Forums

Guitar MIDI controller/converter - bitrex?

Started by Don Y January 6, 2022
Advice on good ("respectable") candidates for the above?
Not keen on a guitar-wannabe "instrument"...

(Also, not keen on anything that will not be able to
completely restore axe to original condition when no
longer needed/wanted)
On 1/6/22 11:50 AM, Don Y wrote:
> Advice on good ("respectable") candidates for the above? > Not keen on a guitar-wannabe "instrument"... > > (Also, not keen on anything that will not be able to > completely restore axe to original condition when no > longer needed/wanted)
If you want to add a thing to add to a regular electric guitar to get polyphonic MIDI output without modifying the guitar significantly I think it limits the options to something like the hex pickups you can non-destructively mount: <https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/GK3--roland-gk-3-divided-pickup> Then you'll need something to convert the hex signal to MIDI output and there are solutions that come with sounds and some without e.g. this package: <https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/GR55BK--roland-gr-55-guitar-synth-with-gk-3-pickup> Different companies have made a number of boxes like that over the years in pedal and rackmount form. I have a Yamaha G50 rack unit that you can plug the Roland hex pickup into it's just a MIDI converter, no onboard sounds. It's about 25 years old but still works very well with pretty low latency when you get it adjusted, IIRC the selling point at the time is that it uses a neural network to detect notes before a full cycle has elapsed; even on the low E of a guitar (much less a bass) if you wait a whole cycle it introduces objectionable latency. I expect nowadays the good systems all have their own proprietary algorithms for that. There are probably other systems that's just the setup I'm most familiar with. GraphTech makes an all-in-one where the hex pickup is integrated into a hard tail or Floyd Rose bridge and you can add a piezo amplifier for pseudo-acoustic sounds and/or a hex driver for MIDI conversion internally to the guitar. that can be an expensive way to go, the bespoke Floyd Rose is almost $300 and the electronics is another $300, kinda absurd for what you get which is a bare PCB with pin-headers and about $5 worth of components: <https://graphtech.com/products/ghost-hexpander-preamp-kit>
On 1/6/22 12:29 PM, bitrex wrote:
> On 1/6/22 11:50 AM, Don Y wrote: >> Advice on good ("respectable") candidates for the above? >> Not keen on a guitar-wannabe "instrument"... >> >> (Also, not keen on anything that will not be able to >> completely restore axe to original condition when no >> longer needed/wanted) > > If you want to add a thing to add to
Pardon my butchery of English there but I just flew in from Michigan (and boy are my arms tired!) They're gonna get 20 inches of snow total out there in spots, fun times. What the hell happened in VA? They got like 4 inches and everything went nuts. They don't even cancel elementary school for 4 inches up here...
On 1/6/2022 10:29 AM, bitrex wrote:
> On 1/6/22 11:50 AM, Don Y wrote: >> Advice on good ("respectable") candidates for the above? >> Not keen on a guitar-wannabe "instrument"... >> >> (Also, not keen on anything that will not be able to >> completely restore axe to original condition when no >> longer needed/wanted) > > If you want to add a thing to add to a regular electric guitar to get > polyphonic MIDI output without modifying the guitar significantly I think it > limits the options to something like the hex pickups you can non-destructively > mount:
But, are they truly nondestructive? Some seem to rely on adhesives and I'm not sure folks USING adhesives ever really think of them "long term" (residue, staining, etc.) I've also seen a product or two that look at the *audio* and try to reconstruct the fingering from that. Theoretically possible but a fair bit of work to accomplish in real-time. Not sure how that latency stacks up with the rest of the processing chain...
> Then you'll need something to convert the hex signal to MIDI output and there > are solutions that come with sounds and some without e.g. this package:
No need for synth; just treat the instrument as an "input device with a familiar feel".
> Different companies have made a number of boxes like that over the years in > pedal and rackmount form. I have a Yamaha G50 rack unit that you can plug the > Roland hex pickup into it's just a MIDI converter, no onboard sounds. It's > about 25 years old but still works very well with pretty low latency when you > get it adjusted, IIRC the selling point at the time is that it uses a neural > network to detect notes before a full cycle has elapsed; even on the low E of a > guitar (much less a bass) if you wait a whole cycle it introduces objectionable > latency. I expect nowadays the good systems all have their own proprietary > algorithms for that.
I imagine some of the guitar-wannabes can play tricks that aren't feasible with a real guitar. OTOH, it's hard not to interfere with the "feel" -- even if only approximated. (Driving a car and driving a car in a video game -- using a cheesy steering wheel controller and foot pedals -- are entirely different experiences!)
> There are probably other systems that's just the setup I'm most familiar with. > > GraphTech makes an all-in-one where the hex pickup is integrated into a hard > tail or Floyd Rose bridge and you can add a piezo amplifier for pseudo-acoustic > sounds and/or a hex driver for MIDI conversion internally to the guitar. that > can be an expensive way to go, the bespoke Floyd Rose is almost $300 and the > electronics is another $300, kinda absurd for what you get which is a bare PCB > with pin-headers and about $5 worth of components:
Yeah, I suspect there is a fair bit of "overhead" in these products as none of the companies appear to be The Next Apple (in terms of profits). Thanks, I'll look into the items/technologies you mentioned.
On 1/6/2022 10:47 AM, bitrex wrote:
> On 1/6/22 12:29 PM, bitrex wrote: >> On 1/6/22 11:50 AM, Don Y wrote: >>> Advice on good ("respectable") candidates for the above? >>> Not keen on a guitar-wannabe "instrument"... >>> >>> (Also, not keen on anything that will not be able to >>> completely restore axe to original condition when no >>> longer needed/wanted) >> >> If you want to add a thing to add to > > Pardon my butchery of English there but I just flew in from Michigan (and boy > are my arms tired!) They're gonna get 20 inches of snow total out there in > spots, fun times. What the hell happened in VA? They got like 4 inches and > everything went nuts. They don't even cancel elementary school for 4 inches up > here...
Wait until you try someplace that NEVER (super rarely and never more than a dusting) has snow! Even the folks who've moved here from places north seem to have forgotten how to deal with it! And, it's laughable to watch folks wearing *gloves* when it's above freezing! (Hey, it's not cold if the temperature is a positive number!) [I've never worn more than a T-shirt/jeans -- unless I'm out, overnight, watching meteor showers. (Though I *will* put on shoes when it dips below 40F and *pants* if I'm in the front yard...)] OTOH, I can remember the first snowfall of the season in Chicagoland would have folks in a mild panic ("C'mon, folks, you saw this 8-9 months ago. Nothing has changed in that time..."). Silly midwesterners! Strangely, this wasn't the case in Denver. Folks took the coming and going of snow in stride. But, I suspect most of them had more varied experiences in it than the flatlanders.
On 1/6/2022 1:02 PM, Don Y wrote:
> On 1/6/2022 10:29 AM, bitrex wrote: >> On 1/6/22 11:50 AM, Don Y wrote: >>> Advice on good ("respectable") candidates for the above? >>> Not keen on a guitar-wannabe "instrument"... >>> >>> (Also, not keen on anything that will not be able to >>> completely restore axe to original condition when no >>> longer needed/wanted) >> >> If you want to add a thing to add to a regular electric guitar to get >> polyphonic MIDI output without modifying the guitar significantly I >> think it limits the options to something like the hex pickups you can >> non-destructively mount: > > But, are they truly nondestructive?&nbsp; Some seem to rely on adhesives and > I'm not sure folks USING adhesives ever really think of them "long term" > (residue, staining, etc.)
It depends on the finish perhaps I probably wouldn't stick it on vintage lacquer or nitro finish or something. The modern commercial polyurethane guitar finishes are rugged as hell I've never myself had a residue problem sticking anything to a poly finish with that double-sided foam tape temporarily, but I haven't done like a multi-year controlled study or anything. Pretty much any gunk you get on a poly finish will come off with the appropriate solvent and some buffing; even superglue residue as neither the adhesive or the de-bonder seems to noticeably damage a modern poly finish as far as I can tell.
> I've also seen a product or two that look at the *audio* and try to > reconstruct > the fingering from that.&nbsp; Theoretically possible but a fair bit of work to > accomplish in real-time.&nbsp; Not sure how that latency stacks up with the > rest of the processing chain...
I haven't tried one of those in some time but the last I did I wasn't impressed. The G50 is reported to have an average latency of about 10 ms on the low strings and feels pretty acceptable to me (haven't measured it myself) for guitar playing that's not speed metal riffs at least. For playing USB keyboards though, like with virtual instruments, it has to be lower than that, I find around 2ms is about what I can tolerate, I can tell the difference between a 2ms response and a 5 ms, and 10 ms starts to feel like an eternity.
On 1/6/2022 2:50 PM, bitrex wrote:
> On 1/6/2022 1:02 PM, Don Y wrote: >> On 1/6/2022 10:29 AM, bitrex wrote: >>> On 1/6/22 11:50 AM, Don Y wrote: >>>> Advice on good ("respectable") candidates for the above? >>>> Not keen on a guitar-wannabe "instrument"... >>>> >>>> (Also, not keen on anything that will not be able to >>>> completely restore axe to original condition when no >>>> longer needed/wanted) >>> >>> If you want to add a thing to add to a regular electric guitar to get >>> polyphonic MIDI output without modifying the guitar significantly I >>> think it limits the options to something like the hex pickups you can >>> non-destructively mount: >> >> But, are they truly nondestructive?&nbsp; Some seem to rely on adhesives and >> I'm not sure folks USING adhesives ever really think of them "long term" >> (residue, staining, etc.) > > It depends on the finish perhaps I probably wouldn't stick it on vintage > lacquer or nitro finish or something.
Acrylic lacquer or nitrocellulose lacquer, rather, before some pedant gets all up on me :)
On 1/6/2022 12:50 PM, bitrex wrote:
>> I've also seen a product or two that look at the *audio* and try to reconstruct >> the fingering from that. Theoretically possible but a fair bit of work to >> accomplish in real-time. Not sure how that latency stacks up with the >> rest of the processing chain... > > I haven't tried one of those in some time but the last I did I wasn't > impressed. The G50 is reported to have an average latency of about 10 ms on the > low strings and feels pretty acceptable to me (haven't measured it myself) for > guitar playing that's not speed metal riffs at least. > > For playing USB keyboards though, like with virtual instruments, it has to be > lower than that, I find around 2ms is about what I can tolerate, I can tell the > difference between a 2ms response and a 5 ms, and 10 ms starts to feel like an > eternity.
Well, at least there is an explicit (industry-wide) acknowledgement that there is a significant issue, there. And, attempts to put a number on it. Too many other interfaces just leave that unspoken -- /caveat emptor/. I question whether the physical-virtual instruments ("funky UI's that try to LOOSELY resemble a real instrument") end up altering *how* you play. The "physical presence" of an instrument seems to be a part of the performance experience; would a "sousaphone emulator" (that you can hold in one hand) *play* like a real sousaphone? Even if the emulator was a 100% faithful reproduction...
On Friday, 7 January 2022 at 00:15:40 UTC, Don Y wrote:
> On 1/6/2022 12:50 PM, bitrex wrote: > >> I've also seen a product or two that look at the *audio* and try to reconstruct > >> the fingering from that. Theoretically possible but a fair bit of work to > >> accomplish in real-time. Not sure how that latency stacks up with the > >> rest of the processing chain... > > > > I haven't tried one of those in some time but the last I did I wasn't > > impressed. The G50 is reported to have an average latency of about 10 ms on the > > low strings and feels pretty acceptable to me (haven't measured it myself) for > > guitar playing that's not speed metal riffs at least. > > > > For playing USB keyboards though, like with virtual instruments, it has to be > > lower than that, I find around 2ms is about what I can tolerate, I can tell the > > difference between a 2ms response and a 5 ms, and 10 ms starts to feel like an > > eternity. > Well, at least there is an explicit (industry-wide) acknowledgement that there > is a significant issue, there. And, attempts to put a number on it. Too many > other interfaces just leave that unspoken -- /caveat emptor/. > > I question whether the physical-virtual instruments ("funky UI's that try to > LOOSELY resemble a real instrument") end up altering *how* you play. The > "physical presence" of an instrument seems to be a part of the performance > experience; would a "sousaphone emulator" (that you can hold in one hand) > *play* like a real sousaphone? Even if the emulator was a 100% faithful > reproduction...
How about a pneumatically controlled pipe organ in a large church where the latency could be around 200ms? John
On 1/8/2022 12:57 PM, John Walliker wrote:
> On Friday, 7 January 2022 at 00:15:40 UTC, Don Y wrote: >> On 1/6/2022 12:50 PM, bitrex wrote: >>>> I've also seen a product or two that look at the *audio* and try to reconstruct >>>> the fingering from that. Theoretically possible but a fair bit of work to >>>> accomplish in real-time. Not sure how that latency stacks up with the >>>> rest of the processing chain... >>> >>> I haven't tried one of those in some time but the last I did I wasn't >>> impressed. The G50 is reported to have an average latency of about 10 ms on the >>> low strings and feels pretty acceptable to me (haven't measured it myself) for >>> guitar playing that's not speed metal riffs at least. >>> >>> For playing USB keyboards though, like with virtual instruments, it has to be >>> lower than that, I find around 2ms is about what I can tolerate, I can tell the >>> difference between a 2ms response and a 5 ms, and 10 ms starts to feel like an >>> eternity. >> Well, at least there is an explicit (industry-wide) acknowledgement that there >> is a significant issue, there. And, attempts to put a number on it. Too many >> other interfaces just leave that unspoken -- /caveat emptor/. >> >> I question whether the physical-virtual instruments ("funky UI's that try to >> LOOSELY resemble a real instrument") end up altering *how* you play. The >> "physical presence" of an instrument seems to be a part of the performance >> experience; would a "sousaphone emulator" (that you can hold in one hand) >> *play* like a real sousaphone? Even if the emulator was a 100% faithful >> reproduction... > > How about a pneumatically controlled pipe organ in a large church where > the latency could be around 200ms?
Most wind instruments have high latency -- esp if excited by human breath. My above comment was wrt the *feel* of the instrument-wannabe vs. the real instrument. What's it like to play a "little box with a mouthpiece" that emulates a tuba vs. having to carry the tuba on your shoulders while trying to summon up enough air to excite it? Does the little box represent the same "impedance" to your windpipe as the genuine article? Do you have to move the same amount of air to produce a particular sound? [I.e., playing trills on a trumpet is a piece of cake compared to a trombone, baritone horn, etc. Does a trombone-emulator present the same PHYSICAL playing challenges as a real trombone?]