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mrbuggo

Your thoughts on String Volume vs. Preset Volume in Workbench HD?

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This topic has been addressed in part in the past but I 'm hoping to get the Forum Member's latest thinking gathered if you'll indulge me.

 

Background: I've owned a 2012 JTV69s since August 2013 and with it have striven to achieve the maximum authentic re-creation of the modeled guitars. I am aware of course that identical model guitars will have varying characteristics, and there is no single ultimate example. I have owned most of the modeled guitars over the years and am familiar with how they should basically sound.

 

My JTV69s came nicely setup from the Dealer and after a few months Line6 introduced the Workbench HD upgrade which I installed with it's various default settings. My approach to setting up a Model on Workbench has been the stock-configuration of a Model's pickup, placement on the body, and stock pots/caps values. Seldom do I alter any of the aforementioned unless to enhance a muddy or thin tone. I make all settings using a clean-sounding, stock, vintage 1968 Fender Pro Reverb - no effects -  with tone/volume settings as would be used with my various  "real" guitars. 

 

Until recently I always found the models to be lacking in Bite, Clarity, Presence, Sharp attack and too Compressed-sounding. The default settings on Workbench HD were with String Volume levels at 100%. I tried to overcome these faults with various changes to pickup levels, pot/cap values,etc. but gained no real improvement.

 

I recently discovered - and this is where I hope Forum Members may share their experience and perspective - that if the String Volume levels are reduced significantly (e.g. 30-60%), while increasing the Preset Volume to match the Magnetic pickup's output level, then the Variax sound really comes alive. I've  found in making these Model settings modifications that the previously-mentioned drawbacks are heavily reduced, resulting in good Presence, Bite, Attack, etc. It seems that in Workbench HD, the String Volume & Preset Volume - if set near the maximum - cause the signal to be too strong thus resulting in a compressed sound that hampers the Model's brightness qualities.

 

Now, I just need to find a way to reliably measure the individual String volume output for each model. I normally find the bass strings to be too boomy relative to the treble strings. To address this, I usually set the bass strings volume settings about 6-10% below the treble levels. Anyone know of a device or method to gauge the string output volume with reasonable precision?

 

Many thanks in advance for your valuable input! 

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What kind of volume do you play at? I play in a really loud band and I don't have much trouble with my 69 or 69S being bright enough. In fact that's something I often need to tame a little. If you could post some before and after adjustment comparison clips, that would be great for all of us interested.

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Anyone know of a device or method to gauge the string output volume with reasonable precision?

Perceived volume is exactly that... perceived. Ears and a brain are all you need to level things out, and clearly you've got those. You seem to know your way around a Variax better than most. Measured amplitude doesn't help much. For any two frequencies at a given volume, one may SEEM louder than the other, regardless of what some meter is telling you. Raise or lower the volume significantly, and that relationship changes. The farther apart the frequencies in question are, the more likely this is to be the case. So if you're trying to balance the low E and high E strings for example, the meter might tell you that they're both 80 dB, but but one might still overpower the other...turn up a little from there, and the disparity will likely get worse. That being the case, what good is the number? Tweak at or close to the volume you're gonna play at, and you're off to the races.🤘

 

FWIW, on some models, I've got the low E

and A strings as low as 50-60%... piezo outputs can vary a lot. Each guitar will be a bit different is this respect.

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Setting Variax string volumes can be a lot easier using an RMS meter in your DAW. Just hook up your Variax to your Helix (you have a Helix of course!) and then go into your DAW using the raw guitar signal, no amp or effect blocks.

 

“Calibrate†your DAW metering by using the magnetic pickups to see the different string volumes and how they react to picking. By calibrate, I mean just see what the magnetic pickups are doing, and use that as a reference for the models. You can also use different guitars with different pickups to see how they respond. I used my Strat and Les Paul to understand how magnetic pickups respond and the outputs they produce. I try to set the string volumes so the similar guitar models respond similarly.

 

There are two places to set set string volumes, globally and in each model. I start by trying different models and seeing if there is a pattern in how the string volumes differ from the magnetic picks I used as a reference. Generally you’ll see a consistent set of differences that reflect how the different piezo pickups are picking up the string. The low strings are often too loud and the E and B string can’t keep up. There are lots of reasons these piezos will be different, perhaps significantly. They are very pressure sensitive. So how the string fits on the pickup, how the pickup seats in the bridge, and the variation in pickups can contribute to different levels, and even clang tone.

 

Make the gross adjustments using the global string volumes as these apply to all models. You can only reduce the string levels, so you may need to apply some makeup gain to get the model producing the output you want - say to match the magnetic pickups. Make any individual model adjustments that might be needed for the particular model. I haven’t found any need to do this, but you might.

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Gentlemen, I am grateful for your input.

 

Specracer : I play at low-to-moderate volume at home, and in a rehearsal or gig environment just loud enough to be heard above the drummer. Overall mostly clean tones are used. I didn't save my settings before the recent change so wouldn't be able to provide comparisons.

 

cruisinon2: I agree, it is much a matter of what the ear communicates. I will experiment with what I hear playing at a normal volume level.

 

amsdenj: I use .11-.50 Gauge nickel wound strings. I set the action as low as possible short of getting a buzz anywhere on the fretboard, and each string is very close to equal in distance from the string bottom to the top of the 12th fret. I set the bottom side of the JTV69s Piezo bridge saddles parallel to the bridge plate (i.e. never tilted) and the bridge plate is parallel to the body on all sides. Accordingly, the only variable I can think of - in terms of pressure on the Piezo saddle - is whatever each string might apply.

 

I guess one can say that the Piezo pickups may possess idiosyncracies from one Piezo to another, and we must therefore attempt to adapt to them individually to get uniform volume.  I will experiment with your DAW suggestion. Thanks

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If you are using 11s then no wonder you need to reduce the levels. Heavier strings put a bigger signal into the pickups and while never confirmed by Line 6 it is strongly suspected that the first stage of processing is a compressor/limiter so that really heavy strumming doesn't cause distortion.

There is therefore a sweet spot that depends on the wood, strings and your playing style where you reduce the global string levels down so that you only get compression when playing you hardest. This is really a calibration exercise where the firmware is aligned to the hardware and player. It is well worth doing and perhaps revisiting every now and then, but absolutely should be done every time you change string gauge just the same as you would adjust the trem spring tension to balance the bridge position.

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What I did on my Standard is this:

 - Setup the instrument: new strings, action, intonation, neck relief, pickup height and all that goodness. Check that your string volume is balanced as you expect from any electric guitar.

 - Load a model with the "same pickups". In my case the Spank. Start with the bridge pickup.

 - Set all your global string levels to 0dB.

 - In Workbench HD match the volume of the preset with the magnetic pickups ONE STRING AT A TIME, take notes about the preset volume (for example +3.2dB vs -1.2dB) for each string.
Uploading the preset to Variax and often turning the modeling on/off will help during the matching.
At the end you will get a list of dB offset for each string, EADGBe.

 - "Normalize" the highest (in volume) offset to -0.5dB or -1dB. This way you will have some headroom for the next, finer, adjustments. Apply the result values to your global string levels. For example, if at the previous step you got -6, -5.2, -3.3, 0, 1.2, 4.0 you should input -11, -10.2, -8.3, -5, -3.8, -1 as your global string volumes.

 - Now that your global levels are set, match the volume of the preset model to the volume of your weakest string. The high e in the example above.

 - After that, start to fine-tune the global string levels. You can do that by volume-matching one string at a time and by playing some phrases that involve some strings. Playing real phrases really brings out oddities in the relative volume. Playing the same phrase on the magnetic and the modeling helps getting a reference.

 - Once everything matches, it is up to you to choose if you want to raise the volume of all the strings by the same amount to get to the maximum possible volume.
For example, from -6 -7 -5 -2 -1.5 -1 to -5 -6 -4 -1 -0.5 0.


In my case, volume matching made all the acoustic guitar sound way more better.


I have a general sound issue (a lot of mids) with the electrics, but that's for another post :)

 

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FWIW, on some models, I've got the low E and A strings as low as 50-60%... piezo outputs can vary a lot. Each guitar will be a bit different is this respect.

 

This is very true. I had an E string that was significantly lower than the others. Boosting it all the way (6dB I think) made it almost equal. I actually bought another piezo from Graphtech (I own a JTV89F) hoping it would fix it. It did!!! It was $20 well spent. So if your piezo's seem to be way out of whack with each other, there is a solution. I can't help but think Line 6 should have a "piezo check" station to make sure all the piezos are equal. But it is what it is.

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What I did on my Standard is this:

 

 - Setup the instrument: new strings, action, intonation, neck relief, pickup height and all that goodness. Check that your string volume is balanced as you expect from any electric guitar.

 

 - Load a model with the "same pickups". In my case the Spank. Start with the bridge pickup.

 

 - Set all your global string levels to 0dB.

 

 - In Workbench HD match the volume of the preset with the magnetic pickups ONE STRING AT A TIME, take notes about the preset volume (for example +3.2dB vs -1.2dB) for each string.

Uploading the preset to Variax and often turning the modeling on/off will help during the matching.

At the end you will get a list of dB offset for each string, EADGBe.

 

 - "Normalize" the highest (in volume) offset to -0.5dB or -1dB. This way you will have some headroom for the next, finer, adjustments. Apply the result values to your global string levels. For example, if at the previous step you got -6, -5.2, -3.3, 0, 1.2, 4.0 you should input -11, -10.2, -8.3, -5, -3.8, -1 as your global string volumes.

 

 - Now that your global levels are set, match the volume of the preset model to the volume of your weakest string. The high e in the example above.

 

 - After that, start to fine-tune the global string levels. You can do that by volume-matching one string at a time and by playing some phrases that involve some strings. Playing real phrases really brings out oddities in the relative volume. Playing the same phrase on the magnetic and the modeling helps getting a reference.

 

 - Once everything matches, it is up to you to choose if you want to raise the volume of all the strings by the same amount to get to the maximum possible volume.

For example, from -6 -7 -5 -2 -1.5 -1 to -5 -6 -4 -1 -0.5 0.

 

 

In my case, volume matching made all the acoustic guitar sound way more better.

 

 

I have a general sound issue (a lot of mids) with the electrics, but that's for another post :)

 

 

David,

Thanks for describing you thoughtful approach. Not sure I understand exactly what you meant regarding certain parts mentioned. I listed them below, and hope you wouldn't mind clarifying.

 

- In Workbench HD match the volume of the preset with the magnetic pickups ONE STRING AT A TIME, take notes about the preset volume (for example +3.2dB vs -1.2dB) for each string. >> did you mean the Model or the Preset Volume? and, do you first set the Model String levels to 100%, then tailor the Magnetic string volume to the Model string volume +/- to match by ear using th Preset Volume?

 - "Normalize" the highest (in volume) offset to -0.5dB or -1dB. This way you will have some headroom for the next, finer, adjustments. Apply the result values to your global string levels. For example, if at the previous step you got -6, -5.2, -3.3, 0, 1.2, 4.0 >>> did you mean from the Preset Volume results?..............you should input -11, -10.2, -8.3, -5, -3.8, -1 as your global string volumes.

 

 - Now that your global levels are set, match the volume of the preset model (or, just: Model?) to the volume of your weakest string. The high e in the example above.

 

 - Once everything matches, it is up to you to choose if you want to raise the volume of all the strings by the same amount to get to the maximum possible volume.

For example, from -6 -7 -5 -2 -1.5 -1 to -5 -6 -4 -1 -0.5 0. >>> understood, as this would apply to all Models using the Global String Levels.

 

 

 

Following the above, I suppose each individual Model's Preset Volume should be adjusted to match the Magnetic's output so that the volume - to one's ear - will approximately match?

 

Many thanks for your feedback !

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Hi,

In Workbench HD, in the lower part of the screen there is a "preset volume" for each preset (the position of the 5 way switch, plus the variax model know decide which preset you load).

 

What I do is taking a default preset, put the preset volume at 0dB, put all the string volumes at 100% and start playing one string while switching between the magnetic pickups (which I already setup previously) and the variax model.

 

For example: I start playing the open B string and while switching I notice if the model is louder or quieter than the magnetics. Is it louder? Then I lower the preset volume, save, and start comparing again. Is it quieter? Then I increase the preset volume.

When the volume of the B string with the model and the magnetic PU matches, I take a note of the preset volume, put it to 0dB again and start the process with the next string.

 

After you finish this process for all the six strings, you will have six different values (one for each string). Given the fact that the global string level cannot be more than 0dB, you have to take the loudest value you have, 4.0 for the high e in the original example, and lower all the string until the maximum value is -0.5 or -1dB.

In the original example, I had to lower the volume of all the strings (found via the preset procedure described above) by 5dB to get my initial global string volumes.

 

And then continue with the other step :)

 

 

After this routine, you should have the string levels pretty much balanced, no matter the pickup combination or the body type. IMHO it's perfectly OK to have presets that are louder or quieter than the magnetic pickups. In case of a Standard with single coils, I do expect and HB guitar to be louder.

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