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Polypickup Cymbal

Electric Cymbal with Quick-Switch Encircling Pick-ups
  [vote for,

Basically, this is an instrument similar to the cymbal, except encircling the metal disk (not touching, as this would interfere with the vibration), would be a variety of pick-ups controlled by a switch set that can be used while playing the cymbals. The idea here is that when a cymbal is hit, a multitude of waves are produced, and their ultimate combination produces what we call the distinct tone of the cymbal. The idea here is that by hitting the cymbal at variable spots, and only reproducing the sound at certain spots, more tones with distinct sounds can be produced.

For an example of this effect, consider a string instrument. Although generally one tone is heard when the finger hits the fingerboard, this is only because that side is vibrated and amplified - if you've ever tapped an unplugged electric guitar's string, you'd notice that two tones are produced - the reason being that you've not only vibrated the string, but divided it into two seperate vibrations - one below and one above where your finger now rests.

Basically, the concept here is that since a cymbal is a metal disk, with an added dimension that a string lacks, it should be able to produce an interesting variety of sounds, depending on what hits it, where, and what is picked up. Even if it doesn't work as expected, it should still provide more than enough range for more inventive drumming.

I should mention that "cymbal" was just used to give a general idea of what I'm attempting to do - the actual shape could be anything, perhaps even tubular, with a swinging pick-up bell (Probably a different idea though, not to mention hell on the pick-up)?

How about picking up on something along the lines of a steel tubular drum (I forget the name, but you see them played in the Carribean) - it doesn't bounce around like a cymbal, it can be picked-up (unlike Bronze) due to the steel, and it might have a similar effect. As for the quality of each note, I'm still at a loss, without a test subject to go by.

CRTrue, Mar 07 2005

Infrared-Based Pickup http://www.creative.../lightwave_gtr.html
An Infrared-based Pickup that might be useful here [CRTrue, Mar 08 2005]


       //since a cymbal is a metal disk//
Actually, cymbals are more like a bell in that they have a three-dimensional vibration mode. That said, I rather like the concept here, but doubt that it could be implemented, firstly because the pickups around the periphery would interfere with the player's aim and secondly because they would only register the exact sound while the cymbal was almost stationary. When it rocks away from the pickup, sum and difference tones would modulate the produced tone.
I wonder whether the effect could be created by modelling the cymbals resonances?
angel, Mar 07 2005

       What multi-microphone experiments have you done with this idea so far? When I tried miking under a cymbal and around it, it sounded worse. So I'm projecting that you need as many tones as possible coming from a cymbal to give a quality sound, not less tones.
mensmaximus, Mar 07 2005

       The real innovation here (if I understand correctly) is using coil pickups from electric guitars to listen to cymbals, bypassing the air entirely. I suspect the result would sound little like what we think of as a cymbal, but could be interesting nonetheless. [angel] has pointed out the obvious difficulty with this, although this might be less of a problem with a hi-hat.   

       [mens] - Do you need another project to explore?
wagster, Mar 07 2005

       But, [wags], a hi-hat vibrates differently than a stick-struck cymbal (mainly because the impact area is larger - this constrains what would otherwise be a freely-resonant part of the cymbal), and the resulting sound is different again because you're hearing the lower- *and* the higher cymbal.
Using a guitar pickup (ideally we would use one [or several] of Kent Armstrong's neat little single-string units) would require that the cymbal be magnetic, and this would ruin the acoustic properties. If we're only interested in the vibration modes, this is fine, but if we want an amplified version of the acoustic resonances, we'll be disappointed. (It's important to remember that an electric guitar pickup does not amplify the acoustic tone of the guitar, it amplifies the vibration of the string, which will, to *some* extent, be affected by the same factors that affect the acoustic tone.)
[mensmaximus], you are discovering that the amplification of acoustic sounds is a complex field. The closer you put the mike, the more of the subtlety you lose.
angel, Mar 07 2005

       [angel] - Why would the cymbal need to be magnetic? Guitar strings aren't magnetic and guitar pick-ups seem to work ok on them.   

       //if we want an amplified version of the acoustic resonances, we'll be disappointed// You're right of course, but if we're just experimenting we might get something interesting, maybe some sizzle to mix in with the acoustic sound.
wagster, Mar 07 2005

       Perhaps an array where each logical pickup is a pairing of a mic and a pickup (or say a tube mic and a piezo mic) is a way to try this. The output of the pair would be an adjustable blend of both.   

       I once saw a mic used for vocals that was a half-inch thick circular steel plate with a hole in the center of it through which was shock mounted a gorgeous mid-60s Neumann tube mic. Mounted to the steel plate, offset from the center by about 6 inches, was a Crown piezo-electric mic. The sonic results were beautiful. It was fabricated by some semi-famous acoustics guru in Berkeley, CA. whose name I forget (I think it was Tom something).
bristolz, Mar 07 2005

       //Guitar strings aren't magnetic//
What strings are you using? Electric guitar pickups (at least magnetic ones - not piezo) work because the vibrating string interferes with the magnetic field of the pole pieces, and that interference is detected by the windings. Non-magnetic strings would not cause such interferences. Strictly, I suppose that aluminium would interfere as it conducts magnetic eddy currents - that's how car speedometer heads work - but aluminium is obviously useless as a string material, and not much better as a cymbal.
I will qualify my statement that "an electric guitar pickup does not amplify the acoustic tone" by assuming that we're discussing magnetic pickups, which, given that you mentioned coils is a fair assumption.
angel, Mar 07 2005

       Regardless of how a guitar works (see howstuffworks), this idea probably would not work. The fact is that a cymbal swings at an axis when it's struck, causing it to move in and out of the area where any microphone could record.   

       Conceivably, a microphone array could be arranged in a half-bowl around the cymbal and beneath it - but that seems overly complex considering that modern drum machines have tunable cymbals, which have modifiable outputs anyway.   

       It's an interesting thought, but implementation would be difficult and a bit wasteful.   

shapu, Mar 07 2005

       Probably LEDS firing at the stable centre optical pickup of the cymbal, from the circumference, will do it. Is there a prize for this?   

       Too much reactance with the mag pick-ups at these high frequencies.   

mensmaximus, Mar 07 2005

       [angel] - I didn't explain that very well. What I meant by magnetic was magnetised - what you meant was ferromagnetic. I was assuming that as cymbals are presumably ferromagnetic as well, they should also produce some sort of sound through a pickup if you could keep the pickup close enough to the edge of the cymbal. Having done some digging around I have found that bronze is not ferromagnetic and so will have no effect on a guitar pickup at all. Which leaves this plan dead in the water unless you make steel cymbals - which would sound rubbish through a mic.   

       [bris] - I may just have to try that. Have you any more info?
wagster, Mar 07 2005

angel, Mar 08 2005

       Short for Angelina.   

       [wagster], I just sent a piece of mail to the recording engineer (a long time friend) at the studio where the mic was used, asking him for details. At the time I saw it in use it was for a female vocalist and I remember she stood very close to the plate and, in fact, stood so that she hear her voice being reflected off of the surface telling her that she was in the "sweet spot."
bristolz, Mar 08 2005

       Thank you, Mister Bristolz!
angel, Mar 08 2005

       You're welcome, darling girl.   

       [wagster], my friend already responded to my questions about the plate mic. He doesn't remember everything and was a bit surprised I remembered the mic, (I was about 12 at the time). This is what he says:   

       "Good memory. It was called a boundary layer microphone, Tom Paddock built it for us, it was, I believe, a KM-54 capsule positioned in the center of a one-foot square steel plate (something like 1/8” thick, weighed a ton) it would be placed on a mike stand without suspension (the KM-54 is the tube version of the KM-84 Neumann). I’m not sure the capsule was suspended in the plate mounting, somehow I recall a rubber mount, but I’m not sure. BLM are still around, nothing sounded quite like it – really natural on voice. Indeed it had a sweet spot, probably 5-8 inches, maybe 12” – not sure, but it was small and challenging initially for the singer (who became quite comfortable once she figured it out – it was so different sounding in her phones she could spot the spot easily after only a few minutes).   

       "Neumann, AKG, Schoeps, and others now make and sell boundary layer microphones. Check out the Neumann GFM 132, the Schoeps BLM 3g or the AKG C 542 BL mics.   

       "There are also PZM microphones (not Piezo, they were a small (tiny) diaphram electret, which are now common for conference rooms (Shure has a number of them). If I recall, Crown made them popular and Radio Shack made a couple that were $50 each and sounded pretty natural (probably also made by Crown). I have a couple of the Radio Shack mics.   

       "The mic I’m into now for silly applications like travel in Nepal where you want stereo small mics that are inconspicuous are these tiny electrets that are sold for bootlegging concerts – they sound real good, and I think they would be stunning for binaural recording. They are about $60 a pair now. www.soundprofessional.com sells them.   

       "BTW, it looks like Tom Paddock is now CEO at Sonic Focus..."
bristolz, Mar 08 2005

       Someone's looking for a slap.
The KM 54 is absolutely the best mike for acoustic guitar. Amazingly clear, yet warm sound. The Radio Shack (Tandy, in UK) pressure zone mike is great for vocals. You can just put it on a table, or tape it to a wall. Neil Peart (Rush's drummer) taped one to the front of his shirt to record "Vital Signs".
angel, Mar 08 2005

       Why a slap? This engineer is a veteran of The Record Plant, Different Fur, Ocean Way, Air Monserrat, etc. He's retired from the business now (in fact he went to law school and became an IP attorney) but he definitely knows what he is talking about and was very well regarded in particular for his mic'ing skills.   

       Maybe I misunderstand the slap thing?
bristolz, Mar 08 2005

       I meant you!
angel, Mar 09 2005

       Thanks [bris]. I didn't really think you'd get the info - well done. I haven't used the KM54 but I have used it's successor extensively and love it. I would expect the tube version to be even better. Boundary layer microphones I have used in many situations, but never to record vocals. Then again, there's a world of difference between using a Tandy PZM or Crown PZM boundary mic (both good) and rigging one up yourself from a 'proper' mic.
wagster, Mar 09 2005


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