Guitar Full Wave Rectification

I was just rebuilding an SG copy I own (Samick guitar, real bridge/tailpiece/pickups except the pickup baseplates were so worn out I had to put the Gibson pickups on Ibanez baseplates) when I discovered something. The Dan Armstrong ‘Green Ringer’ (or even a reissue, like the one I have) is far more significant to Frank Zappa’s solo tone than I’d imagined, with instances built into his famous SG and also a Strat (I think I hear this effect on ‘Watermelon In Easter Hay’), and here’s the deal…

It’s way more adaptable to any single-note-lead playing guitarist than you’d think. Or even some double-stops and chords. And it will not automatically make you sound like Frank… but it will mutate YOUR sound into a sort of hypercharged, octave-boosted version of your sound, with many similar effects. And, at least with my Samick SG and reissue Green Ringer, I can build it into the SG without routing or removing controls, and I have done. (see full post for the pictures)

Normal notes develop this packed-up, charged electricity to them. Muted or flubbed notes turn into octave-up notes (as do very high notes, a terrific result!). And as long as you can control the ringing of unused strings and play crisply and cleanly, this effect will work with just about any style and context.

It’s a full-wave rectifier, much like any sort of guitar distortion is ‘clipping’. And though you can get ‘ring modulator’ type effects out of a Green Ringer circuit, if you pick your notes wisely, nobody need ever know that you’re using a full-wave rectifier and altering your tone hugely. They will only know that there’s something distinctive about your playing, because the effect highlights elements of your touch and your sound, and ends up sounding like you… transformed.

These sorts of researches (and documenting them on video like this) is supported by my Patreon. I’d like to see it continue to expand, so I’ll keep on making stuff: plugins, obviously, but whatever else I can come up with. If it’s something unusual like this that I can’t post in normal plugin-posting places, feel free to link to it in other places that are more suitable :)

And to top it off, here’s a series of pictures: I built the circuitboard from the Green Ringer and a 9V battery into the control cavity of my (Samick) SG… WITHOUT routing, or removing any pots. The switch both turns the Ringer on and off, and turns the power on and off (it was a DPDT switch and the other half was going unused). I have to have a screwdriver to change the battery, but… no routing! And the Ringer/battery sit there waiting for that switch to go DOWN and engage hyperdrive…

Ringer, wired in to the guitar (if you can’t get this far you shouldn’t be doing this yourself)

Taped wires up to hold them in place

Sealed with more tape. The transistors, caps etc are folded over to flatten them.

Battery in position. Should be room between the pots. Circuit board goes over lower pots.

Lid on. It all fits! And there’s even a wire running under the battery that I could have avoided.

Engage Hyperdrive (switch DOWN). Flip back up when removing cable, to preserve battery. Could have also wired to stereo jack for redundant shutoff. Note that it’s the V+ this device connects to guitar ground, and the V- goes to the circuit board.