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What have MIDI Guitars ever done for me?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Guitars, Basses, Amps & FX  
Author What have MIDI Guitars ever done for me?
alijamieson
Hey guys

I've just published this mini history and tutorial of MIDI guitars, looking at guitar synths, pickups and software alternatives. Most of the research was done by a guy called midierror and I did the Jam Origin stuff.

http://alijamieson.co.uk/2017/02/midi-guitars-ever-done

Feedback welcomed Rockin' Banana!
rjungemann
Great article! I didn't realize how early people were experimenting integrating guitars with synths. The Pat Metheny Synclavier clip was interesting, and that Roland GR-300 clip sounds surprisingly good.

I bought the MIDI Guitar software awhile back and I remember it working surprisingly well, even for chords, but I haven't used it in awhile. I may need to dust it back off.

One thing I've found with any of these solutions which convert guitar signals to MIDI, is that it is easier to start high and shift low (make a guitar sound like a bass) than the other way around. There can be some noticeable latency when trying to pitch-detect bass signals.

I started on this journey with this PureData patch. it uses [sigmund~] to pitch-detect a monophonic signal. There's also a new pitch detector called [helmholz~] which is supposed to be very clever but I haven't used it yet. There's also a precursor to [sigmund~] whose name escapes me. All 3 are available in Max as well IIRC.

Then of course, there are zero-crossing detectors which are rudimentary but more widely available. You can use [zerox~] in PD and Max, and Audulus has a zero-crossing detector that is very good as well.

In the modular hardware realm, you can use a comparator to emit a square wave signal which can be used to sync an oscillator, but there are other solutions as well such as the Patch Chord and the Analogue Solutions RS-35.
alijamieson
rjungemann wrote:
One thing I've found with any of these solutions which convert guitar signals to MIDI, is that it is easier to start high and shift low (make a guitar sound like a bass) than the other way around. There can be some noticeable latency when trying to pitch-detect bass signals.


Not that it's *that* similar but I had a Line 6 FM-4, which was a synth modeller, and the tracking issues were similar to what you are describing.

rjungemann wrote:
In the modular hardware realm, you can use a comparator to emit a square wave signal which can be used to sync an oscillator, but there are other solutions as well such as the Patch Chord and the Analogue Solutions RS-35.


I'd be interested to see how this is done... I have an A-119 envelope follower and Disting Mk1... would this be do-able? Else I can just route MIDI Guitar from Live into my Kenton MIDI to CV.
commodorejohn
Thing I learned today: Pat Metheny looks and sounds like Michael Biehn's long-lost twin.
m0d
rjungemann wrote:
One thing I've found with any of these solutions which convert guitar signals to MIDI, is that it is easier to start high and shift low (make a guitar sound like a bass) than the other way around. There can be some noticeable latency when trying to pitch-detect bass signals.


Pitch tracking speed is directly related to the frequency of the vibrating string. This is the primary reason the Yamaha G10 was created. Image/Ad below.

In an effort to increase the speed by which pitch was determined, some manufacturers started analyzing half and even quarter waves.

One reason why the GR-300 apparently tracks well even though it is one of the early pioneering models is it supposedly burps when it detects activity on a string while it tries to figure out what the frequency is. I have not verified that at all - just something I read in a few places.

Slow attack / seagull sounds eliminate a lot of the problems with latency. smile

G10
XXXEsq
There were some early pitch to voltage guitar devices as well. The 360 Systems Slavedriver I bought in the 70s was the first one as far as I know. Matheney had a large custom system with 6 Slavedrivers and 6 Oberheim SEMs in a single case. He replaced that later with the Synclavier system in the video. The best one I have ever used was the Axon by Terratac. I have an AX50 which is pretty excellent, but still not perfect as it will always take the system some time to calculate the frequency from a string vibration, and then convert it to a midi note. I tried a G10 back in the day thinking that would be a good answer, but I didn't buy one after trying it. The best guitar synth I ever played was a Synthaxe. But they cost a fortune back then...
Escapegoat
I think Steve Hillage was one of the earlier guys - with the GR-500. It's all over the gorgeous-sounding "Green" album. But it's hard to pick it out exactly which bits!

EG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CVTikpL0qk

That's partly because there's a lot of other synth work (Giraudy?). But also because he seemed to use the guitar synth to add an extra layer of sweet/juicy harmonics to his solo guitar tone (as opposed to playing more typical synth timbres).
loydb
I've got a Fishman triple play on my wishlist on Amazon, I'd like to stick it on my strat and see how it does. I've always wanted a MIDIfied guitar -- specifically a Godin nylon string -- but have never pulled the trigger.
controlFreak
ahead of its time:
https://youtu.be/JqdVQ9VdoAg
rjungemann
@alijamieson Yep the disting has a pitch detector in it, so that plus an envelope follower and you should be all set!
MRoyce
rjungemann wrote:
@alijamieson Yep the disting has a pitch detector in it, so that plus an envelope follower and you should be all set!


Tracking a guitar will be much better if you put it though a bandpass filter in front of the disting, otherwise you'll get quite a lot of "burps" from the pick attack. Or use the disting comparator for zero-crossing for a nice square wave.
mike.synthesizer
I don't know how a guitar synth could track a quarter wave. Just about every synth I've ever seen employs a period counter. Some of the more modern ones spit out a percussive effect while they're processing to create the illusion of low latency.
srcodling
loydb wrote:
I've got a Fishman triple play on my wishlist on Amazon, I'd like to stick it on my strat and see how it does. I've always wanted a MIDIfied guitar -- specifically a Godin nylon string -- but have never pulled the trigger.


I've got a Godin LGX-SA and I really like it. Electric out, Piezo/Acoustic out, and Midi out... Very, very versatile guitar :-)
durwin
Casio DG-20 applause
folpon
This was a really cool article. Thanks for sharing it. I've also been interested in guitar synths for some time. But in the end I think the attack dynamics of a guitar -- that quick and percussive transient when the string is plucked -- sounds too different from those of keyboard-based instruments, and something always sounds off to me.
tonymasiello
srcodling wrote:
I've got a Godin LGX-SA and I really like it. Electric out, Piezo/Acoustic out, and Midi out... Very, very versatile guitar :-)


I have a Godin LGX-SA also. It technically does not have a Midi Out on it. It does have a Roland 13-pin GK out on it, which is an analog output. This is considered a 'GK Ready' guitar, and can be directly connected to Roland GK gear. Some of that gear (GR-30, GR-33, GI-20 among others) is capable of converting the GK signal into Midi data. Roland also made modeling boxes, such as the VG-99 which make use of the GK signal and Roland's COSM modelling technology to model various guitars, amps, cabinets, and alternate tunings.
deke
Thanks for the article. I really enjoyed it. I had a Roland GR-50 way back, and now you are causing me to think, "Hmm... maybe I should check what it out there now." However, I will resist. Still sorting out useful and musical things to do with my Guitar Wing!
Minimoog56
Wot - No Axon? !@&$!?!
soundinett
Not much to hear about the Ztar Z7 in your article.
This was played with the Ztar controlling a Proteus 2500. Percussion from the Proteus.

https://soundcloud.com/fisherbody/bucky-in-love-disquiet-junto-0226-bu cky-balls
alijamieson
Minimoog56 wrote:
Wot - No Axon? !@&$!?!


soundinett wrote:
Not much to hear about the Ztar Z7 in your article.


I didn't write the list itself, just the tutorial at the end, but honestly neither of these sprung to mind when I thought of the concept. Perhaps I'll add an adendum

Thanks
sutekina bipu-on
Wifes dad has a 80s yamaha guitar that is midi enabled and has a synth built in as well. It is not a guitar controller, it's an actual guitar.
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