We invited our friend Mart Pauklin over to shoot some quick demos. Thanks Mart! Only standard gear used, no boutique hand made pickups or strange pickup positioning.
First of all a jolly Fernandes guitar with a Roland GK-3 pickup system attached. No permanent modification need, not a scrath on the guitar. And the positioning of the pickup is standard, close to the bridge. The sound a is rather thin in that position, but this is not the end of the world! Just plug it to our 6Appeal analog distortion/overdrive, and switch on our Root Boost circuit that adds tons of fundamental harmonics.
So, a divided pickup (hex or hexaphonic pickup) is not only for MIDI syntheziser and so on, but it also opens up the gates to multichannel guitar processing! In this video, the strings are panned in stereo; you don't have to pan it so hard, but this time I did just to make the difference.
And now for Godin electric guitar with standard built in RMC pickup (piezo bridge).
What you need for this sound: a "synth access" Godin guitar with RMC bridge pickups or any guitar with non-destructively mounted Roland GK-3 divided pickup and 13 pin preamp (hexaphonic pickup), 6Appeal pedal by Spicetone, a soundcard with stereo input and any DAW that can run a convolution reverb plugin. We used these fantastic very real sounding impulses by Gregor Hennig (Studio Nord Bremen; http://www.grgr.de); Vielen Dank Gregor! I did cut off the very low and high and applied a limited plugin; also, Youtube compresses the sound quite a bit; but all in all no gimmicks or secret processing tricks. Multichannel guitar is here to stay!
"Hit It" by Fairlights (Enda Bates)
Spicetone's 6Appeal hexaphonic distortion, routed to DAW and synced to a drum track with MIDI from computer.
Godin LGX electric guitar with RMC piezo-style hexaphonic pickup
Spicetone 6Appeal (breakout box mode)
Motu Ultralite multichannel soundcard
UAD Stereo Reverb + Delay plugins
Time Freezer VST plugin
The track uses three presets on the 6Appeal. The first one is a fairly full-on distortion setting with the Gain and Tone turned up full. The strings are panned across the stereo field with the low strings quite central, and the two middle strings panned about halfway left and right. The melody is played solely on the top two strings which are hard-panned left and right to give the impression of two distinct melodic lines, with a rhythmic backing from the other, more centrally panned strings.
The rhythmic pulsing in the opening is created by tapping the back of the guitar neck with the right hand while holding a chord with the left. In the first half of the track, the melody is played on the top two strings using hammer-ons and pull-offs (as the picking hand is occupied tapping the neck).
In the second half of the tune a new, modified version of the initial preset is used. This has a tremolo effect on the lower three strings which mimics the tapped pulsing effect from earlier but using modulation, which now frees up the right hand for strumming and picking. This was done using LFO2 which is tempo-synced to the drum machine track using MIDI clock from the DAW.
Finally, the end section just uses a clean preset with the same stereo spread. Apart from the 6Appeal, the only other effects are simple things like some stereo delay and reverb. The one exception is the Time Freezer plugin (which is very similar to the EHX Freezer pedal), thats used to create a sustained drone from the top three strings towards the end of the track. No amps or amp modelling was used.
The same with a promo video (and with Youtube compression, sorry):
Mr Enda Bates, a musician, composer, producer and academic based in Dublin, Ireland, is one of the first users of 6Appeal. He was so kind to provide detailed feedback and comments. Here they are in full length. No cuts or editing from Spicetone, as we're enthusiasts, not spin doctors.
"The Build Quality is really good; it feels quite sturdy and the cable connections are strong (13-pin connectors can be tricky like that sometimes, but not here).
The sound quality is, on first impression, fantastic (I really love that analogue distortion) and I can easily imagine this being used in mono-output mode for recording heavily distorted guitar tracks (stuff in the style of Siamese Dream era Smashing Pumpkins would sound great with this type of distortion).
Perhaps what I examined most on this first look was the breakout box functionality, and I have to say, this is really quite a dramatic improvement on the breakout box I was using previously. When using a passive breakout box the hexaphonic signal is quite low and requires a significant amount of gain to be added to the soundcard inputs (such as on the MOTU Ultralite used here). This can cause significant amounts of hiss to creep in, which isn’t too troublesome for live performance work but is actually highly problematic for recording purposes (a problem I've encountered before). Straight away there was a significant gain boost with the 6Appeal which meant I could lose about 6dB of gain on the soundcard inputs. When i added in the Output boost function I could take about another 10dB of gain off the soundcard inputs, which is hugely impressive (and left me pretty much at unity gain on the soundcard). Effectively this pedal is also a dedicated hexaphonic preamp and I can see this pedal being used as high end recording device for hexaphonic guitar. I've been planning just such an album and I can definitely see myself using the 6Appeal as the primary preamp for recording the hex guitar.
The Root Boost functionality is also very useful and really improves the sound of these types of pickups which are inevitably mounted in the bridge.
The 6Appeal also worked straight out of the box with both my RMC equipped Godin, and my Roland GK-3 equipped Les Paul. This was actually an issue with my previous setup, as the Roland requires power from the breakout box, but the RMC doesnt. In fact, the RMC could be damaged if supplied with power in that way so using both guitars was always left me slightly nervous. With the 6Appeal though, it was very easy and just required a change in presets on the soundcard to compensate for the slightly different pickup gain structures.
The method of indicating what the current KNOB value is, relative to the current physical position of the KNOB is nicely done and fairly intuitive.
The more detailed programming and the adjusting of parameters in the menu took a little while to get used too. It’s definitely a very efficient means of allowing access to a lot of parameters from a small number of controls, but this does also require quite a lot of research to get to grips with. I’m not sure how feasible this is, but if these menus could be programmed using a computer application and the USB connection, that would pretty much eliminate this issue as you could have a simple graphical display which would make things much clearer.
The one thing I would perhaps question is the number of physical jack connections. For example, would having an extra, dedicated mono-out simplify some of the menu settings a little.
On a similar note, while using Y-cables and stereo, jack connections for the individual string outputs is very neat and tidy, I wonder would it be better just to have 6 individual mono outputs. Perhaps this is not physically possible internally for space reasons, but I think it would actually simplify things. For example, I don’t have any Y-cables right now so I’m still using the 13-pin output from the 6Appeal, into my old breakout box. Now as I like the 6Appeal a lot, I will now pick up some Y-cables but these are not always that easy to find. For example, if I was playing a show and one of my Y-cables failed, it could potentially be tricky to replace right there and then."
So, this is the first long third party feedback:) For the Y-cable thing, yep, using stereo outputs is a limitation cable-wise; there was a hard decision if we make the box even bigger than it is, to accommodate more jacks. We decided not, as the box is already about the size of an iPad, which is quite enough for a guitar pedal.
Update: Good advice from Elantric of VGuitarforums:
"I find this TRS snake handy to have on hand for breakout box use with the Spicetone 6Appeal
Hosa Cable STP804 Snake Insert Cable, 1/4 Inch to 1/4 Inch"
Enda opted for Stereo to Two Mono Sockets Adapter Plugs that fit perfectly; there's no need for Y cables then. Any adapters will work but uses these adapters.
Thank you for reading! As we have already told the people who've gotten 6Appeal already - your feedback and references is highly appreciated!
Update: we were three days late of the official launch date, so we could finish final testing - but 6Appeal is live, launched, public and ready to ship!
Second of all, wow, what a bluesman can do with nylon strings and hexaphonic overdrive! Check out the video. it's a Godin Multiac Nylon with 6Appeal. Maybe you can see that next to Mr Aapo Ilves there's a box of 6Appeal cases - we have started the assembly already and currently in pre release testing.
6Appeal is on the gate already, waiting to get on the road to you. Check out the user manual for details:
6Appeal User Manual (version 08) (PDF)