back to the board..

hollisdwyer
10-20-2018, 11:54 PM
David, I’m glad that you are constantly addressing the uniqueness of ukulele’s with piezoelectric pickup. I learned the hard way that EFX pedals that are great for guitars can be quite mediocre for a ukulele.

Although hardly at a tipping point, multi source pickups are now becoming available for Ukes. Anuenue have just come out with an “Air” model that combines a microphone and a piezo under saddle pickup. MiSi has a similar model. These allow you to send the signal from either or blend them.

I wonder if these will make a wider range of EFX pedals more viable for Ukes?

bacchettadavid
10-30-2018, 06:24 PM
PART III continued

B. FILTERS - WAH AND PITCH

B.1: Equalization - see Part II

[B]B.2: Wah

Applies an EQ filter with a high Q to your signal, creating a steep peak in the frequency response (see the Equalization section in Part II for a more thorough explanation). The peak of tightly grouped boosted frequencies can then be translated across the spectrum using a rocker pedal. This sounds similar to a person saying "ooh-wah-ooh-wah" and gives the overall impression of you moving forward and backward in the mix.

Interestingly, you can sort of simulate this effect by picking and strumming the strings in different places along their lengths (try strumming all along the length of the strings from the saddle to the nut then back again) or by applying varying amounts of pressure to the soundboard with your strumming forearm. Either of these methods will serve to limit the amount of upper harmonic information in your 'ukulele's tone, and this will roughtly approximate the sweeping Q of the wah effect.

Special note: If you intend to play at high volume, sweeping the peak around will induce feedback as it moves through your instrument's resonances unless you can filter those frequencies out with a notch filter.

[B]B.3: Octavers, Pitch Shifters and Harmonizers

Thus far, this guide has focused on delays in or filtering of the signal. In this section, our focus shifts toward frequency and/or pitch manipulation.

Pitch is a perception rooted im the relationships between different frequencies in a given tone. True true pitch shifting requires the presevation of these ratio relationships, something usually accomplished through altered playback rates of a recording. Even chorus, which can detune a signal somewhat, depends upon first recording the signal into a buffer. Manipulating pitch in real time is difficult, so most "pitch-shifting" effects resort to trickery to create the general impression of a pitch shift.

Octavers represent the simplest form of pitch alteration. The octave's simple 2:1 harmonic ratio makes it a prime candidate for pitch manipulation, and several analog options exist for creating octaves above or below the signal. Popular methods of achieving octave up include:

Full-wave rectification: clone the signal, invert the clone, then mix both waves together and filter out any troughs. This results in the creation of many harmonics absent from the original signal and results in a fuzz-like timbre.
Multiply a signal by itself using a ring modulator. This will boost peaks originally present in the signal as well as produce the sums and differences of all the individual frequencies within the signal. Because ukuleles produce harmonically complex signals, this method will generally produce many extraneous peaks, resulting in a metallic timbre.
Common octave down options include:

Use a flip-flop circuit to convert the signal into a square wave with approximately 1/2 the overall frequency. This turns the signal into either on or off, so don't expect any subtle variations in dynamics due to harmonics, and note that the signal must be loud enough relative to the noise to trigger the flip-flop for it to work. Your bottom octave might cut in and out and will definitely sound fuzzy of the signal.
Note that none of these methods is clean though digital methods can achieve cleaner results. Digital octavers partially sample a signal then repeat that very short sample in either double- or half-time while filling in the missing pieces with more repeated cycles or synthesis. This can preserve roughly the same timbre as the original tone, but it still isn't a perfect representation of an actual octave above or below the note played on the instrument since actual notes in different registers of the same instrument have different timbres.

Octavers can add a touch of low frequency to 'ukulele's tone, and they can emulate steel drums, synth pads, etc. Settings for the number of octaves and whether those octaves are above and/or below the fundamental vary between models, with some digital octavers even providing polyphonic options. As a general rule, digital models track the 'ukulele more consistently than analog offerings which are often "confused" by the complex harmonics in an 'ukulele signal.

Pitch shifters and harmonizers represent the more complex pitch effects. Pitch shifters can shift pitch by intervals other than an octave, and many pitch shifters provide additional features such as detuning and pitch bend modulations. These effects are almost always digital and work in a manner similar to the digital octavers outlined above. Harmonizers are subset of pitch shifters that allow you to blend the signal between the original and pitch shifted versions. Many harmonizers can also harmonize diatonically within a specific key. These pedals come in a variety of form factors, but almost all of them are digital.

C. MODULATION - FLANGER AND PHASER

Every effect in this category relies on a cyclically changing value. Being partially time-based effects, modulation effects all pair especially well with reverb and delay.

C.1: Chorus and Tremolo - see Part II

C.2: Phaser and Flanger

Phasers clone the signal then alter the phase of the clone before mixing the clone back into the original. The amount of phase shift applied to the clone is frequency-dependent, and this results in phase cancelling, forming a notch at the frequencies effected. In a phaser, several phase shifts are applied simultaneously, forming a series of notches across the frequency spectrum, and these phase shifts are then modulated so that the cancelled out frequencies (notches) are swept across the frequency spectrum in tandem with one another.

Because the notches are each created independently of one another, they need not be harmonically related. This means that they can be evenly spaced and swept in parallel motion, minimizing their timbral impact on the tone of the signal and lending to phasers a soft "whooshing" quality.

By bringing these notches into definite harmonic relationships, a much more overt form of modulation can be arrived at: flanging. Flangers work in one of two ways:

Similarly to the phasers outlined above (except with many more stages) but combined with a very short version of the delay modulation found in chorus effects. In this type, the sweeping notches are then attuned to one another electronically
Through the use of an extremely brief delay that is then modulated. In this type, the delay is so brief that the clone and original signal phase cancel at specific harmonically related frequencies, and the modulation in the delay causes the notches to sweep
In either method, the harmonic relationships between the notches and the original signal content drastically affect the timbre of the signal as the notches sweep through the spectrum, resulting in a uniquely obvious jet plane-like "swoosh".

Flangers exist in the middle ground between chorus (delay modulation resulting in pitch modulation with some phase modulation at lower frequencies) and phasers (phase modulation), and can emulate either in more moderate settings. If you only invest in one modulation effect and want options, a flanger is your best best.

Brad Bordessa
10-31-2018, 01:50 PM
Love for the Digitech Droptune octave-down pedal. Best tracking I've heard.

etudes
11-14-2018, 05:22 PM
I am looking forward to catching up on this thread.. this weekend.

bacchettadavid
11-15-2018, 03:28 AM
I've been busy for the last few weeks, but I'll have time this weekend to revise the more recent posts and post the next section. Stay tuned.