The slammed stop bar myth and movement in Tune-O-Matic bridges
by Terry Relph-Knight 27/02/18, copyright retained
This idea, that a screwed down stop tailpiece transfers vibration to the body and provides more sustain is an evil meme. It is perhaps something that some guitar journalist, who didn’t understand physics, wrote in some popular guitar magazine years ago and has been repeated mindlessly ever since.
For a start it is a contradiction – if the screwed down stop bar did provide a better mechanical coupling to the body then more of the string vibration would be adsorbed by the body resulting in LESS sustain. For sustain you want as much of your picking energy to remain in the string as long as possible. Bolting down the stop bar (and the bridge) reduces movement and lossy vibration in the components directly connected to the strings and that is why sustain may be affected.
Secondly the standard stop bar is not designed to be locked down. The design of the slots in the bar and the collars on the fixing bolts means that the stop bar is more or less equally coupled to the body no matter what height it is set at. To be able to couple the stop bar rigidly to the body you would need to use bolts without collars.
All the Gibson guitars that use a stop bar and an Advanced Bridge 1 or a ‘Nashville’ bridge (should probably be known as an ABR-2) derive from a guitar design using a trapeze tail piece. The stop bar, with its collared bolts, is actually designed to allow the string ends to be raised to approximately where they would be if a trapeze tailpiece was used, otherwise why would those bolts have collars?
If the stop bar is set as low to the body as it will go, over time there is so much pressure on the Tune-O-Matic bridges that they gradually start to collapse and bend in the middle.
Some guitarists recommend ‘top wrapping’ the strings, fitting the strings with the ball ends on the bridge side of the stop bar and then folding them back over the top of the bar. This method of installing the strings to the stop bar does allow the stop bar to be screwed down, while still providing a shallow break angle for the strings behind the bridge saddles. However, if the standard collared bolts are used, this method still does not lock the stop bar firmly to the body of the guitar and many people do not like the rough feel of the strings over the top of the stop bar, which over time will get scratched and grooved by the top wrapped strings.
So why top wrap, when you can use stop bar bolts without collars, fit spacers under the stop bar, and both lock the stop bar firmly in place and set it at the height it was always intended to be, which by the way reduces tuning problems by minimising string friction over the bridge saddles and doesn’t collapse the bridge.
If you are interested in this sort of stabilisation modification for your stop bar equipped guitar then please contact me via email@example.com or through an enquiry to the London Guitar Academy.
Slop in the Gibson style Tune-O-Matic ABR-1 and Nashville bridges
Like the standard Gibson style stop bar the Tune-O-Matic bridges rely on string tension for their mechanical stability and often have a degree of movement. The holes in the bridge have to be larger than the diameter of the support posts and the screw posts on the Nashville model are often not a tight fit in the threaded inserts into the top of the guitar.
Epiphone are to be applauded in their efforts in addressing this problem. Their solution, called ‘LockTone’, involves fitting small stainless steel leaf springs in the bridge holes and in the slots of the stop bar. This solution does not firmly lock the bridge or the stop bar in place, but even so Epiphone have published test results that they claim show improvements in sustain http://www.epiphone.com/News/Features/News/2011/Understanding-The-Epiphone-LockTone-Stopbar-Tune-o.aspx.
There are other solutions, from for example TonePros http://www.tonepros.com/ that will mechanically lock the bridge in place, improving sustain, tone and tuning stability.
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Build Log: Bass Pedal Board build
Terry Relph-Knight copyright reserved.
This pedal board was commissioned to easily mimic the bass sounds of Roger Waters for a Pink Floyd tribute concert tour. The pedals used were already owned by the client. The intention of the board was to provide a durable, compact and portable effects package that could be easily set up at each performance. A prime requirement was that the client needed to have three basses plugged in to the pedal board, with each one easily selected by foot switch and that the pedal board provide a DI output, as well as an amplifier feed. Bass selection was accomplished using a Boss LS-2 Line Selector and a SansAmp Bass Driver Deluxe DI provided the DI and amplifier feed.
A Warwick Stage welded aluminium frame was chosen for the base, with power provided by a MEMTEQ Caline Power 5 switching power supply. Two of these supplies were purchased, one as a back-up. The pedals were attached to the base with mushroom stud Power Grip super velcro and Warwick flat Rockboard cables used for the pedal interconnects.
Warwick Step up wedges were fitted along the back of the Stage base, raising the SansAmp Bass Driver Deluxe DI, the delay, tremolo and EQ pedals for easy access to their foot switches.
Since the client was using his pedals almost continuously, the board layout had to be designed through a process of sending a series of emails back and forth, with final assembly completed in one day.
A couple of the pedals, the Korg Pitch Black tuner and the EHX Big Muff, had seen hard use and required some minor repairs.
Korg Pitch Black Tuner Tuner – mutes through path signal when activated
Boss OC-3 Super octave Frequency or pitch change – 1 octave and 2 octaves down
Has a polyphonic mode, dry/wet mix and can add distortion – 50mA
Big Muff Pi Fuzz type distortion (analogue)100mA
Nano Bass balls Filter – twin envelope filter (analogue)100mA
MXR cps 1974 Phase 90 Modulation – phase or notch filter (analogue) no LED – 2.2mA
Boss TR-2 Tremolo Modulation – amplitude (analogue)
TC Flashback Mini Delay Ambience – Delay (digital) 100mA has Toneprint BUT as far as I can see you can only program it with one Toneprint at a time and that sets the character of the pedal until you re-programme it. Some of the other TC pedals have a selector switch with positions for several Toneprints as well as various other modes. So if you load up an Echoplex Toneprint then the pedal acts like an Echoplex until re-programmed.
SansAmp Bass Driver Deluxe DI – 7mA
Boss LS-2 Line Selector / Looper – a two loop switching pedal. This can switch two loops in various selectable combinations – in parallel Loop A or Loop B or both, in series Loop A or Loop B or both. Or it can be used as an A or B to Y / Y to A or B switch. For example one input to two outs (to two amplifiers for example).
Behringer BEQ700 (its the boss copy)
Client needs to use three basses, to easily switch between them and may need to be able to drive two amplifiers. A DI output is also needed. This will be accomplished by using the BOSS LS-2 as a three way input selector and the SansAmp Bass Driver as a tone modifier with the effects in its FX loop and the two parallel outs and the DI out used for all the outputs.
Latest pedal layout scheme
Bass 1 into BOSS LS-2 FX return A, Bass 2 into BOSS LS-2 FX return B, Bass 3 into BOSS LS-2 input (via BEQ700 EQ pedal). With the mode selector set to A>B>Bypass, repeatedly clicking the foot switch on the LS-2 cycles through these inputs as indicated by a Green light for A, a Red light for B and no lights for Input/Bypass.
The output of the LS-2 feeds the Korg Pitch Black Tuner.
The output of the tuner goes to the input of the Tech21 SansAmp Bass Driver Deluxe DI.
The following effects go in this order into the FX loop of the SansAmp –
Boss OC-3 Super octave
Big Muff Pi Nano Bass balls MXR cps 1974 Phase 90 Boss TR-2 Tremolo TC Flashback Mini Delay (note – ‘One of these days’ may require Trem after Delay)
PedalTrain say that for 9 to 12 pedals a Novo 24 or a Classic 2 board should be big enough.
Looks like a Novo24 is the one, at £179 from Scan with flight case.
Behringer BEQ700 7 12 L,R power on side 30mA 9V
BOSS LS-2 7.3 12.9 L,R power on back 25mA 9V
Korg Pitch Black Tuner 6.8 12 L,R power on back 120mA 9V
Boss OC-3 Super octave 7.3 12.9 L,R power on back 50mA 9V
Bass Big Muff Pi 14.4 15.9 L,R power on back 3mA 9V
Nano Bass balls 7 11.5 L,R power on back 3mA 9V MXR cps 1974 Phase 90 6.5 11 L,R power on side 2.2mA 9V
Boss TR-2 Tremolo 7.3 12.9 L,R power on back 20mA 9V
TC Flashback Mini Delay4.89.3L,R power on side100mA 9V
Tech21 SansAmp BD DI 24.8 13.4 L,R & Back 7mA 9V
Power supply requires 10 outputs and total current of – 360.2mA
Or without the BEQ700 and with a loop lead from the tuner, 8 outs and 330.2mA
Cioks DC10 – 8 x 9V out £187.14 from Thomann
T-Rex Fuel Tank Classic – 8 x 9V out £111.42 from Thomann
Memteq Caline Power 5 – 8 x 9V out £26.99 on Amazon Prime BUT it takes 18V in from a wart
Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus – 8 x 9V fully isolated outputs (the downside is it is not auto mains switching and comes in either 100, 120 or 240V models)
Width L to R
Nano Bass balls 7
MXR cps 1974 Phase 90 6.5
Bass Big Muff Pi 14.4
Boss OC-3 Super octave 7.3
Korg Pitch Black Tuner 6.8
BOSS LS-2 7.3
6 pairs of jacks @ 4.5 27
Depth front to back
Bass Big Muff Pi 15.9
Tech21 SansAmp BD DI 13.4
Power jack on back of Muff 2
My mock up fits into 62cm length x 40cm deep. Nope 62 by 30
“One Of These Days”
Sounds like the delay with quite a bit of saturation, (so I may add the big muff for grunt)
The Phase 90 is on all the time I think..
So even though I will use the Phase 90 and the Big Muff separately on other tunes,
on ‘One Of These Days’ I will need to engage the Phase, Muff, and delay preferably in one switch
And then the TR-2 Tremolo, (at the end of the chain?) I can press separately for the second sound.
I Also need to keep the dry signal strong within the sound until I activate the tremolo which takes over the whole signal.
I may need a another bass overdrive Terry as well, maybe you could help me with this?
Just so once the big Muff is set for its roles, I can have a secondary drive pedal of a different kind
for other stuff. Actually the SansAmp bass driver does this stuff so maybe I need to dial in a preset for that… Yes, Mmm..
On other gigs I do I often use a Boss synth pedal ( believe it or not….!) and a second Octaver.
So I wonder will I just be able to interchange those pedals when I need to?
If it’s of any use, I have a an interesting pedal here too, Its the Boss LS-2 Line Selector.
It does loads of interesting things. It may be worth having a look if your not familiar.
It may help my cause I’m not sure.
I was hoping to use two amps on this gig if they will let me. I’m not 100 percent, but I think I could use the LS-2 to switch between amps according to the manual I downloaded.
I’d be happy to know what you think Terry.
32cm front to back with clearance
with no clearance
but with 3cm between
Warwick STAGE board 61 by 31 £149 with flight case
Warwick Rockboard Step Up 1 14 x 8 x 2 cm £10.99
Warwick Rockboard Step Up 2 14 x 17 x 2 cm £12.99
Warwick Rockboard Step Up 3 14 x 25 x 2 cm £13.99
Or all three at £19.95
Warwick STAGE board 61 by 31 by 7cm £140 with flight case
PedalTrain Classic 2 (60.9×31.7×8.9 cm) with flight case £149
Board and cables order
Ordered 2 MEMTEQ Caline Power 5 switching power supplies via Amazon on 28/06/17
Already delivered on the 29th.
Ordered on 03/07/17 from Hot Rox order no 100074408
1 x Warwick Stage pedalboard with flight case – £149
1 x set of all three step up brackets – £19.95
2 x 1M rolls of Power Grip super velcro – £19.98
Free Royal Mail 1st class delivery
Total £ 188.93
paid by HSBC Visa card
Ordered on 04/07/17 from Gear4Music W1961703
Rockboard flat cables
6 x 10cm £18
2 x 20cm £6.98
2 x 30cm £8.00
1 x 60cm £4.99
Post and packing £ 5.99
Grand total – £286.86 leaving £104.13
Latest board layout 20/06/17
Left to right physical layout
Upper – Tech21 SansAmp BD DI (on a Step Up 3), Boss TR-2 Tremolo (on a Step Up 1), Bass Big Muff PI (on a Step Up 2), Behringer EQ. Connections between these are 2 x 10cm Rockboard flat cables between the SansAmp return and the Tremolo and between the Tremolo and the Big Muff. 1 x 30cm between the SansAmp send and the Big Muff. 1 x 20cm between the Behringer EQ and the Boss LS-2 in the lower row. 1 x 60cm between the SansAmp input and the output from the TC delay in the lower row.
Lower – TC Flashback Mini Delay, MXR 1974 Phase 90, Nano Bass balls, Boss OC-3 Super octave, Korg Pitch Black Tuner, BOSS LS-2. Connections between these are by 5 x 10cm Rockboard flat cables.
That leaves 1 x 20cm and 1 x 30cm unused from the order and I contributed one 10cm of my own.
Power connections – The Behringer EQ power is daisy chained from the back of the LS-2 and the Big Muff is daisy chained from the back of the Korg Pitch Black Tuner. All other pedals are wired back to the MEMTECH Caline Power 5.
10 pedals in total
Jazz bass into the EQ into the BOSS LS-2 FX input, Bass 2 into BOSS LS-2 FX return A, Bass 3 into BOSS LS-2 return B
EQ into Tuner
Tuner to Octave
Octave to Bass Balls
Bass Balls to Phaser
Phaser to Delay
Delay to Sans Amp input A
Sans Amp send to Big Muff
Big Muff to Tremolo
Tremolo to Sans Amp return
Serial numbers removed when rubber back was peeled off
Behringer Bass EQ N0532087400 date 0509
Boss LS-2 DS56680
Boss OC-3 Super octave AS11107
Boss Tremolo TR-2 R 1H2962
(Rockboard cables available as 10cm £3, 20cm £3.49, 30cm £4.00 and 60cm £4.99)
7 x 10cm Rockboard patch cables @ £3 = £21
1 x 20cm £3.49
1 x 30cm £4.00
1 x 60cm £4.99
Plus some spare cables
28/06/17 – 2 x Memteq Caline 5 power supplies via Amazon £53.98 due tomorrow
Warwick board, flight case, set of risers, 2M of Power Grip
Another 1M of Power Grip tape ordered from Hot Rox on 17/07/17 £13.99
Korg Pitch Black tuner – Resprayed the case with matte black paint. Tightened up the very loose foot switch plunger. Polished the scratches out of the display window.
Big Muff – fitted washers to and tightened the loose foot switch.
Rolling Stones London Stadium 22nd May 2018
As a 25 year old, I was quite astounded when Sir Mick told me how he and the boys started “at the Marque Club in 1962”. That’s 56 years ago. My lifetime,doubled, and then some.
And it really was an evening of numbers. 6 decades of shows, 300 birthdays, 2 hours of hits, and 65000 fans, whose age gap was as large as the bands repertoire. They really are, in the words of Liam Gallagher (The Stones’ very well received support act), the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll stars.
Starting early, they jumped straight into “Street Fighting Man” and within seconds, everything seemed so familiar. Every movement, mannerism and sound from each individual synonymous with popular music history.
15 songs later, the show really built to a crescendo. The final sprint of “Start Me Up”, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Brown Sugar”, before an encore of “Gimme Shelter” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was live music at its very best.
As a guitarist, did I worry if the boys could still play? Of course. However, not only did Keith’s bluesy noodling soon put me at ease, but something else became clear. The sheer gravitas of the band I was lucky enough to be stood in front of would outweigh any technical difficulties these 70 year olds now face.
They had a great contingency plan too. Flanked with talented session musicians, led by Chuck Leavell (The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, David Gilmour, John Mayer), The Stones could relax and enjoy themselves, and it showed in their performance. Special mention to Sasha Alan who sang the legendary top line in “Gimme Shelter” perfectly.
One thing that needed no back up was Sir Mick Jagger’s showmanship. It was a full course of dancing, clapping, “YEH”-ing and hosting. The original and ultimate frontman.
With Gibson going bankrupt last week, and the absence of guitars in the charts, it’s easy to hop on the “guitar is dead” train. However last night fills me with confidence. At every turn you saw air guitars from young and old, teenage girls with Keith Richards lighting up their iPhone backgrounds, and Ronnie’s guitar solos awarded the loudest cheer. It may only be Rock ’n’ Roll, but a lot of people still like it.
GIG REVIEW – NILS LOFGREN MAY 2018
Nils Lofgren is back in the UK with his “50 Years…Up The Road Tour” and LGA reviewer, Paul Wood, was there to catch his recent show at the Birmingham Town Hall.
Interspersed with stories from his life on the road with Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Grin ( and how he grew up learning to play the accordion before switching to guitar), Nils Lofgren is at ease on stage and with his fans, making plenty of time after the show for autographs and photos.
Billed as “an intimate acoustic evening of songs and stories” the format of the show was similar to the last UK tour – a predominantly acoustic set with support from friend and multi-instrumentalist Greg Varlotta.
“Code of the Road” was the show’s opener and, although played on acoustic, had Lofgren hitting the effects pedals to give the first of the evening’s many fluid but fierce solos
“Walking Nerve” comes with a trumpet backing from Varlotta and “Girl in Motion” is transformed into a guitar tour de force as Lofgren sets up the basic guitar pattern on his loop pedal before a series of breathtaking acoustic solo patterns.
Here’s a link to an online video of Nils and Greg performing “Girl in Motion” on their 2015 UK tour.
Mid-set Nils moved over to keyboard for the trio of “Wonderin’”, “Believe” and “Goin’ Back”. Fresh from a short series of dates with Neil Young in the States, “Wonderin’” was one of the Neil Young songs worked up for the recent shows but not played.
“Too Many Miles” starts with Lofgren on a Lever Harp (bought for him as a present by his wife Amy) before switching to electric guitar for the first time in the show.
Varlotta switches between keyboard, guitar and trumpet throughout the set and “I Came To Dance” had Lofgren and Varlotta kitted out in tap shoes for a tap dance “duet” (to rapturous applause) in the middle of the song.
Here’s a link to an online acoustic “live in the studio” version of “No Mercy” which was the main set closing number in Birmingham.
Biggest surprise of the night was the first encore – Nils coming out with an accordion and playing “Flight of the Bumble Bee” before moving to an electric guitar for the full rock out on “Shine Silently and his traditional one legged guitar spin finale. It was another great show which covered a wide range of numbers from his very long career.
Currently in the process of recording a new album and with the promise of the next UK tour being with a full band, if you like Lofgren (or love guitar) it’s well worth catching the “intimate” setting of the current tour.
Nils is at the London Barbican on Monday 28th May and full UK tour dates can be found here:
- Code of the Road
- Little On Up
- Walkin’ Nerve
- Man In The Moon
- Girl In Motion
- Love You Most
- Black Books
- Rusty Gun
- Goin’ Back
- Too Many Miles
- Keith Don’t Go
- I Came To Dance
- No Mercy
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Here’s a link to Nils playing “Back It Up” on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975:
Indie = Psychedelia in 2018
by Peter Marchant
In 2014 I was introduced to my friend’s new boyfriend who was a massive fan of ‘psych’ music, especially one band in particular: ‘The Brian Jonestown Massacre’. I had played guitar in ‘indie’ and ‘pop’ bands for my entire performing life and yet I somehow managed to miss this strange term. However, four years on and I am now fronting an outfit that I can categorically say is a ‘psych’ band (short for Psychedelic Rock or Pop by the way).
It turns out that this was a genre that I had been into for years without even realising it. The Beatles, Oasis, Kasabian, MGMT…these were all bands that I loved and simply considered to be Rock or Indie bands. My new friend encouraged me to delve deeper into his Spotify playlist and into the fuzzed out, reverby world of psychedelic rock.
2018 is a crucial time for this ‘macro-genre’ (as I call it) as we are seeing more bands than ever who would have previously been considered all-out indie now playing very ‘spacey’ and ethereal sounding music, strongly influenced by artists of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
A perfect example of this is Arctic Monkeys, whose album ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’ was released on the day I wrote this. As a guitarist, one of the first things that you notice when the needle drops on this record is that there is hardly any guitar…or so it seems. The guitar is used, but sparingly. When there is guitar it’s never a conventional crunchy, twangy Fender Stratocaster sound that is so closely associated with their first two albums. For example, towards the end of the first track ‘Star Treatment’ a guitar part (finally) comes in, which acts like a call and response with the ‘Beach Boys sounding, palm muted, melodic and guitar-like’ bassline. The effect on this guitar part is more accurately described as a subtle ‘fuzz’ sound more than a crunch or distortion, with a clipping characteristic that is typical of tape saturation. Even the chord progression in this section of the song is classic psychedelia. The chord progression Cm to F repeating is reminiscent of that used in Pink Floyd’s ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ when that famous vocal solo kicks in (the chords being Gm to C repeating). A far cry from their days of playing ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ in 2006. See what spaced out inspiration lies in the more recent music of those indie bands of days gone by.
Other examples: The Coral – ‘Sweet Release’, Foals – ‘What Went Down’, Gaz Coombes (formerly of Supergrass) – ‘Walk The Walk’, Phantom Isle – ‘Focus’ (my band!)
The Seven Modes of the Ionian System
The Ionian system is a collection of modes (scales with characteristic musical features) all of which are based on the Ionian scale, more commonly known as the major scale. Depending on which note you start the scale on, you’ll get a different combination of intervals, with the first mode (Ionian) being C D E F G A B C, the second one (Dorian) starting and ending on the next note of the scale (D E F G A B C D), the third one being E F G A B C D E, etc.
With seven different notes as starting points, you’ll end up with seven different modes that – despite being made up of the same pool of notes – all have a unique and distinct sound.
Some of those seven modes are more commonly found than others, with the most ubiquitous ones being Ionian (the major scale), Aeolian (more commonly known as the natural minor scale) and – our go to scale for dominant seven chords – Mixolydian.
Here’s a quick overview of those seven modes, in our example we’ll look at the ones based on C Ionian. When practising them, it is important to know what Ionian scale the respective mode is based on, but to also see them as independent scales with individual interval structures, rather than merely segments of the major scale.
Mode I: Ionian
The Ionian scale (more widely known as the major scale) is the fundament on which all of the other six modes are based. Its corresponding seventh chord is the maj7 chord, which can be extended to a maj9 or maj13. The defining notes of the scale are the major third and the major seventh in combination with a perfect fourth which, when improvising, has to be used carefully, as it can clash with some of the chord notes.
A typical C Ionian chord vamp would be C – Am – F – G7
Mode II: Dorian
The Dorian mode is one of the minor modes of the Ionian system. The chord of choice is a Min7 chord, with the option of turning it into a Min9, Min11 or Min6. The scale is defined by having both a minor third and a major sixth which gives it a modern and bright sound.
A typical D Dorian vamp is Dm7 – Em7
Mode III: Phrygian
Just like Dorian, the Phrygian scale is a minor mode, but has a minor second and minor sixth. Especially the flattened second gives it a somewhat dark sound and a lot of people associate it with Spanish music in which the scale finds a fair bit of use. It is used on min7 or min11 chords, typically ones that have a b9 extension, but it can be used on Dom7sus4(b9) chords as well.
An E Phrygian chord progression would be: Em7 – Fmaj7
Mode IV: Lydian
The Lydian scale is a major scale again, but is differentiated from the Ionian scale by having a raised fourth. This makes the mode sound bright and dreamy and a lot of fun to jam on.
A common F Lydian vamp would be Fmaj7 – Cmaj7
Mode V: Mixolydian
The Mixolydian scale is one of the most widely used modes of the Ionian system. Its combination of a major third paired with a min7 makes it the go to scale for dominant 7 chords. Its corresponding chords are the dom7, dom7sus4, dom9 and dom13.
A typical G Mixolydian vamp would be G – F
Mode VI: Aeolian
The Aeolian scale is commonly known as the natural minor or often just as the minor scale. It sounds more “traditional” than the more modern feeling Dorian scale, due to its minor sixth which our ears are very much used to from Pop and Classical music written in minor keys. It is used on min7 chords (with possible extensions to min9, min11 and sometimes minb13), typically those that are either the tonic of a minor key or the relative minor chord of major keys.
A typical A Aeolian vamp is Am – G – F – Em
Mode VII: Locrian
The Locrian mode is the most odd sounding one of the Ionian system, with relatively limited use due to its flattened fifth. It is most commonly used on min7b5 (also calledhalf diminished) chords which are often extended to min7b5(11) chords.
Try jamming on Bm7b5 – Fmaj7 for a B Locrian vamp.
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