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MIDI Guitar

Discussion in 'Recording' started by EricIndecisive, Jul 25, 2009.

  1. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    Hi everyone, sorry if this is the wrong section, just didn't know where else it could go.

    I bought a cheap project guitar that I would LOVE to make into a midi beast. I'm just not sure if I have the right stuff. I was hoping it would go like this:

    Guitar -> pickup -> firepod -> computer. Pretty straightforward. How much lag should I expect? (I have a pretty good computer, duo core, lots of ram, etc.) Do they work really well?

    Just wondering what I should expect from this sort of thing, if anyone has experience. It would mostly be used for recording, but would be badass to have a low enough latency to just jam out.

  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Where does it become midi?
  3. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Midi Guitar is a big subject and I've never seen one to really nail it

    yes things get better each year as do electric/sampled pianos
    and midi drums like VDrums Drum Express Kat ... etc

    and Midi blown instruments are kinda cool

    but I'm not sure that the electric guitar and midi is worth the effort in the long run

    just grab a small midi controller keyboard and push it out from there
  4. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    If I am understanding you correctly you want a guitar to become a midi instrument/controller. That is accomplished pretty easily with the addition of a midi pickup. Roland used to make one that basically glued onto the body under the strings and then had a midi out. It seems to me I saw one like that recently in one of the catalogs.
  5. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

  6. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    MadTiger, thats one sad sounding midi guitar! :lol:

    I agree with Kev, midi guitar is buggy and picks up stray notes. It can sound a bit sloppy at times, but if your in for the thrill on stage I totally understand.

    It can sound pretty good layered with distortion if your into that.

    If you love synth, do yourself a favor and get a keyboard.

    With moderation midi guitar can be a real crowd pleaser, just don't be surprised when it doesn't do what you want while tracking your notes. IMO some bad notes on a midi controller can ruin your performance, and possibly your thrill along with it.
  7. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member


    that video seems like it is pretty cool? if it really is quite buggy, then it's probably not worth my money to make it into a novelty item. not now at least. are they still working on this technology a lot?

    As for 'live', it would be anyone who is chillin' in my room at a party that I would rock this thing, haha, since I plan on running it straight through my computer.

    If I do decide to get it, is it possible to have a low latency if I'm running guitar -> firepod -> computer?
  8. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Its really a question of midi conversion, remember that the higher the note the faster it tracks it. Low notes do have a bit of latency, but its the note tracking that gets goofy when you are off pitch a bit.

    Heavy gauge strings may help a bit, at least there harder to bend which would lead me to believe that they will track better.

    Have you ever tried playing a midi guitar? You may want to try it first before spending your hard earned dough.
  9. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    thanks for the tips, i haven't played one before. maybe i should try it first, lol. maybe i will just custom out the guitar and just get a midi controller as said above... i suppose it would probably be easier. I'm thinking a 49 key would be ideal, but what is a good recommendation for one of those?
  10. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Controllers vary in quality big time, size varies too.

    I'm a keyboardist, so I have big opinions on the subject.

    I would never settle for anything smaller than say 61 keys, I prefer 76.

    You may consider anything by CME, its good quality. Of course there so many others out there, how much do you want to spend?

    Edit :oops:

    Careful with CME! I've been wrong before and now I am wrong again! This is text from a review in harmony-central.com:

    "Okay, long story short, the VX8 is a marvelous disaster. Plain and simple. I've spent a lot of waisted hours trying to get this keyboard to work. This hasn't been the case for everyone; however, quite a few people have experienced problems.

    In my situation I had to return my VX8 TWICE due to a faulty firmware upgrade which "bricked" the entire $1000 keyboard. It is now a very pretty red brick, or at least a 70 pound paper weight.

    -Grand hammer action has always worked excellent for me

    -Aluminum casing speaks of "durable," and is extremely classy

    -I've had no problems with sticking keys or buttons (though some people have had serious problems with this).

    -The VX offers more velocity curves and options for an 88 key keyboard controller than any other competitor in their price range (I've heard of...) with the exception of Studiologic. I would recommend you buy a Studiologic over a CME, you'll have MUCH less trouble.

    -Few other competitor's keyboards have aftertouch sensitivity

    -You can find patient people to help you with your questions on their online forums

    -New updates come out regularly (BUT BEWARE!! see below)

    THE BAD:
    -Manual is very vague and written from China. Many of the character's are in Chinese and the English phrasing is poorly done.

    -Many people have experienced problems with sticking keys which also make loud clicking noises. For some people the power button sticks. For other people, the jog wheel rubs against the casing.

    -Motorized faders do not respond to software DAWs (this may have been fixed recently)

    -Limited compatibility (did not work well in Sonar, Pro Tools, or Logic. This may be fixed in the future.)

    -The updating software, the "VX Brain," is currently incompatible with Windows Vista and MacOS.

    -Audio interface uses Windows XP drivers instead of ASIO drivers. Therefore there is an audio latency of around 400 milliseconds. (unacceptable for professional use.)

    -Many misspellings and mis-phrasing in poorly done documentation and VX Brain software. The word "OCTAVE" they spell "OCTACE," the word "working" is spelled "workiings."

    -Perhaps worst of all: THERE IS A HIGH RISK THAT THE FIRMWARE UPDATE WILL RENDER YOUR VX USELESS. This is what many call a "bricked" piece of equipment. Basically, it becomes totally useless if the update goes bad, then you have to return it. Either that or you're out $1000 and a lot of your own time. Mine did this and I had to return it twice. The second time was one too many times for me. I'm going to try a Fatar keyboard next and hopefully, they do things better.

    -CME is a "new," slightly immature company. Instead of admitting failures, they explain them away and say "it works fine for me."

    CME is a growing company and they're struggling with issues of globalization. Their products and their documentation are "magnificent disasters." Their product manuals are especially bad, making this product frustration to learn how to use. There may be some hope for the VX series yet... but buying one is a huge risk. " :oops:
  11. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    I have a Casio WK-3300 that I've used for MIDI before, but there was latency. It is USB, which is probably why. I need a 5 pin MIDI controller that can connect to my Firepod, right? I'd like to have minimal latency so I can rock out. I would like to spend less than $200 but a little bit more for a much better one would be worth it.

    I'm also really excited since I just figured out how to record audio in fruity loops. Goodbye adobe audition! I'm doing all my guitars and vox in this now, and mixing my stuff up with some synth and crazy effects.
  12. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    I have a Yamaha SY-99 that I have been using for years. I have not bought a USB controller yet, but I understand that they are suppose to be much faster than midi, so thats odd.

    Wait, no its not. Casio has never really been known for professional gear that well.

    I would advise saving your money and getting something that has decent reviews, don't settle for less than quality. It does not have to be usb, midi works great, just remember to use midi cable that are no longer than say 12 feet. Long midi cables make latency too.

    Try your area's CraigsList, you can search your neighborhood for decent used gear.

    Don't be afraid to make an offer on a good used Roland or Yamaha, there both great controllers, and the feel is great! Cash is king when it comes to making deals on gear on CL. Try searching http://reviews.harmony-central.com/reviews/Midi+Keyboard+Controllers too, you may find more info on which old piece of gear is worth looking for.
  13. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Wow, just got done reading some reviews on the CME, I thought they were a good controller, what a joke!

    Yeah, stay with what is tried and true.

    Roland and Yamaha. Don't bother with the new stuff, get an old beast!
  14. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    Haha, well seems like I am a tard! The reason I had lag before was because I was just using my primary sound drivers for the keyboard... I switched it to Creative ASIO and now it's a 1ms latency. SWEET! I'm no keyboardist, so I think I can make due with this one for a while instead of spending some money on another one. Thanks for your help though man!
  15. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Ever see Adrian Blew in King Crimson?
  16. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    sarNz, my pleasure! I hope to hear some of those track of yours soon!
  17. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    thanks man, i hope i can make somethin worthwhile haha. i'm also hoping that this newfound ability to work solely in fruity loops will improve my production.
  18. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    For a mere $9600.00 you can buy an Adrian Belew signature series "MIDI capable" Parker Fly guitar.


    To control a MIDI keyboard module you'll have several hundred bucks in a MIDI hexaphonic type pickup, like the Roland GK-kit that you have to screw to the guitar with it's special multi-pin jack (I hope your guitar doesn't have any collectable value that will be hurt by some extra screw-holes). Then you'll need the MIDI module(s) that makes the sounds. The units I've tried were OK for string pads and mellower sounds, but I didn't like the latency for anything played fast. Like others have said, it can sound sloppy because of the pitch to MIDI converter, especially if there's any string bending. And you have to find the right sensitivity, otherwise typical guitar technique can cause false trigger.

    Sonically - interesting possibilities that might inspire you
    Performance - left me wanting a little more

    I tried out a few guitar synths offered over the years, but most required a hex pickup. The only one I know of that you could plug straight into was monophonic.

    If you're wanting the MIDI to control tone and just looking for a versatile guitar modeling setup to rock out, a Variax might suit you better. A relative bargain at about a grand. But it isn't "MIDI guitar" and it doesn't transmit MIDI note data.

    If you have any keyboard abilities, it will be a whole lot easier on your wallet.

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