1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Educate me on guitar midi controllers Please

Discussion in 'Studio Techniques' started by shreddersinc, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. shreddersinc

    shreddersinc Member

    I am sort of a guitar head. Becoming great on the keyboard is going to take forever.
    So I was wondering how good are guitar midi controllers? Can they be used for all articulations or would it be the exact same as hitting a key on the keyboard with velocity sensitivity only.

    I was cautiously excited about the http://www.fender.com/promos/2010/rockband3/ Does this have any promise?

    I live far away from any music store that has any midi guitar.
    All help is appreciated.
  3. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    The Fender Rockband is a gaming guitar with a built in string-to-MIDI converter. According to the description it sends MIDI, I think without pitchbend, so it can be used like a real MIDI guitar to a certain degree. But I wouldn't call it a MIDI guitar, it's a game controller.

    For a standard MIDI guitar you need a MIDI pickup, a converter and a soundmodule (or software like Logic). Alternatively you can get a pickup plus a converter with a built-in synthesizer.

    There are basically two types of MIDI pickups: magnetic or piezo. Magnetic pickups are mounted on regular guitars very close to the bridge. A controller with two buttons and a wheel is also mounted on the guitar. This is the classic Roland setup. Piezo pickups are mounted under each string, right in the bridge. Some guitars have such pickups already built-in (Godin for example) or you buy such a pickup bridge and mount it on your guitar.

    Converters transform the incoming signal from the strings to MIDI. They are slightly different in accuracy and speed. Speed means the time the converter needs to analyze the notes and transform them to MIDI information. Roland and Axon offer converters with and without soundboards.

    You can turn any guitar into a MIDI guitar but not every pickup system fits on every guitar. In parallel to a MIDI pickup you can still play with your normal pickups and mix the guitar sound with MIDI sounds from the soundboard, an external sound module or your software.

    MIDI guitars through standard converters send notes with velocity and pitchbend. Either all strings on one MIDI channel or each string on its own channel. Since the MIDI information is taken directly from the strings, the result is not like hitting a key on a keyboard. Good players can imitate keyboard- or other sounds but the instrument remains a guitar.

    Of course there are also special (and very special) guitar and guitar-like MIDI controllers on the market.

    Youtube has many interesting movies about MIDI guitars and converters.
  4. shreddersinc

    shreddersinc Member

    Thanks peter,
    I apologize for posting in the wrong place.

    I love the sound of the violin, cello, and viola. I wonder what would be the best setup to capture the nuances of these stringed instruments. I really like logic 9 rendition of these instruments, except I was curious if I could get all the various articulations (from 1 software instrument) playing from a Midi guitar w/out having to load different instruments? With any software?
    Sorry for the noobie question, I suppose this isn't possible. I'm very new to the idea of midi guitars.
  5. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    Then you should play violin, cello or viola :)

    You would have to load different virtual instruments or play to a couple of instruments simultaneously with your MIDI guitar and mix the sounds how you like.

    Regarding the articulations, on the guitar you pluck a string and this produces a strong and short transient. Afterwards you do nothing, the vibrations of the string just fade out. This is mechanically very different from playing with a bow, it is almost the opposite. You may be able to adapt your playing style and use additional articulation messages via MIDI, like keyboarders do. But I haven't heard a good imitiation of solo strings from a MIDI guitar yet.
  6. shreddersinc

    shreddersinc Member

    Thanks, thats kind of what I thought.

Share This Page