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In The Lab: Jam Origin Polyphonic Guitar-to-MIDI Software

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I gotta say, overall I'm finding that MG2 takes too much cleaning up to make my day. What you're saying sounds intriguing, but what guitar are you using for the hex output?

This is an idea for an experiment. I have a couple of gk pickups, one on a Les Paul, a Graphtec Hex pickup on an Italia and now this Fishman Connect that I'm installing on a project that involves an old Kay Demon body and a Tele neck. I've built several electric guitars from scratch over the years - I'm 63 - as well as hacked together a lot of electronics. (empasis on hacked) I still have a Phitec Photon system that really isn't worth the shipping costs to sell - though I always wanted to put it on a nylon solid body strung with all high B's - but that's another story.

Back to the Kay Demon body - thin plywood hollowbody. I'm putting a bend and mod wheel from a chopped up MIDI keyboard into it. The little keyboard, a Midiplus Classic 25, is perfect for this as it can run on batteries or USB power and has MIDI DIN output - and it's components are on separate little PCB's strung together with ribbons, so it will be relatively easy to fit into the Demon body the parts I want. Add to this a Kenton USB MIDI box for the Fishman Connect and a place to slide either a MIDI Solutions merge box or Breath Controller box - and a battery brick with dual USB power outs - and I"m set. I need the merge box to blend the pitch/mod and other controllers from the keyboard guts with the output of the Kenton - which is fed the Fishman Connect to turn it's USB to MIDI DIN. Craig, I know it might seem like a bunch of trouble for some folks but... as someone who wrote books on electronics projects for musicians and hundreds of articles for magazines I kept in stacks for way too long.... I know you can appreciate it. :) Oh yeah, and I'll also slap a humbucker on this guitar so I can use it with MG2 - particularly since I have done a successful test with iMG2 as well as with the Tripleplay in merging breath control and my controller based pitch bend. And note: This gives me a guitar with MDI DIN output built into the guitar - no computer required - unless I use it with MG2.

Seems the only other alternative is a button neck like what Starr Labs makes - and I love the technology there, but my main gripe is the lack of similarity with an actual guitar fretboard, principally, the uniform fret spacing.

Back to your question... for the split pickup experiment, I am planning to use an old WP-20G (one of those first double pedal GK effect boxes) and tap the GK connector for the string outputs. I figured by combining the 6 strings into 2 groups of 3, I could get by with a simple stereo amp to buffer the two lines before they go to a standard 2 input USB audio interface and then into the 2 instances of MG2. BUT. Is it worth the trouble? First I'm going to finish the above project with the Speed Demon....now to get to work like a speed demon.


Yeah... clean up is a drag. You don't hear the trash live generally, but when you go back to replace the voice - which is a big reason we are using MIDI besides the editing - it's cleanup city. I got away from Digital Performer and became an Ableton Live devotee, but I may have to upgrade my DP license becuase it sure had the best of the best MIDI editing features... IMHO. Maybe... what we are missing here is a way to optimize the guitar signal better that works in tandem with MG2's pitch detection. My split pickup or hex idea is kinda going backwards in some respects... but it makes sense that you complicate things with polyphony. I almost bought a Beetle Quantar when they first came out... I heard they were buggy... but I could swear they were onto something. Cheers ! - Gary

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Well, I' m a little slow sometimes...


Long story short, it was just too frustrating to try to use MG2 as a plug-in. I think there may be a Mac-centric aspect to it...maybe it works fine with AU (although I don't think it works with Apple Silicon yet), but there are various issues with VST3 instruments and such. That, coupled with the Bass plug-in not working well at all, left MG2 more or less abandoned in a corner of my hard drive. Every now and then I'd check for updates with MG2 or various DAWs to see if matters had improved, but no joy.




I re-visited using loopMIDI with it. I had tested this earlier and it worked, but I didn't pursue it because this isn't the way MG2 is supposed to be used. It also seemed unlikely there wouldn't be problems running two independent programs with an ASIO interface. Nonetheless, I decided to give MG2 one last try. So I set it up - ran MG2 stand-alone, had it listen to the audio interface input, sent the MIDI out through a virtual port, and set the instruments in Studio One listen to the virtual port. This time I really dug into it, tweaking settings on MG2 and the guitar, and...what a difference! All of a sudden pitch bends were smooth, there was much less crap in the recorded data stream (I could eliminate most of it in one fell swoop - the problematic notes were extremely short, so I just deleted all notes under a certain duration), and I was getting some really cool sounds.


I was a little surprised that the polyphonic mode worked better for bending than the monophonic mode, but hey, I'm not complaining. Here's the bending on a monophonic melody line in polyphonic mode. If you look really closely, you'll see some of the super-short notes that got nuked.




So the bottom line is that the "approved" method was too temperamental to be useable for me, but the workaround works great. MIDI Guitar 2 has now become a productive member of my Windows-based DAW world. It took me over a year to get it right, but what the hey. As I said...I'm a little slow sometimes :)

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Craig, I remember posting something on your SSS forum and I'm going to make a similar post here since it may be useful in the quest for MIDI guitar. FWIW, I don't play keyboards to any credible level so getting the sounds with a guitar becomes more enticing.


Like you, I use heavier picks. My choice for gigging is a 2mm Gator, a standard shaped flat pick. I've worked hard on getting more dynamics in my picking so I don't need to fiddle with knobs or even sometimes - pedals. I can also make a note jump out, then sneak back down into backup world.


I use a Fishman Triple Play, the original version. Recent firmware and software updates have improved it considerably from when I first got mine.


Heavy picks in general are terrible for MIDI guitar and especially for sounds with a swift attack. Why? Careful listening shows that the heavy pick literally becomes a "mobile fret" and briefly at the point of impact a note is generated equivalent to the length from between the location of the pick strike to the bridge saddle. These transient notes are a major source of false triggering. The string then settles to the note created from the fretted position to the saddle so you get "glitch" - note responses.


This is why thinner picks do cause less false triggering. OK, progress. There's more to the story.


Next I tested playing with my fingers. That is a notable improvement over using a thin pick in terms of reducing false triggering. The softer surface of fingertips acts more as a mute than a fret - even though the weight and mass are substantial the incorrect transient notes that result in false triggering are not generated. This is using the pads of the fingers, not nails or fingerpicks.


I've always played some finger style guitar so it wasn't too much of an adaptation to switch to fingers for MIDI guitar.

A good friend has a Godin nylon string with individual piezo pickups and a socket for plugging in a Roland MIDI synth. I've never tried it, he doesn't have the synth hardware to test it on and neither do I. I suspect that played with fingers probably responds pretty well.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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