Dark Fire - Initial Check Out [Q & A]

Started by admin-fgn, May 24, 2009, 11:59:48 AM

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Dark Fire Initial Check Out  - Q/A
I just received my Dark Fire and have been reading lots of members' posts. I have a few questions I would like to ask.

Download the Dark Fire RIP Console 5.2, or 5.2.1 driver for your OS and the 5 User Guides/Installation Manuals here:


and here:


and read them before delivery.

Charging the Dark Fire. How long do I charge the guitar for the first time?

Use a TRS cable the Black Charger/Splitter box and charge for at least 2 hours.

Once charged, using the MCK for the first time. What do I do? Should I run function 109(factory reset)? How do I run function 109?

Not typically necessary with a new guitar.

Its More important to run Function 99 - to check your Firmware Version you have. and write it down.
All May 2009 Guitars ship with Firmware version 2.1.25.  If yours is lower firmware number, its an older guitar. RIP Console 5.2 or above will install a file on your Hard Drive, should you need to update the guitar to  Firmware version 2.1.25 

Upgrading firmware. Should I upgrade the RIP and Dark Fire firmware?

1) You Must first follow the RIP  / Application Installation instructions, and install all apps and drivers from the Dark Fire DVD  - but Omit the steps where it instructs you to connect the Guitar.

2) Install the RIP Console 5.2 (Mac) or 5.2.1 (PC)   

3) Update RIP Firmware - if prompted!

4) Now you may connect the guitar.
If your Guitar shipped with Firmware version 2.1.25, no need to update the guitar.
If your Firmware is lower, proceed with updating the guitar.
If the RIP does not recognize the guitar, then run function 109(factory reset)

How do I run function 109 to Reset to Factory Defaults?

1. To enter Setup Mode, pull out the MCK and turn it to the "#b" symbol in any Bank. Press the display until a pink "Enter" symbol is displayed, then release the MCK.
Now press down the MCK again until a cyan "Enter" symbol is displayed. You are now in Setup Mode. You will see a cyan "Enter" symbol and the "b" LED will shine yellow as confirmation.

2. Rotate MCK until the number "1" is displayed. Momentary press causes the "1" to flash red—it has been entered.

3. Rotate MCK until the number "0" is displayed. Momentary press causes the "0" to flash red—it has been entered.

4. Rotate MCK until the number "9" is displayed. Momentary press causes the "9" to flash red—it has been entered.

5. Now rotate the MCK all the way counter-clockwise and give a momentary press. The "Enter" symbol flashes red and back to cyan. The selected Function Number will scroll across the Matrix Display in yellow. A red Question mark will appear.

6. Rotate MCK until the "Y" is displayed. Momentary press causes the "Y" to flash red—it has been entered.

7. Now rotate the MCK all the way counter-clockwise and give a momentary press. The "Enter" symbol flashes red and back to cyan. The selected Function Number will scroll across the Matrix Display.

Does the current firmware perform better than the factory one?

Both should be 2.1.25

If yours is lower, it may be the earlier December 2008 Hardware - seek an RMA.

Are there any known bugs to consider?

Read the Forum! Firmware 2.1.25 is as good as it gets for now.

Finally, how long does it take the Dark Fire to tune to Standard Gibson? How many strums does it take? From standard tuning to DADGAD, how long does it take?

You must cultivate the correct "Tronical Strum"
1) With your right hand Hold a pick, and position your hand near the PU toggle switch.
2) Pivot your right arm with your elbow, and SLOWLY rotate your arm in a ONE DOWNWARD SLOW STRUM, directly over NECK Pickup, not too hard or soft. Do not fret any strings, or touch the neck while tuning.
Avoid High Speed up and down Strumming. One gentle downward strum should tune all the strings. (repeat as necessary)

3) The Powerheads will turn robotically, and the MCK's String LEDs will shine various colors to
indicate tuning status. Here's what the colors mean:

 Red (solid): String not in tune, or not yet tuned

 Red (flashing): Measuring string frequency

 Blue (solid): Signal is clipping (the strum was too hard; please strum more softly)

 Yellow flashing: Powerheads turning to tune string. If the corresponding Powerhead is
not turning when its LED flashes yellow, there is a physical or electrical problem.

 Purple solid: String frequency at extreme end of range

 Green: Individual string in tune

 All LEDs off, except one LED solid blue, green, or red: Tuning is complete
Gibson DARK FIRE tunings

How do I turn the Dark Fire off to save battery?

With the MCK "UP"  - rotate it to E, or A, or D, or G, or B - and Push it all the way IN - there should be NO LEDs lit on the MCK Knob.

Can I still play normally when MCK is off?


Whats up with the neck profile on the Dark Fire?

All Dark Fires have an "asymmetrical" Neck Profile - These appeared on Ernie Ball MusicMan Axis Guitars 15 years ago, and now Gibson adopted this for bulk of their standard production Les Pauls. It takes getting used too - but the treble side is 1/4 " thinner than the bass side. If you sliced the Headstock off and viewed down the length of the NEck - you would see an "Egg Shaped" profile. All Dark Fires come this way standard. 

The MCK seemed a little stiff in the down position. It rotated without any crunching sounds, but it kinda "grabbed" a couple of times on the way around. On subsequent rotations of the MCK, it got better.

It may clear up - be sure the three internal wires are not grabbing inside the MCK's hollow shaft. Several of us employ a drop or two of Caig LAbs DeOXIT Contact Cleaner / Lubricant.

The MCK lifted up OK, but again it seemed a little stiff. I wouldn't call it easy to lift, but on the other hand, we were never tempted to use a crowbar. (jk) <g>

It can be difficult at first - after the first week of use it should become easier to manipulate.

When the guitar was connected to the amp, the MCK made "popping" noises when we activated it.
It also made noises when we rotated the MCK through the detent positions on the switch. Is this issue being addressed somehow?

This is Normal - when you "Pull OUT the MCK , you are engaging the Power,  If you hate pops- before lifting the MCK "OUT" place the PU Selector on Neck position and turn neck volume to zero.

I'm confused by the volume controls and the pickup selector switching, and I don't know if there's a problem or if that's the way it's supposed to be. With the pup selector switch set to in the middle and the neck volume control turned to zero , we got no  sound....regardless of the setting of the bridge volume control.

This is Normal - just like all other Gibson Les Paul, ES-335, SG  Volume and Tone controls.

With the pup selector switch set to "bridge" and the bridge volume control turned up, we got sound...regardless of the setting of the neck volume control.
This is Normal - just like all other Gibson Les Paul, ES-335, SG  Volume and Tone controls.

My brother-in-law is disappointed with the Chameleon Tone technology. We may have been doing something incorrectly, but every preset sounded the same to us. We hooked the DF directly (no pedals) into a Gibson Les Paul Goldtone GA-5 amp...a little 5 watt Class A single volume control tube amp. I think my brother-in-law was expecting the Dark Fire to produce all these various Chameleon tones (Metal, Rock, Acoustic, etc.) by itself.

If you use a small overdriven amp - the Chameleon tones will not be revealed.  Use a clean amp.

My question to you is...using the equipment I mentioned, what differences between preset tones should we have heard?

Best to crank full up both Neck and Bridge volume and Tone,
Turn Piezo Blend full counter clockwise to Off

Place PU Selector in center position to select Both MAg PUs - now you can try the Chameleon tones.

Gibson  = Les Paul
Texas Blues  = Neck  and Bridge of SRV Strat
Funky = Out of phase funk
Twang = clean Tele
Acoustic = PEQ emulated Acoustic guitar, based on Mags as Source
L5 = Jazz Tone, reduced high, thicker lower mids
Solid Rock = Out of phase rock
Metal = all coils in series like a Brian May Signature.

To verify the Chameleon is working, feed a clean amp to hear all different Chameleon Tone types.
I use a Roland Cube Street on the Black Panel <Fender twin> setting to test.

All of the presets sounded acoustic to me. I would have expected the "Rock" setting to be a bit distorted, with the "Metal" setting even more so...yet we could detect no distortion in any combination of amp/pickup volume.

The Dark Fire Chameleon tech only emulates specific Guitars. All actual real guitar models listed above in the "Chameleon Tone Table"  have zero distortion - Dark Fire is  simply recreating many guitar sounds - not amp sounds. Different guitars have subtle  peaked EQ curves, and sensitivity levels delivered to 1/4"  output jack. the Dark Fire Chameleon tone truly emulates the "mojo" of  many different guitars. 

RIP Install Checkout

While  playing the RIP / Dark Fire / Console

Here's what I observe

1) I make the Firewire connection to the computer, then apply DC power to the RIP with DC Power Pack.

2) I launch the RIP console - I see the Black Mixer with VU meters - no activity.

3) I connect the Dark Fire to RIP

4) My MCK is Down - no lights on MCK

5) All I see is the Far Left VU meter ("Guitar" )

6) I pull "OUT" the MCK

7) I slowly strum

8  ) The Tuners start to "tune"

9) I continue a light strum

10) After 10 seconds , I suddenly see all the VU meters (with exception of the 2 Playback channels) "dance" on the RIP Console Mixer

11) Note MCK MUST be in the "UP" position - MCK LEDs  ON in order to see all VU meters for all string channels "dance".

12) Unmute the RIP Console channels to hear output from RIP.

During tuning MCK Displays WHITE LEDs for Strings?

White flashing LEDs indicate a short!
The strings carry power and data to the neck. If only one string is touching a hardware part (bridge, taipiece, even a fret bar!!) or another string, the system wont work!!
If the Gibson "G" on the neck electronic cover does not start flashing once you activate the system, it is most likely that there is also a white LED on the MCK flashing = short circuit = no power on neck electronics.

1) Check the ball ends, they must not touch the tailpiece at all.
2) Check all string bars on the saddles, the strings must be in the middle position of each string bar.
3) Check the tuner posts, the strings must not touch each other, cut all string ends very close to its post!!
4) Check the tailpiece and bridge height and adjust if needed!

If all of this does not work, do the following:
- remove the high e string, afterwards try to tune. If it works now, the problem was the high e string.
- If it wont work, remove the B string and try to tune... and so on...

Keep in mind that there must be at least two strings to maintain function, one for ground GND (-) and one for power (+) and data.

Strings for GND (-) = Low E, D, B
Strings for power (+) and data = A, G, high e


There are subtle changes due to PEQ  - but due to the factory Chameleon preset programing , 80% of the time the Neck PU remains in single coil mode -  and hums along.
. . . the future ain't what it used to be . . .


Dark Fire Accessory pack

. . . the future ain't what it used to be . . .