Guitar as Midi Controller

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davidira
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Guitar as Midi Controller

Post by davidira » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:17 am

Newish to music production - long time guitar player/performer. Currently all of my midi input is done on the computer keyboard. Soon I will purchase a genuine piano style midi controller. While I can muck around on a piano - I can quickly perform with a guitar. It seems that using a guitar to control midi is an outlier in this business.

Based on my research I've found that you need a 13 pin output (and respective pickup) from your guitar which essentially sends an individual audio signal to another 'unit' which can convert each monophonic signal into midi.

I'm struggling to find two things.

1) Options for guitars that have the 13 pin/pickup already built in. I will not modify my existing guitar. Seems in the past Parker was making a great midiaxe guitar. Now I can only find one company 'Godin' making some nice looking guitars with 13 pin, standard, and piezo pickups all on the same guitar. Theoretically I could use one such guitar for accoustic, electric, and midi (any instrument). Sounds like a great idea. Any other companies currently making such guitars that I should check out?

2) This 'unit' that will accept the 13 pin cable and convert the audio to midi? I can only seem to find one unit in the market today, the Roland GR-55 which is pricey and offers a ton of functionality that I don't want or need. I have no interest in using the built in synth sounds or guitar processing sounds - just want to get the midi signal into my DAW (using Logic Pro). All of my searching came across discontinued products from both Roland and Axon. t's almost as if this market dried up. Any suggestions on other units that might be out in the market?

PS - I've seen the Jammy guitar that has a USB to Midi built in - not really interested. More interested in a real guitar and preferably with the piezo's built in as well so I can kill as many birds with one stone as possible.

Thanks.

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Re: Guitar as Midi Controller

Post by ResonantTone » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:54 am

Hey David!

That’s a tough one. Most midi guitars (including Parker’s) failed hard simply because you lose so much information when converting to midi. I think most guitar companies and many guitar players kinda gave up on them. It’s just (currently) impossible to recreate the little nuances of the guitar in a believable, non midi-sounding way. There just aren’t a lot of good options.

If it were me, I’d try to work on honing my keyboard skills a bit. That will pay dividends all round, giving you the option to lay down midi for all kinds of scenarios (pads, synth leads, synth bass, natural sounding piano lines, etc)

Hope that helps!

Side note: I own a pre-buyout Parker Fly! It doesn’t have the midi controller attachment, but it’s a sweet axe with both the regular mag pups as well as the piezos on the bridge. :)

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Re: Guitar as Midi Controller

Post by Len911 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:28 pm

Melodyne or similar audio to midi.

thing one, midi is always dependent on a sample set. Thing two, is that your own guitar is the one you will be most comfortable with as far as playability and sound over a "midi controller" and sound set.

The reason "the market has dried up" for this sort of thing imo, is that audio manipulation has advanced so much, while midi manipulation has pretty much been fully exploited.

So with the advances in audio manipulation and explosion in "loop" samples and low cost, and the downsides of midi sampled soundsets, with the exception of phrase sampled ones, you can get a glimpse of the future and where things are trending.
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Re: Guitar as Midi Controller

Post by davidira » Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:32 pm

Thanks for the tips. Maybe I'm chasing something that just isn't out there (yet). I fully intend to continue honing my keyboard skills but just thinking over the long term the advantages of using a guitar as midi controller would be big, especially for replicating other stringed instruments like bass, banjo, ukelele, mandolin, etc.......

Since you have an axe with Piezo's - how do you feel it captures vs using a real accoustic? I've played with piezo's in the store - and they sound pretty genuine. Just curious if you still mic up an acoustic when recording or if you use the piezos?

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Re: Guitar as Midi Controller

Post by Len911 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 1:17 pm

a microphone and a piezo both convert voltages and their frequencies, so it's really a matter of placement and pickup pattern, and the design and materials of each individual "microphone"?

for audio to midi conversion, a piezo might be a better option, than say a sensitive microphone, such as a condensor mic in omni polar pattern, outside the source.
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Re: Guitar as Midi Controller

Post by Razor7Music » Wed Jul 03, 2019 2:13 pm

Well, though I agree completely with the other replies, I'd like to offer another perspective...

If you have some money to spend, Godin makes an exceptional solid body electric guitar that has the 13 pin jack built in. The piezo pickups built into the saddle are used for both the MIDI and acoustic outputs. The model I have (and love) the LGXT AAA maple has three settings. Electric guitar, MIDI/synth out, and acoustic. The craftsmanship of their piezo pickups do pick up the subtle velocities and even very fast playing that many, if not most others do not. The individual piezo do go out occasionally, but I've only replaced one in about 12 years.

They are not cheap! I actually have mine because my good mother bought it for me--along with the Roland GR33 synth. Here are the Godin multi-voice guitars lineup. You can do better than the manufacturer's prices or go used. They are outstanding guitars by any standards. https://godinguitars.com/product-catego ... lti-voice/

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Re: Guitar as Midi Controller

Post by vbakh » Wed Jul 03, 2019 2:38 pm

I just got a Godin Multiac nylon string guitar and Boss GP-10 processor for using exactly in the same scenario as yours. So far, I only had time to try it for 20-30 minutes. It worked fine, but captured some ghost notes from palm-muting and accidental string touches. I believe it can be fine tuned by tweaking sensitivity settings on GP-10 and by configuring other parameters properly, or by batch-removing MIDI notes with low velocity in DAW. it sums to ~$1,000-$2,000 depending on specific guitar and GR/GP model you choose, and whether they are new or used.

You can add Roland GK-3 (magnetic) pickup to a steel string guitar and then use either GR-55 or GP-10 to convert its output to MIDI. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtjqmZ_SKcs
GK-3 (or similar pickup) has six individual piezo or magnetic elements - one for each string, and output signal for each string via 13-pin jack. Then, GR-55 or GP-10 convert these signals to MIDI.

There is an article somewhere on the Internet describing how to use breakout box to split output from such pickups into 6 different audio channels, record them via multi-channel audio interface, and then use Melodyne for converting audio signal from each string into MIDI. It was too cumbersome for me, so I didn't look at this solution.

There is also a software-based solution called MidiGuitar2 @ http://www.jamorigin.com that converts audio signal from a standard guitar pickup or microphone to MIDI on the fly.
I tested it, but it worked badly - at least for my style of playing. It's free to test, so feel free to try.

Regards,
Vlad

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Re: Guitar as Midi Controller

Post by andygabrys » Wed Jul 03, 2019 2:45 pm

Stephen - I agree with. The guitars are fantastic. But to buy one to trigger synths.....not cost effective.

Andrew - I do agree with. Waste of time and money chasing down a guitar synth unless you want guitar synth. There is little that you will ever play on a keyboard for production music that requires really gymnastic playing. Its easier to just get your basic key chops together.

Len has it right too - Melodyne converting audio to MIDI (and then general and in depth clean up) is cheaper than bothering with a guitar synth and the Godin or other AXE with the proper pickup.

David - As far as using guitar synth to trigger mandolin etc - buy a mandolin. Or contract somebody to do it WFH who has a great instrument and great feel. Same thing with Uke. Same tuning as guitar capo'd up. $100 gets a really decent playing and sounding instrument. Or even less if you can stand it.

For bass - unless you are doing Weather Report covers, you are going to be able to play stuff and fix it on a keyboard faster than bothering with a guitar synth. Most of the magic is in the scripting of Kontakt instruments like the Scarbee bass series. To get the nuances you likely will spend less time fixing the MIDI a little than trying to get it live. OR - buy a live bass. The fender Squier vintage series are less than $300 and with a decent setup will get you decent tones. It will totally put things over for any rock or indie type track.

As far as piezo pickups - they are great for live band performance. Broadcast quality requires more than that. Acoustic instruments like steel string guitars recorded through piezo pickups are totally obvious in mixes. That can totally DQ you from a forward. One of the forum members had been doing a lot of direct acoustic recordings. After a while he started mic'ing everything - and all of a sudden his stuff started getting forwarded and he got deals - and now placements.

There is no substitute for a decent mic out front of the guitar. "decent" means as little as $100, or as basic as a Share SM57. Not a typical acoustic choice if you have other condenser mics, but with eq, not too bad at all. And still way better than direct piezo sound.

Hope that helps - none of this stuff is that expensive and it totally sets you up for a different level that trying to stay in the virtual world.

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Re: Guitar as Midi Controller

Post by Razor7Music » Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:16 pm

andygabrys wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 2:45 pm
Stephen - I agree with. The guitars are fantastic. But to buy one to trigger synths.....not cost effective.
Hey there, Andy

I think you misunderstood the point of my reply. Buy a high end, hand crafted guitar just to trigger a synth? That's not what I was implying at all.

What I was implying is that low-end guitar MIDI pickups do not work well. High-end MIDI piezo pickups do work very well--just wanted to clarify. The axe I have is also an extremely great electric guitar completely independent of the piezo features-and I wouldn't have bought it if it wasn't. Nuff said on that.

Also, I learned the hard way that the piezo or DI acoustics will not give you the quality recording that micing a real acoustic will. Remember that Taxi TV episode with my track in it?! I'd never recommend that to anyone.

Cheers!
Last edited by Razor7Music on Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Guitar as Midi Controller

Post by gabgar » Wed Jul 03, 2019 8:34 pm

davidira wrote:
Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:17 am
Newish to music production - long time guitar player/performer. Currently all of my midi input is done on the computer keyboard. Soon I will purchase a genuine piano style midi controller. While I can muck around on a piano - I can quickly perform with a guitar. It seems that using a guitar to control midi is an outlier in this business.

Based on my research I've found that you need a 13 pin output (and respective pickup) from your guitar which essentially sends an individual audio signal to another 'unit' which can convert each monophonic signal into midi.

I'm struggling to find two things.

1) Options for guitars that have the 13 pin/pickup already built in. I will not modify my existing guitar. Seems in the past Parker was making a great midiaxe guitar. Now I can only find one company 'Godin' making some nice looking guitars with 13 pin, standard, and piezo pickups all on the same guitar. Theoretically I could use one such guitar for accoustic, electric, and midi (any instrument). Sounds like a great idea. Any other companies currently making such guitars that I should check out?

2) This 'unit' that will accept the 13 pin cable and convert the audio to midi? I can only seem to find one unit in the market today, the Roland GR-55 which is pricey and offers a ton of functionality that I don't want or need. I have no interest in using the built in synth sounds or guitar processing sounds - just want to get the midi signal into my DAW (using Logic Pro). All of my searching came across discontinued products from both Roland and Axon. t's almost as if this market dried up. Any suggestions on other units that might be out in the market?

PS - I've seen the Jammy guitar that has a USB to Midi built in - not really interested. More interested in a real guitar and preferably with the piezo's built in as well so I can kill as many birds with one stone as possible.

Thanks.
https://www.roland.com/us/products/gc-1/

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