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MIDI Guitar. Where are we today? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 31st January 2015
  #1
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kafka's Avatar
MIDI Guitar. Where are we today?

For the past 30 years or so, I've followed this MIDI guitar thing, and never got into it. It seems like a neat idea, but there's always some catch that keeps me from going forward with it. And every time I look into it, there's a neat new gadget that people are raving about, but is nowhere to be found 2 years later.

So, as of January 2015, where are we today? Are there any good, reliable, non-beta polyphonic software solutions? How about monophonic hardware solutions? Or, is there a polyphonic hardware solution that actually works, and doesn't require a hex pickup?
Old 31st January 2015
  #2
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JohnRick's Avatar
Don't know how well this works, but acc. to SOS it seems promising:

Jam Origin | MIDI Guitar
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may1...idi-guitar.htm
Old 1st February 2015
  #3
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JohnRick's Avatar
Actually tried this out yesterday, just because I heard of it recently. Though not a guitarist I was slightly amazed at how well it worked. Tried it out with voice as well, and sat for a few hours.
Several tube-videos out there apparently:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EfG6D9ONs0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPGq7p8MJ5U
Old 1st February 2015
  #4
I've had bad luck with the Roland stuff, bought and sold it...

I've tried the Jam Origin software two years ago and although I liked it a little better than my GR-33, it still made you play a certain way (slow, precise, avoiding expression, no strumming) to avoid artifacts. But I've heard it got better the last few years, might have to try it again.

A good way to get a non realtime guitar synth is to use the polyphonic audio to midi stuff from Melodyne. From what I've heard that was a great and reliable way to convert your guitar playing to midi.
Old 1st February 2015
  #5
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kafka's Avatar
I tried out the JamOrigin stuff yesterday. I spent a few hours tweaking it, and think I have a good idea of where it is. It was neat, but the tracking still isn't good or fast enough to make it useful. It might be ok for some long pads with a slow attack, but anything that has to be on the beat is going to be a problem. For pads, well, I can operate a keyboard well enough for that.

I haven't really spent much time doing the Melodyne pitch-to-MIDI thing. First, if I'm doing synth sounds, I need to be able to play along with the track to see where they fit in the arrangement. So, it has to be real-time. And second, I'm just not all that comfortable with Melodyne. I'm OK doing some minor vocal tweaking with it, but anything more just feels cumbersome.

Has anyone tried out the Fishman Triple Play? I probably have a guitar that I could dedicate to the cause.
Old 1st February 2015
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctms777 View Post

A good way to get a non realtime guitar synth is to use the polyphonic audio to midi stuff from Melodyne. From what I've heard that was a great and reliable way to convert your guitar playing to midi.
Agreed, and that's likely the technology that has made apps such as MIDI Guitar possible. I've used Melodyne myself on occasion when converting our guitarists arpeggios to midi (and use it extensively on vocals of course). I'd say the tracking precision is more or less the same when comparing guitar parts in that regard, but obviously the editing possibilities in Melodyne is why we use it to begin with.
Old 2nd February 2015
  #7
Gear Guru
I tried a GR55 recently, and as much as I want to use it, I find that the tracking is too slow. But I noticed it gets progressively slower as you move to the bass strings.

I guess that is the nature of physics, and i'm not sure if extra CPU will ever solve this - to correctly identify a frequency you have to count cycles, and the lower you go the less cycles there are in a second. The bottom E string fundamental (which is what we need to establish) is 82.41 cycles per second. So that is only 8.241 cycles in 100 ms, or 0.8241 cycles in 10 ms .... I don't see how you can establish the correct pitch in 10 ms if you can't even count one full cycle ...

I think it's amazing what they can achieve, but it's still too slow on the bass strings. Which leads me to speculate ... why not put a Nashville tuning stringset on, and set if that speeds it up? Might feel a bit weird, but i'm sure it would track better.

Or - somebody in the know might enlighten me here .... why not apply digital pitchshifting to the signal first, in a braindead sort of fashion, like a POG ... and then count the cycles ...
Old 2nd February 2015
  #8
Gear Guru
I tried a GR55 recently, and as much as I want to use it, I find that the tracking is too slow. But I noticed it gets progressively slower as you move to the bass strings.

I guess that is the nature of physics, and i'm not sure if extra CPU will ever solve this - to correctly identify a frequency you have to count cycles, and the lower you go the less cycles there are in a second. The bottom E string fundamental (which is what we need to establish) is 82.41 cycles per second. So that is only 8.241 cycles in 100 ms, or 0.8241 cycles in 10 ms .... I don't see how you can establish the correct pitch in 10 ms if you can't even count one full cycle ...

I think it's amazing what they can achieve, but it's still too slow on the bass strings. Which leads me to speculate ... why not put a Nashville tuning stringset on, and set if that speeds it up? Might feel a bit weird, but i'm sure it would track better.

Or - somebody in the know might enlighten me here .... why not apply digital pitchshifting to the signal first, in a braindead sort of fashion, like a POG ... and then count the cycles ...
Old 2nd February 2015
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
I think it's amazing what they can achieve, but it's still too slow on the bass strings. Which leads me to speculate ... why not put a Nashville tuning stringset on, and set if that speeds it up? Might feel a bit weird, but i'm sure it would track better.

Or - somebody in the know might enlighten me here .... why not apply digital pitchshifting to the signal first, in a braindead sort of fashion, like a POG ... and then count the cycles ...
The Nashville idea would likely work.

The POG idea, not so much. The problem is that the Roland tracks at the hexaphonic pickup, not the guitar output.
Old 2nd February 2015
  #10
Gear interested
 

I've used the Fishman TriplePlay. Tracking is decent, the real issue with the product is their design. As a standalone unit, you get minimal functionality, the thing is designed to work with their app, which is a VST host. The only way to get any sort of complicated or interesting setup is to do it entirely within the app and use VST synths for sounds. The outboard MIDI implementation is simplistic. Since I want to drive external MIDI devices, not softsynths, I've found it rather useless. Plus if you are using a DAW, you have to use the TriplePlay plugin, then host the synths inside that plugin inside the DAW. Not the way I want to work at all.
Old 2nd February 2015
  #11
Gear Guru
I have thought about using a hex breakout box, maybe followed by fast pitch shifters on each string or the bass ones, followed by Sonuus pitch to midi converters (which are only mono but fast). That would be a very clumsy expensive solution, but it might work better than the Roland.

I wish midi guitar was fast enough to play bass lines on a 6 string, but I couldn't get it to work. I will happily use one for pads or high string solos ...
Old 2nd February 2015
  #12
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I have a Sonuus G2M v2, which works fairly well, even though mono. Need to try it with the new computer.
Old 3rd February 2015
  #13
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kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffman View Post
I've used the Fishman TriplePlay. Tracking is decent, the real issue with the product is their design. As a standalone unit, you get minimal functionality, the thing is designed to work with their app, which is a VST host. The only way to get any sort of complicated or interesting setup is to do it entirely within the app and use VST synths for sounds. The outboard MIDI implementation is simplistic. Since I want to drive external MIDI devices, not softsynths, I've found it rather useless. Plus if you are using a DAW, you have to use the TriplePlay plugin, then host the synths inside that plugin inside the DAW. Not the way I want to work at all.
That doesn't sound like a very practical solution. Thanks.
Old 3rd February 2015
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
I tried a GR55 recently, and as much as I want to use it, I find that the tracking is too slow. But I noticed it gets progressively slower as you move to the bass strings.

I guess that is the nature of physics, and i'm not sure if extra CPU will ever solve this - to correctly identify a frequency you have to count cycles, and the lower you go the less cycles there are in a second. The bottom E string fundamental (which is what we need to establish) is 82.41 cycles per second. So that is only 8.241 cycles in 100 ms, or 0.8241 cycles in 10 ms .... I don't see how you can establish the correct pitch in 10 ms if you can't even count one full cycle ...

I think it's amazing what they can achieve, but it's still too slow on the bass strings. Which leads me to speculate ... why not put a Nashville tuning stringset on, and set if that speeds it up? Might feel a bit weird, but i'm sure it would track better.

Or - somebody in the know might enlighten me here .... why not apply digital pitchshifting to the signal first, in a braindead sort of fashion, like a POG ... and then count the cycles ...
It should be possible to do it to 1/2 cycle by counting the amount of time between two adjacent zero crossings. The problem would be in filtering it so that harmonics don't confuse the timing.
Old 4th February 2015
  #15
Gear Guru
Sonuus seem to be the only guys prepared to tell us what their latency is ... and for the G2M they state 19ms for the E2 string. Add to that the latency of the midi module you want to trigger. And for polyphonic stuff, buy a hex breakout box and 6 x Sonuus boxes, and then a 6 channel midi merger ... gets a bit stupid ...

Roland officially state that the GP10 latency should be "about the same as the GR55". (They obviously don't want to stop sales of the GR55).

I was not impressed with the low E string tracking with their internal PCM sounds, and allegedly the GR55 gets a lot worse if you trigger external midi devices. Which is a pisser, because I would really like to trigger my Moog or Integra or whatever with a guitar.

I have heard that somebody had success using a Kenton USB to Midi converter with a GP10 - cutting out the need for a laptop. I might try this option ... not holding my breath.

Fishman Triple Play seems to be the best solution allegedly ... not sure if I trust this, and really do not want to take a laptop to a gig ...
Old 4th February 2015
  #16
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tomaburque's Avatar
 

I have a Godin Freeway with a built in midi pickup that I can output to a Roland GI-20. It's ok for a person like me who wants to play with synths in a DAW but only plays the guitar and not a lick of keyboards. Accuracy is not good enough for live performance but ok for recording as I can go in and correct the wrong notes. When you don't play cleanly the Roland box tends to glitch and spew these fugly little glitch notes into the piano roll I call clams. I get an ulcer thinking about the hours I spent erasing those little pieces of crap. The latency made it hard to do certain types of music like funk where you have to land on the beat and 25 ms of lag is unacceptable.

Then I got the Midi Guitar app a couple of years ago and the tracking is different but I'd rate slightly better as it can handle hammers and pull-offs and gliss while the Godin/Roland could not. Not having to use special gear and that big thick cable is a huge plus for this app. When you confuse this app it tends to be silent which is an improvement over the glitch notes from the Roland so your performance will have holes instead of glitches if you play sloppily.

A few weeks ago I took delivery of a Fishman Triple play. The quality of the tracking is on another level compared to the Godin/Roland and the Midi Guitar. And with my current i7 Mac I an get latency down low enough to play funk basslines. There are concerns though. The plastic parts look and feel cheap. Because I work in the cellphone industry that micro-USB charge port makes my skin crawl as I've seen a zillion Android phones fail with that exact same type of charge port as it breaks off inside. Be gentle with the charge port if you buy one of these.

I've heard nothing but negative comments about the software bundle that comes with the Fishman so I passed on it except for the Triple Play app which is needed to set the string balance. It works fine with Logic and Ableton.

Hardware gripes aside playing synths with a guitar is a gas now that the accuracy is almost good enough for live performance and latency is down below 10 ms. Because the mechanics of six strings and a pick is different than keys and ten fingers playing synths with a guitar does not exactly replace a keyboard player. But for someone like me who wants to play with synths and does not play the keyboards, guitar to midi is hear and now.

Last edited by tomaburque; 4th February 2015 at 07:19 PM..
Old 4th February 2015
  #17
Why am I reminded of the arguments in the guitar virtual instrument thread, only in reverse?

Buy a keyboard. It might take you a couple of weeks to get it down to a level where you can get the melody you want out of it, but it'll do the job better than any guitar based variant.
Old 5th February 2015
  #18
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomaburque View Post
I have a Godin Freeway with a built in midi pickup that I can output to a Roland GI-20. It's ok for a person like me who wants to play with synths in a DAW but only plays the guitar and not a lick of keyboards. Accuracy is not good enough for live performance but ok for recording as I can go in and correct the wrong notes. When you don't play cleanly the Roland box tends to glitch and spew these fugly little glitch notes into the piano roll I call clams. I get an ulcer thinking about the hours I spent erasing those little pieces of crap. The latency made it hard to do certain types of music like funk where you have to land on the beat and 25 ms of lag is unacceptable.
I have a Godin xtSA and the GI-20. I think you already know this but if not, you really need to tweak patches and assign each string of the guitar to its own midi channel and correspondingly for each instance or multi of the synth(s) you trigger. You need also to get out of poly mode and use mono mode for each channel.

I've been setting up a lot of multi's using Sampletank 3 cuz its dead easy to edit each part to the proper settings. With Kontakt, I've been pulling my hair out trying to figure out how.

If you get the right settings I can even get the pianos to behave very well. You'll notice if you scroll thru patches some respond very well and others don't. Besides using separate midi channels and mono mode there's probably a whole bunch of things that could ideally be tweaked for even better performance like envelope adjustments and whatnot, but to the non programmer like me, to go that far with perfection can be a nightmare. Regardless I can get a great response out of the GI20

Last edited by Lester; 5th February 2015 at 12:06 AM..
Old 5th February 2015
  #19
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I think the whole Guitar MIDI world would progress to a decent direction if the companies and purchases stopped chasing the impossible dream of playing a guitar and it sounds like a piano/clavinet/pipe organ and so on. The attack is just so different. Otherwise midi guitars are a nice step to move the palette and usability of guitar into the 21st century.
Old 5th February 2015
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksandvik View Post
I think the whole Guitar MIDI world would progress to a decent direction if the companies and purchases stopped chasing the impossible dream of playing a guitar and it sounds like a piano/clavinet/pipe organ and so on. The attack is just so different. Otherwise midi guitars are a nice step to move the palette and usability of guitar into the 21st century.
There's nothing wrong with using a guitar to trigger non guitar sounds. However it does require the user to play to the sound being generated rather than 'forcing' that sound to be like a guitar.

For example

Piano/organ/string/pads patch = no shredding

Mono lead type patch = you can shred it
Old 6th February 2015
  #21
Gear Guru
I play guitar and I play keys - and they are different. I have many reasons to want to trigger my synths with guitar, rather than keyboard - even though I can shred on both.

The voicing and note choices and string bending that I do on guitar is quite different from what I do on synth. If I could just get the bastards to track low notes in real time, I would use it.

I'm very much into making synths sing like a guitar, or guitars sound like a synth. And for live there is a bunch of cool multitasking things you can do with midi stuff ... if only the latency was acceptable.

Fishman and Boss/Roland have lost the plot making their new products without DIN midi ... DIN midi is where the market need is greatest ...

I've ordered the Kenton and will see how the GP-10 reacts with that ...
Old 6th February 2015
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdme_sadie View Post
Why am I reminded of the arguments in the guitar virtual instrument thread, only in reverse?

Buy a keyboard. It might take you a couple of weeks to get it down to a level where you can get the melody you want out of it, but it'll do the job better than any guitar based variant.
You sound like me...
Old 11th February 2015
  #23
Gear Guru
Fark. My Kenton USB to Midi adapter arrived - and apparantly it won't work with the GP10. Fark.

I was fairly sure I saw a post from somebody - maybe not Gearslutz - would said they were really impressed with the latency when using the GP10 with the Kenton host adapter ... bollocks.
Old 11th February 2015
  #24
Gear Guru
OK ... here is why I bought the Kenton - post from a "Platinum Member" at another guitar forum - which is very interesting, *if it were true* ...

Quote:
I bought a Kenton USB to 5 Pin MIDI box. It's about 4 inches long and converts the FTP USB to direct MIDI. I plug that into the hardware synth of my choice, of which I have several. There is no GR-55 involved, in fact the GP-10/FTP with a hardware synth replaces the GR-55. It is much faster, better tracking, and way more powerful. If you want to stick with Roland's synth sounds you can buy a D-50 or similar and have the same synth. But, I was never wildly in love with the synth section anyway.

The big breakthrough for me was bypassing the computer altogether with the FTP. Even good computers contribute some lag and they can be unstable. Who needs 'em? With the Kenton I get tracking so fast that me ear can't detect any latency at all. I can actually strum guitar samples, which is unheard of for previous guitar synth setups. Of course, some hardware synths accept USB MIDI in, which means you don't need the Kenton at all.
When I connect my GP10 to the Kenton, the active light flashes, which is a sign that it does not recognise a class compliant device. The GP10 gives a USB connected/disconnected message when the Kenton is turned on or off - but there is no midi output.

Every other forum comment I see says that the USB of the GP10 is not class complient, at least for audio.

I'm trying to contact this person who wrote this ... I hope they have a secret I don't know about ...

Anyone else had any luck with the Kenton and GP10?
Old 11th February 2015
  #25
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I lucked out and got a GK-3 for $50.00, now I just have to find a GI-10 or 20. Also tried the Sonuus with the new 2011 mac mini and iPad mini 2, both track much better, so I can take my time tracking down the rest of the Roland stuff.
Old 11th February 2015
  #26
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I've used a Fishman Triple Play for a few years.

The tracking is fantastic, everything else about the product is crap.

I posted a comprehensive review on the Gearpage some time ago, most of it is still valid.
Updates: 64bit AU is now available, battery loses charge within a week when the device is not in use, mini USB connection has become unreliable.
Old 11th February 2015
  #27
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffman View Post
I've used the Fishman TriplePlay. Tracking is decent, the real issue with the product is their design. As a standalone unit, you get minimal functionality, the thing is designed to work with their app, which is a VST host. The only way to get any sort of complicated or interesting setup is to do it entirely within the app and use VST synths for sounds. The outboard MIDI implementation is simplistic. Since I want to drive external MIDI devices, not softsynths, I've found it rather useless. Plus if you are using a DAW, you have to use the TriplePlay plugin, then host the synths inside that plugin inside the DAW. Not the way I want to work at all.
I have used midi guitarfor a while but it didnt track well. Trpiple play is tracking amazingly well. I use it with several softsynths in my daw. You dont have to use the vst plug to integrate your softsynths at least not in reaper. So for me using triple play to trigger my software instruments like trilian, soniccouture stuff etc. Works like a breeze..
Old 11th February 2015
  #28
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Doesn't work in realtime, but the audio to midi in Ableton 9 is quite good and so useful because you use it on a track you already have. Pick 4 bars, convert to midi, quantize, clean up the clams if any, and boom you got a loop that sounds like what the guitar did but with midi there's so many ways to obscure that.

The thing about midi from a guitar being not as good as midi as a keyboard, yeah you are limited to six notes and a pick can't work like ten fingers. But so what? It's music so if the end product is pleasing to at least someone, it's good. And if you are wanting an indy feel or are purposely wanting the synths to sound like they are played by a human and not a sequencer, guitar to midi with no quantization will do that.

Last edited by tomaburque; 11th February 2015 at 06:57 PM..
Old 11th February 2015
  #29
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Smile Fishman tripleplay is ok to me so far

I am still learning to use my Fish-man triple play.
It works better in PT10 then in PT11 for one thing, but I feel that is more of an Avid issue....
That said it triggers Kontakt, Saxlab, Rob Papin and Trillian ok to me, in PT10 no trouble at all so far. I do not notice any real latency, it will get hung up every now then; it just holds a note then I have to cycle the record button but since I use it my studio it's no big deal live it might a different thing.. I had a Roland GR-33 it was barely ok, the Fish-man is waaay better IMHO.
I got it to mount on my trusty G&L F-100 np, it should mount easy on most Strat style guitars. I am thinking about seeing if it will mount on a Danelectro baritone when I get a chance. Now I can trigger pretty good Session Pro Horns in PT10 then edit which is totally cool with me.
I still have not figured out how to set it up to have a different output for each string, but it is suppose to be doable. Also the micro USB plug is kind of weak and you have leave it charging with the transceiver turned off.
Tho I do have to edit it to clean out bad notes. I get a better flow from my guitar with the Fish-man then on my keyboard.
I'll post more info as learn more about the Fishman

Last edited by gladf7; 11th February 2015 at 09:01 PM.. Reason: grammer
Old 11th February 2015
  #30
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ksandvik's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lester View Post
There's nothing wrong with using a guitar to trigger non guitar sounds. However it does require the user to play to the sound being generated rather than 'forcing' that sound to be like a guitar.

For example

Piano/organ/string/pads patch = no shredding

Mono lead type patch = you can shred it
I do play keyboards and pulling off an authentic clavinet or organ part would be painful. I use keyboards for that. But yes for generic drone style sounds, guitar and keyboard, no difference. But why try to ape keyboard playing, for me the whole idea with MIDI guitar is to push the boundaries for new styles. Similar to what happened when people started (mis)using TR-808 drum machines. New genres were born.
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