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Old 12-31-2020, 12:15 PM
Coronary.Steel Coronary.Steel is offline
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Default Tonewood Amp on the Journey OF660

Hello everyone!

Over the holidays I was fortunate enough to be gifted the Tonewood Amp (TWA)! It's been something I've kept my eye on since at least 2015 but I hadn't ever pulled the trigger; the reason being I was concerned about how unconventional guitar bodies would affect the TWA playability.

For reference, I own several acoustic guitars but my two main players are the Journey OF660 and the Taylor GS Mini-e Koa. Both are unique in that the body of both guitars is slightly unconventional: the Journey having the Manzer wedge and body contours, and the GS Mini having an arched back. With that in mind, I decided to try the TWA on the Journey as there is still a flat section beneath the body contours that I felt would be less finicky with the TWA as compared to the arched back of the GS Mini.

However, I've had some issues with it and unfortunately there were very few resources online that could help me out. So I figured I would report my own experience and hopefully help others who have also decided to put the TWA on their Journey OF660s!

Overall: I really love the TWA. It works as advertised, was easy to install, and sounds amazing. However...

The main issue I have been getting is extreme feedback. I primarily use it for reverb and delay. Autowah, overdrive, and chorus I have tried, but they are the worst offenders in terms of feedback; only the gain has helped with these effects, but it's to the point where the effects are too quiet to appreciate. Luckily, I don't have as much interest in these effects so I don't mind this limitation. Otherwise, I've played around with the settings a lot and have done my own troubleshooting, and I've gotten it to the point where there is no feedback about 90-95% of the time. I believe this issue is due to a couple of things:

1) There is a rubber knob that is the true interface between the amp and the guitar body, which presses against the guitar and vibrates. This vibration is what turns the guitar body into an "amplifier" and creates the effects. I have found that the strength of this interface has a favorable impact on the severity of feedback; when the guitar starts screeching, I have pushed down on the TWA right on top of where this knob is, and the feedback decreases. This is also why I would recommend not even trying this on the GS Mini since the arched back will make it very difficult for this interface to remain flat and firmly pressed against the guitar body.

2) I don't have scientific evidence of this, but I believe the carbon fiber may make feedback worse. The TWA to the best of my knowledge was created with wood guitars in mind, and so perhaps they did not account for carbon fiber materials. Wood resonates at different frequencies and behaviors than carbon fiber does, and so I have a feeling this can make feedback worse. All TWA reviews I've seen with wooden guitars seem to never mention feedback as a major issue to overcome, so this slightly supports my theory.

Of these two etiologies, really only the first is modifiable from a Journey OF660 standpoint. My solutions have been three-fold (so far): TWA placement, TWA interface strength, and level optimization.

1) As far as placement, I have ensured that the TWA is placed along a flat surface along the entire amp. What I mean is, not only did I ensure the rubber knob is on a flat surface, but that the entire TWA body is flush against an area of the guitar back so the entire device is flat. This ensures that all four magnets are stable and make the rubber knob contact point more secure.

2) For interface strength, I have opted to remove the plastic covering over both of the TWA suction pads along the back. These pads aren't sticky per se, but they make the TWA grip the guitar body extremely firmly. I have noticed this helped a lot with feedback. But be warned; this grip is EXTREMELY strong. You have to be careful when removing it as it can "snap" off from the sheer force required. I found that a tight grip and firmly sliding your hand underneath the TWA to slowly separate it from the guitar is the best way, but even then the abrupt removal can be startling. No damage has been done to my guitar or the TWA itself so far, so thatís good at least.

3) Optimizing the levels has helped a ton, and right now my levels are: Master Gain 30%, Gain 10, and Volume 20. The notch filters have also helped out a lot, but I have found it is a bit inconsistent for a few reasons. The actual harmonics of the guitar body and TWA interface can change based on where the TWA is specifically positioned and whether or not your body is pressing against the guitar itself. Whenever you remove the TWA from the guitar, there is a good chance that the next time you put it on it won't be in the EXACT same place as last time. This may be a small positional change, but I believe it can make a large difference in the harmonics and frequencies that feedback will occur every time you put it on. Additionally, I have found that when I am standing vs when I am sitting, my abdomen hugs the guitar body in differing amounts. This difference can also change the harmonics and frequencies of feedback. So with these variables in mind, I have found that there are times where I have to re-optimize my notch filters again if I had removed the TWA and put it back on, or if I play standing vs sitting. I would say I have to readjust the notch filter maybe 5-10% of the time (not often anymore now that I've made #1 and #2 adjustments above). Once I have adjusted it though, I rarely have any more feedback issues for that session.

Now, the last thing I am going to try is a soundhole cover. I have mixed feelings about this as the TWA isn't necessarily "plugged in" as it is actually acoustic. I would imagine a soundhole cover would help with feedback, but I'm afraid it might worsen the acoustic tone overall. I am ordering one in the mail and will see if it does anything favorable.

I know this is a long post, but I wanted to be thorough in helping others who have questions about using the TWA on the Journey OF660. Now that everything is seemingly optimized, I do think that it is the perfect combination. The TWA really augments the Journeyís travel capabilities and heightens the sound for amazing acoustic sessions. After playing with it, I find it very unsatisfying to play without it. If things remain this way, I will continue to highly recommend using the TWA on the Journey OF660 with the above factors in mind.

Feel free to ask me any questions! Happy to help.

Cheers,
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Old 12-31-2020, 01:54 PM
Crab Crab is offline
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I posted a review about the of660 a while back, and using it with TWA. Down the post is a picture of where I placed the amp and notch filter settings that worked best for me. I think the placement really changes what the notch numbers needs to be:

https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...d.php?t=501505

I havenít had much feedback issues with that location and settings, but I only play soft fingerstyle without nails/picks. I have the Gs Mini as well, and that is much harder to get TWA to work well for me, with the arched back. I put a small piece of foam on the back of the Gs Mini to make the TWA cup level to the surface, but itís more finicky than other guitars for TWA.
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Old 01-10-2021, 09:35 AM
Methos1979 Methos1979 is offline
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Interesting posts, thanks for the taking the time. I've owned two OF660 guitars in the past and I found them to be an incredible guitar for the stated purpose - travel, especially air travel. I only sold mine off after frequent work travel ended for me. That said, it was really nice to have a carbon fiber travel guitar that I could throw into the trunk of the car or keep at work in a locker and I've often thought of picking one up at some point for just that.

As for the TWA, I also owned one of those early on and while I thought it was neat at first it quickly became mostly a gimmicky toy and I sold it off. Like the OP, I found that I had issues with feedback occurring at higher volumes even with Reverb which is the only effect I liked. The other issue was that it ate batteries fast. Combined with the fact that if I wanted reverb at home then I could easily just plug in to an amp or pedal and get all kinds of reverb (and any other effect) with no feedback or battery problems quickly made the TWA unappealing.

That said, I can also see where a TWA on an OF660 at work would be fun since I would not ever amplify at work. However, I would still worry about the feedback problems and also the battery eating. These days with the advent of the various proprietary internal effects systems coming out in guitars like Yamaha and others, it would be great to see Journey go that route as well. They are definitely not afraid of the amplifying side of things since they install a K&K-like pickup in their OF660 models so it's not a big leap to see them maybe someday offer their own proprietary onboard effects system. I think that would be an excellent addition to a travel guitar that often gets played in hotel rooms and whatnot.

I'd jump on that quickly, Journey (in case you're listening)!
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Old 01-30-2021, 09:12 AM
Coronary.Steel Coronary.Steel is offline
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Crab:
Thank you for sharing, your video was helpful. I play all types of play-styles but it's probably close to 50% fingerpicking and 50% strumming. I would imagine strumming makes all these issues worse which may explain why I seem to be having more issues than you have had. But yeah, otherwise I have no plans on trying this on my GS Mini lol, it sounds like it would be a major headache.

Methos1979:
Yeah I actually love the carbon fiber and collapsibility of it, although I am traveling less nowadays due to the COVID19 pandemic. I really love the TWA's sound personally, I think the reverb is much more intimate than using an amp which augments my play-style. Although, I only have a Fender electric amp which makes the reverb sound relatively harsh. I am trying to get my hands on a high-quality acoustic amplifier, so the sound of that may end up changing my mind. Battery-life hasn't been a major issue, but honestly I don't play as much anymore as my job has gotten extremely busy because of the pandemic. Perhaps this is why I haven't been noticing the short battery life.

Speaking of batteries...

Update:
Firstly, using the soundhole cover definitely helps the feedback, but as suspected the acoustic sound is extremely diminished. So unfortunately the soundhole cover will not be a helpful solution to this problem, however it has helped feedback in general. Well before I had the TWA I would have a lot of issues with feedback using the OF660 with amplifiers, and this helps a lot when plugged in. I'll be using this from now on when doing live plugged-in sets I think.

Also after my last post, I started having issues with the amp shutting off automatically during playing. The battery life reached ~3.5 (out of 5) and whenever it would "clip" it would automatically shut off. I did some digging and it appears that the type of battery used actually affects this. I have no experience with electrical engineering besides undergraduate education, but my understanding is that the TWA actually uses differing amounts of voltage/amps based on what's being output. This includes moments of clipping, and it appears that the regular AA batteries I was using were not designed for this. Some online forums suggested to switch out the batteries to a different type, and I have to say so far this issue has completely resolved. The batteries I ended up changing to are the Panasonic Eneloop Pro. Here is the Amazon link for those interested: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1.

Anyways, I'll be sure to keep this thread updated with any other changes. I hope other people have found this helpful!

Cheers,
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