Septar Board – Roland GK-3 + RMC Beta Test (Enda Bates)

Thanks to Dublin based Composer, Enda Bates, for carrying out the following Septar beta tests with both RMC and Roland GK-3 pick-up systems. The RMC piezoelectric pick-ups typically receive power from a 9v battery on board the guitar. RMC and Graphtech are the common pick-up systems found in Godin guitars.  

You must determine which system is installed on board your guitar before you start wiring anything.


“Putting it together was very straightforward” EB 2011

In this particular configuration, the septar board requires power from one 9v in your project box, and the RMC pickup requires power from one 9v on board the guitar (which typically should already be on board).


“The Septar does definitely add something to the RMC, the gain and noise level seems about the same but it does seem to bring out some more detail and high frequency clarity.” EB 2011

Please ensure that the 9v in your project box is NOT connected to the 12th pin of the DIN, given that the pickup is already receiving power from an on board 9v battery in the guitar.  Make sense? If you have any conceivable amount of doubt in your mind about this particular configuration, please drop an email to info at rickygraham dot net, or consult the septar build guide, for step-by-step instruction.

Septar Board Kit (Limited Beta Edition) – Now Available


The “Septar” board functions as a break out box for polyphonic audio pick-up systems for electric guitar (including those designed solely for MIDI application) to allow audio for each string. The following prototype has been developed with a newly designed circuit to improve audio output, specifically for piezoelectric based Graphtech Ghost Modular  and RMC pick-ups, but also functions with the magnetic based Roland GK-3 pick-up system.

Audio break out kits are available for users with Graphtech Ghost Modular, RMC, and Roland GK-3 pick-ups.



We only accept paypal at this time

Kit Specification



The kits include the following parts;

x 2 – Septar Boards (Drilled)

x 1 – 13 Pin DIN socket (Female)

x 14 – 2m2 Resistor 1 %

x 7 – 82pF Capacitor

x 7 – 6.35mm 3 Pole Jack Sockets

x 7 – Rz 560 ohm 1%

x 7 – 10K Resistor 5%

x 7 – 3K Resistor 5%

x 7 – J201 N Channel JFet

x 7 – 1uf Polyester Capacitor 5mm

x 1 – PP3 Battery Drawer 



The kits provide a balanced audio output. Housing and 1mm solid core wire must be sourced independently. Housing may be sourced on eBay or Maplin (UK).

Further discussion on beta testing: (Andy Butler) (Enda Bates) (Roland GK-3 + Travel Guitar)


A step by step construction guide will be made available via email on purchase. The pdf is available here for download. The step by step guide includes instructions on how to wire appropriate power supply for listed Graphtech (9v) , RMC (9v) and Roland (+7v & -7v) pick-up systems.



How to wire a 13 Pin DIN:

Other useful resources:

DSP Abstractions

A series of DSP abstractions created in the open-source object orientated programming environment, Pure Data, will be made available shortly. Multiple instances of each abstraction may be (re)called to attend to the audio of each string. It is suggested that each user downloads Pure Data Extended. Excellent Pd tutorials can be found here, here, and here.

Disclaimer (July 2011)

The user must have a competent level of electrical engineering skill in order to attempt the following DIY project (you must have some soldering experience). The following DIY kit has been tested thoroughly with Graphtech’s Modular Hexpander, RMC, and Roland’s GK-3 pick-up systems only. Please ensure that the relevant pick-up system is compatible with the available kit before use, and that you follow our step by step construction guide carefully and correctly. We recommend the use of a voltage meter to ensure the voltage polarity is correct before attaching the relevant pick-up system. The breakout box should always be connected to a guitar with an appropriate pickup system, and never to any other equipment. We are not responsible for any damage caused.


Please also note the following:

I would encourage all users to contact me directly if you have any issues with the kits, given that this is a personal project.

This is a very small operation, which serves the purpose of academic research. There is no money behind it. All design, parts and postage are covered by the time and money of the two individuals involved (myself and an engineer). The kits are sold as a beta project, not as a polished professional corporate product (although perhaps it may result in a more professional product, which is heavily dependent upon the feedback we receive at this stage of the research).

In terms of pricing, we can assure you that we have made the kit as affordable as possible. We have to take into consideration the time spent on the construction of each circuit board. If you believe you are able to source parts at a cheaper price in your home country or elsewhere, you are welcome to source the parts by yourself and we may then arrange to send the parts which you require at a discounted price.

Professional packaging is currently unaffordable, hence the reuse of existing packaging from parts. I do apologise if the packaging condition does not meet your expectations. Please bare in mind the kits are coming from the U.K. The largest concern is that all parts and components should reach you safely and in good condition. If this has not been the case, you should contact me immediately.

Please also note it does not list anywhere on this website that paper instructions will be provided. This was not advertised at any point. Instructions are made available for download and are sent via email to each individual who purchases a kit. So, please, for whatever reason, do not expect paper instructions.

Next Research Talk: Showcase Music 2011


My next talk on my research will take place next Friday at the Nerve Centre in Derry. Details here:


Up and coming talks:

Pure Data Conference – Weimar, Germany – August, 2011


Up and coming performances:

Tour of Belgium & Germany – September, 2011 (Dates TBC)


Notable talks:

Imagine Create Festival – University of Ulster, Londonderry – March, 2011

Pure Data Mini Conference – Trinity College, Dublin – January, 2011

SMI Annual Conference – University of Ulster, Londonderry – May, 2010

SMI PG Conference – DIT, Dublin – January, 2010


Notable performances and compositions:

“Axon” in collaboration with Michael Andrews – Electronic Arts Research Society – SARC, Belfast – May, 2011

“Axon” in collaboration with Michael Andrews – CMC Music Marathon – University of Ulster, Londonderry – April, 2011

Ambient Antwerp – Arenberg, Antwerp – March, 2010

Celtronic Festival 2009 – Supporting Ulrich Schnauss – Saint Columb’s Hall, Londonderry – June, 2009

ISEA 2009 – University of Ulster, Londonderry – August, 2009

Tour of Japan 2009 – Tokyo, Japan – May, 2009

Celtronic Festival 2008 – Supporting Boxcutter and Mary Anne Hobbs – Sandino’s, Londonderry – June, 2008

Tour of Japan 2007 – Tokyo, Japan – July, 2007

Septar Board – Beta Test (Andy Butler)

The “Septar” board functions as a break out box for polyphonic audio pick-up systems for electric guitar (including those designed solely for MIDI application) to allow audio for each string. The following prototype has been developed with a newly designed circuit to improve audio output of piezo-based pickup systems (notably, the Hexpander by Graphtech Guitar Labs).

The first prototype of the Septar Board has been undergoing various preliminary tests over the past few months. Thanks to Andy Butler for testing the Septar board in his own time. Some photos from Andy’s tests are included below;


Using pliers as heat sink (Why? More info:




A series of ten beta kits will be released as version one, towards the end of June, 2011. They will be made available on a first come, first serve basis at a very reduced price. The Septar kits are designed to function with Graphtech and Roland MIDI pickups (for the moment).

The new and improved kits will have the following features;

On board silk screening to demonstrate component locations

Balanced audio output

Wider pads

Suitable hole sizes for kit components (no need to drill)

Full documentation (including part numbers, values, & a step by step guide on how to construct the kit)


More information will be made available shortly. In the meantime, if you have any question, please drop an email to: info atnospam rickygraham dot net. Previous discussion:


“Axon” – Polyphonic Guitar, Tape, Live Electronics for 8 Speaker Diffusion

“Axon” is a collaborative project that began life as a series of recorded guitar improvisations. These initial recordings provide the main source materials used in the fixed media element of the piece. Throughout the creative process the guitar and tape have been involved in a continual loop of mutual influence. Due to this working method we discovered that the line between the the composer and the performer became continually blurred and resulted in what we believe to be a truly collaborative piece that follows a combined creative vision.

M. Andrews

Electronic Music Guide – “Mecca”


“signalsundertests is a collaborative music project by Ricky Graham and John King. Hailing from Belfast in Northern Ireland, they have toured throughout the UK and Europe and have even shared the stage with the likes of German electronic pioneer Ulrich Schnauss. Rickys work has even featured on BBC Radio 1. Their debut album ‘Mecca’ features artists from Japan, Germany, Finland and the US. They combine ambient, experimental and even touch on progressive rock to create a wall of sound. The album title Mecca is a word of Arabic origin but it’s also been taken into the English dictionary as a word that conveys the idea of something that is most important. The album definately conveys a message and what follows is a description of what’s on offer here. Title track ‘Mecca’ starts with edgy and almost paranoid electronics accompanied by the subtle use of guitar. The beat that comes in is crisp and pronounced. Guitar washes carry the track before an enslaught of powerful electronics. It’s quite an opener and not for the faint-hearted. ‘#000000’ has more of an ambient/experimental feel altogether. Although it’s dark and textured, it’s a contemplative piece for sure. ‘Pushpull’, the albums third track, is an appropriate title. It feels like it’s pulling you one way and pushing you at the same time. How they have achieved this is clever to say the least. The vocals make it come on like one of Massive Attacks finer moments. ‘FFFFFF’ is a slow considered piece where stabs of emotive ambience give the track moments of sheer beauty. ‘Mecca (JKing Remix)’ gives his own unique take whilst not veering to much from the sound of the original. The sixth track ‘#339900’ is recorded live in Antwerp. The live recording adds an extra dimension to this track. Everyone is doing their own thing but the sounds come together effortlessly and with great aplomb. Closing number ‘Glisten’ is for us the albums main highlight. Tinkering electronics, warm guitar and serene vocals make for a beautiful end. You might not get this album on first listen. It’s needs a few plays to be appreciated. But when you do you’ll be glad you gave it a chance. The depth of this work is quite something! You can listen to and buy their work by clcking on the myspace and bandcamp links below. Also well worth a listen is the myspace and Bandcamp pages of Ricky Graham. We especially like the tracks ‘Beautiful Beginning’ and ‘Music Box (DJ Elemental Remix)’. You can buy both these tracks as a single on the Ricky Graham Bandcamp page below for next to nothing. You name your price (this goes for all their releases). Proceeds will be donated to the Motor Neurones Disease Association of Northern Ireland.”

Album rating 8/10

Read the review:

Guitar International Magazine – Interview

“We don’t get a lot of electronic music coming our way at Guitar International, and I have to admit that my own lack of experience with the genre left me with stereotypes and misconceptions of a genre that is often labeled on one side of the spectrum as club music, and on the other, academic based composition. When Ricky Graham’s new [project] Signals Under Tests came across my desk, I was a bit hesitant at first because of the genre label, but man am I ever glad that I sat down and gave this record a chance. It has turned out to not only be a very enjoyable listening experience, but has also opened my eyes and ears to the electronic genre, especially the guitar’s role in this music.

Having said that, this album is not for every guitar fan, and more traditional listeners may not fully grasp the concepts that Graham is bringing together with this recording. But, don’t let a genre label prevent you from checking out new music. The album is masterfully composed, expertly arranged and is not only intellectually stimulating, it is just plain fun to listen to. Though there are certain aspects of the instrument that some fans may miss with this modern and personalized approach, Graham also opens up many doors to new sounds and playing techniques that one wouldn’t normally think of when checking out an instrumental record.”

By Matt Warnock.

Read the interview here:



Guitar Player Magazine – “Mecca”

“The brainchild of avant-guitarist Ricky Graham and laptop jockey John King, Signals Under Tests merges beautifully processed and looped guitar with expansive electronics, imaginative beats, and understated vocals by David Whitaker on one track and Minna Twice and Michl Britsch on another. A crafty electronic outing that is ominous, contemplative, impressionistic, and portentous in turns.”

Written by Barry Cleveland (Associate Editor @ Guitar Player Magazine)

Buy the limited edition “Mecca” CD for £4.99:

View the original article:

UK Music Review – “Mecca”

“One of those records that embraces atmosphere and brooding intensity above your traditional songwriting tropes, MECCA from Signals Under Tests is a testament as to what can be achieved with a minimalist outlook and sparsity. Coming from Ricky Graham, a Northern Irish musician and producer who has toured throughout the UK, Europe and Asia promoting various releases since 2008, Signals Under Tests is a project that skates close to the post-rock electronica of outfits like Boards Of Canada, Ulrich Schnauss and some of Aphex Twin’s more subdued moments. 


MECCA is a definite mood piece, a collection of musical entries that soundtrack the darker hours and the more brooding moments; openers MECCA and 000000 instrumental slices of electronic ambience that set a dark tone that permeates throughout this release. The addition of vocals by David Whitaker on PUSHPULL almost upsets the delicate balance, his baritone rap style a little abrupt and unwelcome amidst all the ambient sparseness; but things ultimately work to the advantage, PUSHPULL providing a brief glimpse of humanity within the cold electronic landscape that Signals Under Tests present.

Elsewhere here, FFFFFF is another ambient instrumental that bristles with cold dark aesthetics, chilling but strangely beautiful, whilst a J King Remix of title track MECCA puts a wonky jazz fused spin on the original taking things in ever more deliriously mood driven directions with added Detroit techno inspired grooves.

MECCA closes with GLISTEN, a suitably atmospheric sounding climax as Ricky Graham ups the emotional ante with vocalists Michi Britsch and Minna Twice adding their ethereal voices to a track designed to leave you all misty eyed and wistful.

With MECCA, Signals Under Tests deliver a satisfyingly dark and brooding experience that deals in sparse electronica and moody ambience. Musician and producer Ricky Graham weaves a cold but beautiful swathe here with a collection of musical pieces that make up an impressive whole, MECCA a record to cherish.”

Written by Mike Bond: