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Anyone here doing MIDI guitar?

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Every three years or so I try out the latest in MIDI guitar hoping that one day I'll find a workable solution. I can play chords on a keyboard, but guitar is my main instrument. I struggle to get my melodic ideas from the guitar to a keyboard.

Today Sweetwater delivered a Godin xtSA with the built-in hexagonal midi pickups system under the saddles. They also delivered a Roland GR-55. I'm told that the pair is about as best as you can do right now.

It's a bit frustrating because I don't want to play the sounds of the Roland - I just want the midi to PC capability; it's an expensive converter. :/

I'm going to let the guitar box adjust to my room temp for a few hours and then hook it up and see how it goes. I am hopeful, but not overly optimistic.

Are any of you using a similar or different setup? Any advice to get it working the best?

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I have delved into this also in the past. I also have a Roland GR55 and use the included GK3 pickup that came with it and have it installed on a old strat type guitar.

If you are new to the GR55, most of the presets are crap as usual for a hardware processor. I found a guy on youtube that shows how to deep dive into the menus to get different sounds. This is his channel here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NryBx0drJFU

It is a lot of menu diving though!

I recently found this on Sweetwater https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/articles/roland-gr-55-send-midi-notes-gr-55/, but have not tried it yet. It shows how to get the midi out of the GR55. I was hoping to get the midi out of the GR55 to play  VSTi's in my DAW. The problem will probably be latency though. I was going to try to send the midi out to my audio interface and into the computer that way.

As usual I have not spent enough time with it!

I've been wanting to try one of these guitar's also.

https://jamstik.com/products/studio-midi-guitar?variant=14206283382826

https://www.amazon.com/Jamstik-Studio-Guitar-Black-Matte/dp/B08M8293Z4/ref=sr_1_4?crid=1VHMIE7ZOFI3I&keywords=jamstik%2Bstudio%2Bmidi%2Bguitar&qid=1648474456&s=musical-instruments&sprefix=jamstik%2Cmi%2C232&sr=1-4&th=1

You connect directly to your computer through a USB port.

The reviews are decent and there are a lot of reviews on YouTube about it.

It is also kind of expensive. About the same as the Roland GR55.

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Also found this video from the same guy actually playing external keyboard sounds with a GR55.

 

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James

i used to have a set up much the same as this - it was many years ago so i suspect things must have improved quite a bit tracking wise.

the issues I had were that whilst the tracking wasn't the best,  you could always tidy that up later via the piano roll if you were recording - live play, well probably no, unless what you were trying to play was very basic. Also you had to pick very cleanly to avoid ghost / wrong notes;  shredding didn't work very well🤪

the biggest issue for me was that you play the guitar and keyboards very differently and what I was playing on the guitar did not translate well for me to keyboard.

so eventually i sort of gave up with that idea and tried to improve my keyboard playing.

i really think, that as Zargg says, you can get them to work - it depends quite a bit on what you want it to do.

hope all goes well

Nigel

 

 

 

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Thanks for the input and links guys! I'll check out the links and respond in more detail after I get this thing up and working.

My past experiences were similar to what you guys describe and I understand what you are saying Nigel about the playing. My hope is that I can play melodies in my soft synths - such as pulling up a great instrument in East West Silk and playing lead. This is for recording, so I don't mind cleaning up midi but the tracking has to be quick enough to be inspiring - I want to just play/feel the instrument. If I have to battle the tech that just defeats the purpose. And when you and the GR55 with the guitar and the cable this is an expensive solution - it needs to work!

I just got the guitar out of the box - I hope to have it feeding midi to the PC yet today...

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I’ve been playing with MIDI guitar fir many decades now. One of the central issues is the extreme width of guitar techniques (which can change every note at times) requires far more detail than current AI manages. Especially if you’re doing improv so pop on guitar.

So it really needs a lot of attention and planning as to how well it works.

In it’s most detailed mode, using 6 adjacent MIDI channels dedicated one/string is needed to bend one string and not affect others (for example). Might not be what is desired when playing some chords? Etc.

I see it as needing a lot of extra work for most uses and these days it seems most people expect magic and we're not there... yet?

In any case, I’m still using a Blue Chip Axon ax-100 (I have 2, one an SB) with Axon GK2 equivalent running any combination of hardware/VSTi synths I choose. I don’t use it often currently but that changes. It’s often too time consuming to setup especially when running MIDI mono mode. Big setup in a "synth" like Kontakt... I have (well had, until one was stolen last year) two hardware synths setup with whole banks of setups/sounds for MIDI guitar work. My precious Oberheim Xpander was stolen but I still have a basic live rig for my Roland U220 as guitar synth.

Things work k pretty well when thought about and planned for.  For quickie stuff I used to use the TT1 as it’s easy/fast to tweak for guitar though not my desired sounds too often.

As to the triggering? It’s still at the mercy of physics. Measuring a waveform to determine it’s pitch demands an amount of time unlike an instant on from a switch (keyboard), so I find it needs me to learn using it within it's limits as any other instrument's limits. I usually avoid fast low note passages or scrubbed guitar chords and the likes (for example).

 

Sorry for the long story. I guess I needed it having abandoned a guitar synth solo 2 songs back...

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7 minutes ago, Keni said:

Sorry for the long story. I guess I needed it having abandoned a guitar synth solo 2 songs back...

never apologise, never explain, haha

i can barely play a guitar, nevermind midi gtr, but i love reading all this geeky music tech stuff 😘

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7 minutes ago, pwalpwal said:

never apologise, never explain, haha

i can barely play a guitar, nevermind midi gtr, but i love reading all this geeky music tech stuff 😘

Ha! Love the idea, but these days I’ve learned I get on with others much easier when I act "polite"?

🙏👽🎸🎶

 

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BTW, I also found realizing slow attack sounds don't typically work well with fast passages etc... Again requiring playing to the limits of the chosen sound/setup...

🙏

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I've tried using the GK2A (and also a GK3) with my GI-10,  and also the MIDIGuitar plugin - both return mixed results from my experience.

I've had much better results just recording the guitar, then dragging the audio to a MIDI track, which uses Melodyne's pitch-to-MIDI conversion.  You'll need either Melodyne Editor or Studio to do polyphonic conversion though.

Whichever method you use,  you should expect to have to edit the results in the PRV afterwards.

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1 minute ago, msmcleod said:

I've tried using the GK2A (and also a GK3) with my GI-10,  and also the MIDIGuitar plugin - both return mixed results from my experience.

I've had much better results just recording the guitar, then dragging the audio to a MIDI track, which uses Melodyne's pitch-to-MIDI conversion.  You'll need either Melodyne Editor or Studio to do polyphonic conversion though.

Whichever method you use,  you should expect to have to edit the results in the PRV afterwards.

Funny... I tend to do the same more often. I have some issues there which may be I need to learn more Melodyne. Dealng with bends, slides, and vibrato is still painful...

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Posted (edited)

I use hex pickups; I have a Godin xtsa, ACS nylon, and a strat with a GK2A. I mostly use a Boss SY-1000 which is more like an analog synth, but it does have GTR2MIDI and I have a GR55 and a few other units. When you setup the guitar in the GR55 most people like the string sensitivity lower than what Roland recommends. Below 70% and IIRC mine may be around 30 - 40%. Palm muting is important. If you're not familiar with it vguitarforums.com is a good resource for all things VG, GR, SY related. Have fun. 

Edited by rsinger

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If you don't mind just converting afterwards, you can use tools like melodyne to convert any audio file and get a midi track.

The track above was not done with Melodyne. It was done with a GK3 pickup and a GR-20 - Roland. I send the midi from the roland into my interface and feed it to Rapture and Z3ta. So this track has TH-U, bass from the GR20 and then Rapture and Zeta sounds.

Slides and pull-offs are often missed by the midi conversion but are managed pretty well by the GR20. The GR20 does a much better job with the input from the GK3 than the midi it creates from the same data.

HTH.

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2 hours ago, msmcleod said:

I've tried using the GK2A (and also a GK3) with my GI-10,  and also the MIDIGuitar plugin - both return mixed results from my experience.

I've had much better results just recording the guitar, then dragging the audio to a MIDI track, which uses Melodyne's pitch-to-MIDI conversion.  You'll need either Melodyne Editor or Studio to do polyphonic conversion though.

Whichever method you use,  you should expect to have to edit the results in the PRV afterwards.

I bought a midi guitar years ago, gave up quickly. It just can't pick up the flavor. Bends & slides just don't work right. I'm not sure I ever got the thing adjusted right but even straight playing never did all that well. I also found melodyne with live guitar more workable. Even that usually leaves me with a lot of editing to do. I prefer using a keyboard now, I generally only play leads on guitar now.

 

Good luck.

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Posted (edited)

It's not just slides, pull-offs, bends, hammer-ons that are chancy with midi.

Guitars are just played differently. Like you can play the same E on 2 strings. Midi really doesn't handle well 2 Es of the same pitch played differently bending in and out of tune by a few cents.

Also, Synths work around attack sustain decay... Guitars are rhythm instruments. As you repeatedly strum a chord or pick a string you keep resetting the attach sustain decay circle. The synth sound may be blocked from blooming over a chord because you keep re-hitting the chord.

Playing a midi guitar improved my playing. It let me know when I lift a finger off the Low E-string F note and the E sounds. On the guitar, it's not enough to really notice, but the midi makes it stand out. So you get better at not hitting notes by accident.

There are a lot of expressive things you can do on a guitar without midi that you cannot do with midi, but likewise, there are lots of expressive things you can do with mid that you cannot do without midi.

🙂

Edited by Gswitz

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Sadly I have to report that this experience was every bit as disappointing as the last time I tried. You would think that two grand worth of equipment would give great results, but that's not the case.

It's all packaged up and going back... :/

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James, I'm sorry man. I really love playing with the synths on. I find it a great experience although not the same as playing without them. For guitar freedom, there is nothing like a guitar plugged into a tube amp. Still, the sounds you can get from synths are just so cool. I love listening to them as I play.

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Sorry to

1 hour ago, James Foxall said:

Sadly I have to report that this experience was every bit as disappointing as the last time I tried. You would think that two grand worth of equipment would give great results, but that's not the case.

It's all packaged up and going back... :/

Sorry to hear it. The Roland gear usually works pretty well if you use their internal patches. Going external and it's worse. I was told that the system they use bypasses midi conversion (prior) hence less delay.

But it’s not for everyone as you no longer play guitar when you use it so learning what it can do is essentially many new instruments including what it can do while playing real guitar parts. Sometimes it can do so but most often it's a controller, not a guitar?

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I had a absolutely zero interest in the Roland. It was just used to generate midi to the computer. $800 is an expensive midi converter. 

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