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  • Guitar synths

    What is the current state of guitar synths?

    I'm looking for something primarily to play MIDI data into Sonar X2. I had been eyeing up a Roland GR-33 or GI-20, but people on the Sonar forum indicate that the MIDI generated by the Roland stuff has a lot more glitches than the internal sound generator's which come with most of the units.

    This makes sense, because when using a GR-33 or GR-55, you aren't worried using MIDI.

    But I'm wondering if the best way to record MIDI from a GR would be to record on 6 successive MIDI channels.

    I would also like the option of playing guitar synth live.

    Any updated information or experiences?

  • #2
    Check out what I wrote about the YRG-1000 MIDI Controller. If it not being a real guitar is a deal-breaker, then the conversation will take a different tack...but if this interests you, I'd be glad to tell you more.

    FYI I just got the version 2...the price has gone up, but pitch bend now works on all strings in whammy mode, and there are several other "tightening down the screws" type of improvements compared to the original.

    I know it seems like a joke...but...it really works. I have to spend very little time cleaning up parts compared to a regular MIDI guitar.
    CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

    Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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    • #3
      What is the current state of guitar synths?

      I'm looking for something primarily to play MIDI data into Sonar X2. I had been eyeing up a Roland GR-33 or GI-20, but people on the Sonar forum indicate that the MIDI generated by the Roland stuff has a lot more glitches than the internal sound generator's which come with most of the units.

      This makes sense, because when using a GR-33 or GR-55, you aren't worried using MIDI.

      But I'm wondering if the best way to record MIDI from a GR would be to record on 6 successive MIDI channels.

      I would also like the option of playing guitar synth live.

      Any updated information or experiences?


      My GR-20 works great with an outboard synth, but like you mentioned, you need to set aside 6 MIDI channels and (possibly) put them all on the same patch.

      I have 2 synth guitars, one a Strat with the add-on Roland pickup, and a Godin with the pickup built in. They both work well for live and recording work.

      I've used it live for maybe 6 years now, and have no complaints there. It does the job very nicely. (My 'road case' is a little briefcase toolbox from Harbor Freight for $15.)

      For recording, I generally commit to a patch, then record the audio out of the synth. I rarely record MIDI any more, but when I did, I found that immaculate playing technique was required if you didn't want to spend a LOT of time going back over the track and removing junk.

      I've looked at the GR-55, but the added features haven't made a convincing argument to me to do the (very pricey) upgrade.

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      • #4
        I have the Roland Gm70 and G707, plus 2 hex pickups to fit any guitar, since at least 25 years ago, they are vintage now and still work great, all you need to do is get used to how to play them properly and not introduce too many harmonics and be very precise with using your hands to dampen the strings appropriately, in order to not get these babies squealing.
        Even with this old stuff, you can string bend smoothly, no problemo, and have a separate midi instrument assigned to each string too.

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        • #5
          The Fishman Triple Play wireless guitar-MIDI converter is supposed to start shipping in October.

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          • #6

            I would also like the option of playing guitar synth live.

            Any updated information or experiences?


            For live playing, it depends on the kind of music you do and which set up you are using. I use a Roland GR-33 and VG-99. The music I use these for is mainly ambient with lots of evolving pads, ethereal sounds, and atmospheric textures. These units are great for this. However if you do a lot of fast fingering and notes in rapid succession, it can be prone to glitches. Although the VG-99 is a bit different than the GR-33 because it doesn't involve a pitch to midi conversion for triggering its internal sounds, so doesn't have the tracking issues a lot of guitar synths are prone to. However the VG-99 doesn't have the variety of synth sound that the GR-33 or GR-55 have, but its an awesome unit with a wide range of features and possibilities.

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            • #7
              I've been on stage with a 40 channel monitor console with the GR-55. I also rocked it at a funk jam and it did well. Tracking comes down to how well it's set up (I paid a pro to do so) and how clean you play. Mostly how clean you play IMO.

              I ended up dropping it because the AX-50 (and whatever synth/plug in I like) works better for me, as I was never really happy with the GR-55 synth tones.

              I want to play a guitar when I play guitar, not a piece of plastic. But that's just my opinion.

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              • #8
                I've had my You Rock Guitar since May 2011 and it's amazing. Up until now when Anderton broke the story here, it was my secret weapon. I actually know the guy who designed and builds them, Cliffie, and interestingly enough he is from my home country....a homie.

                I have a Godin Freeway SA with the Ghost Modular pickups that I run through an Axon AX-100 MkII into the computer and also have a Yamaha G 50 Guitar to Midi Converter that is use with the Yamaha G1-D divided pickup.

                The Axon/Godin is streets ahead of the Yamaha rig and the little YRG is in some respects streets ahead of the Axon/Godin. I have maybe $1500 into the Axon/Godin rig and the daggone YRG was $199.

                Several months ago my neighbor had a yard sale and what do I see? A YRG ........so I bought it as a spare/backup.......$40.

                One thing is for sure......it does piano's and keyboard instruments awesomely well. I would always get glitches and false triggers with the Godin/Ghost pickups with piano and Rhodes sounds. Not so with the YRG. Also as long as you are pressing on the trigger pads, you got notes. With the guitar, when the strings stop moving, the notes stop.....unless you use a hold pedal and that gets sketchy with medium to fast tempo songs especially with lots of changes.

                For bass though...stringed bass.....the YRG sucks. It is friggen great for synth bass but not a bass guitar or upright. You see, the instant your finger comes off the pad the note stops and stringed basses do not decay that fast. So I prefer the Godin for that. Also you cannot apply finger vibrato or bends with the YRG.....but as mentioned it has a whammy bar and a joystick thingy for modulation etc. The other thing is the note off bar ...well two of them......is behind the "bridge" and is awkward to use/get to sometimes. I mostly palm heel it but individual kill would be nice. The only time it comes into play is with open notes though. The string tension is adjustable and I pick extremely hard and have the picking strings set so I don't really have a "feel" problem with it. I'm not sure everyone will adjust to the trigger fretboard......I took to it right away. The fret spacing is a bit small and odd......but hey, it was originally meant as a PS3 and XBox Rock Band controller.

                Paired up with soft synths like Omnisphere and Trilian and the East West Quantum Leap Play libraries I have...there is little I cannot do and I have yet to play around with Iris and the YRG or Godin. I'm in a bit of a slump right now ......only as far as the studio. Writers block anyone?

                I did not even know of the Gen 2 YRG. I'll have to see if it has stuff mine doesn't. The internal sounds are for beginners.....I would never use any of the sounds in mine....no need to though.....USB right into the computer.

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                • #9
                  So what I'm hearing is that for a MIDI controller into a sequencer, the YRG-1000 (Gen2) is the way to go, but for live performance, with a real guitar as a controller, the GR-33 might be the most economical way to go if the sounds in the unit float your boat.

                  (If anyone has had some serious using the GR-33 or GR-20 to enter MIDI parts into Sonar, I'd like to hear about it.)

                  Priority one for me is playing MIDI "keyboard" and "bass" parts into Sonar, and maybe even guitar ideas. (because I'm not a keyboard player)

                  Priority two (to help out our keyboard player with parts) would be something I could use live, mainly for pads. And for the price, I would lean toward the GR-33. I just did a little searching on the Axon devices, and even used, they are fetching some serious coin.

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                  • #10
                    The Triple Play was originally announced to have a price of $399. Latest rumor has it at $499.

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                    • #11
                      So what I'm hearing is that for a MIDI controller into a sequencer, the YRG-1000 (Gen2) is the way to go, but for live performance, with a real guitar as a controller, the GR-33 might be the most economical way to go if the sounds in the unit float your boat.


                      There's no right or wrong answer on those points. Have you tried any of them?

                      GR unit is truly fit to pose different positions in the band. There's blend-able qualities there when you split the signals. You just need to deal with two cable paths... not too bad.

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