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  • MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

    Is a guitar synthesizer like the Roland GR-20 or 55 with a hex pup synonymous with midi? I mean the Japanese founder of Roland invented midi but no matter where I look nowhere in the description of various Roland synths is the word midi mentioned. Individuals using Roland guitar synths talk about them in the context of midi but Roland doesn't use the term in their info about their guitar synths.
    So do a Roland GR 20 with a GK3 pup, a midi keyboard, and a midi guitar (with built in hex pup) all have the same general midi capabilities?
    Can someone help me if I'm missing something?
    I know MIDI is a complex format and Communications technology that goes beyond controlling end communicating between musical instruments and equipment, but I'm restricting my scope to basic guitar midi applications like early Al diMeola stuff.
    Thanks!

  • #2
    Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

    As far as I understand it, the pickup itself does NOT output midi, but the unit it's attached to may have that capability. I believe the GR-55 unit does - I have one, but I've never explored that side of the machine. Interested to hear more learned input.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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    • #3
      Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

      I have played MIDI guitar for over 20 years. You also need a midi interface, which converts the hex output from the pickup to midi information. The GR series does this, but only after it triggers internal sounds. If you want to trigger notes from a keyboard, sound module, or VST instrument, it is better to use a unit like the GI-10 or GI-20 (or if you can find it, an Axon unit). Don't forget about using a full range speaker to send the output to- guitar synth sounds pretty bad through a guitar amp.
      Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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      • #4
        Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

        Originally posted by Mincer View Post
        I have played MIDI guitar for over 20 years. You also need a midi interface
        Yes

        which converts the hex output from the pickup to midi information.
        Yes, the hex pickup is simply a CV to MIDI converter. The control voltage is supplied by the magnets and converted to MIDI via the pickup's dongle.

        The GR series does this, but only after it triggers internal sounds. If you want to trigger notes from a keyboard, sound module, or VST instrument, it is better to use a unit like the GI-10 or GI-20 (or if you can find it, an Axon unit). Don't forget about using a full range speaker to send the output to- guitar synth sounds pretty bad through a guitar amp.
        You could always insert a MIDI THRU box in front of the GR and make sure your MIDI keyboard is outputting on the same channel as the hex pickup. I should think that the problems you will encounter will be many, however. The GR is optimized for use with the hex pickup and not to be used as a general synth module. I would think the biggest issues will be how the GR will interpret velocity and aftertouch ... its internal processor is looking for the guitar's note range, not a keyboard, so it may not play every note and may have some very weird velocity issues if the sensitivity is different for each string, which you need to do when calibrating the hex pickup.

        For the cost of a MIDI THRU box, however, it's worth experimenting with. May yield some very cool results ... or may yield complete rubbish. But that's the beauty of the experiment, to some extent!
        Why don't you take your little Cobra Kais and get outta here?!
        My collaborative PROGRESSIVE ROCK PROJECT, As Follows.

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        • #5
          Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

          Originally posted by VinceT View Post
          As far as I understand it, the pickup itself does NOT output midi, but the unit it's attached to may have that capability. I believe the GR-55 unit does - I have one, but I've never explored that side of the machine. Interested to hear more learned input.


          Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
          you have a 55 with the hk3 pup? how do you output it if not by midi?

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          • #6
            Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

            Originally posted by Mincer View Post
            I have played MIDI guitar for over 20 years. You also need a midi interface, which converts the hex output from the pickup to midi information. The GR series does this, but only after it triggers internal sounds. If you want to trigger notes from a keyboard, sound module, or VST instrument, it is better to use a unit like the GI-10 or GI-20 (or if you can find it, an Axon unit). Don't forget about using a full range speaker to send the output to- guitar synth sounds pretty bad through a guitar amp.
            i looked up the GI series and i'm not clear on the difference between the GI and GR devices. could you explain in a practical way the difference? say i hook up my guitar to either with a gk3. what's the difference downstream? the the gk3 signals the GI to trigger a sound in another midi device hooked up to a speaker, whereas the gk3 triggers a sound in the GR hooked up to a speaker? am i close?

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            • #7
              Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

              Originally posted by TwilightOdyssey View Post
              Yes
              You could always insert a MIDI THRU box in front of the GR and make sure your MIDI keyboard is outputting on the same channel as the hex pickup. I should think that the problems you will encounter will be many, however.
              For the cost of a MIDI THRU box, however, it's worth experimenting with. May yield some very cool results ... or may yield complete rubbish. But that's the beauty of the experiment, to some extent!
              modus thru box being say a GI series device? and practically speaking, the thru box's purpose would be to allow my access to more sounds and capabilities on another midi device or pc? am i understanding the difference between using my guitar/gk3 with a GR vs. GI series device?

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              • #8
                Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

                take a look at dimeola's setup. since this is foreign to me, can someone tell me the how and why of this setup? he controls his gr30 with the vg8? what's the vg8 for? why not connect the godin to the gr30 directly? why do you need a vg88 if you have all the sounds available by midi? it just adds amp/guitar sound emulation?
                so many questions.


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                • #9
                  Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

                  related question here in case anyone is familiar with dimeola's sound... when i first started listening to dimeola in the 80's - before i knew he used midi and before he started using very clearly 'unnatural' non guitar midi sounds like on soaring thru a dream and world sinfonia - i noticed he had a very distinct high gain/dirt sound when playing with what i assumed was just a les paul and OD if not just cranked amp gain. i always swore it wasn't just very clean staccato with light palm muting. almost a very subtle electronic percussion sound when playing fast runs. like maybe the subtle sound in the lead in songs on tour de force live. that's probably the best example. some of it is phaser/flanger type effect stuff but most of it i can't figure out. if anyone is familiar with that sound, do they think it's not midi at all and just an LP and amp gain cranked? i don't know what his gear was at that point. i know he was playing LPs and i'm a Strat guy so maybe that's just the unique sound of LPs i'm not used to.
                  anyway. in case anyone is a dimeola junky like me.
                  thanks.

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                  • #10
                    Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

                    I think you are overthinking this a bit. MIDI experimentation is highly personal and unique, what works for one person's rig will not necessarily work for another.

                    Hex pickup converts CV to MIDI. I own the exact setup in the DiMeola photo above, but only have a VG88, not the VG8.

                    If you are not planning on gigging, there are other ways to do guitar to MIDI without having to purchase any hardware.

                    For your original question: Can the GR unit accept General MIDI commands, the answer is YES, I ran an FC-200 in front of the GR unit many times and used it to trigger pedal tones from the GR-30.

                    However, I think connecting a MIDI keyboard to the GR unit will yield less than satisfactory results for the reasons I stated above. Easer to just connect your keyboard to another sound module, which can even be an app running on your phone or tablet.
                    Last edited by TwilightOdyssey; 03-26-2017, 09:21 AM.
                    Why don't you take your little Cobra Kais and get outta here?!
                    My collaborative PROGRESSIVE ROCK PROJECT, As Follows.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

                      The GR series has the sounds. The GI series is just the midi converter. You use the midi out jack of these half-rack units to go to the synth of your choice. As someone who used a fairly extensive midi guitar system, it is still essentially pretty clumsy and requires more gear than most guitarists care to learn to use.
                      Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                      • #12
                        Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

                        understood. thank you mincer and T.O. for all the info!

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                        • #13
                          Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

                          Here is a post I wrote a while ago about the "midi" Parker. It goes into the nuances between 13-pin Roland setups and real midi guitars. For the record there are very few true midi guitars on the market.

                          Parker Guitars Re-Releases The Midi Fly But It Isn’t Midi

                          http://www.tmrzoo.com/2011/21477/par...E2%80%99t-midi


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                          • #14
                            Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

                            Brian Moore made a true 5 pin midi guitar about 15 years ago. It had 5 pin midi in and out, but the breakout box to power it was tiny, and not really suited to live use- impossible to really add a hold pedal etc. The technology was from a company called MidiAxe, which also made their own guitars.
                            Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                            • #15
                              Re: MIDI & Guitar Synthesizer Q's

                              Originally posted by Mincer View Post
                              Brian Moore made a true 5 pin midi guitar about 15 years ago. It had 5 pin midi in and out, but the breakout box to power it was tiny, and not really suited to live use- impossible to really add a hold pedal etc. The technology was from a company called MidiAxe, which also made their own guitars.
                              Midiaxe did the tech for the original Parker Midifly. I should take the back plate off and take a gut shot for you guys. It looks like Data's head when they peal back his hair on Startrek.

                              Last edited by Securb; 03-29-2017, 11:29 AM.


                              | Gear Reviews | Beer | Babes | The Internet's Only Unedited & Uncensored Musician's Forum | Sports |

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