sometimes we write things and share them with you
Since we’ve been putting out pedals with control voltage capabilities, we’ve also been drowning in emails asking questions about control voltage, so I am going to try and knock out some education here.
First up is the Moog situation. The video here describes the basic ways one can use Dwarfcraft’s CV signals with one of Moog’s most popular synths, the Sub Phatty. Have a look if you’re curious. I’ll also write out a ton of information below, for those who prefer the written word to my mumbling and stammering.
There are currently three Dwarfcraft pedals capable of putting out CV. The ARF, Twin Stags, and Happiness. Any one of these CV outputs will have a noticeable effect on the Moog’s CV inputs.
You will notice our CV out jacks are 1/8” and the Moog keyboards require 1/4” cables. Of course, Moog’s eurorack style synth, The Mother 32 will handle 1/8” cables without an adaptor. I haven’t had much experience with that one though, so go ahead and send me one and I promise I will make videos.
Your options for going from 1/8” to 1/4” are many and varied. Perhaps the most convenient option is to purchase a cable with two different plugs on the end.
However, an adaptor (either up from 1/8” or down from 1/4”) will do the trick as well. If you haven’t got an electronics supply store near you, a quick search on your preferred digital marketplace should bring you to quite a few options.
My personal favorite solution here is to make a cable with a tiny plug on one side and the big one on the other. It requires a spare patch cable and the purchase of some 1/8” plugs. I simply snip off the original 1/4” plug at one end and replace it with the 1/8”.
Once you’ve got your synth, your CV source, and your cable, you’re ready to start getting weird. Plug that cable into the CV out of your Dwarfcraft Device. Plug the other end into one of the many Cv ins on a Moog.
Plugging into the “FILTER CV” jack will send your external CV signal to the filter cutoff section of the synth. Play some notes with the keyboard. This should produce a familiar filter sweeping sound that follows the rise and fall of the CV signal. The range of this motion may be little extreme for your tastes. No problem! Put that CV through a volume pedal before the Moog. Then you can reign in a Cv signal to your liking. This holds true for all the inputs.
You probably have a pretty good idea of what happens here. You can swap out that cable from the filter jack and put it into the pitch CV, and hear that same control signal modulate pitch instead of the filter cutoff. Running an LFO into this control isn’t really how most folks would use it, usually a sequencer’s output would be connected here to program melodies. But we’re not slaves to these ancient rules! Crank that LFO rate way up and hear weird things!
This one gets a little complicated. Run whatever you like into this jack, but it’s only going to act as a trigger for the amplifier envelope. If you’re unsure about envelope generators, I’ve got a video for that, too.
The envelope in this video is a Pittsburgh Modular envelope for Eurorack, but the principles remain the same. Send it a trigger, it makes a CV shape, and the output volume follows.
When using the KB gate on a Moog synth, whatever note was last pressed will come through as the envelope opens up the amplifier. This is handy for droning situations, but if you intend to sequence your synth via CV you would want a KB gate signal in time with a pitch CV. Using the KB gate can also go nicely with our next input…
It stands for “External Audio Input.” This has been a feature on countless synths over the years, allowing you to process any audio signal through a synthesizers onboard effects (usually filter and VCA). To hear your external audio processed, you’ll want to turn down the internal oscillators via the front panel mixer of the synth. You’ll also need to trigger the amplifier envelope, either via the keyboard or CV into the “KB GATE” jack. TA-DAAA! Your synth is now an FX pedal!
This one is an interesting control option. A CV input here will define the master volume. As I understand it, this is the last stop in the circuit, which means your VCA will still function as usual. Imagine this input as an invisible hand cranking your volume knob around in time with a CV signal.
I hope this was informative and fun! If you’re interested in more information on modular synthesis, I made an intro series (with help from Pittsburgh Modular) a while back that should get you going…
Hey everybody! It’s your Old Pal Aen!
Taking a quick break from live electronics to get back with one of my old flames, guitar projects. Last week I had some time in Minneapolis, so I packed up a bunch of gear in the hopes of trading up to a 70’s (or 70’s style) stratocaster at Twin Town Guitars. I spent at least two hours in the store playing EVERY guitar and bass I was interested in. When the dollars and cents were figured out I was a little short for any of the vintage instruments I was after, but something else really stuck out: a Fender Starcaster.
I was really hoping to get a guitar with a vibrato, though. Luckily Twin Town had one Bigsby kit - a B5 Vibramate kit. The kit lets you plop a Bigsby on just about any guitar with a Tune-o-Matic style bridge, without drilling into the instrument.
I was a little nervous, because aside from a few pictures of the finished product, I couldn't find much info about installing the kit. But that’s probably because it’s REALLY REALLY EASY and you probably don’t even need the directions. You just remove the stop tail of the bridge, and replace it with the vibramate bottom plate. Bigsby even includes american and metric screws so it’ll fit in either kind of post hole.
After you’ve got that bugger on, you just screw the arm and roller bridge assembly onto the plate. It takes ten minutes. By far, the hardest part of the whole operation was stringing the thing up, which turned into a two person job. Even with that bit of frustration we had the Bigsby on, new strings and a first tune done between ordering Thai food and going to pick it up.
It’s worth noting that if you’re a real perfectionist, this process might leave you a bit peeved. The body of the Starcaster is pretty curvy, which leaves you a bit of a gap between bigsby and guitar butt.
I only finished this last night, but everything seems solid! I’ve also read that the additional mass of the bigsby (and it is massive, my friends) can give the guitar some more volume and sustain, which is always a nice bonus.
You may also be wondering “how the hell does he get the arm in that totally useable position over the strings?" As far as I’m concerned, this is a must-do-mod. You can probably grind that big lump off the bigsby with a variety of tools, but I went to a nearby jeweler who had the job done in about 3 minutes.
She used a “super pro” version of the Dremel tool most of us have knocking around. Those nicks on the arm are from my attempt with my entry level Dremel. Whoops, I hope the guitar police don’t come for me. I’m not sure why the Bigsby insists on keeping the arm out of the most useful position, but at least we found a way around!
I can totally recommend the Starcaster, as it has a boatload of my favorite features: glossy maple neck, big headstock, big deep tone on the neck pickup, bright but full tone on the bridge pickup. Bonus points for being semi-hollow bodied. I played it on a few songs with The Ronald Raygun on Monday night and was delighted with it’s harmonic feedback prowess, thanks to the resonant vibrating body. And if you keep the fuzz on, you can holler right in the F-holes and hear it come out your amp!
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