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Logic 9 Is a Roland VG-99 or GR-20s suitable for Logic9

Discussion in 'Logic 9' started by tommytunes, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. tommytunes

    tommytunes New Member

    I have had a great deal of trouble with an AXON 50 using Graph tek Hexaphonic pickups so I ordered a Roland GR-20S. The salesman screwed up the order and I got a VG-99 instead. I have only had it one day and before I send it back for the GR-20S I want to hear from anyone familiar with the Roland. It is a very feature oriented unit for live playing, but want it for Logic input.
  3. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    I don't know the VG-99 but had a GR-20 and it worked well.

    But I wonder why you think about such gear when you want only the MIDI data, you would pay for sound you don't want to hear. I think if you had problems with the Axon 50 they came rather from the pickup you used. Have you tried the Axon with a Roland pickup?

    If I remember right, the Axon 50 is an Axon 100 without the synthesizer, is this correct? My Axon 100 works well with the Roland pickup and so far I heard it works equally well or better with hexaphonic piezos like Godin uses.
  4. Orren Merton

    Orren Merton Logic Samurai / Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Tommy,

    I've never used a VG-99 live on stage, but I have used the VG-88 live on stage. I've also got piezo hexaphonic pickups in all my electric guitars (except a gretsch). I am familiar with the VG-99, however, as I reviewed it for gearwire.com. I've never used the GR-20S, but I played on stage with it's "big brother" predecessor, the GR-33. Finally, I own the Roland GI-20, which is the same guitar-to-MIDI conversion as the GR-20 and VG-99, and I used an Axon AX-50 for a long time (I reviewed it for Electronic Musician, and they let me keep it for nearly six months).

    I found the Axon AX-50 relatively easy to use. You need to set it up with the included editor first, however—really read the manual to learn how to set up your guitar for use with the Axon. You'll need to adjust the string sensitivity to get the most out of your device, and it's not nearly as easy as it could have been, since there's no visual feedback on the hardware itself. You'll also want to set up the velocity curve, and so on. But once you set up the Axon-50, it's the fastest tracking unit on the beat. The conversion was faster than I could play—in other words, I didn't find any real tracking latency (obviously, you don't want to play the lowest notes on the low E-string), it was more than able to keep up with me.

    With Roland units, I'm sure you will not be surprised to hear that they are designed for, and work better with, Roland's own magnetic hex pickups. In fact, the VG-99 has a very specific issue when you are using a guitar with piezo (graph tech or RMC) hex pickups. Unlike the VG-88, the VG-99 does not have an analog subsonic filter on the 13-pin input. This means that when playing synth sounds, it will sometimes get some extremely low end rumble and sub-bass garbage. This problem almost never comes up with just playing the guitar sounds, however, as most guitar sounds have very steep EQ filters so that the lowest end (like the high end) is completely removed.

    Personally, I found the VG-99 to sound very good, for what it is. The Roland COSM models are generally high quality digital simulations. Of course, they are a bit "long in tooth" these days with so many great modelers around, but they still hold their own and they're very playable. The thing that I really love about the VG-series (and honestly, part of me wishes I still had the VG-99) is the alternate tunings and acoustic sounds. Also, I really liked it's analog synth models.

    The VG-series and the GR-series, when doing synth sounds, does things a bit differently than the Axon. The Axon converts your guitar note into MIDI, and then your synth sounds (either on your computer or a hardware synthesizer) are triggered from those MIDI notes. However, the VG- and GR-series "cheat"—the internal GR synth sounds are triggered directly by the electronic signal from your guitar, the notes are not converted to MIDI first. This means that the internal GR sounds are actually quite fast, since they are truly "synthesizing" the guitar signal itself, tracking the pitch and then triggering their own sample engine without the converting to MIDI step. This has two effects:
    1. If you play a note on the GR-20S (or VG) it will trigger even faster than the Axon.
    2. If you send the MIDI out signal from the GR (or VG) to another synthesizer, the result will be slower than the Axon.

    Okay, so after all these mini-reviews and explanations, the bottom line is this: if you are looking for the most accurate and fast tracking unit for input into Logic's sequencer, your best bet is to stick with the Axon-50USB. Really read through the manual, optimize your setup using the software editor (it's not terribly user-friendly, so expect this to take time), and that's the best you'll get. If you're looking for the fastest live synth option, the GR-20S is the best performing synth option.

    Hope that helps,
  5. Orren Merton

    Orren Merton Logic Samurai / Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, but I think with one addition. The Axon AX-50 is designed specifically for use with a computer, with direct USB connection to the editor software and your DAW. I believe that they did a slight amount of rewriting to optimize the USB drivers and MIDI to USB transfer, so that the Axon AX-50->USB->software tracking speed is even slightly better than the Axon to the MIDI outputs.

  6. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    By the way, the old Yamaha G50 converter is very fast, definitely faster than the Roland GR-20. I could not test it against the Axon 100 but from feeling there is no difference.
  7. Orren Merton

    Orren Merton Logic Samurai / Administrator Staff Member

    You are completely right—the Yamaha G50 is a licensed version of the Axon technology. Not only is the feeling the same, but the algorithms and conversion technology as well. Only the form factor and name on the faceplate are different. :)

  8. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    And the synth I believe? Cannot remember the Yamaha sound but the Axon, well, it produced some tears in my eyes but not because the sounds are so romantic ...
  9. georgelegeriii

    georgelegeriii Senior member

    One thing about any guitar to midi converters: The way they work is to analyze pitch to convert to midi, so one way you can get it to response faster is to use high thin strings for the low e/a/d strings (if possible, I have never tried this but know people that used to do this allot) so the note would be an octave higher, therefor the response on lower notes became much quicker.

    One caveat: you would require using a guitar for only this. Because the strings were higher in pitch, the guitar would be unusable as just a guitar any more.
  10. Orren Merton

    Orren Merton Logic Samurai / Administrator Staff Member

    Correct—the Yamaha sounds were from their TX/TG line of sampled general MIDI sounds, just like the Roland sounds are from their JV line of sampled general MIDI sounds.

    Axon synth sounds always were crap. For the AX-50USB, which had no built-in sounds, Terratec Producer shipped a Kontakt-instrument of NI-designed General MIDI sounds, which were unimpressive but generally fine.

  11. Orren Merton

    Orren Merton Logic Samurai / Administrator Staff Member

    I've read this advice too. There is another way to utilize the same idea (higher notes convert faster/more accurately) but with a normal guitar. Whenever playing notes and chords on the wound strings (E/A/D) always play an octave higher, on the twelfth fret or higher. I've found this to be very effective as well, and even when doing bass sounds it's easy to use Logic to transform the notes/chords an octave down after the fact, or to transpose your instrument in Logic down.

  12. tommytunes

    tommytunes New Member

    Oh boy, thanks for all feedback. As I have been messing with the AXON for about 4 to 5 months I have never found it to perform as well as others have said it does. I tried a Roland and the pick up height required me to raise the strings on my Fender Squire. I really like the way the Graphtek sounds when I'm not feeding into my macbook pro with Logic 9. The AXON has been very hard to keep consistant notes. My brief work with the way too expensive VG-99 led me to look harder. AND I discovered a free, full version trial download of Melodyne editor that has what they call DNA (Direct Note Access). My first try was with a recording of my twelve string Guild finger picked. I loaded the song through Logic and it gives me the ability to edit individual notes. And then save it as a midi file. When it was re-opened in Logic I had an almost perfect score. It will work with voice, chords, single notes and more. The editor is 299.00 from Sweetwater. I think I will return the VG and buy the editor when the trial runs out.
  13. rzzz

    rzzz Member

    Yes, I've often done the same with Melodyne and Logic to get great midi mirroring of my guitar playing. A bit tedious, but if you want to capture your feel exactly, it's the best (cause my keyboard playing is amateur). Usually I just cycle-record in Logic until I like what I hear and then export the audio file into Melodyne, clean it up sonically and convert to a midi file.

  14. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    Strange. If your string action is that low you would hardly be able to play, unless you modified the neck angle. I have a Roland pickup on an old Squire Bullet and it fits well, very close to the metal of the bridge and on top of this big plastic cover, don't know the English name. Two screws, nothing else. Strat types are often used for magnetic MIDI pickups, it works definitely. For extremely low string action you may have to cut out the plastic sheet.

    Maybe you took the mounting instructions too seriously. Sometimes they talk about millimeters string distance but this is not good by my experience. We better go close, as long as the strings do not touch the pickup it's ok.

    That is offline conversion. Melodyne has all the time it needs and this hi-tec version with DNA is rather new. Dedicated guitar converters are supposed to convert almost instantly, they don't have much time to think about the frequency. If you don't need realtime conversion and Melodyne does what you want, it is a good choice.
  15. tommytunes

    tommytunes New Member

    Yes, the struggle has been to get notation of my music. Midi guitar take a whole lot of practice to get clean attack on the strings, and for a finger picker that has five variables, fingertips. Sweetwater has been great about refunding my purchase and free shipping back to them. Now the fun of recording has returned. I love this forum. I have some great advice saved from previous solutions to my Logic struggles. Thanks again all.
  16. jih86

    jih86 New Member

    I use a Godin Multiac SA guitar with a Roland GR30 with Logic. It works great.
    I can play all of my software synths on the guitar. The GR20 should have a tracking facility which allows you to set the trigger level for each string. It works very well with the Godin as it has an integrated MIDI pup. However the new GK MIDI pup's from Roland I would expect to be very good indeed. I have had the earlier version set up on an electric guitar. Took a bit of messing around - the new mounting arrangements will be pretty good I think.
  17. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    What is a pup?
    A pickup?
  18. jih86

    jih86 New Member

    Yes indeed - a pickup. I think that the new GK2A pickups are probably fairly good. I had an older model on an Ibanez SV470. It was pretty good - took quite a bit of messing around to fit if I remember correctly. However, I had the Godin as well and the integrated MIDI set up is very solid in this guitar.

    The English for the plastic cover is a pick-gaurd or a scratch-plate I believe - if I have understood what you mean correctly. Your English is much better than my Viennese though ;-)


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