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Can ring modulators be musical?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by rust1975, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. rust1975

    rust1975 Member

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    I'm THISCLOSE to buying one, but .. wanna make sure I'll use it. Can anyone explain how to use it?
     
  2. earthtonesaudio

    earthtonesaudio Member

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    The tones it adds (sum and difference of input note for a "standard" ring mod) are not harmonically, but mathematically related... which often means dissonant or atonal. You gotta know where to use it. It can add percussion-like timbres and unique character to simple, one-note lines, or make intricate fingerpicked arpeggios sound like explosive monkey flatulence.

    I wouldn't buy one unless it had a way of blending clean and modulated signals.
     
  3. phatdave

    phatdave Member

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    a Ringer and a fuzz is how old Josh Homme got the sound in QOTSA's "Little Sister" song.
     
  4. mobis8

    mobis8 Member

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  5. rust1975

    rust1975 Member

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    Bingo! That sounds about right.
     
  6. NewarkWilder

    NewarkWilder Member

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    yes, wet/dry control is the single most important factor in it imo. I have the Zvex Ringtone and love it, because it has the internal trimmer to set the level. I take it WAY down. like 20% wet at most, to make it a cool but very subtle effect. and with the ringtone you can tune it every chord change of a song if you've got the patience. pretty kickass for recording.

    The Moog is very good too.
     
  7. drolling

    drolling Member

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    Unless you're strictly into the robot noises, a ring mod needs to be 'tuned' to the key you're playing in in order to sound "musical".

    Easy enough to do by ear if the pedal's got a 'frequency' control. But some don't..

    The Moogerfooger MF-102 has a "carrier-out" jack that takes the process into the 'no-brainer' zone; C.O. puts out a hot synth tone that you can dial in to match a note on your guitar, keyboard or whatever - still sounds pretty gnarly, but at least you'll be somewhat in tune some of the time...
     
  8. somedude

    somedude Member

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    It's a Fulltone Ultimate Octave....

    On a side note, the Moog Ring Mod is perhaps the coolest tremolo pedal I've ever used.
     
  9. Paulo Grua

    Paulo Grua Member

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    I can aproximate thsat sound with a Si fuzz into my Green Ringer.

    Anyway, I'm really interested in Ring Modulators as of lately, but, what would be a cheap one just to start messing around with? I need it to be kinda musical too - not interested in just robot noises.
     
  10. earache33

    earache33 Member

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    i recently picked up a frantone glacier that can do some real cool ****. it can take a little time to adjust, finding one of many different harmonic frequencies wih the tune knob that can be used for any given key. i get some great tones with a mayo feeding into it, sometimes delay after. very unique, which is what i think whole ring mod thing is all about.
     
  11. dorfmeister

    dorfmeister Member

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    I've got the moog and mostly use it for trem. Great pedal.
     
  12. Dexter.Sinister

    Dexter.Sinister Still breathing Gold Supporting Member

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    I use this one. A lot. I use it for a hard trem, for subtle harmonic weirdness, to edge up a solo tone, to create alien sounds...and it can be triggered using external source like drums. Great box!

    DS
     
  13. leumasjames

    leumasjames Member

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    Most definitely can be musical if you know how to use them. The Moog is great. Setting the mix low and matching freq with whatever key you are playing in can sound musical IMO. I've gotten many a musical sound out of Ring mods.

    In general, most people I see using them set the mix to 100 and make robot sounds. Cool, but only for so long. Changing the rate of the LFO to match tempo can also help make musical...I don't think you can go wrong with the Moog, unless you are a purist and don't want your signal converted to line. Easy fix for that is a TB looper.
     
  14. Gas-man

    Gas-man Unrepentant Massaganist

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    It's all about subtely using them to be musical in my never-to-be-humble opinion.

    Jeff Beck used a Maestro to great effect (affect?) on B/B and Wired.
     
  15. BillyJoeJimBob

    BillyJoeJimBob Member

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    The thing with the ring mod is it's not really a stand alone effect. For the most part, a ring mod is a ring mod with mostly subtle differences. The key to what they sound like when packaged as a guitar effect is what signal is injected into the other input ("carrier" input, but at the root level, both inputs are the same). At the minimum, a ring mod *pedal* is likely to have a free-running oscillator built in to drive the other input. These tend to make the text-book "ring modulator" sound but yeah, they have to be tuned and if that oscillator is designed such that it's hard to tune accurately, it's even harder to make it "musical". Fancier versions have more creative signals and options for the carrier that can be more musical. I've had great luck feeding the other input with signals that are *different but related* to the guitar signal - like octave pedals and such... followed up with a nice sweepy filter. The fixed carrier tone oscillator thing gets old quick for me. That was neat in '74 when Devo did it.

    Bottom line is, know that it's all about the features for the mixing and the other input. So one product is going to be way different in usability than another. My feeling is more knobs tend to be better.
     
  16. yucatown

    yucatown Theory-free noodling enthusiast Gold Supporting Member

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    Yes, they can be musical. My Space Station has a killer ring modulation setting I use sparingly with fuzz. Killer.
     
  17. Alfer

    Alfer Member

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    I agree with the sentiment that they can be musical. You just have to have a plan for using them or they become one trick ponies fast.

    In my music I often make textures with a ring mod. It winds up buried in the mix, but it would not work if it were on top of everything else. At least not to my ears.
     
  18. splatt

    splatt david torn / splattercell Gold Supporting Member

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    no, they certainly cannot be used musically.

    as a public service,
    i now offer to buy almost any fully-working ring modulator that
    may currently be both unmusical & disappointing to you
    for a whopping $20., shipped.
    feel free to PM me.

    thanks,
    dt / spltrcl
     
  19. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    :agree

    My second-most used effect.
     
  20. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Ring Modulators aren't musical.

    People are musical.
     

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