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MIDI and guitar

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  • MIDI and guitar

    Hello chaps,

    I'm looking for the cheapest way to have:

    - strings (both ensemble and individual e.g. a cello sim)
    - piano
    - organ and a variety of synths
    - 50's horns (you know how horns sound in old movies etc)

    All controllable with guitar. There is a strat at the local Sam Ash right now with a gk 3 pickup but it's not entirely clear whether that is a MIDI pickup or it will only work with Roland units.

    Is there any way to do this with mac-compatible software or do I need to buy an external MIDI controller?

    Roland JV-1080 seems good, it's hard to find a demo for anything that has all the sounds I'm looking for. GR-55 might do it but it's a thousand dollars, and I don't really need the amp sims...

  • #2
    The only way to get midi guitar is with a midi pickup and midi unit. Rolland probably makes the best ones.
    There were other companies that got into it for short periods and even made complete midi guitars that had separate strings for the pick and fingers.
    Most obviously didn't take off because of the cost.

    The pickups contains 6 separate elements. One for each string and then the output is sent to a device that takes the pitch information from the strings and converts
    them to midi tones. From there the unit can convert the signal back to analog and drive an amp, or some have midi outputs that can connect to a Computer DAW
    for further processing, recording midi etc.

    The midi units are usually much faster than a computer. I had one of those Fender midi pickup converter units years ago. It was pretty lame in many ways.
    The pickup sensitivity had to be manually adjusted with a pot for each string, and the latency from the computer hearing what you played made it
    useless for any kind of live performance. Computers have gotten much faster and its possible that wouldn't have been as big an issue with a newer computer.

    Learning to play a midi guitar can be real flakey though. Things like pick attack and string dampening is ultra critical. You can get away with playing sloppy
    playing analog, but with midi things like pick attack and string overtones trigger all kinds of false notes of harmonic intervals.
    Pick strength can cause a note to fail or jump half steps an stuff like that. You cant bend notes like you would on a regular guitar and
    how fast you pick can be a big deal too. If the note is already going and you don't dampen the note before you pick it again, you may
    not hear the note being picked the second time. It would be like depressing an organ key when its already down. Nothing happens.
    You have to lift the key so the note stops before you can depress it again.

    The Rolland units have worked out allot of these issues (its why they cost so much) but you do have to retrain yourself to do many things.
    Making a guitar to sound like another instrument all together like a Piano for example requires developing playing techniques to make it
    actually sound like a person playing a piano.

    It's much like a person playing keyboard attempting to make the keyboard sound like a guitar.
    It often sounds phony when you listen carefully and sounds cheesy whether you do or not.
    Keyboards use switches under the keys in off on conditions.
    Even with touch sensitivity and note benders, switches for tones are not strings and strings are not switches.
    Making a guitar have short note durations playing pizzicato doing arpeggios can be very difficult to master.

    Its a good thing to master of course, but it is different. If you play allot of clean guitar well then you will
    do much better than someone who hides in back of a wall of overdrive. Its easy to use drive as a crutch
    especially for your right hand because string attack all sounds the same.
    Playing clean and the weak right hand is exposed.
    Going midi is twice as bad when it comes to pick control.
    Many musicians hate having to focus that much on the notes to make them sound right.
    That's why the units aren't very popular and when things aren't popular, you have less
    competition and higher prices.