MIDI Guitar Pickup Page

Copyright 1998 Joel B. Christian

The Roland GK-2 and GK-2a

The workhorse of MIDI Guitar pickups is the Roland GK-2a.

A most-requested item, the pin assignments for the GK-2 DIN connector,
1:signal for string 1, 2:sig 2, 3:sig 3, 4:sig 4, 5:sig 5, 6:sig 6, 7:Guitar Output, 8:VOL, 9:NC, 10:SW1, 11:SW2, 12:+7V, 13:-7V

  • 13-pin Connectors!Digi-Key (1-800-344-4539)(digikey.com) now carries 13-pin DIN connectors made by Stack (cuistack.com) for use in our midi systems. The CUI Stack site even includes a blueprint.
    1. 13 pin in-line male plug (SD-130) $1.65 each
    2. 13 pin in-line female jack (SD-130J) $3.75 each
    3. 13 pin PC board mount female jack (SDD-130J) $3.03 each
    4. 13 pin PC board mount shielded female jack (SDF-130J) $3.15 each
    note: Readers report that soldering on replacement connectors is a difficult task.

    Check the
    MIDI Guitar Showcase for more on the GK-2's. Roland also has (same price) a GK-2a kit that can be built in your guitar for a more finished look like the Fender Roland-ready guitars.

    What's the difference between the GK-2 and the GK-2A?
    The 2A is a humbucking pickup, the 2 is not. The 2A might be a tad smaller.

    How do I install my GK-2A?
    Basically, mount the pickup as close to the bridge as possible, with about 1 millimeter between the closest string and pickup. I use "Handy Tack" poster putty to mount both things, starting with too much (too high) and working the pickup down gently. It removes without a trace andis good acoustically. Center the pickup so that the poles are evenly off-axis of the E-strings (split the difference) to start. You may want to adjust from there, re-adjusting sensitivity after each adjustment.

    The RMC Pickup

    Richard McClish makes a midi-ready system. You'll need a Luthier to modify the bridge. If you're real handy, you may be able to install your own. The latest price I have is $250 for the bridge plus $250-350 for the preamp/filter with GR and audio outs. The RMC is used on Godin Multiac GR-ready guitars in steel and nylon. RMC pickups are the best I've seen for MIDI guitar, and also give a studio-quality guitar out signal at the same time.
    RMC Pickup Co. 1739 Addison #15, Berkeley, CA 94703 (510)845-9130

    Available at www.rmcpickup.com

    One user installation with RMC's installed in Gibson ES-335.


    Fender and Ovation have midi-ready guitars. Both use the GK-2A permanent mount kit factory attached. Fender's is pictured on the box of "Cakewalk Guitar Studio".

    Shadow is definitely into MIDI pickups, with several models for steel strung guitars and one hexaphonic saddle style model for nylon-classical guitars, including a factory-installed axe from Takamine. e-mail Shadow

    hexaphonic humbucking pickup

    hexaphonic saddle pickup for nylon and steel strung acoustic guitars

    Rob Super of Shadow tells me their custom shop can provide several MIDI pickup types: piezo bridges for electric, acoustic, and nylon; humbuckers with midi, and stick-on magnetic pickups. Rob notes that the only MIDI systems that can use a piezo pickup are the Shadow GTM-6 and the AXON because the filtering in the analog section requires the positive AND the negative half of the signal be filtered. (RMC pickups are filtered in the on-board electronics for GR compatibility).

    Axon Pickup Options:

    AIX-101 hexaphonic pickup

    They also have the AIX-103 for Bass. The Axon will also work for bass.

    hexaphonic bridge pickup for nylon and steel strung acoustic guitars

    AIX-110 electronics are available for bridge pickups

    AIX-210 electronics are available for Godin guitars using RMC pickups

    (if you have more details, send them along and I'll share them here!)

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