Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

What is The Sustainiac® Stealth PRO?

What is The Sustainiac® Stealth PRO?

“ The Sustainiac® Stealth PRO is designed and manufactured by Maniac Music Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.

You can get screaming feedback sustain at any volume at home, in the studio, or on stage.

You can “morph” the sustained string vibration into cool-sounding harmonics during a solo, by using the Harmonic Mode control. This allows you to give your solos character and originality in a way that was previously only possible by getting feedback from your amp at dangerously loud levels. It is similar to amp feedback, except that the feedback sustain is more predictable and much easier to achieve “

PCJ Custom Guitars has been a registered dealer and installer of the Sustainiac® Stealth PRO system since 2014.

Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

What is Included In The Kit?

What is Included In The Kit?

Sustainiac Driver

The driver is available in single coil or humbucker

The Sustainiac® driver doubles as a replacement neck pickup when the unit is turned off.

The driver is the same in both the single coil or humbucker versions.

The humbucker version has a dummy coil next to the driver to fill the humbucker route space.

The Sustainiac® driver is available in the following configurations

  • Single coil size in black
  • Single coil size in white
  • Humbucker in black
  • Humbucker in white
  • 7-string single coil or humbucker in black

There is also a modified kit available for bass.

The driver for the bass kit can either be single coil or humbucker sized. These kits will only work with straight pickup equipped basses, split pickup basses will not work with the Sustainiac® Stealth Pro

For more information on the Sustainiac® Stealth Pro bass kit please email pcjcustomguitars@gmail.com

Control Board

The control board is the brains of the system. It handles all the sustaining operations as well as the voicing of the driver when it is in pickup mode.

This small circuit board will normally fit into the guitars existing control cavity.

The control board has three small trimpots. One controls the neck pickup volume, one controls the sustainer gain and the third controls the harmonic mode gain.

Switching Control Options

There are three switching control options available when installing the Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

  • Push / Pull Pots
  • Mini Toggle Switches
  • A mixture of both

Some planning is needed when deciding which switching option to use. If the guitar has a tone control that isn’t really used then replacing it with a push / pull drive pot is a simple process.

Guitars with two tone pots can be rewired to create a driver pot and a master tone control.

Toggle switch installation will require drilling two holes through the face of the guitar.

It is important to remember that some guitar cavities may be too small to fit two toggle switches and have them in a position on the body where they don’t get in the way of the volume control. For this reason push / pull pots are a very good option.

Optional Neck Pickup Boost

Whilst the Sustainiac® Stealth PRO driver cannot be coil split in the conventional sense, there is a way to electronically coil spilt the output of the Sustainiac® Stealth PRO driver when it is in pickup mode.

There is an option to both raise the volume by 6dB and to also hot-rod the output to a darker humbucker sound.
This can be fitted to a toggle switch or push / pull pot to give a coil splitting effect.

It can also be hardwired to always be on to match an existing high gain neck or bridge pickup.

Also Included

Stereo Jack Socket

Replaces your existing jack socket and acts as another switch for the Sustainiac® Stealth PRO driver.

9 Volt battery clip

A single 9 volt alkaline battery powers the system for around 15-40 hours depending on how much the Sustainiac® is used.

In the same way that a guitar with active pickups can drain the battery if left plugged in, removing the instrument cable when your guitar is not in use will prolong the life of your battery.

The battery has a low power indicator. The neck pickup will stop functioning when the battery is drained to 7-7.5 Volts.

  • Optional 25K drive pot (with toggle switch version)
  • Optional battery box

Auxiliary (AUX) Boards

Filtering down technologies from Sustainiac’s OEM products for Schecter and Ibanez, Sustainiac have now made their auxiliary (Aux) boards available as an addition to the standard kit.

The Aux boards connect to the main circuit board via a pre-wired harness. This helps to reduce and uncontrollable squealing of distortion due to crosstalk. The AUX-2 board uses a slightly longer wired harness than the other two boards. Although even the shorter harnesses are big enough to fit most cavities.

The Aux boards reduce the amount of soldering needed. 

The toggle switches are only available in chrome. 

There are three variants of the Aux board:

AUX-TT

The AUX-TT board consists of two chrome toggle switches mounted to a vertical circuit board. This board requires a 35mm cavity depth. The switch centres are 25.4mm (1 inch) apart. 7mm holes are needed to fit the switches.

AUX-2

The AUX-2 board consists of two chrome toggle switches mounted to a horizontal circuit. This unit can be found in Schecter’s C1 models. 

Schecter C-1

The board does take up more room than the AUX-TT version, but works well if cavity depth is limited but cavity space is available.

AUX-JS

This board is the same unit used in the Ibanex JS2480 Joe Satriani model. 

Ibanez JS2480

It consists of a chrome 3-way toggle switch for the Harmonic Mode and a push/pull tone control for Sustainiac on/off.This board requires a 35mm cavity depth. The switch to pot centres are 30mm (1.18 inch) apart. The switch requires a 7mm hole. The pot should replace the existing tone pot without modification.

Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

Playing The Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

Playing The Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

Single Coil

The single sound is based on a Stratocaster neck pickup but with virtually no hum.

Humbucker

The humbucker sound is very fat, similar to a stock “PAF 59″ sound with a much higher output if you turn the trim pot control up high.

It has noticeably less hum than a typical passive humbucker.

The Mode switch feature on the Sustainiac® Stealth PRO allow you to enhance solos in a way that no electronic effect can emulate.

You get all three operating modes whether you choose standard push-pull controls or toggle switch controls.

Normal / Fundamental Mode

Played notes vibrate normally but with infinite sustain.

If you intentionally play a harmonic the notes tend to fade back into fundamental vibration mode after a few seconds.

This mode is very useful for making slid notes sustain literally all the way up or down the neck. It is also great for soft chordal swells.

Harmonic Mode

Harmonic mode makes solos scream out. Played notes quickly change the string vibration mode from fundamental to a high (3rd, 4th, or 5th) harmonic.

The actual harmonic depends on the fret and the string being played. It involves the physics of the string length (according to which fret is used) along with the pickup and driver position along the length of the string.

Mix Mode

Mix mode is a combination of fundamental and harmonic modes and sounds a lot like natural amp feedback.
You tend to get harmonics that come in slowly on low notes and fundamentals on the high notes.

Mix mode is a little more subtle than the Fundamental and Harmonic modes.

Notes played below the 12th fret will mostly morph into 2nd or 3rd harmonics.
Above the 12th fret on the high E and B strings most notes will stay as fundamentals.

With the push / pull installation there are two different mix modes when the push / pull pot is pulled up:

The first mode is engaged when the pot is rotated clockwise.
The second mode is engaged when the pot is rotated anti-clockwise.

Push / Pull Controls

On / Off Control

The Sustainiac® Stealth PRO can be turned on by pulling up the switch section of a push / pull pot.

The push / pull pot can either replace the volume or tone control.
This allows the pot section to be wired as a volume or tone control whilst the switch section operates as the Sustainiac® on/off switch.

When the Sustainiac® is turned on the guitar output signal automatically switches over to the bridge pickup regardless of the position of the pickup selector switch.

Mode Control

Rotating the pot fully clockwise engages normal mode.
The guitar strings will vibrate normally but with infinite sustain.

Rotating the pot fully counter-clockwise puts you into Harmonic mode.

The pot also acts as an intensity /  drive control. Rotating the pot towards the middle position will decrease the Sustainiac’s gain. At the mid rotation point (5) the drive will be zero.

When the push / pull pot is pulled up mix mode is activated.

This install can also be done using push / push pots.

Mini Toggle Switch Controls

On / Off Control

A 2-way toggle switch can be used to switch the Sustainiac on and off.

Mode Control

With the toggle switch on mode control you can switch between Natural, Harmonic and Mix modes.

Toggle controls have no built-in drive control so the Sustainiac will always be fully on.

An optional drive pot can be fitted to give additional control.

Playing using a Sustainiac® Stealth PRO will involve incorporating muting skills to control sustain and feedback.

When strumming a full six-string chord two or three notes will dominate after a few seconds. These notes will likely be on the wound strings. This is because thicker strings respond to the pulsating magnetic drive of the Sustainiac® Stealth PRO more readily than the higher strings.

Sustainiac FAQs

Below are a few of the questions we are frequently asked by customers. 

Can I fit the Sustainiac in my guitar without any routing?

Maybe. It really all depends on the type of guitar you have. If you have a big enough control cavity and you have opted for the push/pull install option then it may be possible to install all the components and the 9 volt battery into the cavity. This can lead to a very cramped control cavity will lots of wiring, which can lead to electromagnetic crosstalk and a distorted or uncontrollable sustain effect. We can supply you with all the information regarding control board size etc before you order.

I really love my guitar. I have it set up just the way I like it, I have complicated wiring and I love how the pickups sound. Can I still have a Sustainiac fitted?

Use another guitar… If your guitar is set up just the way you like it, why would you want to change anything? Buying another guitar isn’t the worst thing that could happen to you! Something with a fairly big control cavity will also cut down on the amount of routing needed for the install. 

Could I put the Sustainiac driver in the bridge position instead of the neck?

Although designed for neck pickup replacement, the Sustainiac driver can be mounted in the bridge position. However, this does not include Stratocaster style slanted bridge positions. Humbucker bridge positions work work fine.

Do I have to have a 9 volt battery compartment?

You don’t have to, no. But to easy of use it’s a very good option. Even if there is enough room in the control cavity, you would have to unscrew the cover when the battery needed changing. Not a quick or easy job to do on stage! If you have a Stratocaster for example, the only of the option is to fit the battery into the spring cavity. But this depends on how many springs you use. The separate battery compartment is by far the best solution.

Can I run power from my pedal board?

You can, but it requires fitting a mini jack socket onto your guitar and having a dedicated instrument cable with a 9 volt power lead attached to it. But totally possible to do.

How long does the battery last?

Anything from 15 to 40 hours, depending on how much you use the Sustainiac. The driver acts like an active pickup when the Sustainiac is off, so there is still a slight current draw on the battery. 

What happens when the battery dies?

When the battery gets below about 7.2volts the system routes the bridge pickup through the volume control to the jack. The selector switch will stop working and you will have no sustainer effect. You will only have your bridge pickup working, but this will be enough to at least allow you to get to the end of a song when playing live. 

What are Aux Boards?

The Aux boards connect to the main circuit board via a pre-wired harness. This helps to reduce and uncontrollable squealing of distortion due to crosstalk.The Aux boards reduce the amount of soldering needed. The toggle switches are only available in chrome. For more information please visit our Controls Overview section.

Can I fit a single coil sized humbucker next to the Sustainiac driver instead of the dummy coil?

Yes you can – if you really want to. Although the Sustainiac driver works really well as a neck pickup. A wiring modification needs to be made during the install to disconnect the Sustainiac driver’s pickup mode, but apart from that it’s fairly straight forward. Placing a neck single coil pickup next to the driver will probably give you some crosstalk issues though.

Can I keep my HSH auto-split configuration?

Yes you can. Although it will require the 5 way selector switch to be upgraded to a 5 way, 4 pole  Superswitch. This may require extra routing or a repositioning on the main Sustainiac control board in order to fit everything into the control cavity.

Is the Sustainiac driver coil splittable when in guitar mode?

Yes it is, sort of. The Sustainiac driver has a dB boost and EQ resonant peak adjustment that is controlled by two wires. These can be connected to either a mini toggle switch or a push/pull pot in nearly the same way as a conventional humbucker. In use, you get a very good humbucker to single coil pickup coil splitting effect – and both modes are hum cancelling!

What colours to the drivers come in?

The Sustainiac drivers come in black or white for standard Strat single coil (not Telecaster or Jaguar single coils) and humbucker. They also come in black for 7 string guitars, also in single coil or humbucker.

Can I fit a tone control to the Sustainiac Driver?

Yes you can. The tone control will only effect the Sustainiac driver in pickup mode, so will have no adverse effect when the Sustainiac system is in operation.

Will the Sustainiac work with a Kill Switch, Treble bleed, Piezo Pickup?

In short, yes. The kill switch sits at the end of your signal, just before your jack socket. So it is well away from the Sustainiac system. The treble bleed spans two lugs of your volume pot, so will not interfere with the Sustainiac operation. Piezo pickups will run separately to your magnetic guitar signal, so it will be fine to run the two systems. The only difference would be the use of a 9 pin jack socket to handle the two signals. These diagrams can be supplied on request.

Do I need to change my playing style?

Not really, no. to but it another way, using the Sustainiac is an exercise in string muting! With the Sustainiac on, sympathetic vibrations will occur in the other strings, not just the one you are currently playing. The Sustainiac system will grab these vibrating strings and start to sustain the note in whatever mode you are currently in. This can get uncontrollable fast, so a good string muting technique needs to be used to keep thing under control.

Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

The Sustainiac® Stealth PRO In Action

The Sustainiac® Stealth PRO In Action

For a taste of what can be achieved with the Sustainiac® Stealth PRO take a look at the videos below

Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

Ordering A Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

Ordering A Sustainiac® Stealth PRO

From standard installations to custom wiring and routing installations there will be a way to fit a Sustainiac® Stealth PRO to your instrument

To order a Sustainiac® Stealth PRO installation please complete the order form by clicking the link below

Installation price starts at £100 including a full restring and setup.

If you would like to install a Sustainiac® Stealth PRO system yourself the units are also available for sale from £240.

If you have any questions regarding the Sustainiac® Stealth PRO system please email pcjcustomguitars@gmail.com