Some (hopefully) Useful Information Concerning
The New Dream Harp-Sympitar
built for Bob Gore by Fred Carlson, Santa Cruz, California, 2004-2006
(Copyright September, 2007, Fred Carlson)

Note: this was written and formatted as a printed/paper document. Maybe someday I'll figure out how to turn it into a PDF document so it can retain the pagination and so on; at this point that is beyond what I want to or am able to do. I'll indicate in large, white font where the page changes would be, to help locate things more easily.

This is an abridged version of the "Owner's Manual", edited for a wider audience than the original document was intended. I hope you find it useful and/or of interest.


Table of Contents


¨ Basic Information- page 2
¨ Strings- page 3
Tunings and Gauges
Note about the New Dream Sympathetics
¨ Treble Harp Tuning Methods and Re-stringing- pages 4, 5

Tuning Methods
Banjo 5th-string Tuners-page 5

Stringing- page 5
¨ Sympathetic Strings- page 6
Re-stringing or replacing a broken sympathetic string- pages 6, 7, 8, 9
¨ Rear Access Panel- pages 9, 10
¨ Individual Sub-bass Capos- page 10
¨ Sympathetic Mute/Damper- page 10
¨ Sharping Levers- pages 10

¨ Electronics- page 11
Replacing the 9-volt batteries- pages 12, 13
Tips for getting the best sound from the pickups- pages 13, 14
¨ New Dream and MIDI- page 15


Basic Information
Þ top = Sitka spruce
Þ Back and sides = big leaf maple (quilted figure with spalting)
Þ neck = black walnut
Þ bass peghead = black walnut
Þ main fretboard, main bridge = ebony
Þ bass fretboard, treble bridge, treble tuner block and fine-tuner plate = black walnut
Þ bindings = black walnut
Þ main fretboard inlay = maple
Þ bass fretboard decoration = gold ink
Þ top finish = French polished shellac
Þ back, sides, neck, (and other parts) finish = French polished oil
Þ main tuners = 3 standard Schaller gold guitar tuners with mini-ebony knobs; 3 Waverly Vintage 2-Band planetary banjo tuners, gold with ebony knobs
Þ bass tuners = same as main
Þ sympathetic string tuners = Schaller mini nylon-bodied 12-string tuners with ebony knobs
Þ treble harp tuners = Waverly Vintage 2-Band banjo 5th-string tuners, gold with custom-shaped ebony knobs; Wittner Uni Midget (violin) fine tuners
Þ treble harp sharping levers = Truitt (Dragonwhispers)
Þ pickups = RMC hexaphonic for main (Acoustic Gold) and bass (Bass Excellence) with outboard RMC Polydrive preamp/buffer unit for each; custom piezo-cable pickup (undersaddle) for treble harp; custom piezo-ceramic element built into sympathetic bridge; 2 Bartolini pre-amps
Þ bass capos = brass and rubber
Þ neck reinforcing = custom epoxy-graphite channel provides a path for the sympathetic strings and supports/stabilizes the neck



Tunings and gauges
As shipped (Sept., 2007), the instrument has been set up with the following basic tunings and string gauges. Damage caused by increasing stress/tension on the instrument via tuning or string gauge changes will be the responsibility of the owner:
Þ main strings, phosphor bronze/steel = D2A2D3G3A3D4; string gauges = .056-.042-.032-.024-.017-.013
Þ bass strings, phosphor bronze wound on steel = D1E1G1A1B1C2; gauges = .080-.070-.064-.062-.059-.056 (D1 .080" is a D’Addario acoustic bass guitar string; the others are D’Addario guitar)
Þ treble harp strings with no sharping levers in use = D4Eb4F4G4A4Bb4C4D5Eb5F5G5A5Bb5C5D6; gauges = .026-.024-.022-.020-.018-.017-.016-.016-.015-.014-.014-.013-.012-.011-.010 (.026"through .018" are phosphor bronze wound, label guitar, .017" through .010" are brass-plated steel D’Addario guitar)
Þ sympathetic strings, plain steel = (from left to right) F#4E4D4C4A3G3 G4F4D4C#4B3A3; string gauges = .007" all (.008" will work)

Note about the New Dream sympathetics
In general, the internal sympathetics on my Sympitars are in two groups of 6. Tuning is usually set up so that the lowest pitches go to the furthest distant tuners on the peghead, highest pitches go to the nearest (of the 12 sympathetic string) tuners. This means that the centermost string of each group of 6 is the lowest in pitch of that group, the outermost strings are the highest pitches. However, each Sympitar has it’s own idiosyncrasies that take precedent over this general rule. Because of the peghead design of the New Dream, the string tension on the right-side (treble-side) sympathetic nut might tend to tip or displace the nut if tuned in the usual way. On the New Dream, this right-hand group of sympathetic strings is tuned in reverse order from the usual, making each group of 6 sympathetic strings go from high to low, left to right. The pitches given above as a nominal sympathetic tuning are in this latter order.


Treble Harp Tuning Methods and Re-stringing
Tuning methods
The treble harp strings have 3 options for tuning/changing pitches. The Waverly banjo 5th-string tuners are for gross tuning (i.e. bringing a newly installed string up to basic pitch); the violin fine-tuners are for general tuning of the strings once they’re brought up to approximate final pitch, and will often be the easiest way to effect tuning modifications of less than ½ step (fine tuning). They can also be used for larger tuning modifications, limited by the amount of travel of the thumbscrew. For very quick re-tunings of one half-step, the harp "sharping levers" can be used. Ideally, a player will develop their own basic tuning(s) for the treble harp strings (generally similar in tension to that recommended above), taking into account the sharping lever positions. Each lever has two positions, achieved by moving the lever as far as it will go (without forcing it) in either direction. For example: from the basic tuning given above, with no sharping levers effecting the strings (all in "off" position), a D-major scale is quickly achieved by flipping the 2nd, 3rd, 6th , 7th, 9th, 10th, 13th, and 14th levers into "on" position so they "fret" the strings. To go from there to a D natural-minor scale, set levers 3, 7, 10 and 14 back to "off" position....and so on.

The treble harp string fine-tuners function via two moving parts: a metal arm with a forked end that holds the ball end of the string, and a thumbscrew. Turning the thumbscrew clockwise (screwing it in) causes the metal arm to move back toward the thumbscrew, tightening the string and raising it’s pitch. Unscrewing the screw (counterclockwise) lets the arm move out, toward the string, releasing tension on it and lowering its pitch. Before replacing a string on the treble harp section, be sure that the thumbscrew on the fine-tuner for that string is unscrewed enough to put the little fine-tuning arm in its furthest-extended position, or nearly so. If you unscrew the thumbscrew too far, it will simply come out of the fine tuner, and need to be re-inserted. The fine-tuners are held in place by little, knurled lock-nuts below the thumbscrews. These may eventually work loose, and can cause buzzing and possibly other problems. They can be tightened with the fingers, or very carefully with a needle-nose pliers.


Banjo 5th-string tuners
The Waverly banjo 5th-string tuners have a (mostly hidden) central shaft that rotates when you turn the knob. This shaft has a hole in it, like the string post on a more typical tuner, which you thread the string through. Access to this is in the space between the body of the tuner and the wooden (walnut) tuner block, Here, there are openings on two opposite side of the tuner that allow the string to be inserted.

First, turn the knob until the string hole in the inner shaft lines up with the openings in the body, so you can see clear through. Thread the end of the string through the hole. Pull the string through far enough that you can attach the ball end of the string to the appropriate fine- tuner. Hook the ball onto the fine-tuner, making sure it is centered on the tuner arm, with the string itself going between the two prongs of the arm-fork. Hold the ball end in place with one hand, and pull the string fully through the banjo tuner on the other end. With a wire-cutting tool (i.e. diagonal nippers) cut the string to length at about 1 inch beyond the tuner it is threaded through (a little shorter for the heavier wound strings). Keeping the ball end in place on the fine tuner, pull the string back until its end just barely sticks out through the inner shaft of the banjo tuner. Turning the tuner knob should now pull the string into the tuner and wind it around the inner shaft. There’s not a lot of room in there, which is why the string must be cut fairly short, especially for the thicker strings. There’s also not much room for one’s fingers to turn the knobs (due to the necessary close spacing of the tuners). A plastic string-winder can be modified to fit, making the initial tuning-up easier.
Once the slack in the string is taken up and it begins to tighten, make sure the ball end is still in place correctly, and that the string rests in it’s proper groove in the saddle at either end. Now you can bring the string up to pitch using the banjo tuner. If you have trouble getting the ball end to stay put on the fine-tuner arm, try screwing in the thumbscrew a bit to move the arm back; that position will grab the ball more securely. Once the string is up to pitch and has settled in, you can use the fine-tuner for most tuning purposes. Occasionally you may have to make an adjustment with the banjo tuner if you run out of travel with the fine-tuner thumbscrew.
When removing an old or broken string for replacement, make sure not to leave any of the old string end stuck inside the banjo tuner.

The ease-of-turning of the banjo tuners (knobs) can be adjusted somewhat by the screw in the top of each knob.

PAGE 6,7,8,9

Sympathetic Strings

The sympathetic strings anchor (their ball ends) on the outside of the main bridge and run inside the instrument and neck. They go over two small nuts at the peghead and attach to the furthermost 12 (black/chrome) tuners on the main peghead.
Inside the instrument, they rest on a free-floating bridge with a wide, flattish brass-capped surface (table). This is the jiwari bridge, an E. Indian word meaning to "give life" Each symp. string sits in a small slot/groove in the back edge of that table. Behind that string resting point, coming off the back end of the jiwari bridge, toward the butt of the instrument, are two wooden arms, angled on their underside, which rest on the main bridge-pad (or bridge-plate). Fine adjustments of the jiwari (buzzing quality) can be made by sliding the bridge very slightly forward or back (toward or away from the peghead). There is very little side-to-side clearance in the neck channel, so if the bridge should get displaced too much too one side or the other, one of the outer (or center-most, because the channel has a center wall as well) strings may get muted by touching the channel wall, or cause an unusual buzz to occur. The sympathetic string pickup is inside the jiwari bridge, on the underside of the brass top-plate. Care must be taken when adjusting the bridge not to disturb the pickup wire coming out of the side of the bridge.

Re-stringing or replacing a broken sympathetic string
The sympathetic strings get little wear and virtually no buildup from finger oil or dirt. Therefore they rarely need to be replaced; I’ve never changed a sympathetic string unless it broke. Some of the symps. on my personal instrument have been on for over ten years and still sound fine. You probably will break one occasionally, so here’s how to put a new one on when you do:

You’ll need a bit of masking (or other) tape, and an approximately 3 foot long strip of thin material, narrow and stiff enough to insert into the neck channel from the peghead end. I’m including a strip of wood veneer for this use. I’ll call this strip the fish-stick, since it’s used to fish the string through the channel. You’ll want to work on a large, clear surface, with something soft (i.e. a blanket) covering it.
Good lighting is important, and a flashlight can be very helpful.
1) remove the old string (by pulling on the ball end, unless that’s where it broke), and remove any string left on the tuning peg post
2) with the instrument lying on it’s back, insert the fish-stick into the symp-string channel at the peghead. Note that the channel is divided longitudinally into two, with 6 symp. strings in each side. Insert the fish-stick into the side where the new string needs to go; insert it on top of the remaining strings and push it in until it appears inside the instrument and meets with the jiwari bridge. Note that in doing this it will go through any holes in the bracing; this makes sure that the new string doesn’t get wrapped around anything inside the instrument. If the fish-stick encounters resistance, you may need to pull it out and pre-bend the leading end a bit one way or the other to clear any obstacles (bracing) inside.
3) insert a new, .007" or .008" ball end string into the hole in the bridge and push it in a few inches.
4) Position the instrument to rest on the bass side (bass side down), so you can get to the access door in the back of the instrument. You can also lay the instrument face down (after getting the string inserted), instead of on its side, which is safer (more stable) but may make pulling the string through a bit more difficult. Open the trap door in the back by pushing downward on the left corner/point of the door until the opposite edge lifts enough to grab onto it (see more on the trap door later in this document). Grab the door and pull up to release it from the magnetic attachments. Set the door aside in a safe place.
5) you’ll need good lighting for this part; a flashlight may be helpful or necessary. There’s a lot of pickup wires in there; you want to be sure to get the new string following a path where it will not wrap around and/or put pressure on those wires. The string will need to pass between two of the six RMC pickup wires coming down from the main-string pickups, to get to the sympathetic bridge. You need to identify which of those two wires you’ll be pulling the new string between. Then locate the end of that new string that you’ve threaded in from outside, grab it and pull it between the two appropriate pickup wires and out the back door (being sure you keep it clear of any other wires in the process). Pull it carefully, guiding the ball end to be sure it doesn’t hit against the top, and that the string doesn’t kink, until the ball end anchors securely against the ebony of the main bridge.
6) Next, you need to get the end of the string taped to the end of the fish-stick so you can thread it through the neck. This involves first pulling the end of the fish-stick up to the open door from it’s position between the sympathetic strings and the instrument top. To do this, you have to take into account the position of the missing string within the group of 6 sympathetics. Essentially, you need to pull the end of the fish-stick up through the space where the missing string had been, in order to assure the new string goes in its proper place and does not wrap around some other string(s). If either outer string of the group of 6 is the one you’re replacing, you just pull the end of the fish-stick around that side of the remaining strings. If, say, the 3rd string in the group is the one you must replace, you’ll need to pull the end of the fish-stick up between the 2nd and 4th strings of the group. This should be pretty obvious once you get in there; if you are sure to get the new string following the same path as the one you’re replacing did, you won’t have any problems. If the new string gets wrapped around another string, neither will work.
You may need to be creative about how you get the end of the fish-stick pulled into position between or around the other strings, as there’s not a lot of finger-room in there. A very small needle-nose pliers, or perhaps medical forceps, can help. It tends to be easier to pull the fish-stick end up around the outside of the group of strings, rather than between two of them. If you don’t have luck getting it pulled up between two strings, you can instead pull it up around the outside of the group. Then you need to thread the end of your new string down into the gap between strings (where your missing string was), and pull it out from beneath the other strings in the same direction as you pulled the fish-stick end. Whew! Still with me? Somehow, you have to get the end of the fish stick into a position where you can tape the end of the new string to it, and when you pull the fish-stick back out of the neck from the peghead end, the new string will come with it, and end up in the same place as the old string you’re replacing, without being wrapped around other strings, pickup wires, old pieces of sandwich, or whatever else you might have in there!
7) OK, you’ve taken a little piece of tape (masking tape works good), and taped the end of the string to the end of the fish-stick, covering the string end itself with tape, so it won’t catch on anything as it’s pulled through. Now, you gently pull the fish-stick out of the neck from the peghead end, watching to be sure that the string is not kinking or wrapping around anything.
8) turn the instrument over, so you can easily get to the peghead and tuners. Be sure the ball end is pulled tight to the ebony of the main bridge. Pull the string end free from the tape and attach it to the appropriate tuning peg (with this thin of a string, I like to go through the post hole and around the post, then through the hole and around again, a couple times to insure against slippage, before winding the string on the post). Turn the tuner to tighten the string, being sure that the string is riding in the correct groove in the sympathetic string nut.
9) Before attempting to bring the string up to pitch, turn the instrument over on its belly again, and look in the trap door to make sure that the new string is riding in the correct groove in the jiwari bridge. It probably isn’t, and you’ll need to position it there. The tool I use for this is a tiny crochet-hook (#8/1.4mm, available at a place that sells sewing/knitting supplies); I’ll include one, fitted with a wooden handle, for this purpose. With this tool it’s pretty simple: you locate the string, grab it with the little hook on the end of the tool, and lift it over to it’s groove. Again, be sure the string is not wrapping around other strings, or pushing heavily on a pickup wire (if it is, something’s wrong and you may have to repeat the whole process).
10) Once the new string is in place at nut and bridge, you can proceed to bring it up to pitch.

This is a lot of words to describe a process that is not that difficult to learn to do, and takes me about 10-15 minutes.

PAGE 9, 10

Rear Access Panel
The trap door located in the center of the maple back is held in place by strong, small magnets in a three-point attachment configuration. Pushing down/inward on the furthest left edge of the door causes it to pivot on the two central points, and lift up from the third, right-side point, allowing you to grab the door and pull it up free of the magnets. To replace the door, place the right corner of the door in place first, then gently lower the rest into place.

The attachment points are height-adjustable with a 1/8" Allen (hex)wrench, so the door can be leveled with the instrument back (differences in the way the door and the back respond to humidity and temperature may make it impossible to get the door perfectly level with the back; the adjusters should be able to get it pretty close in most situations).

In addition to allowing access to the sympathetic strings and the pickups/pre-amps/batteries, the trap door can provide additional tonal variety. However, the magnets can come loose with repeated use, and the door itself could be damaged if dropped. I recommend leaving the door in place and keeping unnecessary opening to a minimum.


Individual Sub-bass Capos
The sub-bass strings are fitted with a system of individual capos. Included are 6 capos (1 for each string) and 6 extra capos (12 in all). There is a small white container with a screw-top in the case for storing the capos. I have on file in my shop a sample capo I can use to copy, should enough these get worn or lost that you need more.
The function of the capo is very simple: you insert the small, brass end into the hole behind the fret you choose, with the rubber-coated "capo" pointing up toward the peghead. While inserting, gently attempt to rotate the capo, in its hole, towards the string. When the brass head on the bottom end of the capo shaft lines up with a corresponding recess under the fretboard, the capo will (fairly) easily rotate over the string, holding it down onto the fret (you might need to hold the string down while turning the capo). This may take a little practice, but should be pretty quick once you get it.

Sympathetic Mute/Damper
The sympathetic strings are fitted with a damping mechanism that can be used to stop their sounding. This is controlled by an ebony knob on the side of the instrument, beneath the neck where the neck heel would usually be. When the knob points more-or-less toward the back of the instrument, the strings are free to vibrate; turning the knob more-or-less ¼ turn, to point away from the bass body extension, mutes the strings. Don’t rotate the knob any more than necessary to mute the strings, or you may damage the mechanism. The mechanism can be accessed through the trap door if repairs or adjustments are needed.

Sharping Levers
The Truitt folk-harp sharping levers on the treble harp strings have two positions to their function. Moving the lever to the extreme end of it’s travel in either direction will either fret the string, raising the pitch by one half-step, or unfret it, lowering the pitch by one half-step (never force the lever in either direction beyond it’s natural stopping point). The levers can be adjusted for intonation by loosening the mounting screws with the included hex/Allen wrench and sliding the entire lever forward or back. Be careful not to tighten the screws more than needed to hold the lever in place; excessive force could compress the spruce (topwood) and cause intonation or other problems.
The levers are comprised of several removable/replaceable parts.


The main and sub-bass strings each use a separate set of RMC pickups, each set wired to it’s own multi-pin DIN jack. Included are two outboard RMC Polydrive II units, one optimized for bass frequencies, one for standard guitar (I’ve marked them on the underside), and two cables to connect the jacks to the Polydrives. The Polydrives each use a 9-volt battery (I’ve installed fresh ones, 8/2007). On the instrument, the jack for the sub-basses is the one toward the bass side of the body.

The treble harp strings have a custom piezo-cable pickup (made by me), boosted and buffered by an onboard Bartolini MPB-1 pre-amp/buffer (powered by a 9-volt battery). This pre-amp has a both a piezo and a magnetic channel; only the piezo channel is being used by this pickup. The piezo cable sits underneath the ebony treble harp saddle, in the bridge that is near the treble harp fine-tuners.

The sympathetic string pickup (also built by me, initially designed by Rick Turner; I’ve used a different piezo element) has a piezo-ceramic element attached to the underside of the brass table of the jiwari bridge. This pickup also uses it’s own Bartolini MPB-1, and 9-volt battery.

Both the treble harp pickup and the sympathetic pickup feed to ¼ inch endpin jacks near the butt of the instrument, just above the RMC jacks. The ¼" jack further toward the treble side is for the harp strings, the one toward the left/bass is the symp jack. The jacks for these two pickups are wired so that fully inserting the mono ¼" plug of standard a instrument cable completes the connection of battery to pre-amp; removing the plug disconnects the battery so it won’t drain when not in use.

The internal pre-amps and their batteries are accessible through the rear trap door. All are attached to the interior of the treble side of the instrument with Velcro (hook and loop tape), so are removable for battery replacement or wiring modifications/repairs. You likely won’t need to mess with the pre-amps themselves, but you will occasionally need to change batteries. Each battery is in it’s own, separate, padded rubber holder that is closed with Velcro to keep the battery from coming loose in the instrument. The batteries are located (stuck via Velcro to the guitar’s side) in the upper waist area of the side, toward the leg-hook of the cutaway.

PAGE 12, 13

To replace the 9-volt batteries

you might find it useful to have on hand a small flashlight, and an automotive inspection mirror. This latter is a small (2" diameter or so) mirror on a telescoping or flexible arm (available at auto parts stores; Stewart-MacDonald Guitar Shop Supply sells one that has an integrated light- ) that can be positioned to see the insides of the instrument through the trap door.
Each battery wiring terminal clip is marked indicating which pickup it goes to.

1) place the instrument, face down, on a large, clear surface covered with a blanket or something soft. Open/remove the access panel/trap door. In this position, the batteries will be on your left, attached to the guitar side, up toward the cutaway. The pre-amps will be attached to that same side but down further toward the butt of the instrument. If you have a mirror, use it to look around inside and familiarize your self with where things are. Notice that the many wires are held by little foam blocks glued to the back and or side of the instrument. Each block has a slit in it that the wires sit in.

2) locate the batteries in their padded holders (packs). Reach in with one hand and (being careful of wires) grab onto a battery pack and pull it until it releases from the Velcro on the guitar side. Lift it out through the trap door. The wiring attaching each battery to its pre-amp is plenty long enough to be able to pull the battery-pack well out of the instrument, but some of that wire may be gathered up in one or more of the foam retaining blocks, and may have to be gently pulled or slipped out of the slit in the block to release the wire. Or, there may be enough free wire that you can get the pack out far enough to replace the battery without having to release the extra wire. You’ll figure all this out by trying. Using the mirror and light can be helpful.

3) when you’ve gotten one of the battery-packs out, remove the wiring clip from the battery terminals (be careful not to pull too hard on the wire at any point in the process). Unwrap/loosen the Velcro belt holding the battery in place and remove the battery from the pack/holder. Insert a fresh battery into the pack and tighten the Velcro belt so the battery is gripped in place in the pack. Replace the battery wiring clip onto the terminals and install the entire battery pack back onto the Velcro patch inside, right where you removed it from (note one side of the battery pack is covered with Velcro to mate with the patch on the instrument side).

4) repeat this process with the other battery.

5) secure loose wiring back in retaining blocks as necessary, to avoid rattling or buzzing from wires. Replace trap door.

PAGE 13, 14

Tips for getting the best sound from the pickups

You’ll learn through experience what works for you and your own set-up. If you have a 2-channel pre-amp or amp that you’re going into (stereo), you can use a "Y" cable that has two mono ¼" plugs and a stereo ¼" plug, for the treble harp and sympathetic pickups. The mono plugs go into the instrument jacks, the stereo plug goes to the amp/pre-amp. A lot of systems are set up to do this these days. You shouldn’t need to go through a pre-amp with the treble harp and sympathetic pickups, since they have their own internal pre-amps. But if your set-up has a pre-amp as part of it, I’d run these through it rather than the RMCs, though either should work fine. I just think the RMCs will benefit the least from it, as the Polydrives probably do more than the little Bartolini preamps. You might need a small mixer, to get all four signals from the New Dream into your amp, unless the amp has enough input possibilities. A mixer will give you a simple way of adjusting levels, too.

In my tests, I found that the sub-bass RMCs are VERY sensitive, and keeping their level (gain) as low as possible (while still achieving a balance with the other strings) helped. They tend to pick up the harmonics produced by the sub-bass strings, even when you’re just playing the other (main, harp) strings, and it can get very muddy fast. And there can be feedback problems if they’re turned up too high, as well. Muting the sub-bass strings with the right arm when not playing them helps with the muddiness.

The sympathetic string pickup is VERY hot, and tends to be a bit harsh and trebley when turned up too high. Also, since it is located beneath the main strings, in the center of the top, it will tend to pick up the other strings, especially the main strings, more so the higher it’s turned up.

Specific suggestions:

1) keep the bass RMCs as low gain as you can, and learn to mute the sub-bass strings when not playing them
2) experiment with the gain on the sympathetic channel to see how high you can get before the overall sound becomes too unpleasant, and too much of the other strings bleed through. I’ve found I can get plenty of symp. sound out of this pickup, without needing to crank it up high.
3) using EQ, roll off (cut) the bass frequencies on the sympathetic channel, to cut everything below 250 Hz. This will help with bleed through from the main and bass strings (you’ll still get some, but this will help a lot)
4) using EQ, try cutting the frequencies on the sympathetic channel around 4k Hz, to ease the edginess
5) using EQ on the treble harp pickup channel, cut/roll off the low end up to 250 Hz, to help with bleed-through from main and sub-bass strings
6) the lowest main string seems a bit hot through the RMCs. I found that turning the LOW band on the Polydrive unit down helped; probably a more exacting EQ-ing could be done. It didn’t seem like a serious problem

Note: when tuning with an electronic tuner, you can plug some tuners directly into a ¼" pickup jack. I use a Peterson Virtual Strobe Tuner, which does this, and also seems to work better than some tuners for reading the sub-bass pitches. Tuning the treble harp strings by plugging the tuner directly in to the treble harp pickup works great; plugging it into the symp pickup works both for the symps as well as for the main strings. The tuner seems to read the sub-basses best if I perch it on top of the main strings and use its built-in microphone.


New Dream and MIDI

So far, I’ve had some success using the two sets of RMCs on the New Dream to drive two guitar synthesizers: the Roland GR-30 for the mains, and the Axon 100 mkII for the sub-basses. The sub-basses are definitely the tricky ones here. You’ll need to get a firmware update for the Axon unit, which you can download from the Terratec Producer website. They also have a great users forum with tech people who really answer questions and help. The forum URL is
and you should be able to get to the update downloading page from there. The update of the firmware I installed was V5.02; there are probably more recent versions that are even better, but this one allows you to specify your own tunings. I was able to easily set it for the tuning of the sub-basses, and get it to work.
In order to do the firmware update, you have to have the Axon Editor program installed on your computer, and you have to be able to make a MIDI connection between the Axon and your computer to transfer the update to your Axon unit, once you’ve downloaded it. There are instructions for doing the firmware update available on the website for printing out, which tell you exactly how to make the transfer from your computer to the Axon unit.
All this takes a bit of work, but it is possible, with some patience and perseverance.
Once you’ve gotten the firmware successfully updated, and figured out how to set the tuning and get the Axon to track OK, find some patches that work, and try it out. I discovered that because of the sensitivity of the sub-bass RMCs, I had to set the string sensitivity settings on the Axon to the lowest possible setting for each sub-bass string, otherwise they would respond to sounds from the other strings. But on the lowest sensitivity setting they work OK, and only occasionally, if I played the lowest string on the main-neck really hard, would I get enough crossover to activate the sub-bass MIDI. I played around with various patches and settings; some worked a lot better than others, but I think it’ll just take a lot of experimenting.
The only thing I noticed when driving the Roland GR-30 with the main string RMCs was that the lowest string was a little hot. Turning down the LOW band on the Polydrive (as mentioned above) helped, and perhaps turning down the sensitivity setting on the GR-30 for that string would also be useful. It wasn’t too bad, though, and worked fine.

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