Metal Guitarist Forums banner
1 - 20 of 58 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello, I lurk along these forums often and I know that this topic has been brought up a couple times, but it always seems hazy as to what is the best option on the market for MIDI guitars/MIDI guitar converters.

To be honest, I really don't have the money to be throwing down 1k on the full Roland setup. For a while I was ignorant and I thought that all I needed was their GK3 pickup until I realized that I also needed a "GK compatible device." Pshh. Once I add their GK compatible device, I will be spending a lot more than I initially planned...Plus,I'm gonna be putting that money towards an AxeFX first.

There was also a cheaper alternative being the you rock guitar, but there was a review on this forum that was not so positive, which had steered me away from that product.

All I want is to use a guitar to track MIDI on my computer.

There is also an alternative, for monophonic tracking, which is sonuus products. However, I recently came across forums like this KVR: Monophonic Guitar to MIDI converter tryout where some people are working on creating VST monophonic guitar converters. I haven't tried it yet, but considering the fact that this might be decent for the price (free), I might not even consider the Sonuus G2M.

So it comes down to this...Is there any CHEAP way to get decent polyphonic tracking without throwing down $900?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
8,927 Posts
So it comes down to this...Is there any CHEAP way to get decent polyphonic tracking without throwing down $900?
Not really.

The cheapest setup is going to be adding a Roland GK pickup to an existing guitar and get a low-cost MIDI converter like a Roland GI-20. However, the GK pickups track very poorly for MIDI purposes.

On the guitar end of things, the best option (IMHO) is the Godin Freeway SA with a built-in RMC piezo 13-pin system. This is what I use. These can be gotten used for under $500, and they are a nice guitar, in addition to being a 13-pin platform. Piezo systems track MIDI much better than Roland hex pickups. The Freeway SA is much cheaper than the fancier Godin LG models, but doesn't seem to be any worse in terms of quality.

As for converters, the GI-20 is generally considered to be "OK", but not as accurate as the Axon products. Unfortunately, Axon has now gone out of business, but it's well worth picking up a used AX50 or AX100 Mk. II converter. The dedicated Roland guitar synths, such as the GR-33 and GR-55, don't involve MIDI conversion for their internal sounds and therefore track better than Roland MIDI converters. However, I use the AX100 Mk. II myself, and the tracking is better than the internal sounds in my GR-33, especially on the low E and A strings.

Supposedly, the brand new Roland GR-55 has some kind of fancy new software to help tracking, but I don't know whether that applies to both the internal sounds and its MIDI output. I'm guessing its MIDI conversion is still just effectively a built-in GI-20, which is the case for the Roland VG-99 that shares a number of internal similarities with the GR-55.

I almost got a YouRock Guitar myself, but canceled my order after reading negative reviews. From what I've read, it's too toy-like to be functional for most decent guitarists. The Starr Labs Ztars are undoubtedly the best "guitar-like MIDI controllers" on the market, but you're talking BIG money for those.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
21,673 Posts
It's pretty easy to find a used Roland gear for cheap on eBay. I just sold my GR-30 for what I paid for it, $200. Add a pickup, and it'll be about $300 if you get lucky on a GK-2a/GK-3.

The YRG is the one I've had, twice. I would not recommend it at all. It was more frustrating than productive.

As JacksonPlayer says, the ZTar is the best, however it's pricey, starting at $1000. There is supposedly a $400 version called the Rock Controller coming out at some point, but no one really knows when, because they've not gotten a offshore manufacturer secured yet, AFAIK. I'll buy one if they ever actually come out.


I'll be getting the GR-55 sometime in the next few weeks, but even that will run you $800 with the pickup.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
8,927 Posts
There is supposedly a $400 version called the Rock Controller coming out at some point, but no one really knows when, because they've not gotten a offshore manufacturer secured yet, AFAIK. I'll buy one if they ever actually come out.
Same here. I'd buy one in a heartbeat. This is clearly designed as a serious creative tool, and not some hybrid toy mishmash like the YRG. I know why the YRG was designed like that, but it really ends up being the worst of all worlds.

I'll be getting the GR-55 sometime in the next few weeks, but even that will run you $800 with the pickup.
Please post a review here when you get it. I'm curious to see how much of an advance it really is. The one YouTube demo video I've seen from Japan didn't exactly blow me away, but that doesn't mean the GR-55 is bad.
 

·
Mr. Negative Pants, ,
Joined
·
14,796 Posts
Well, the GR-55 was only announced at NAMM, so it may take a while for reviews and demo videos to start filtering out.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
21,673 Posts
Wirelessly posted (iDevice of Awesomeness: Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

There have already been a few people who have played both the older Roland stuff, as well as Axon gear and have said it's a huge improvement over older Roland gear, and perhaps even a little more accurate that Axon. They're using a new algorithm to detect pitch and velocity, and the amount of adjustments for pickup types is staggering: pickup type (GK2, GK3, RMC, Ghost, LR Baggs), scale length, etc. Much more involved then the old stuff, and this is a good thing.
The unit also basically has 1/2 of a VG-99 in it, and as such can do several different electric, acoustic, and bass sounds separate from the PCM synth stuff.

I'll post up when I get it, but it's backordered until late this month.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
21,673 Posts
Another thing that remains to be seen about the GR-55 is how it handles external MIDI via MIDI 5-pin or USB.

In the past, such as with my old GR-30, internal tracking was very good, even for as old as that unit was because there was no conversion to MIDI. It was strictly going from pitch to voltage to the internal sounds. But the second you go outside the box, there was considerable latency involved, as well as additional glitching.

That's why the GI-20 was always such a pain in the ass. All it did was MIDI conversion, and it didn't do it as well as the Axon stuff did. If Roland has indeed improved this with the GR-55 to the point where this can be used as a self-contained synth box as well as control soft synths, this will be a significant step for MIDI guitar.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Sigh, I was afraid of this. I'm gonna need to spend a lot of cash to get something decent.

The $400 Rock Controller sounds appealing though.

I'm afraid to go this route, but does anyone have experience with the monophonic sonuus G2M??
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
8,927 Posts
The unit also basically has 1/2 of a VG-99 in it, and as such can do several different electric, acoustic, and bass sounds separate from the PCM synth stuff.
Yeah, I saw that. If that end of things has what I need, I might sell my VG-99 and get a GR-55 myself. I mostly just use the VG-99 to emulate the acoustic sounds, plus the occasional Tele sound that I then plug into the front end of my Axe-FX. I never use the amp sims or the deeper capabilities of the VG-99, so it's kind of a waste.

If the GR-55 even just has more or less the same basic synth sounds as the GR-33 but with better tracking, I'd be strongly tempted.

Sigh, I was afraid of this. I'm gonna need to spend a lot of cash to get something decent.
Yeah, unfortunately the good stuff is expensive in this area. MIDI guitar is such a small niche market that there hasn't been a lot of manufacturer activity in recent years to help bring prices down. The Roland GR-55 is a big deal because it's the first really new guitar synth product in a long time. And, unfortunately, Roland is the last company still working on guitar synths.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
21,673 Posts
Yeah, I saw that. If that end of things has what I need, I might sell my VG-99 and get a GR-55 myself. I mostly just use the VG-99 to emulate the acoustic sounds, plus the occasional Tele sound that I then plug into the front end of my Axe-FX. I never use the amp sims or the deeper capabilities of the VG-99, so it's kind of a waste.

If the GR-55 even just has more or less the same basic synth sounds as the GR-33 but with better tracking, I'd be strongly tempted.
The PCM sounds are improved over the 20 and the 33 both, in addition to there being far more of them.

The 55's VG side doesn't do two tones at once, but it does cover a lot of ground; steel string, nylon string, dobro, 12-string, tele, strat, strat w/EMG's, strat with humbuckers, LP, LP Jr., Rickenbacker, various basses, etc.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
8,927 Posts
The PCM sounds are improved over the 20 and the 33 both, in addition to there being far more of them.

The 55's VG side doesn't do two tones at once, but it does cover a lot of ground; steel string, nylon string, dobro, 12-string, tele, strat, strat w/EMG's, strat with humbuckers, LP, LP Jr., Rickenbacker, various basses, etc.
Cool. For my needs, I haven't made much use of the two-guitars-at-once thing in the VG-99. I probably haven't dived into it enough yet, though. I'm using it pretty heavily on my RPM Challenge album, but I'm under a time crunch to finish that and don't have time to sit around for days tweaking parameters in the VG.

I'll be curious to see how much the PCM sounds are improved, considering that Roland has been using mostly the same basic sound set for years that derives from the old JV Series synths. The XV Series (which I use) has some upgrades, and the Fantoms have a few more, but the bulk of the samples in those synths date back to the '90s. The sounds in my GR-33 are *very* familiar...
 

·
Tune It Lower
Joined
·
1,114 Posts
I'll be diving into a GR-55 here soon, as from a lot of milling around forums with MIDI guys, supposedly the tracking is the best far, fast enough to be compared to an Axon, but without the glitchyness the Axon units are known for. I really don't see any other options as this time.

I never saw that particular Z-Tar before, I must say, I'm really impressed, but the lack of bending at the strings turns me off hard compared to a hex system on a real guitar.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
21,673 Posts
Cool. For my needs, I haven't made much use of the two-guitars-at-once thing in the VG-99. I probably haven't dived into it enough yet, though. I'm using it pretty heavily on my RPM Challenge album, but I'm under a time crunch to finish that and don't have time to sit around for days tweaking parameters in the VG.

I'll be curious to see how much the PCM sounds are improved, considering that Roland has been using mostly the same basic sound set for years that derives from the old JV Series synths. The XV Series (which I use) has some upgrades, and the Fantoms have a few more, but the bulk of the samples in those synths date back to the '90s. The sounds in my GR-33 are *very* familiar...
By nearly all accounts it's better than the 30, 33, and 20. It's based on a more recent SC, not the old JV stuff. And the VG stuff is supposed to be really cool, especially the acoustic stuff (steel, nylon). Being able to do a convincing steel string acoustic in baritone tuning will be a nice feature for me.

The Rock Controller looks pretty interesting. If they come out with the lower end model, I would def snatch one up.
A lower end Z-Tar or lower end Rock Controller? I doubt they'll go any lower than $300-$400.

I'll be diving into a GR-55 here soon, as from a lot of milling around forums with MIDI guys, supposedly the tracking is the best far, fast enough to be compared to an Axon, but without the glitchyness the Axon units are known for. I really don't see any other options as this time.

I never saw that particular Z-Tar before, I must say, I'm really impressed, but the lack of bending at the strings turns me off hard compared to a hex system on a real guitar.
It's not a guitar, so you basically have to relearn some things. Bending is quite possible, it just has to be done with the touch sensitive neck strips.

I'm joining you on the GR-55 bandwagon; mine's on order from MF. I've already got a Ghost equipped RG.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
8,927 Posts
And the VG stuff is supposed to be really cool, especially the acoustic stuff (steel, nylon). Being able to do a convincing steel string acoustic in baritone tuning will be a nice feature for me.
Tell me about about it. This month I've recorded a ton of stuff for my new album with the acoustic stuff in the VG-99, and I've still got some nylon string stuff to record with it.

To be honest, the VG steel-string sounds are kind of piezo-sounding. From what I've gleaned, the Variax is the way to go if you want great sounding 'virtual' steel-string. I'm thinking about selling the VG and getting a Variax 700 Acoustic to handle all my acoustic recording needs. The nylon sounds in the VG are fantastic, though, and unfortunately even the new James Tyler Variax electrics don't have a nylon-string model, which is a pretty big oversight. You have to get the acoustic Variax to get those. Supposedly all the acoustic sounds are better on that one, anyway.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
21,673 Posts
Wirelessly posted (iDevice of Awesomeness: Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

jacksonplayer said:
And the VG stuff is supposed to be really cool, especially the acoustic stuff (steel, nylon). Being able to do a convincing steel string acoustic in baritone tuning will be a nice feature for me.
Tell me about about it. This month I've recorded a ton of stuff for my new album with the acoustic stuff in the VG-99, and I've still got some nylon string stuff to record with it.

To be honest, the VG steel-string sounds are kind of piezo-sounding. From what I've gleaned, the Variax is the way to go if you want great sounding 'virtual' steel-string. I'm thinking about selling the VG and getting a Variax 700 Acoustic to handle all my acoustic recording needs. The nylon sounds in the VG are fantastic, though, and unfortunately even the new James Tyler Variax electrics don't have a nylon-string model, which is a pretty big oversight. You have to get the acoustic Variax to get those. Supposedly all the acoustic sounds are better on that one, anyway.
According to a guy on VGuitarsforum, the 55 is better than the older Variax for acoustic tones, especially 12-string and alt tunings because the processor in the 55 is better. He also happens to have a JT Variax, and he only slightly prefers the JT for acoustics.

Regardless, we've got majorly cool and amazing tech at our fingertips, especially those looking to record on our own. I am immensely psyched to get the 55, and have already started working out arrangement changed because of what can be done with it.
 
1 - 20 of 58 Posts
Top