I started last night, and plan on continuing down this path - so, figured I'd move my OP to here & keep a log, open to discussion, of course!
It's the wee hours of the morning, just settling down, but I had a lot of fun earlier! FINALLY... went back to my Glasser 5-string AE Violin, "Mortimer" & plugged him into my new Mini Spark amp!
Only took me 3½ years! 🤣
I sent my older Spark 40 (un-used) out to my Brother - which he enjoyed.
Felt good, like a little kid, playing around with my pre-amp knobs that came with Mortimer & some of the settings on the amp - 1st thing Kevin had me play was part of Iron Man (Black Sabbath)! 🤗
Had a riot trying out the Snow Waltz (Lindsey Stirling) I played for the Christmas Party & of course I had to play Joli Rouge (the Dreadnoughts)! Kevin was supposed to help me try out different features on the app & he spent a lot of time, but couldn't figure out why some weren't working - wasn't until he quit that I realized it might be that he never logged in... duh - we'll see later today. My phone ran out of juice, so I continued on with just the amp's presets.
Was worried about feedback - so I set the amp up where I normally have my phone recording (arms reach) and pointed it away from me. Sometimes I'm a bit of a chicken!
Very weird hearing sound coming out of the speaker while I played - but sounded FABULOUS - plenty of reverb! Of course I don't want to sound like an electric guitar for everything, but think it might be just what I've needed to get me out of the dreary mood I've been in. 😊
Madmartigan slept through it all, but Bugsy showed me his 'what were you thinking?' expression & left the room... still hasn't come back! 🤨
...it would really be nice if there was a spot on the forum, designated for/about the use of Electric string instruments and associated equipment!
I haven't practiced tonight, yet - been going over what I've previously looked into about the Spark app & PreSonus. So may not post more until tomorrow... we'll see! Here's where I started investigating these apps & my Mini Spark amp, to begin with:
Curious about how long my batteries for my pre-amp on Mortimer will last - I played a long time last night. Won't be happy if I go through batteries every other day, but I'm not sure it's possible to use anything other than rechargeable batteries & I'll have to stop & unscrew the cover each time!
🤨 This pre-amp design on the Glasser AE Violins needs an update!
OMG! Another evening started off with fiascos!
Had to straighten out PreSonus & Positive Grid - lingering stuff from when I had registered my original Spark 40, plus Kevin had different psswds on one PC. 😫 and STILL couldn't figure out why I couldn't get the Spark app, on my phone, to connect to the amp - could play with the amp, but wanted to play with the settings...
It's ALWAYS something simple... yep, had to turn on my phone location to get it to connect! That was all... duh! 🥴
Started looking over PreSonus Studio One earlier, but ended up spending most of the evening playing with different amp patches and some available jams - all just on the Mini Spark. It was FUN playing with the different virtual amp characteristics and EXTREMELY relaxing to just play along/simple improv with the jam tracks!
Of course I picked ones in my favorite keys (Em & Dm). 😁
Thanks for recommending (in the earlier thread) I explore everything about the Mini Spark capabilities before getting into PreSonus - it's saving me some hair-pulling at the moment!
I was able to keep the volume down on my Violin pre-amp & think it's why I haven't had to change the batteries, yet. Whew! I was afraid I'd be changing out AAA batteries every time I turned around!
Charging the Lithium battery in my amp from my PC for a little while as I type, but I'll check to see if it needs more later - this is probably the slowest way to charge.
I found out where to go in the app to see about letting it take over my phone's video recording - may check that out tomorrow. I need to see if it will listen to me play & offer something I can actually use for backing, first - or, I might have to get into PreSonus for that, not sure yet.
Forgot to mention that I've also been playing "I Believe In Father Christmas" by Greg Lake (of Emerson, Lake & Palmer) - sounds pretty awesome! I'm not getting cut any slack for my intonation, though... seems it becomes TWICE as obvious, when I'm off - might have to find some tamer settings, but keeps me on my toes!
Thinkin' of gettin' a little 'Jiggy' with it, next! 🤭
@Katie L -
I think you might get bit by the EV Bug! 😉
btw... my MINI SPARK was done charging by the time I got done writing this!
I had EVERYTHING put away... except for my phone, sitting next to me... glaring at me! So, just HAD to open the Spark app... no bluetooth, just typed in:
IT WENT CRAZY TRYING TO ANALYZE CHORDS FOR IT!!!
...thought I broke it! 🤣
I'm shocked! 😳 It came up with chords for the WHOLE tune!
Now, HOW am I going to get some sleep - it's going to take me forever to get straightened around again. 🥱
🤔... can't wait to hear if the chords actually sound any good!
Yep, it's been a few days of of intense reading, video watching, studying & experimental playing!
I learned about What Are Impulse Responses & How To Use IR's!
I've been keeping this in mind as I've been trying different amp characteristics, but about all I can be concerned with, at the moment, is which patches can help me sound the way I want. Unfortunately, I don't know hardly anything about adjusting the settings for all the virtual hardware associated with the Mini Spark, so I'm still sticking to presets - there's still many to chose from. Here's the Spark Amp & Effect List - if anyone is interested... plus more available from on the cloud - I STILL haven't tried everything out, yet! I found a few that beefed up the lower strings, lightened up on the higher ones - better for quick playing. The novelty may wear off in a while & I can tweak as I learn more.
I started down a rabbit hole to find out if there are any 'virtual' Octave Pedals that can be added - what's available in the Mini Spark 'Experience Jimi Hendrix', expansion pkg, didn't seem quite necessary for me. I'm also not ready for, and don't know if I need, physical pedals - or even my Controller, yet.
If you are wondering what Hendrix has to do with violin:
Anyway, here's a decent video on 'Octave Pedal' comparisons for Violin from Rob Flax:
🤔... I did finally push my Mini Spark App too far!
Asked it to analyze chords for Celtic Violin Dubstep - Patrick Contreras - from the EDM - On The Violin & Not Just For Dancing! Thread and Make It Home - thenewno2 - from the Halloween Again! Thread. ...it just couldn't handle those - in fact, if I'd let the app continue to run it might STILL be trying to analyze them! 🤣
Had a lot of fun playing around with more tunes I always knew would sound great electric, nothing I care to record, yet - but there's more, so I better start another post. 😊
I have to be careful here, because all of this new stuff had me looking up to see it was after 4am this morning!
So even though my blog says it's about EV, I can't really alienate editing, recording & composition software from it.
I remembered I wanted to notate the "Captain Grant's March" version that Alasdair White played with the Battlefield Band in the Scottish Piper Tunes Played on The Fiddle Thread - Pg 2.
It's got 4 flats, starts on the G string - the piper joins in on the repeat, playing an octave higher. I think the video was updated, because I don't remember it being available in HD before. Day before yesterday I was able to look closely at the tiny image of Alasdair's hands & could see by his fingering, he's definitely playing it tuned up a half step - makes a lot of sense. I don't have particularly forgiving strings on Mortimer right now, so I've learned it in standard tuning - which is a good workout for my 4th finger! I need to play it a bit more cleanly, but I can play it in both octaves.
Now, back to notation for Captain Grant's March...
I looked at what I had started in the "Notion" app on my phone, but I really hate working on that small of a screen - so thought maybe time for Musescore! ...IT'S TOO SLOW TO DO THIS MANUALLY! 😖
Saw Musescore has a converter to import sheet music! 🤗 Got all geeked - thought I could start with the closest score in the Ceol Sean Archive, then edit it (needs a lot)... until I saw what Musescore gave me back to work with!
I started with this Captain Grant's March (see pdf attachment) - in all fairness, it has a lot of grace notes, but I didn't expect to receive this other CRAZY jumbled mess back at Musescore (attachment*)!
I'm not sure how my attachments are going to show up here, so I'll go ahead & say I finally resorted to making an mp3 recording of just the Violin & guitar playing from Alasdair's Prairie Home Companion video - searched for how to convert it to , but then it was all of the sudden 4am!
I really needed to take a break today to start thinking straight, so just practiced without the amp. Here it is late again and I just now realized I should probably record myself playing "Captain Grant's March" with my Mini Spark amp & app, then maybe I can import THAT into Notion, or maybe PreSonus, first (?) - but not sure what kind of audio file I'll get.
ALL JUST TO GET SOME ACCURATE NOTATION DOWN! 🥴
Oh well, another day!
*I had to remove the Musescore file attachment. Have to find a way to take a screen shot (haven't figured that out on my laptop, yet 😁). ...it had Treble Clef, Alto Clef and Bass Clef all on the same staff!
After my last post here, I was relieved to see (after how many years?) I have a 'print screen/snip' button on both my keyboards... duh. Of course I found after I'd resorted to my phone camera. (lol)
Here's the photo I took from musescore 4 hub screen after I imported the converted Captain Grant's March. You can see there's absolutely NO resemblance to the pre-converted score. 😠 I let musescore play this for me to hear - might be a great modern/experimental piece for someone. 🤢 Can't really recommend the 'experimental' sheet music converter at musescore!
I probably would have had much better luck with the much cleaner pdf that @Ford Glass provided - don't know why I didn't think to try it!
I'm about ready to change the title of this blog to my journey into insanity! I'm a bit crazy for using 2 different laptops & updating Windows 11 on the Alien - now I've wasted a day! Lost the use of my 'print screen/snip' button - guess I'm not the only one (found a site with solutions - still working n it) & lost my virtual touch keyboard, got it back, but now clipboard images I saved seem to be locked - access to everything else changed too. 😶🌫️
I used to be great at switching gears & adapting... I'm getting old, tired & frustrated.
...and this rainy weather sucks!
I AM such an idiot for not starting with the Captain Grant pdf Ford Glass so graciously provided - it was a MUCH cleaner version!
The musescore converter (musescore.com/import) worked great this time, with this pdf!
It really helps I was able to hear it in musescore, so now (since I finally know the tune well enough from playing) - it should be easier for me to make a few changes to the notation - there's some differences that Alasdair White plays... we'll see, but NOT NOW.
...right now it's raining AGAIN and I hate everything - except playing music.
I really appreciate the peptalk from both you & Greg! 🥰
I've ended on a good note, now - with a better score in musescore to start on, instead of from scratch! I'm just having a hard time leaving it alone to get some sleep!
...will try to keep my ranting to a minimum. (lol)
I need to play some music! 🤗
Decided to stick to just playing, today - think I've settled on 2 different amp presets I want to try recording with! I don't want to sound too crazy - but yes, I'm geeked! Seems every little mistake is amplified, so I just want to be prepared enough to not make too many mistakes.
I have to say I'm extremely pleased with the sound produced by my little tank of a fiddle - just what I'd hoped for when I bought it at the beginning of my adventure here! I'm just afraid Mortimer's acoustic sounds will be heard along with the amp in a recording... we'll see!
So, I'm baffled - my batteries in my preamp are still good (?) haven't had to change them out, yet! ...but I have had to recharge my Mini Spark a couple times, in fact it shut down on me in the wee hours this morning (I just had to play more after my last post here 😉) - lasts me approx 2 days. I have been playing quite a bit this week. (lol)
I have been using a cable between Mortimer & the Mini Spark. The app already uses 2 Bluetooth connections, so decided not to add any potential issues with my BT transmitter & receiver. Have them plugged into each other part of the day/night unless I'm sure I won't be playing for awhile - just saw a video that claims this is a NO, NO! Hadn't thought about, but supposedly all instruments (my preamp)/pedals & probably my Mini Spark, all that use batteries, will run down just by having a cable plugged in - okay, but still don't know why my preamp is working after all the playing I've done this week. 🤔
...you know I just jinxed it, right? 🙄
Been thinking of trying my controller, probably getting ahead of myself - can hardly tear my bowing hand away for pizzicato! (lol) I know it will come in handy when I'm recording different tunes together.
Well, my days & nights are complete switched right now - time to be 😴!
I usually like to work on some music before going to sleep - figured my brain can solve problems while I sleep.
Don't know what I did, but I had quite the nightmare this morning!
...dreamt I had worked so hard torturing myself to get my left hand in correct position, that my whole arm became grossly twisted & distorted! 😬
Enrique López plays an EV cover of the video game main theme to "Little Nightmares II".
Thought this might be appropriate for me to play around with - have a fun amp preset "Spooky Melody" that I've been using. ...just having a hard time getting motivated to record anything. 😵💫
Forgot to mention... had Kevin check the output of my old preamp batteries before practicing tonight - read still barely okay with his tester, so just swapped them out (sorry, all still too new to me).
The newest amp presets I like aren't as boisterous as ones I was using earlier this week, so I end up turning my preamp volume up more - means my batteries may not last as long.
Maybe I should save these settings for recording only & use some louder Spark amp patches for practice, so I can turn my preamp volume down to conserve battery power.
Any suggestions on what I would adjust in an amp preset to only increase volume - besides the physical knob on my amp for volume (labeled 'guitar')? ...thought it would be best if I could keep the volume control on the Spark amp & my violin preamp to mid-range or less.
Am I being foolish?
Oh, NO - just looked at the time!
Ended up down a rabbit hole learning about VOLUME - gain, compression, drive, distortion... time flew by - thought I was really only reading for a little bit at theguitarpages.com, had a little issue with BT & then compared ways to increase VOLUME between the 2 amp patches I like...
FIRST, is 12 o'clock always the middle of a virtual knob range? My 1st thought - it is, but now I have a sneaking suspicion it isn't & don't want to spend more time right now. ...I'm always afraid I'll accidentally change a setting just by touching it to see the exact number - so I'll probably need to put specifics here later (hope you can catch my drift about differences).
- "Spooky Melody" is the patch I set as my "Solo": has preset Comp/Wah output & sensitivity is set equally below mid-range. No Drive - but if I add in the "Tube" Drive provided (overdrive, level & tone preset) I get more volume and still a VERY pleasant sound overall!!! There's a virtual knob for volume on the patch amp, but I really have to crank it all the way up to 10 to notice much volume difference. Think I might have to save this change - already made this patch one of my 4 presets on the Mini Spark!
- "Lead" is the original patch preset for "Lead": has a "Clone" Drive active - gain & treble below middle & output preset a little more than middle. No Comp/Wah, but if I pull it in I see the sensitivity is set higher than "Spooky Melody"- there's more volume, but some distortion. If I remove the Comp/Wah again & turn up the volume on this patch amp - this patch amp preset volume is lower to begin with, so turning it higher does make more of a noticeable difference & definitely helps without the distortion!!!
3 Sigma has these Audio STRING Impulses for BOTH recording and LIVE use! FIRST, I thought this was just a plugin for DAW, but says "Live use" & Electric Pickup Support allowing you to get studio tone from electric cellos, violins, and violas! I am wondering if they work like my patches (?) ...cost isn't bad.
Okay, I need to quit! So, LEARNED: 3 more places I can add VOLUME, besides on the Mini Spark itself and Mortimer's preamp volume (on the tailpiece)!
Woo HOO! ...and now I'm really geeked - and no sleep, again. 🥴
If youre wondering about volume being above 12:00 or mid position on your amp because of something thats been discussed in any of the recording topics ..dont. Thats a different process. For your amp id turn up up to wherever sounds best for you. Its only when you are recording in the computer youll need to worry about that part.. you may get some feedback depending on what you have plugged into what and how your setup is...but if that happens you can tweak then.
I understand what you are saying.
Sorry... lucky if some of what I say makes any sense - even to me!
- Live sound vs Post recording editing - at this moment, I'm only interested in how I can sound playing live.
- Tone issues - the huge number of patches I have available for the Spark amp is crazy, but since it IS a guitar amp, most of the patches tend to make me sound either like a guitar, or like I'm not using an amp.
- Volume issues - there's quite a few patches I can't hear the amp over my violin without maxing my physical volume settings out (even playing softly, really don't understand who uses these) & others seem deafening with distortion unless almost turned off! I don't want to just sound like a loud version of my normal playing (no fun in that) and I'm not convinced I want to sound like an electric guitar - so, keeping an ear open for changes in tone I like. Found that how & where I get an increase in volume can effect this.
- Battery life - since both my Mini Spark amp AND the preamp on my violin use batteries, thought it would be prudent to try to make them last.
- Controller - got to thinking, if I'm going to end up using the controller to switch patches, there has to be some continuity of volume & tone set up on them. I'd probably be a mess if I have to do anything more than press a button while I'm playing.
- 3 Sigma - I'm interested in learning more about the 3 Sigma String Impulses, maybe spending the $10, because it might sound better & I'm lazy.
...is there Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Award for Fickle Fiddlers? (me)
Don't hate me, demo video & info links on 3 Sigma back in post #15 - was hoping you'd help me figure out how it works. 🤣
I'm thinking the demo video (in post #15) shows the differences between just plugging a violin to a DI box vs plugging into something the IR's can be loaded into (?) - similar to my patches in my Spark app (?).
To learn more, I can ONLY find a sound demo of the 'Acoustic Strings' (Violin/Viola/Cello) version, this 'Acoustic Guitar' video will have to suffice. 😊
So, I watch (stayed up too late again with all this) & not sure if I really have to use a DI box (?) I'm a bit confused, cause from what I read (A simple Guide to Choosing and Using a Preamp or DI box), you choose either a preamp or a DI box, depending on your pickup (?)
I already have a preamp - don't know how I fit into all this.
All seems like too much trouble! My preamp is only powered by 3 volts (2 AAA batteries) NOT 9 volts like some guitars - so I don't think it's that high of impedance. In fact, there is a switch on my App for high or low impedance - I set to high & it switched to low on it's own (weird, I know - will re-ck*). 🤔 ...kinda concerned.
Anyway, I think I just realized my issue with some of the differences in am patches - do the patches I have to really crank up, like the 'acoustic' ones, need more wattage (?) I only have 10 watts with the Mini Spark AND low power on the preamp.
Think I'll be sorry I sent my Spark 40 to my Brother?
Btw, I also looked more into why there is no real looper available with the Mini Spark amp or app.
Supposed to be a little something can be done with the 'Smart Jam' feature to kinda loop & there IS a LOOP button in the app, but it's NOT a LOOPER pedal & I don't see anyone using any pedals other than the Spark BT Control - which controls things in the app (obviously there's a reason that eludes me) & believe that's maybe all I can connect with this low watt amp.
So, is ALL of this about I'm limited because of power supply ...another couple 'duh' moments for me?
...wasn't going to do this all night/morning, again - not sure it's worth doing any broader info search, so back to just learning to modify the patches & settings that I have. (lol)
*re-ck'd, YES, my Spark App reads my violin as low impedance, as it should - I have an 'active' Bartolini pickup!
I dont use my setup like youre trying to use it. I dont want to hear anything but my intsrument when recording and dont listen to anything EXCEPT maybe a click or drum track or whatever ive made as a backing track. The backing could be a previously recorded fiddle track. And almost never add anything except EQ and reverb.
I think you are wanting to apply those effects and hear them through the speaker of the spark. So Ill have to experiment myself using my monitors and bias fx pligins which is basically what youre using in the spark amp
The problem doing it that way is since I only have an acoustic and its under my ear..theres always going to be more natural volume of the acoustic over the monitors. An electric only may help but Im limited there. dont have one.
I dont think you need anything else. If I was gonna suggest anything its try and record some tracks using the spark as a presonus interface and apply the effects in the computer and find the sound youre looking for there. Then using your headphones ..monitor while you play with those effects and settings turned on. and from that try and match up levels till you find the right settings using the sparks speaker.
Its a process and your not doing anythinv wrong or need anything else. Its just some extra things youll have to overcome doing it like you are.