MIDI Guitar Showcase
linking the newest in MIDI Guitar technology
To do MIDI guitar,
you need some basic equipment.
This is a showcase of products available for MIDI Guitar.
Most of them have web sites, so we have some pictures and links right from
MIDI guitar is an "electric guitar," so you'll need an amp, some type of
guitar (acoustic or electric, nylon (see below) or steel strung),
the right pickup, a pitch-to-MIDI converter, and also a
synthesizer. To hear it you'll need headphones or an amp.
Let's take a look at what's available.
A Typical Set-Up
Godin guitar synth-ready guitars
Godin LGX with synth
Godin Multiac with synth
access this guitar is available in both steel and nylon strung
versions. (I have one of these and it's great!)
Starr Labs makes the
Ztar, a switch
MIDI guitar that has lots of neat features for live performance, it has a
MIDI-out and needs no pitch-to-MIDI converter. They have an optional
synth board attachment, and sell factory direct. They're not afraid to
list their prices. They've just added string triggers to some models,
which I think is great.
I used to play a Suzuki guitar controller which was similar, and had
lots of fun with it. These Ztars are real fun. The switches don't take
long to get used to.
Fender and Ovation also make a synth-ready guitar,
but not quite as high-tech, since they're based on the Roland GK-2a
which comes installed. Takamine also has a classical MIDI-ready
Fender GR-ready Strat
"Roland-ready" acoustic/electric guitars are available with a GK-2
See their link
for the latest details. (No picture available).
Pickups for MIDI Guitars:
This is the standard pickup that works with most PITCH to MIDI converters.
It works with any steel strung guitar, electric or acoustic.
This is Axon's pickup similar to the GK-2a.
This is a piezio pickup that replaces the saddle for each string, you'll
They require luthier-quality installation and an electronics package.
They are considered to be the state of the art at this time.
The RMC pickup is also available for nylon-strung guitars. You can
them installed on your guitar, or try a Godin Multiac with Synth Access
for a nice MIDI-ready classical guitar with
This is a six element bridge pickup for classical guitars which also can
go to a Axon or Shadow guitar synth. Shadow makes pickups for
their units and also ones that are GR compatible.
With built-in synthesizers:
Axon AX-100 their newest Guitar Interface uses neural nets and transients to speed
detection. A XG sound card is an internal option.
The Axon-100 is out but no info yet on their web site! you'll have to rely on the
MIDI Guitar Axon Page for the latest details.
Roland Corporation and
Roland Guitar Products
-> this site has movies now, too!
The Roland GR-1
The Roland GR-9
The Roland GR-50
Still a classic, the GR-50 is available used and in closeouts, and has
some nice features for complex MIDI setups.
Roland Feature Summary
Model MIDI-outs Polyphony Tones/strum Extra MIDI ins Extra Analog In
----- --------- --------- ----------- -------------- ---------------
GR-50 2 32 partials 12 2 inst 1 drum 0
GR-1 1 24 2 3 inst 1 drum 0 (+sequencer)
GR-9 1 28 2 0 0
GI-10 1 0 1 0 1
GR-30 1 28 2 0 (+arp&harm)
GR-33 1 (+arp&harm, pedal)
Without built-in synthesizers:
Roland GI-10 MIDI guitar interface
Roland GI-10 This includes a cool input you can sing into.
The Shadow SH-075 on
The MIDI Guitar Shadow Page
Overacker's page with info on the Shadow SH-075.
SHADOW SH-075 Manual courtesy of Shadow USA on
made a SH27 floor unit and a rack mounted unit, the GTM-6. These all
have a MIDI out which can be mono or poly, with or without bend.
Complete MIDI Guitars:
MidiAxe a complete midi guitar system.
Plug in and go!
The VG-8 a
resource on Roland's non-midi synth from Aurelius Prochazka
the G_VOX system a $99 Win95-based
guitar converter system that can route to MIDI through your computer.
This guitar interface aimed at guitar instruction and sequencing.
This is a great way to try out MIDI Guitar if you're not sure.
Most owners report this unit is a toy and not to be confused with a workable midi guitar system.
Once you have a MIDI signal, any MIDI synthesizer will work for MIDI
guitar. Here are just a few suggestions:
SB 32 PnP The Soundblaster 32 PNP is a decent sounding synthesizer and
a great soundboard.
If you'll never leave your computer's side here's a good choice. It has
good support on the WWW and lots of samples and sound libraries available
from other users.
Note: almost every soundcard has a midi interface available through the joystick port. You need an interface cable, such as the "midiman sound card midi module," $15.95 from www.lentine.com.
The Yamaha QY-70. An XG synth plus full 16 track
sequencer with 480 bpq resolution. Great specs!
This is a nice unit
for small gigs or just foolin' around, especially with no computer.
With a synth plus a great intelligent arranger.
I have one of these and it sounds fantastic! It's the closest I've come to a
real MIDIguitar workstation. The XG feature set includes being able to use simple
multipart sysex messages to add monster layers and splits on each string.
(Plus, with this
and a Shadow
SH75 with a battery pack and a Pignose, you can go cordless and wireless and MIDI all the way.
How does that sound?)
My new QY70 Page with more info and lots of links
Yamaha USA -- QY-70
One of the primo synths today is the Kurzweil
One real nice feature in the K-2000 and K-2500 is triple velocity
crossfade layers in patches, which let you layer three sounds and blend
between them depending on how hard you pick each note. This is a
fantastic MIDI guitar feature. (keep reading)
The primo synth today may be the
e-mu e4 Ultra series
The e-synth and the other ultras feature 32 voice layering -- 10 times better than the Kurzweil. Thus is the ultimate sound module for midi guitar.
You don't need anything special for MIDI guitar, but a stereo keyboard amp is
recommended for best sound. Others that work well are bass amps, powered
PA speakers, and big PA speakers with a mixer/amp.
Still confused? I have a table of possible
MIDI Guitar equipment that will give you an idea how you can
mix and match gear.
OK, we need more on cables here. Look at the Pickup Page for some info on 13-pin guitar cables that most brands use. Shadow and GVOX use proprietary cables. After midi conversion, midi is sent out on 5-pin midi cables. If you're connecting to a soundboard, you'll need a joystick to midi cable (which includes a chip or two) that runs $20 to $50 depending on where you get it.
Note: All links are non-compensated ($$$) and presented for academic
enlightenment. Have fun!
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