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Re: beginner guitar synth questions

At 09:00 PM 2/13/00 -0500, you wrote:
>Hey gang, I've been bitten by the guitar-synth bug and am in the process 
>reviewing my finances to see if I can afford to get into it soon.  
>I'm not primarily interested in using it to emulate other instruments
>(although that will be nice), but I am very much into creating new sounds 
>my PC and storing them as patches on the synth unit so I can use them on 
>fly.  Does a basic device like the Roland GR-30 let you do this, or do I
>need to look into something a little more sophisticated?

Hi Peter,

Several thoughts/answers (assuming what you want to do is create sounds on
the PC using a software synth or similar program then download them as
samples into a guitar synth):

1. No the GR-30 will not allow you to do this.  At first, I thought you
wanted to be able to _edit_ guitar synth patches, which would not have been
a problem.

2. If you want to "play" your newly created sounds on the PC itself or on
an external sampler, then you have to go the external MIDI route.  The MIDI
conversion process adds its own latency, but I have friends who have made
it work by using the external MIDI modules for slower melody lines and
atmospherics.  The Axon (mentioned by another respondent on this thread) is
said to be very good, but I haven't tried it myself.  The Starrlabs Ztar
solves the problem by substituting a 24x6 array of little keys for a
traditional guitar fretboard - in essence it is a keyboard instrument
designed to be more approachable for guitarists.  The downside of that is
you lose the strings for purposes of bending and vibrato - it does have a
string trigger option, but it is for superimposing the dynamics of plucking
and muting strings on the MIDI'd sounds.

3. Performance-wise, while I think samples have their place, the problem is
that even after you decide on a way to "play" your sample from your guitar
(or Ztar if you go that route) is that the sample itself is just a snapshot
of a sound.  You can use filters and envelopes to make it "move" a little,
but it's not really "alive".
>Also, is it the box or the pickup that's responsible for the quality of 
>tracking?  Is the GK-2A the only pickup I'll need to look at?

Both.  I believe the GK2 series have built-in filtering circuitry that
tries to toss out the spurious harmonics in trying to figure out what
note(s) you are playing.  Some contend that RMC pickups
(http://www.rmcpickup.com) deliver higher quality sound signals to the
converter or whatever polyphonic box you are connecting to (e.g. Roland

Yamaha manufactures a pickup that is GK2-compatible.  It was apparently
meant to be a companion to their G50 guitar-MIDI converter, which uses
slightly older Axon technology.  They also make a pickup that is designed
for bass guitar string spacing.

Personally, as a former guitar synth owner, I'm more interested in the
direction Kim mentioned in his reply.  Part of it is that the main reason
to buy a guitar synth like the GR30 doens't really apply to me - and that
is to use its imitative voices for songwriting (lay down bass line, horn
lines, percussion parts, etc.).  I am no great shakes at keyboards, but can
operate them well enough to not need a guitar synth.  I've been interested
in the VG8/VG88 because it offers the potential for synth-like sounds
without the tracking delays but there is an alternative even to that in
RMC's fanout box.  This box takes the polyphonic signal from a hex-pickup
driven guitar and provides 6 outputs for the strings in addition to an
additional poly out, so that instead of feeding a VG system, you can
instead plug in analog synth filters, effects processors, etc. for each
string independently.

Well, I hope I didn't confuse you too much. :)