Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

 All Forums
 Other Banjo-Related Topics
 Live Sound, Recording and Electronics
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Trying to wrap my head around these new Tonedexter processors.

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

pdbanjo - Posted - 05/14/2019:  09:53:03

I'd say I'm not totally stupid (altho' my wife may not agree with that statement) but I'm having a difficult time understanding the concept of how a Tonedexter really works. My interpretation is, you plug a mic into the device and play around on the neck until it registers that it recognizes the tonal nuances of the banjo played totally acoustically in one bank. Then you plug that same banjo into it via whatever pickup you're using and play around the neck until the device recognizes how that banjo sounds using the pickup in another bank. Once that is accomplished, you plug the Tonedexter into whatever sound reinforcement device(s) you're going to use, IE: Stomp boxes, amplifier, main board, ETC. Then using the two banks the Tonedexter can reproduce only the mic'd acoustic voice of your banjo or only the pickup voice of your banjo or the two may be blended together for a different voice altogether. Then, you may do away with a stand alone mic!! Is there anything I'm missing? I'm thinking if this really works that one could use a mini wireless transceiver/ transmitter 1/4" plug ins that are advertised for guitar and have full mobility, plenty of gain w/o feedback and actually sound like an acoustic banjo rather than the electric sound that most picks ups produce. Someone please tell me I'm wrong before I go out and purchase a Tonedexter and find it doesn't live up to my expectation. 

ToneDexter Connectivity Live

Edited by - pdbanjo on 05/14/2019 10:02:29

Old Hickory - Posted - 05/14/2019:  11:13:17

Judging from this video (and another from the same player), you've described exactly the results from using Tonedexter with a banjo.

This video demos the Tonedexter learning process, which is also just as you've described.

I have to admit that the banjo video is far more impressive to me, because acoustic guitars tend not to sound awful though pickups in the first place. Banjos -- or at least my banjo through my pickup -- can be brittle, boomy and percussive all at once, sounding nothing at all like a banjo through a good stage mic.  In the banjo video linked above, the player is playing an RK-35 and I hear none of the unpleasantness I associate with banjo through a pickup and DI.  I don't know if going into a recorder vs going into PA makes a difference, but this video sells me.

I've never heard of this until now. Thanks for posting.

bluenote23 - Posted - 05/14/2019:  11:17:58

I don't have a Tonedexter but I do have Aura pedals which do something similar. With the Aura, instead of making your own 'map' you use ones that were created by Fishman but the idea is similar in that the computer algorithms try to match the signal from a pickup to the signal generated by a microphone.

Now the Aura has lots of maps, especially for the main market, acoustic guitar but there are also mandolin, dobro and even violin maps banjo maps. Is this because banjo is too marginal or are the maps too hard to make?

I read a couple of little posts about the Tonedexter on guitar forums and the mapping doesn't sound as simple as just playing a few notes and then let's go. Microphone placement and microphone quality seem to be quite important too. As a note, all the Aura maps of instruments always have several Neumanns in the mix of microphones. I can't afford a Neumann.

You do have it right. If it works, you plug in your banjo to the pedal and then plug the pedal into an amp or mixing table (for instance) and your banjo will sound like you're playing it in front of a microphone. Just how suitable the technology is for banjos is unclear to me. It seems to give good results for acoustic guitars.

edit: Ken posted as I was writing and as always, he is spot on in his observations. That video is very convincing.

Edited by - bluenote23 on 05/14/2019 11:21:55

pdbanjo - Posted - 05/14/2019:  14:43:28

A tonedexter tech responded to my question about using a wireless system along with the tonedexter. He says it will work fine but those systems have slight latency flaws so don't use it when training the tonedexter. After training plug it up an it should work fine.
Thanks old hickory and bluenote23!! I think I'm gonna spring for this and I'll let everyone know how it goes.

Pine Cone - Posted - 05/16/2019:  10:28:28

I have been following ToneDexter dicussions on the Acoustic Guitar Forum with great interest.  Not much banjo content there, but it certainly is an interesting concept.  

I look forward to hearing about how it works for you and your banjo.  What pickup will you be using on your banjo.  If I understand correctly, much of the incentive to use the ToneDexter is to remove the harsh "piezo-quack" from pickups like the K&K Mini.  

pdbanjo - Posted - 05/20/2019:  13:29:40

Pine Cone:
I agree the Tonedexter should minimize the quack of piezos however I am using a 1st generation Fishman magnetic pickup (humbucker). Fishman claims to have a new improved one out now called a "Rare Earth " that is basically the same as the older model but has an onboard preamp as opposed to the external belt clip preamp that came with my old one.
My incentive for using this set up is to eliminate the use of a mic and stand onstage but still have the sound that condenser/dynamic type instrument mics provide.
I'm waiting on a few good paying gigs to help with all this crapola so it'll be awhile. I may try to talk a music shop into letting me try one out for a gig or two. Guitar Center here in Cleveland allows some customers to take instruments out of the store to try so I'm hoping to find a shop that will let me try out a Tonedexter.
I'll keep you informed about this venture when anything new developes.

Pine Cone - Posted - 05/20/2019:  17:29:26

Thanks for the update. Used ToneDexters show up in the Acoustic Guitar Forum classifieds. Like you I am interested but the price tag make buying one a pretty serious purchase.

waystation - Posted - 05/20/2019:  17:45:51

So... if I train the Tonedexter on a 1934 flathead Granada and plug it into a $150 Jameson, or a Tranjo, can I get the prewar sound?

If so, I see three major advantages:

1. I can play a six pound cheapie onstage instead of a 12 pound Mastertone.

2. I can play bar gigs confident in the knowledge that I can use my banjo for both music and self-defense.

3. This could be a major money-making opportunity for owners of pre-war Granadas.

Seriously, if this can make a cheap banjo sound really good, what impact does that have on the market for good banjos?

waystation - Posted - 05/20/2019:  17:51:34

I just watched the linked videos. The sound is impressive - so is the playing.

banjohood - Posted - 05/21/2019:  19:56:05

I use a Tonedexter live with a Schatten piezo pickup. It's the best piece of outboard gear I've ever bought, and I've used a lot. I've used it on big stages, small rooms, and in really tough clubs. For a natural feedback resistant sound, it's the best thing I've found. (Full disclosure: I'm one of the artists featured on the website and my description of how to get a good banjo sound with the TD is on their site as well.)

Something to consider: it won't work as well with the Fishman pickup. A pure piezo will work much better.

stevo58 - Posted - 06/10/2019:  00:46:02

I use a Tonedexter with my guitars, haven’t tried it with banjo yet.

When you train it, it calculates the difference between what is coming in over the pickup and over the mic, and figures out how to eq the pickup input to sound like the mic.

Mic position has a big influence on the results, so you repeat the training process until you are happy with the results.

It won’t make it sound ‘just like a mic’ but it comes pretty close. It will definitely get rid of piezo quack and improve your tone.

The pickup is also a factor. It was designed to work with K&K mini type pickups. I don’t think it will work well with a magnetic under-string pickup. It does work with USTs, SBTs, and compression pickups. I use it with a Swiss Boton SBT in my Martin OM-21, a K&K Mini in my Martin D12x, and a K&K Definity in my The Loar LH-700.

If you use a map recorded for a different instrument, it’s a crap shoot. It won’t make a cheap banjo sound like a Grenada.

It has some additional features, like automatically detecting the most likely feedback frequencies (you can turn this off when you make the map if you want to), pretty good eq, tuner, boost.

I’ve used a variety of mics for the training, and settled on a DPA 4099, because it’s a good mic and it won’t move relative to the instrument. I’ve also used a Beyer mc930 and a Haun MBC660, with good results. Shure SM81 seems to be the favorite, though. LDCs don’t work as well. Some just use an SM57. Basically, try everything you have.

I’m a fan. It’s a good DI, and improves my live sound.


Edited by - stevo58 on 06/10/2019 00:49:41

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories