Fernandes Sustainer Problems! (high e-string)

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Kyle Schoutrop
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Fernandes Sustainer Problems! (high e-string)

#1 Post by Kyle Schoutrop » Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:34 am

Hello guys,

Recently I bought a Ibanez JEM70V SFG, I also bought a Fernandes Sustainer, the FSK-401 version. Last week my luthier installed the sustainer. He has installed this type of sustainer in many guitars like Music Man, Valley Arts, Ibanez, etc. With these guitars it was mostly plug and play, no real problems evolved. Everything went fine, we took Flo as an example. He tested the sustain and harmonic mode. The problem we face now is that, when we enable the harmonic mode, the high e-string stops vibrating and the 5th harmonic ain't ringing through. In the sustain mode everything works fine on every string. In the harmonic mode also except the high e-string. We tried alot of possible solution but with failure. The guitar is stock, nothing has changed on it, except the build-in sustainer. Here some examples: We rotated the pick-ups, bridge, middle and even the sustainer it self. We changed it's phase and polarity, none made any difference. We also changed the phase/polarity on the sustainer and tried all possible rotation combinations with the other pick-ups, none worked. We took the stock DiMarzio EVO bridge en tried the neck pick-up version, with rotating all possible combinations again, none worked. After that we tried a Seymour Duncan alnico pick-up, again going through all the steps but with failure. We also tried different hights with all pick-ups and the sustainer, it made no difference for the high e-string in harmonic mode. We are not sure what the problem could be anymore. What I noticed playing the instrument is that, when you try to do normal pitch harmonics with your pick, it is also very difficult to let them sing and even create them. On the internet, there are several people that face the same problem but with all the two/three high strings, but noone has the solution for our problem. Have you guys had any difficulties with a JEM guitar that look similiar as mine? Do you have any possible solution what it could be?

Kind regards,

Kyle

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Jeroen
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Re: Fernandes Sustainer Problems! (high e-string)

#2 Post by Jeroen » Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:50 am

Yes, try a different sustainer. (board and/or driver). Fernandes can be a hit & miss on occasion. I have a few that are hot (almost too hot to handle) and will pick up on the slightest, but I've also had one that couldn't be arsed to do anything. Also, make sure you use a brand new Duracell 9V battery (Tip from Thomas)

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Re: Fernandes Sustainer Problems! (high e-string)

#3 Post by Kyle Schoutrop » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:21 pm

Hi Jeroen!

Thanks for the reply, the strange thing is that only the high e-string doesn't work, I phoned Fernandes and asked them about it, they said if the rest of the strings vibrate, in even the sustain mode and the harmonic mode, the sustainer works properly.

I'll try to find a way to use a different driver/board. Maybe this will finally work.

Do you might know any other options if it doesn't work?

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Re: Fernandes Sustainer Problems! (high e-string)

#4 Post by Jeroen » Fri Oct 16, 2015 3:43 am

The sustainer working is just relative. The thicker the string, the easier it is to get it to resonate by the driver. That's what I mean with a hot or not so hot sustainer. This one looks like it's too weak to get the high E going, but the rest is less difficult. So my advise really would be to try another kit (driver or board, or both).

I assume you played with the settings (the little pots) on the board. Check the manual for reference.

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Re: Fernandes Sustainer Problems! (high e-string)

#5 Post by Kyle Schoutrop » Fri Oct 16, 2015 4:09 am

We also tried a .13 string on the high e-string, it didn't work either. I guess thicker strings won't help. We also adjust the pots from time to time, most of the times the pots are like on 100%, that is what Fernandes advised and when it's working you could scroll back for your perfect balance.

I'll try to get a different board/driver, but it is difficult since I live in The Netherlands and Fernandes won't send me a spare one, unless I pay 300 euro's again...

Today we disarmed the middle pick-up and we come to notice that it made an improvement. It affected the G-, B- and high E-string in a positive way, but now the octave, instead of the fifth, rings in the harmonic mode.

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Re: Fernandes Sustainer Problems! (high e-string)

#6 Post by Jeroen » Fri Oct 16, 2015 4:34 am

Ok, well, you're in luck, because I live in the NL and I have a spare board somewhere that you can borrow to try if you like.

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Re: Fernandes Sustainer Problems! (high e-string)

#7 Post by Kyle Schoutrop » Fri Oct 16, 2015 4:43 am

That is great news! I'll send you my email address, we can get in touch. Thanks!

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Re: Fernandes Sustainer Problems! (high e-string)

#8 Post by rodnjax » Sun Feb 14, 2016 6:32 am

I too have had problems with my 401's, and they are hit or miss. Majority of them work right, but sometimes for a short time and some last longer. I have a 101 that has about 3 yrs on it. I have a 401 that ( I had for only a yr now ) doesn't work like a 401 should, but works like a 101 now. Lost its mix mode, and the intensity knob dead.

Talked to Joe JEM Despagni, who has alot of experience with them, along with Thomas (while I attended, Vai Academy in Vail CO.) who also said, same. You can rack your brain for hours, and all it is, one of the sustainer circuits malfunctioning. So move on with another.

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Re: Fernandes Sustainer Problems! (high e-string)

#9 Post by jorevf » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:20 am

Kyle Schoutrop wrote:That is great news! I'll send you my email address, we can get in touch. Thanks!
Hi,

Did you ever get the High E string to work?

Regards,
Freddie

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Re: Fernandes Sustainer Problems! (high e-string)

#10 Post by Kyle Schoutrop » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:46 am

Hello Guys,

I got a spare board from Jeroen and I must say it works better now, not perfect but better.

The harmonic-mode does not ring when I fret the 15th fret or higher, the rest works and when I am on the lower frets (high e-string), I have to use the mix-mode for the harmonic to ring through.

I got it to work for like 95%, I will stick with this...

Kind regards,

Kyle

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Re: Fernandes Sustainer Problems! (high e-string)

#11 Post by Toxiccamel » Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:22 am

The sustainer as others have said it a bit of a hit and miss piece of gear. I've installed four and all vary considerably. The current 101 I'm trying to sort out will not accept a middle pick up without it making a hideous racket in either active or bypass mode, so I wired it directly to pickup switch (this has the added benefit of having the middle pickup available even when battery is flat. The 5 way switch connections shown on the installation manual are incorrect; they are a mirror images of what the switch actually does!!!
The beast draws quite a lot of current, so if you can get 6 1.5 volt AA batteries in they will last much longer.

As for driving the thing, I always use a Kent Armstrong Motherbucker (23K) as its the only one I've found powerful enough to do the job. No doubt others of a similar spec' and output would work, from speaking to Hugh Manson many years ago, I know he also recommends this pickup and I believe he uses them on Matt Bellamy's guitars equipped with a sustainer. I know this solution will not suit everyone.

I still have not had any joy from support@fernandesguitars.com when asking them about the middle pickup problems.

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Re: Fernandes Sustainer Problems! (high e-string)

#12 Post by guitarist8 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:23 pm

Hello there, how are you? Sorry for necro-bumping this thread but, i have had the same problem. My guitar (Fernandes Revolver Pro 81) came with an EMG 81 on the bridge, and the high E wouldn't pickup well, with the sustainer on or off. Now i asked a repairman to change the bridge pickup to a Seymour JB humbucker, and the problem got better, but didn't disappear completely.

Now, my question is: Do you guys know if i can change the original pots of the Fernandes Sustainer to 500k? And also, do you know if the originals are 25k or 500k? I'm guessing they are 25k, because the JB (bridge) sounds really bad like, really thinner than when it was on another guitar. My idea of changing to 500k would be to make the JB possibly sound thicker and with more harmonics that is.

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