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July 30, 2010

Getting into midi guitar

I have decided to take my first steps into the world of midi guitar. I recently bought a Roland GI-20 guitar midi interface and a Roland GK-3 pickup. I hooked it all up yesterday and took it for a test drive with Logic Pro.

I was worried it might be difficult to learn all this midi stuff, but so far, it hasn't been all that hard.

The most work was installing the Roland GK-3 Guitar Pickup. This is a divided pickup and it's designed to send individual signals from each guitar string to a midi device like the GI-20. It also has a Select Switch to change from synth, to normal guitar tone, or both of them mixed.


I put the Roland GK-3 Guitar Pickup on my Squier Standard Telecaster, and I didn't quite get it perfectly set up. The height from the pickup to each string should be 1 mm, but some strings ended up farther away, and some perhaps less than 1 mm. The reason for my problems was that I couldn't figure out how get the pickup to have less of a curvature. I would need it to curve less, and even though there is a knob for adjusting curvature, it didn't seem to be enough. Oh well. By the way, there are GK-3 installation tips here.

I wanted to try ASAP of course, so late last night, I plugged in. The GI-20 hooks up to your computer via a midi cable, and I had to get new drivers from the Roland website. After installing drivers and rebooting the computer, I was ready to test.

Using a guitar equipped with a GK-3, the GI-20 can be used to trigger virtually any MIDI-compatible synthesizer or sampler, as well as outputting your "natural" guitar sound. Very cool indeed.

Using Logic Pro 9, I added a new virtual track, and picked a virtual piano. Wow - there we are! I could now play a great sounding piano on my guitar! I tried organs - sweet too! I am going to find a use for a nice sounding organ for some blues tracks. I continued testing many Logic Pro sounds, and it was all very much fun.

Logic comes with a cool program called MainStage, where you can easily tweak synthesizer and virtual instrument sounds. I spent a lot of time there, testing these amazing sounding instruments and wacky tones. Great stuff.

I didn't spend time tweaking the GI-20, but the tracking of notes were already quite good. Next step is to fine tune the note tracking, and perhaps adjust the Roland GK-3 Guitar Pickup again.

I have been wanting midi guitar equipment for decades, to be honest. Now I am very excited to finally have it. I am quite sure today's technology is much approved from decades ago, so perhaps it was a good idea to wait so long!

You'll see more midi guitar information published on dolphinstreet from now on - be sure of it. I am already hooked on this.

Roland GI-20 overview

By Robert Renman - www.dolphinstreet.com


Posted by Robert Renman on July 30, 2010

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