Posts Tagged ‘flint’

Pedalboard Feature: Stanton Edward

Posted by Angela

stantonedwardStanton Edward is a guitarist and producer who has worked with several artists including The Wallflowers, KS Rhoads, Missy Higgins and more. When Stanton isn’t on tour he enjoys being back home working on music in Nashville, TN.

What kind of pedalboard is this, and what is your signal path?

This is a Pedaltrain 2 that has been customized by XTS (Xact Tone Solutions) in Nashville. I had them flatten out the top and put in a custom interface that allows me to send isolated lines to 2 amps. They also put in a phase reversal switch on one of the outputs in case I run into a phase issue between the two amps. Another cool option they included for me was an insert that will allow me to pop in extra pedals after my drive section in case I pick up something cool on the road and want to throw it on my board without ripping up cables and pedals.

My signal path is constantly changing – I typically setup a new board and amp configuration for each different gig I play to really capture the vibe and feel of the artist. Lately I’ve been touring with The Wallflowers and my signal path is as follows:

Ernie Ball Volume Pedal (with custom XTS buffer to retain high-end) > Throbak Overdrive Boost > Durham Electronics Sex Drive > Another Sex Drive setup as a solo boost > Original 1984 Rat > Stymon Lex > Modded EH Memory Boy > Strymon Flint > 90′s EH Memory Man > Dual Outs to Fender Deluxe Reverb & Vox AC-30

stantonedwardpedalboard

Can you share a bit on how you have been using your Strymon Lex?

What a great pedal. When I was looking for a leslie pedal the main factor I’d consider is the quality of the “low” speed. This is where a lot of pedals miss the mark. I’ve played through a ton of real leslie cabs and to me, the Lex sounds closer to the real thing than anything else out there. I’ve also got to brag on the Flint. I’m a tremolo and reverb nut. I typically play through old Gibson & Fender combos in the studio but can’t always bring them to a gig. I threw a Flint on my board about a year ago and I find myself using it more and more, even when I’m playing my vintage amps in the studio.

You recently did a cover of The Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows.” How has John Lennon and The Beatles influences you as a musician?

I mean, it’s John Lennon… What can I say that hasn’t been said a million times before? What an unbelievable creative individual he was. The Beatles are my “desert island” band for sure. There’s just so much variety. I’ve always loved their weirder, more experimental stuff and “Tomorrow Never Knows” is no exception. I love George Harrison’s playing on that track and I was really trying to capture that cutting lead tone on the solos. The main thing I take away from listening to The Beatles’ records is that they wouldn’t get in a hurry to churn something out. So much that happens on their tracks is so deliberate, creative and thoughtful while still retaining a raw, exciting feel. I try to keep a healthy balance of those two elements when I play. To me, great music is 50% brains and 50% guts.

Nashville is known for it’s great music scene. Can you share a bit about your musical adventures in Nashville? And for a newbie in Nashville where is the first place they should go for an evening of music?

Simple. Watch Mike Henderson on Monday nights at The Bluebird Cafe. I’ve been going to see him since I moved to town 11 years ago. Mike will show you that playing guitar is ALL in your hands, not your gear. His touch on the guitar is beyond words.

Do you have any bits of advice you could give for a band going into the recording studio for the first time?

All of my favorite artists strike a healthy balance of playing from their brain and playing from their guts. To me, that’s what it’s all about. Take the time before going into the studio to really practice and hone your skills. One thing I really hate to hear from guitar players is the classic line “I don’t practice because I want to play from the heart in the moment”. To me, this is such a misguided approach. You want to get your hands in a place where they’re ready for anything your brain can throw at them in the moment. Doing this will give you the freedom to explore new areas in a live situation and will get you out of the rut of playing your tired old “go-to” riffs and licks.

Listen to your favorite players, steal riffs and techniques from them and incorporate them into your playing. Learn the fretboard. Can’t stress that enough. Practice your scales & modes. Take the time to learn chords in every inversion up and down the neck. It makes such a difference and will really free up your playing. You’ll be amazed how that preparation will pay off when you’re in the moment in a live show or session.

Probably most importantly is to remember that as soon as you think you’ve learned everything there is to know about the guitar you’ll immediately stop getting better. Chet Atkins would steal riffs and learn new things from fellow guitar players right up until he passed. That inquisitive spirit is what made him one the best players to ever touch the instrument.

What current projects are you working on?

I’m currently playing shows with The Wallflowers and working on records with Ivan Howard (The Rosebuds), ElenOwen, KS Rhoads and Sylvie Lewis – I also compose for film / tv and enjoy sound design and recording strange instruments.


 
And for a bonus Stanton has included a video a fan took of The Wallflowers playing at Riverfest in Little Rock – Stanton is using the Flint Trem & Reverb on the verses.




And the #strymonfavorite contest winners are…

Posted by Angela

Just about a month ago, we asked you to show us your favorite thing about your music or your sound, and enter to win a Flint Tremolo & Reverb and a Tap Favorite combo. The contest entries have been great, and a ton of fun to look through, listen to, and watch.

I don’t think I can express how difficult it was to choose the winners for this contest. There were so many excellent entries. But as always there has to be a winner, so we sat down and picked one video winner, one photo winner and one Vine winner. Yep, that’s right, we added a third winner, because it was too difficult to just pick two.

But for now, I’m sure you are yelling, “TELL ME WHO THE WINNERS ARE!!”


» Click here to read the rest of the article »




Enter to win Flint Tremolo & Reverb and Tap Favorite

Posted by Ethan

Contest has ended. Click here to see the winners. Stay tuned for other giveaways!

Enter to win a Flint Tremolo Reverb and Tap Favorite comboShow us your favorite thing about your sound or your music, and enter to win.

Show us your creativity! Take a photo or shoot a video of something that best represents your favorite thing about your sound or music. It can be anything that inspires you, or makes you enjoy playing… a piece of gear, a guitar, a pedal, your favorite chord, your studio, rehearsal space, a song you wrote.

Post it on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, or YouTube, and tag it #strymonfavorite. We’ll choose two winners who will both get a Flint Tremolo & Reverb and Tap Favorite combo.

Contest runs until April 13, 2013. Official entry rules are below. Have fun! :)

The rules:

    • Take a photo or shoot a video of something that best represents your favorite thing about your sound or music.

 

 

  • That’s it!

The prize:

The terms:

Contest has ended. Click here to see the winners. Stay tuned for other giveaways!




Guitar Noize loves Flint Tremolo & Reverb!

Posted by Ethan

Flint Tremolo & Reverb - GuitarNoizeJon over at Guitar Noize spent some time with our Flint Tremolo & Reverb. We’re very happy to report that he really liked what he heard, and put together this extremely in-depth and well thought out video review.

“Simply put I love this pedal…” – Guitar Noize

Read the article, and check out the video demo below!




Pete Thorn’s Flint Tremolo & Reverb demo video

Posted by Ethan

If you haven’t seen and heard Pete Thorn’s amazing Flint Tremolo & Reverb video demo, you’re missing out. Take a listen!

Make sure to pick up a copy of Pete’s album, Guitar Nerd.




Flint Receives the Premier Gear award

Posted by Ethan

Premier Guitar magazine cover October 2012

We’re very excited to announce that the Flint tremolo & reverb has received the Premier Gear award from Premier Guitar magazine. Check out the review by Charles Saufley here.




Flint production under way!

Posted by Ethan

The production of our Flint Tremolo & Reverb is now under way. We hope to start shipping to customers and dealers very soon. Thanks for your support! :) Here are some photos of the first Flint build:

Flint Tremolo & Reverb build

Flint Tremolo & Reverb build

Flint Tremolo & Reverb build

Flint Tremolo & Reverb build

Flint Tremolo & Reverb build

Flint Tremolo & Reverb build

Flint Tremolo & Reverb build




Amplifier Tremolo Technology White Paper

Posted by Ethan

Flint Tremolo & ReverbSometimes to understand who you are, you have to go back to the beginning, back to where it all began. Before smart phones, before computers, before integrated circuits and the transistor—the only effects available to guitarists were tremolo and spring reverb. The guitar players of the day didn’t have the rainbow of colors that we have now.

But like a charcoal sketch, there is a stark beauty to the tone without the wash of effects that are now possible. Stripped down to the bare necessities, the contrast of the different tremolos becomes apparent. You feel the beating heart of the photo trem, the rolling waves of the tube trem and the hypnotic swirl of the harmonic tremolo.

Given the storied history of these circuits found within classic amplifiers of the 1960s, there was no doubt that we wanted to develop a studio-class pedal that faithfully delivers three of these iconic and unmistakable tremolo effects. We examined the sonic complexities and tonal interplay, and accounted for every last detail in our hand-crafted algorithms.

The result is the technology found in Flint Tremolo & Reverb. Pete Celi, our Lead DSP Engineer and Sound Designer illustrates the research and sound design process in the White Paper below.

 

Strymon Amplifier Tremolo Technology White Paper

Amplifier Tremolo Overview

Still incorrectly labeled as ‘vibrato’ in many cases, the tremolo effect is a cyclical amplitude (volume) modulation of the input signal. Although there are many cool tremolo effects that can be had by using a simple VCA (voltage-controlled amplifier) circuit and applying geometric waveforms (like sine, triangle, square, ramp) to modulate the amplitude, our interest is in exploring the unique, soothing, pulsing, hypnotic effect that comes out of vintage amplifier tremolo circuits.

There were three main variations that came about in the late ’50s and ’60s. The three types can be referred to as Harmonic Tremolo, Power Tube Tremolo, and Photocell Tremolo. These variations have unique characteristics that result from the very different ways that the effect is achieved

The LFO

One thing that these vintage trem types share in common is the LFO (low frequency oscillator) circuitry, which is generated by a classic positive feedback ‘phase-shift’ oscillator. A network of resistors and capacitors determine the rate of oscillation, and the resultant LFO signal is a mildly distorted sinusoidal signal.

FIG. 1 PHASE-SHIFT OSCILLATOR
FIG. 1 PHASE-SHIFT OSCILLATOR

 

As the LFO circuitry is common to all three trem types under investigation, we can see that LFO waveshape is not responsible for the very different sounds that result from the three implementations. Let’s look closer at the three types.

Harmonic Tremolo

The Harmonic Trem is actually not a pure tremolo effect. It is really a dual-band filtering effect that alternately emphasizes low and high frequencies. The end-result is a soothing pulse that has shades of a mild phaser effect combined with tremolo due to the nature of the frequency bands that are alternated. This circuit required two tubes to create a two-phase differential LFO that controls the gain of the two frequency bands, and then another tube to sum the two bands together. This implementation had a rather short period of availability perhaps due to the somewhat ‘expensive’ implementation. The basic idea is shown below:

FIG. 2 HARMONIC TREMOLO BLOCK DIAGRAM
FIG. 2 HARMONIC TREMOLO BLOCK DIAGRAM

 

One phase of the LFO signal is added directly with the low-band input signal, while the other phase gets added directly to the high-band signal. Essentially, the filtered signal ‘rides’ on top of the LFO signal on its way into the tube summing amplifier. This effectively changes the small-signal operating point of the filtered signal along the tube gain curve. When the LFO signal is at low voltages, the filtered signal will have more gain as the tube operates in its steepest gain region. Conversely, when the LFO is at higher voltages, the tube gain-curve flattens out, and the input signal experiences reduced gain. Since the two bands have opposite phase LFO signals, when one band is experiencing high gain, the other is experiencing low gain. When the two are combined, the opposite phase LFO signals cancel each other out, and the two alternating amplitude-modulated filtered signals comprise the output. This produces the tremolo effect of hearing a loud (bright) signal alternating with a soft (dark) signal.

Also, as a consequence of riding up and down the tube’s gain curve, the filtered signals experience slight changes in harmonic content due to the changing nonlinearities of the gain curve around the signal. This adds further complexity to the trem’s sound.

Power Tube Tremolo

Next in line was a more cost effective circuit that eliminated two tubes from the Harmonic Trem implementation. It used the LFO signal (no longer a two-phase LFO) to directly influence the power tube bias of the push-pull output stage.

FIG. 3 POWER TUBE TREMOLO BLOCK DIAGRAM
FIG. 3 POWER TUBE TREMOLO BLOCK DIAGRAM

 

In a push-pull power amplifier, two tubes are employed and biased so that they idle at substantially less than full power. This keeps power dissipation to a minimum when no signal is going through the amp, allowing them to provide power to the speaker more efficiently while increasing tube life. The guitar signal is split into opposite phases so that one tube conducts when the signal is positive, and the other tube conducts when the signal is negative. The two outputs are added together through the output transformer.

By applying the LFO to the bias, the power tubes are being biased into lower and higher idle currents. At low idle currents, the tubes are shutting off and signal gain (volume) is reduced. At higher currents, the tubes are running hot and higher gain results. This alternating gain produces the tremolo effect.

But there is more going on than just a change in volume. Secondary effects coming into play are crossover distortion as the tremolo volume heads towards zero and the tubes are shutting off. At the other end, increased power tube harmonic distortion occurs as the tremolo nears its maximum volume. The effects of power-supply sag also contributes to some of the dynamic response when playing through this kind of tremolo circuit, as it influences the relative bias point of the power tubes. All these things add up to contribute to the ‘magic’ of this trem circuit.

Photocell Tremolo

The Photocell tremolo uses a light-dependent resistor (LDR) to attenuate the input signal. The LDR is coupled with a miniature light bulb that is connected to the LFO. As the LFO oscillates, the bulb gets brighter and dimmer which in turn varies the resistance of the LDR. The varying resistance works with other circuit impedances to change the signal level.

FIG. 4 PHOTOCELL TREMOLO BLOCK DIAGRAM
FIG. 4 PHOTOCELL TREMOLO BLOCK DIAGRAM

 

The light element used in the classic photo-trem circuits in the 60s was a neon bulb which has a very fast response time, meaning it turns on and off very quickly and spends very little time in between. This produces a characteristic ‘hard’ sounding tremolo that is moving between two levels, almost like a square wave. The duty cycle (symmetry) of the tremolo depends on the characteristics of the bulb relative to the LFO voltages, but the classic Photo-trem circuits were tuned to spend most of their time at the higher output level (duty cycle >>50%, bulb is ‘off’), switching to the lower level only briefly during the cycle. At maximum intensity, a choppy trem results.

Also, as the photocell trem circuit is not buffered, the tremolo creates a varying load resistance in the signal path as the bulb changes the resistance of the LDR. This in turn has secondary effects on the signal’s frequency response that contribute subtle characteristics as well.

Capturing the Magic

We can see from the discussions above that the end result of these vintage tremolo circuits is much more than a simple cyclical volume fluctuation. The depth, warmth and overall vibe of each one of these tremolo types can only be created by giving consideration to the entire circuitry used in the process. For the harmonic tremolo, the interaction of the LFO with the input signal in relation to the preamp tube’s operating characteristics must be accounted for. The Power-tube tremolo must recreate the vintage push-pull power tube section including the phase-splitter, tube characteristics, and power supply considerations. The photocell trem must involve the proper bulb-LDR characteristics in relation to the LFO signal, along with secondary consideration of variable loading in the signal path. When these things are all properly accounted for, the difference from a simple VCA tremolo is apparent. The complex and subtle nuances come to life, producing the mojo of their vintage amp brethren.




Flint Reverb Summary Paper – Three Classic Reverb Types

Posted by Ethan

Flint Tremolo & ReverbThe magical combination of tremolo and reverb is the earliest example of a perfect guitar effects marriage. Our new Flint Tremolo & Reverb pedal delivers three classic tremolo circuits, along with three completely unique and complimentary reverb types.

You get the classic ’60s Spring Tank Reverb, the inventive ’70s Electronic Plate Reverb, and the nostalgic ’80s Hall Rack Reverb. Pete Celi, our Lead DSP Engineer and Sound Designer illustrates the research and sound design process that went into creating our reverbs in Flint.

 

Flint Reverb Summary Paper – Three Classic Reverb Types

The ’60s Combo Amp Spring Tank

The full-size 2-spring tank was commonly used in vintage amps, and it continues its popularity today for its classic tones. The 2-spring tank uses spring segments of differing delay times (a function of the mass and tension of the spring), which adds to the complexity of the sound and smooths out the time and frequency response of the reverb. Contributing greatly to the sound are the input (driving) and output (recovery) tube circuits. These circuits are designed to reduce low-end boominess and to minimize coupling of the low- frequency cabinet resonance into the tank. The high frequencies roll off naturally due to the limits of the spring’s ability to transmit the shorter wavelengths of the higher frequencies.

FIG. 1 SPRING TANK REVERB
FIG. 1 SPRING TANK REVERB

 

The signal from the driving circuit drives a coil which in turn produces a fluctuating magnetic field that moves a magnet attached to the spring. This results in a twisting wave that travels down the spring. The time it takes for the wave to travel down the spring is a function of frequency, with lower frequency waves traveling down the spring more quickly than higher frequencies. This accounts for the ‘drippy’ or ‘boingy’ sound that the reverb produces when given a percussive attack. At the other end of the spring, the signal is recovered by the inverse process which includes coils, magnets, and a recovery circuit. In addition to being recovered, the wave will continue to reflect back and forth along the spring, creating a wash of reverberation that evolves in time due to the frequency-dependent delay times of the spring. The length of time that the reverb lasts when given an impulsive input is known as the ‘decay time’, which is controlled by physical dampers that absorb energy from the spring.

At low mix levels, the 2-spring tank adds a depth and dimension to the sound. Generally speaking, the 2-spring combo-amp reverbs tend to sound a bit less splashy and trashy than their 3-spring stand-alone counterparts at the extremes, but add a full, integrated explosion of sound when cranked up.

The ’70s Electronic Reverb

During the 1970s, digital electronic systems advanced to the point where high-quality real-time electronic reverberation was possible. A single memory chip was capable of storing 1024 bits, and the possibilities seemed endless. The most famous early electronic reverb was a $20,000 plate-style reverb that used eighty(!) of these memory chips. The amazing hardware-based algorithm used multiple delay- lines configured in parallel, with each delay featuring multiple output taps and filtered feedback paths.

FIG. 2 SIMPLIFIED ELECTRONIC PLATE REVERB STRUCTURE
FIG. 2 SIMPLIFIED ELECTRONIC PLATE REVERB STRUCTURE

 

The lengths of the delay lines and individual taps were derived mathematically to produce the most natural reverberation. The reverb algorithm also employed modulation by mixing various taps under internal control to create changes in reflection phases to further reduce undesirable resonances and add depth. The result is a rich, smooth reverb with a quick build-up in density due to the summation of the many parallel output taps.

The ’80s Hall Studio Rack Reverb

By the late ’80s, continued advances in digital ICs and microprocessors lead to (relatively) low-cost digital reverbs that could run many different reverb algorithms and allowed for preset storage and deep parameter editing. Cost sensitivity and the limited available processing power of the day led to the necessary invention of efficient algorithms with minimized computational and memory requirements. To create a Hall-style reverb, a well-practiced technique was to create an early reflections section that fed into a late reverb generator.

FIG. 2 SIMPLIFIED '80s HALL REVERB
FIG. 3 SIMPLIFIED ’80s HALL REVERB

 

A simple multi-tapped delay line was sufficient to create early reflections. The late reverberation was accomplished by a regenerating ‘series-loop’ of delays, all-pass filters, and low-pass filters. Inputs could be injected into the loop in more than one place, and the outputs might consist of the summation of several points from the loop. Delay-line modulation was employed to reduce artifacts and achieve a smoother, more pleasing decay. These hall reverbs have a signature sound of distinctive early reflections followed by the slowly-building density of the late reverberation. The modulation adds an increased sense of warmth and depth.

Enter the World of Flint

The three reverb types in Flint pay homage to these three classic reverb sounds. While not focusing on any specific recreation, these classics served as philosophical and sonic guides in the creation of our ’60s, ’70s and ’80s reverb types.




We’re working on something new….

Posted by Ethan

Hey there! We’re hard at work on something new called Flint. We’re not quite ready to release it yet. To be notified when we do, please sign up for our email newsletter. Thanks! :)






 
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