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Tuning a Ring Modulator


Billster

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Can someone remember for me...

 

What did I read once upon a time about tuning the modulation frequency on a ring modulator? It was something about tuning it relative to the key you are playing in, but I can't rememeber the interval.

 

For instance, if playing in the key of D major, I would tune the modulation frequency to ____.

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Morning, Billster! Here's the trick. Set the Mix/Blend knob on your Ring Mod to about 50%, so you can hear your guitar and the Ring Mod tone. Then, play the tonic note on your guitar, and turn the Frequency knob on your Ring Mod until it's in tune with the note you're playing - on the EHX Frequency Analyzer, the Frequency knob is marked Shift, and there's also a Fine knob - that'll pretty much get you there. Of course, not all the notes of your scale are going to come through - they're still being mangled by the Sum-and-Difference effect. BTW, which Ring Mod are you using?

 

If there isn't a way to set the internal frequency on your Ring Mod, like with the DOD Gonkulator, you're stuck. Hope this helps, and have fun scaring the Normals with that sound.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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Morning, Billster! Here's the trick. Set the Mix/Blend knob on your Ring Mod to about 50%, so you can hear your guitar and the Ring Mod tone. Then, play the tonic note on your guitar, and turn the Frequency knob on your Ring Mod until it's in tune with the note you're playing - on the EHX Frequency Analyzer, the Frequency knob is marked Shift, and there's also a Fine knob - that'll pretty much get you there. Of course, not all the notes of your scale are going to come through - they're still being mangled by the Sum-and-Difference effect. BTW, which Ring Mod are you using?

 

If there isn't a way to set the internal frequency on your Ring Mod, like with the DOD Gonkulator, you're stuck. Hope this helps, and have fun scaring the Normals with that sound.

 

Bless you, WP'!

 

Though my limited experience with ring-mod effects tells me that even fine-tuning a ring-mod to the tonic of the given key you're working with is no guarantee of consonant modulation and distortion with every scale-note in said key, let alone any two (or more) played together; if at all possible, some sort of sweepable control, particularly a foot-pedal, can help if that becomes a problem. I have done similar tricks with assigning a volume-pedal as a parameter-controller on my Lexicon Vortex (hey again, WP'! :D:thu: ), so that I could adjust for more or less dissonant gonk as I played... :crazy:

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Can someone remember for me...

 

What did I read once upon a time about tuning the modulation frequency on a ring modulator? It was something about tuning it relative to the key you are playing in, but I can't rememeber the interval.

 

For instance, if playing in the key of D major, I would tune the modulation frequency to ____.

 

If "in tune" is what you're after, it will only ever be in tune when tuned to the tonic, where you'll get octaves & suboctaves. Anything else will be a dog's breakfast of inharmonic partials. Wherever you tune the carrier frequency you'll have some nice intervals & some wildly discordant intervals, no matter what scale in what key. I use several ring modulators in series all the time, but not for any pitch oriented playing. It's for unpitched noise stuff.

Scott Fraser
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I should have mentioned that the EHX Frequency Analyzer has a filter switch that cuts the high frequency output, and some other Ring Mods also have a filter switch. This helps stabilize the output, as much as is possible with a Ring Mod. It also helps if you can get the internal carrier frequency as close as possible to the range you're actually be playing in, rather than 'tuning' it to a an open 5th or 6th string, for example.

 

Here's probably more than you wanted to know about how a Ring Mod works - Ring Modulator - it's all about math, not musical intervals. Think of it as an Octaver's evil twin, in the spirit of Halloween. And thanks, Caevan, I need all the blessings I can get, brother.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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I'm not doing anything weird enough these days that a ring modulater would work in it. I can't even work my Ebow in anymore.

 

Well, I probably could if I really worked at it, but the local blues mafia would have kittens.

 

Hey, that may be reason enough to work at it...

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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I'm not doing anything weird enough these days that a ring modulater would work in it. I can't even work my Ebow in anymore.

 

Well, I probably could if I really worked at it, but the local blues mafia would have kittens.

 

Hey, that may be reason enough to work at it...

 

You betcha!

 

 

E'r'body loves kittens, don't they?

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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try tuning it to a flat 5.

seriously tho, with a harmonic generator like a guitar, it's hard to tune a ring mod...even the "tunable" ones i've tried generally put out the opposite of what you expect.

 

Yeah, it's best for noise stuff, although Joe Zawinul & Simon Jeffes (Penguin Cafe Orchestra) both used a ring modulator (in moderation) on Rhodes a few times to good effect. They had the mix turned down enough to not lose the sense of pitch, even though the harmonics get all wiggy. Jeff Beck does an occasional bit with a Maestro ring modulator. Again dialed way back to just add a discordant haze over the top of the notes. If your ring modulator gets into a real LFO range you can get a very nice tremolo out of it when tuned all the way down.

Scott Fraser
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A ring mod patch on my Lexicon Vortex allows me to fake a sort of low marimba kinda sorta sound similar to the intro to "Rikki, Don't Lose That Number" by Steely Dan- within a very short range of pitches, above or below which things increasingly get really whacked out in a hurry.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Morning, Billster! Here's the trick. Set the Mix/Blend knob on your Ring Mod to about 50%, so you can hear your guitar and the Ring Mod tone. Then, play the tonic note on your guitar, and turn the Frequency knob on your Ring Mod until it's in tune with the note you're playing - on the EHX Frequency Analyzer, the Frequency knob is marked Shift, and there's also a Fine knob - that'll pretty much get you there. Of course, not all the notes of your scale are going to come through - they're still being mangled by the Sum-and-Difference effect. BTW, which Ring Mod are you using?

 

If there isn't a way to set the internal frequency on your Ring Mod, like with the DOD Gonkulator, you're stuck. Hope this helps, and have fun scaring the Normals with that sound.

 

Thanks. I'm using the Ring Mod in Guitar Rig 4. The "blend" control is key. What I'm looking for is to make the occasional note squawk out, but for most notes to retain a fairly rational sound.

 

I also sometimes use the ring mod plug-in on Digital Performer, which lets you set the "oscillator" to be a side-chain input from some other sound source. With a lot of experimentation, I could see what various parallel intervals work with playing two lines off of each other and blending them with the ring mod.

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I get what you're saying - that's why tuning the carrier frequency as close as possible to the range you're playing in is critical. As soon as you move away from the note you've tuned to, you're back to the Sum-and-Difference values, instead of musical pitches. If you tune the Ring Mod so it's generating a tone one octave up or down from the note you're playing, the next note on your scale will trigger some deep weirdness - it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to play a recognizable melody line, unless you're in a Devo cover band.

 

The Ring Mod process you're describing in DP is a lot like the Ring Mod function found in synths, where one internal oscillator, or PCM waveform acts as the carrier frequency. While you can get some very cool, and even clangorous sounds that way, it's not true Ring Modulation, but it sounds like fun - I can do something very similar with the Audio In jacks on my Microkorg.

 

Once again, I hope this helps.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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The Ring Mod process you're describing in DP is a lot like the Ring Mod function found in synths, where one internal oscillator, or PCM waveform acts as the carrier frequency. While you can get some very cool, and even clangorous sounds that way, it's not true Ring Modulation, but it sounds like fun - I can do something very similar with the Audio In jacks on my Microkorg.

 

How do you mean it's not true ring modulation? Meaning it's not derived from a classic 'ring' of diodes, or that it doesn't do 'balanced modulation' which is what produces sum & difference frequencies in the age of opamp circuit designs?

Scott Fraser
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Scott - I would have to say the latter. The Ring Modulator effects found in digital multi-fx don't contain the classic ring configuration that gave the circuit its name, but many do output sum and difference frequencies. My old Quadraverb+ has a very satisfying programmable Ring Mod effect.

 

IME, the Ring Mod function in synths acts almost like FM synthesis, rather than Ring Modulation as I understand it, but as I am not a sound engineer, this may very well be a misunderstanding, or misperception on my part. If so, I'd be grateful for any correction. Sorry if we've hijacked Billster's thread, but I always enjoy our exchanges.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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"it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to play a recognizable melody line, unless you're in a Devo cover band."<<<<<<<<

 

Glad you liked it, Jimi. I was thinking of this, actually . . .

 

[video:youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCpxSzacbyc

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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Yeah, it's best for noise stuff, although Joe Zawinul & Simon Jeffes (Penguin Cafe Orchestra) both used a ring modulator (in moderation) on Rhodes a few times to good effect.

 

Jan Hammer did that with the early Mahavishnu Orchestra (before synths), and that was pretty good. Hammer was always looking for a way to get keyboards to play notes "between the keys" to emulate guitars bending strings.

 

As far as ring mod on guitar, I like to get into those metallic-percussive areas.

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Scott - I would have to say the latter. The Ring Modulator effects found in digital multi-fx don't contain the classic ring configuration that gave the circuit its name, but many do output sum and difference frequencies. My old Quadraverb+ has a very satisfying programmable Ring Mod effect.

IME, the Ring Mod function in synths acts almost like FM synthesis, rather than Ring Modulation as I understand it, but as I am not a sound engineer, this may very well be a misunderstanding, or misperception on my part. If so, I'd be grateful for any correction. Sorry if we've hijacked Billster's thread, but I always enjoy our exchanges.

 

I doubt if any true diode ring modulators are made anymore, since the effect can be had via modern opamps or digital emulations. The result, without an actual ring of diodes, is properly called balanced modulation & is the same as amplitude modulation, but with the original carrier & modulator frequencies subtracted from the output. So you get the sum & difference, but neither of the original inputs, unless of course you mix some dry signal into the output.

Scott Fraser
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Amplitude Modulation would explain how one gets tremolo-like effects from the Moogerfooger Ring Mod pedal. Very cool.

 

My old Maestro Ring Modulator (early 70's Oberheim-built, bought new,) doesn't quite go low enough frequency-wise to get a good tremolo, but the digital emulations in my Boss GX700 & SE70's will get a very nice warm tremolo at the bottom of the carrier frequency range.

Scott Fraser
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here's a little lost gem re tuning a ring mod...

 

http://web.archive.org/web/20070429115014/http://www.geocities.com/j4_student/MaestroRingModTrimNotes.gif

 

http://web.archive.org/web/20070429115014/http://www.geocities.com/j4_student/MaestroRingModTrimNotes.gif

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we still make old school ring mods bro...you can, too...

 

http://diystompboxes.com

 

Searching there for ring modulators turned up nothing. Where should I be looking?

 

http://www.diystompboxes.com/smfforum/index.php?action=search

 

go to this page, type in ring modulator.

 

15 pages of about 30 posts each on various designs and everything in between. ;)

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we still make old school ring mods bro...you can, too...

 

http://diystompboxes.com

 

Searching there for ring modulators turned up nothing. Where should I be looking?

 

http://www.diystompboxes.com/smfforum/index.php?action=search

 

go to this page, type in ring modulator.

 

15 pages of about 30 posts each on various designs and everything in between. ;)

 

OK, they want me join up before I can search for anything. Tomorrow when I have some free time.

Scott Fraser
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