I should like MIDI guitar. I play guitar, I know my way around synth programming, I play keyboards, and I'm always looking for ways to extend the guitar into other sonic realms.

But here's the problem: synthesizers are triggered by switches. Velocity sensing, yes. Aftertouch...sometimes, although it's often more like afterswitch. Poly aftertouch...well, maybe, but for now, file under "good luck with that."

Guitar strings aren't switches.

I always thought Roland had the recipe right with the GR-300 - no MIDI! It did hex processing of the guitar, without latency, and responded like a guitar. Brilliant. Then Roland went into MIDI-land, and yes, we could get more sounds. But it was at the expense of expressiveness, glitching, massive cleaning up with MIDI sequencing, latency, tracking issues, and expense. Thankfully they're steering back in the right direction (well, at least in my opinion) with the SY-300.

The closest I've come to really liking MIDI guitar is the You Rock Guitar, which musicians didn't take seriously because it looked like a game controller, and consumers didn't wrap their heads around because, well, it was a MIDI guitar. I'm not sure it's being made any more. It didn't use strings, didn't respond to pitch bend, and felt weird. But it tracked and responded consistently. It worked really well for treating the guitar like a keyboard you could play with guitar muscle memory, but it wasn't a guitar.

Jam Origin is a plug-in or standalone program that takes polyphonic guitar audio and converts it into MIDI, including pitch bend. You don't need a special pickup, you don't need a special guitar, you just plug in and go. It's made in Denmark by, apparently, a bunch of really smart mad scientists who also get some degree of support from the Danish government.

The company doesn't build up unrealistic expectations. They say it's not perfect, and they urge you to try the demo before you buy. So I did. First, it does more than just guitar-to-MIDI; it has some really interesting effects, and comes bundled with a few instruments. You can load impulses, and your own plug-ins as master effects. Second, AFAIC it tracks as well - if not better - than a standard-issue MIDI guitar with a hardware hex pickup. I was definitely taken aback.

I bought the program a couple days ago, because they were still running their special where you could get the guitar and bass version at a 2-for-1 $99 price. That's a righteous price for a hardwareless MIDI guitar.

Oh, you want to know what it looks like? Sure, here's the stand-alone version.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

You'll find out more as I find out more. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, and participate in the discussion...don't be shy.