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Help identifying weird distortion when using high gain and alt tunings

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Hi All,

I am very aware from so many sources that piezo pickups are problematic in high gain scenarios and when palm muting. However, I am not sure if the issue I am experiencing is one of those well known piezo problems or a general problem with the auto-tune/alt tuning features. I have adapted my palm muting technique but what I am experiencing is something I do not have clue how to avoid.

Would someone be able to help me by listening to my audio clip and telling me if that is expected?

Basically on the audio clip I have very high gain patch (noise gate off so everything can be heard). Initially I am palm muting on Standard E, notice that nothing sounds awfully wrong (well there may something there but not very noticeable). But as soon as I tune down to Drop C in this case (or any other tuning), the decay section of the palm mute strum experiences a very noticeable nasty kind of distortion/static/scratch. Please bear in mind I am not directly touching the piezos but only the strings very close to the saddles.

On the final section of the clip I am not even palm muting but simply touching the strings with my finger. Ohh, I almost forgot if I gently hit the guitar or back of the neck, the distortion also happens.

Does anything of this happens to you? you will have to crack your metal amps/patches up smiley.gif

Audio clip:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/4kdb2u8zms52tu9/distorted_static_noise.wav?dl=0

 

Ohh just so you know, this is not on a Variax but an Antares Auto-tune for guitar system :) . Nonetheless, the same principles apply. If this does not happen on the Variaxes, I woill know it is not a physical limitation of the piezos but something on how the signal is processed by Antares.

 

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I haven't listened to the clip, as I'm on my phone and don't have headphones handy at the moment, but I can tell you from my own experience that Variax is not immune to this either. Any of the "drop" tunings (Drop D, C, whatever) are likely to give you problems with high gain and palm muting.

 

The problem stems from the mechanics of palm muting. For example, chugging away anywhere on the A string while using an altered "drop D" tuning turns to mud because your picking hand is also resting on the low E string whilst palm-muting. This creates a "bridge" if you will, and the low E piezo saddle ends up picking up some of the vibrations from the A string, which are then tuned down digitally a whole step, while the A string itself is unaltered. Thus you end up hearing two pitches a whole step apart...with lots of gain this is a mess. I find the drop tunings essentially useless for high gain applications. With clean to semi-clean tones they can work quite well. It was a bit of a disappointment for me initially, but it is what it is.

 

You'll find that this really only manifests itself with alt tunings that de-tune some strings but not others, or tunings that are altering different strings by different intervals. Tunings that are doing the same thing to every string are unaffected, as even if there is cross-talk between piezo saddles, it doesn't matter because the same tuning algorithm is being applied to everything. I use half-step down tuning all the time with high gain times and palm muting...no issues, no funny noises.

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Hi Cruisinon

 

I had read all the posts where you discuss this problem and after my tests, what you say is exactly what is happening. Cross talk is being transferred through my palm. However, the symptoms here do not match exactly to what you have described. I do not really hear 2 notes but uncontrolled distortion. I encourage you to listen to the clip when you have a chance a try to replicate.

 

You may not know but the Antares pitch shifting algorithm is "more clever" as it detects the pitch at all times and apply intonation corrections. Line 6 simply applies a constant correction factor to achieve alt tunings. I am telling you this because my issue also happens in non-drop tunings and I do not really hear 2 notes at the time but distortion. I have read a lot about how pitch-shifting works (all the maths and physics) and I believe the issue is with the approach Antares does that may be very good for other applications and pitch correction, but in my specific case is more harmful.

 

 

Quoting Antares admin guide

"The most important consideration with pickups is potential distortion created by the algorithm changing pitch. What happens with hex pickups is that some sound from neighboring strings gets into each string's data. The cross-­â€channel sounds have different periods than the primary sound of the channel, and dropping or repeating cycles to change pitch creates discontinuities in the cross-­â€channel sounds. This results in distortion."

 

So, I believe I can live with the "2 notes" sounding at the time but the distortion I hear is so unworkable for me. I just want to know if my issue (distortion) is present on other similar technologies.

 

Again, please listen to the audio when you can.

 

Thank you

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Also the obvious fact that high gain means high gain of everything--sweetness, and noise..

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I've never heard those artifacts on a Variax, JTV or the Standard.

 

Sounds like amp distortions, clipping and and maybe some intermittent solder points.

If there was a tube amp in the signal chain, I'd recommend taking it in for servicing

and a tube swap out.

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I've never heard those artifacts on a Variax, JTV or the Standard.

 

Sounds like amp distortions, clipping and and maybe some intermittent solder points.

If there was a tube amp in the signal chain, I'd recommend taking it in for servicing

and a tube swap out.

 

Well none of that is the case as I have exhaustively discarded all possibilities (even using a completely set of piezo pickups). Everything points me to the pitch shifting algorithm (Auto-correlation of data) used by Antares that seems to be susceptible to polyphonic sounds.

 

@psarkissian - Would you know what type of pitch shifting algorithm the Variaxes employ? (phase vocoders, fourier transform, auto-correlation). Perhaps this is not something everyone would know but you as part of Line 6 may dig out.

 

If Variaxes do not experience this effect, I will have to open a support ticket with Antares as this seems to be a very bad effect. Although, they also offer magnetic hexaphonic pickups a posibly they are not affected by cross-talk caused by the palm touching adjacent strings.

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Not privy to that on that level. And if I did, I wouldn't say, being proprietary and all.

 

Hexaphonics,... maybe getting better, but not as cross-talk resistant as you might think,

or they'd still be used to good affect in guitar synths, like they used to be.

 

With Alt Tuning there is something commonly referred as "dual tone effect", where you

hear the standard tuned pitch coming off the guitar, and the Alt Tuned pitch coming through

the amp, simultaneously. Something to be aware of with guitars that have Alt Tuning capabilities.

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Ohh just so you know, this is not on a Variax but an Antares Auto-tune for guitar system :) . Nonetheless, the same principles apply. 

 

Why would you ask on a forums for a different product, then?

 

How is anyone supposed to guess what's happening to your guitar that none of us know nothing about?

 

Is this possibly clickbait on a forum?

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Why would you ask on a forums for a different product, then?

 

How is anyone supposed to guess what's happening to your guitar that none of us know nothing about?

 

Is this possibly clickbait on a forum?

 

Maybe I was not clear enough on my expectations here.

I just wanted to know if the Variaxes were also affected by my same issue. As I do not own a Variax, The only thing I could do is to ask other users, no?

I really never asked for users here to tell me what is my problem exactly but helping me know if this also happened to them.

 

Variax, ATG, Roland VG. All those technologies are based in the same physical principles so they share characteristics. How would you know you would like more one technology over the other if not taking the risk buying and also asking users of the other technologies? Although I read everywhere about limitations of using piezos, I never expected the specific artifacts I am getting.

 

Now that I am getting my answers here (Thank you psarkissian), I am considering on getting also a Variax now that I know it is not affected by my specific issue.

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Maybe I was not clear enough on my expectations here.

I just wanted to know if the Variaxes were also affected by my same issue. As I do not own a Variax, The only thing I could do is to ask other users, no?

I really never asked for users here to tell me what is my problem exactly but helping me know if this also happened to them.

 

Variax, ATG, Roland VG. All those technologies are based in the same physical principles so they share characteristics. How would you know you would like more one technology over the other if not taking the risk buying and also asking users of the other technologies? Although I read everywhere about limitations of using piezos, I never expected the specific artifacts I am getting.

 

Now that I am getting my answers here (Thank you psarkissian), I am considering on getting also a Variax now that I know it is not affected by my specific issue.

 

No, they're really not. They all use different coding and engines to produce what their sound is. They all do modeling, but to say "Oh will it do this, because I expect it to because they're both modeling guitars" is like asking if a PS4 will do something windows can do because they're both computer processors. 

 

If you want to ask about a question, fine, but why in the world do you have to setup your post like you're asking if a variax you own is normal for doing such a thing, then you turn around at the end of your post and go "by the way this isn't a variax it's a completely different product from a completely different company". 

 

Word it better next time please.

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No, they're really not. They all use different coding and engines to produce what their sound is. They all do modeling, but to say "Oh will it do this, because I expect it to because they're both modeling guitars" is like asking if a PS4 will do something windows can do because they're both computer processors. 

 

If you want to ask about a question, fine, but why in the world do you have to setup your post like you're asking if a variax you own is normal for doing such a thing, then you turn around at the end of your post and go "by the way this isn't a variax it's a completely different product from a completely different company". 

 

Word it better next time please.

 

I agree I should have word it better and I apologies to the Line 6 community for may lack of Forum etiquette.

 

In regards comparing the technologies, one can argue and start a healthy discussing about the topic.

From my point of view, all the systems I mentioned do share the same principles: They all rely on good channel (string) separation coming from a Hexaphonic input, they all use Digital Signal Processing of each channel independently, they all apply algorithms to achieve modeling or alternate tunings (here are indeed differences of the algorithms used), they all combine the channel output, and most importantly they all end up sounding (or trying) like a guitar (leaving aside the MIDI-like capabilities of Roland products).

Since they are all competing products with very similar offerings, comparing them is the natural thing to do. Specifically in my case, comparing the effects of palm muting with very high gain.

 

In any case, if you are willing to help me regardless the way I initially posted my question. Let me ask you, does your Variax have ever experienced distortion on the output when cross-talk occurs (specifically palm muting w high gain) or not?  Thank you

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I haven't listened to the clip, as I'm on my phone and don't have headphones handy at the moment, but I can tell you from my own experience that Variax is not immune to this either. Any of the "drop" tunings (Drop D, C, whatever) are likely to give you problems with high gain and palm muting.

 

The problem stems from the mechanics of palm muting. For example, chugging away anywhere on the A string while using an altered "drop D" tuning turns to mud because your picking hand is also resting on the low E string whilst palm-muting. This creates a "bridge" if you will, and the low E piezo saddle ends up picking up some of the vibrations from the A string, which are then tuned down digitally a whole step, while the A string itself is unaltered. Thus you end up hearing two pitches a whole step apart...with lots of gain this is a mess. I find the drop tunings essentially useless for high gain applications. With clean to semi-clean tones they can work quite well. It was a bit of a disappointment for me initially, but it is what it is.

 

You'll find that this really only manifests itself with alt tunings that de-tune some strings but not others, or tunings that are altering different strings by different intervals. Tunings that are doing the same thing to every string are unaffected, as even if there is cross-talk between piezo saddles, it doesn't matter because the same tuning algorithm is being applied to everything. I use half-step down tuning all the time with high gain times and palm muting...no issues, no funny noises.

 

cruisinon2 - I am new using this forum so I am not sure if when NOT quoting, you get or not notifications. So, in case you did not, see me response below to your post. If you did, please ignore this.

 

Hi Cruisinon

 

I had read all the posts where you discuss this problem and after my tests, what you say is exactly what is happening. Cross talk is being transferred through my palm. However, the symptoms here do not match exactly to what you have described. I do not really hear 2 notes but uncontrolled distortion. I encourage you to listen to the clip when you have a chance a try to replicate.

 

You may not know but the Antares pitch shifting algorithm is "more clever" as it detects the pitch at all times and apply intonation corrections. Line 6 simply applies a constant correction factor to achieve alt tunings. I am telling you this because my issue also happens in non-drop tunings and I do not really hear 2 notes at the time but distortion. I have read a lot about how pitch-shifting works (all the maths and physics) and I believe the issue is with the approach Antares does that may be very good for other applications and pitch correction, but in my specific case is more harmful.

 

 

Quoting Antares admin guide

"The most important consideration with pickups is potential distortion created by the algorithm changing pitch. What happens with hex pickups is that some sound from neighboring strings gets into each string's data. The cross-­â€channel sounds have different periods than the primary sound of the channel, and dropping or repeating cycles to change pitch creates discontinuities in the cross-­â€channel sounds. This results in distortion."

 

So, I believe I can live with the "2 notes" sounding at the time but the distortion I hear is so unworkable for me. I just want to know if my issue (distortion) is present on other similar technologies.

 

Again, please listen to the audio when you can.

 

Thank you

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I agree I should have word it better and I apologies to the Line 6 community for may lack of Forum etiquette.

 

In regards comparing the technologies, one can argue and start a healthy discussing about the topic.

From my point of view, all the systems I mentioned do share the same principles: They all rely on good channel (string) separation coming from a Hexaphonic input, they all use Digital Signal Processing of each channel independently, they all apply algorithms to achieve modeling or alternate tunings (here are indeed differences of the algorithms used), they all combine the channel output, and most importantly they all end up sounding (or trying) like a guitar (leaving aside the MIDI-like capabilities of Roland products).

Since they are all competing products with very similar offerings, comparing them is the natural thing to do. Specifically in my case, comparing the effects of palm muting with very high gain.

 

In any case, if you are willing to help me regardless the way I initially posted my question. Let me ask you, does your Variax have ever experienced distortion on the output when cross-talk occurs (specifically palm muting w high gain) or not?  Thank you

 

It's fine to compare them on the same basic principles, but to point out that the autotune guitar has a weird static noise because of the alt tuning feature, and say "well they're both modeling guitars, does the variax do this?" Is like asking someone since they have a brain, if your parents are their parents too.

 

Pitch shifting doesn't have anything to do with modeling. It's a separate process.

 

All I can say is that there's many things that can come into play with your guitar. It could be software or hardware.

Maybe you have something wrong with your guitar and it does that because of a hardware problem. Have you asked fellow Autotune guitar users if they experience this problem? If they do, then it might be software then.

 

If it's software, maybe it has something to do with the pitch shifting. Something might be interpreting something incorrectly. It's weird because i'm pretty sure Antares is hailed as innovators in pitch shifting technology.

Another thing that could happen, is if it happens to be the modeling's fault, the modeling's algorithm might be reading frequencies that aren't within the range it normally handles, and causes the sound to distort.

 

If you're asking about whether or not you are considering getting a Variax, the Variax does not have this problem. The things you have to consider with the Variax though, is that it is susceptible to warble. Hammer on/pull offs can be culprit to warble with the alt tuning system if not played with enough clarity.

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