New to Guitar synth - I have a Godin but which synth?

Discussion in 'Guitar' started by mrcomputer, Nov 14, 2003.

  1. mrcomputer

    mrcomputer New Member

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    Hello: I bought a Godin multiac steel string with RMC pickup and want to use it to expand my musical palette of sounds. It looks like there are two ways to go ;
    1.) use something like a Roland VG8 to emulate amps, guitars and effects.
    2.) Use a synth like a GR33 with its built in or programmed sounds and ability to trigger other synths. Now my dilema, The sounds I have experienced with using a GR33 at Guitar Center are so mechanical sounding that I have no desire to use them. Is this a function of midi , that when you try to emulate the texture of a piano with a guitar fingering and fingerstyle that it produces a less than natural type of sound? Is there a better eay to add instruments that sound more natural?
    Thanks for any help.
    John
  2. Graeme

    Graeme New Member

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    Certainly the easiest option. Modellers, such as the VG series, make no special demands on your playing style or technique.

    If you are interested in using the guitar for midi, there are a number of issues you should be aware of.

    First and foremost, midi guitar is not like playing ordinary guitar. It requires an extremely 'clean' technique - mostof the tricks which guitarists resort to simply will not translate to midi and you'll find yourself re-learning how to play (especially if you've developed some bad habits).

    As far as the GR33 is concerned, I should tell you it is not very good at triggering external modules (although it works fine on its internal sounds). This seems to be fairly general across the Roland range of midi guitar kit. An exception is the GI10, which is merely an interface between the guitar and whatever module you care to use.

    If you do decide to go the midi route, then you will need something to turn the hexaphonic output of the Godin into a midi stream. There's not too much choice here, the Roland GI10 is a fairly cheap option, the Axon AX100 is considered by many to be the best. Alternatively, you can use something like the GR33, but recognise its limitations when driving external modules.

    Regarding your comment about how midi 'sounds' - that's entirely down to two things - 1/ The basic quality of the sounds produced by the synthesiser you use and 2/ An understanding of how other intruments are played. There is no point (for example) of trying to play a saxophone like a violin, or a piano like a harpsichord. Moreover, none of these intruments should be 'played' like a guitar! You have to modify your playing to suit the sound produced.
  3. mrcomputer

    mrcomputer New Member

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    Thanks for the info.

    Thanks Graeme:

    That is exactly the kind of info I was hoping to receive. My reading, conversations and tryouts of equipment at Guitar Center had not given me enough info about the triggering of various units, but I thought that the GI-10 was a good place to start. It would allow me to interface to the computer through a reasonably decent sound card like the "Sound Blaster live" and use Cakewalk or Home Studio etc. (and save money while getting experience)

    Do you have any thoughts about the GR-50 as an alternative to the GI-10, and What computer interface and software would you recommend?

    I appreciate your comment about playing style, as I also play some piano. The approach and the resulting sound are vastly different. The leggato nature of the guitar and the somewhat staccato nature of piano action produce different feel and sonority to the same song. Again, any input concerning technique would help.

    My guitar technique is clean and precise but how to translate it to other instruments is in need of education and experience. Are you aware of any computer based software designed to improve guitar technique, either for general guitar education or guitar synth? I have read of a software program that shipped with the GI-10 called "Singer, Song Writer for Windows" but can only find info about a program by that name on sites in Japan. This is describes as a notation and composing software.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I am sure that I'm not the only one with these types of questions, and that others reading these posts will have similar issues.

    John
  4. Nazxul

    Nazxul New Member

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    LOL! Why didn't I ever think about that?:D
  5. Graeme

    Graeme New Member

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    Re: Thanks for the info.

    Actually, I should have said GI20 - which is the current model, the GI10 was discontinued a while back, although they turn up second-hand sometimes.

    The GR50... that takes me back a bit. I've had two of these and for their time, they were not bad at all. Again, they sometimes pop up as second-hand items. At the right price, it's a cheap way to start, although they are not easy to program the sounds and you must get the handbook which went with it - without one, you'll be totally at sea!.

    One thing in your favour is that a GR-50, without the GK2 pickup, is virtually worthless to most people and can be bought at a knock down price - but you already have a guitar with a suitable pickup installed in it, so you can take the advantage there. However, I think you'll find that technology has moved on a bit and the tracking of the newer stuff is much improved.

    If you are recording into a computer, then almost any bundled soundcard is likely to have some midi capability with a set of onboard sounds. Some of the more expensive cards are quite well-endowed with sounds. Some cards, such as the Creative Labs SoundBlaster, also use soundfont technology - which basically means you can load any sound you like into the thing (or even make your own) - this gives you tremendous versatility in the midi department, although it has to be said that the audio performance of Creative's products is very poor compared to a lot of other units around.

    If you to sequence, then you need sequencing software - the heavyweights are CuBase, Cakewalk, Logic and Nuendo. You can download trial versions of all these. None of these are cheap but, depending on your personal needs, there are 'light' versions which cover all the basic requirements and cost a lot less. There's plenty of other choices as well, no doubt you'll get other recommendations.

    I'm not aware of any software of this nature, maybe someone else can can up with something in this line? Until you actually try midi guitar, don't be too sure about your technique - midi guitar is extremely unforgiving :( .

    Practically, where simulation of other 'real' instruments is involved, it comes down to an understanding (in terms of compass and technical limitations) of that instrument. To take a simple example, a violinist could not double stop the G and E strings, it's technically impossible. If you do something like that, you have immediately given the game away. Of course, if you are looking at purely 'synthesiser' type sounds, then your imagination is the only limiting factor.

    A lot depends on what you intend to use your midi guitar for. In my personal view, midi guitar (using pitch to midi translation) is a somewhat imprecise technology. Very useable in a live situation, but not so good as a recording medium. In the latter case, little glitches, which would go unnoticed on stage, become a major headache and you spend just as much time editing out all the problems as you did in playing the part to start with.

    A lot of guitar players see midi guitar as a good way to input to a sequencer - I did, at one time - but my experience was not good and I found it easier to use a keyboard badly than a guitar well. Effectively, I totally abandoned midi guitar for this sort of work years ago. A few months ago, I bought a Ztar - which is more like a keyboard instrument in the shape of a guitar - and my interest has been re-awakened.

    I'd never heard of this, but I did find a site where you can download a demo of the software. However, since it was written for Windows 3.1(!), I doubt if compares favourably to anything more current. As far as I could work out (it was a Portuguese site and my Portuguese is none too good) it's little more than a basic software midi sequencer - and there's loads of those around, from free to very expensive.
  6. Graeme

    Graeme New Member

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    It's so obvious, but you hear a surprising number of things where this wasn't taken into account ;)

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