As most of you probably are already doing, I'm planning my next step in gears, which is not happening anytime soon, maybe not even in years but it is still nice and exciting to visualise it .
So I came across midi guitars, and that is after a friend suggesting to youtube the roland VG-99 that he's getting to play using his guitar equipped with a midi pup; I was amazed by the endless possibilities of the Roland, and now I want to know more about midi guitars and related accessories hence the title of the thread.
1) anyone of you had personal experience with midi setups?
2) is there sort of a list for the advantages and disadvantages of such systems?
3) Do you like them or prefer to keep your analog/Digital setups? Why?
4) does the guitar specifications such as wood used and neck joints keep playing a role in the sound of a midi setup?
5) best midi guitars ? best related accessories? something that tops the VG-99 perhaps?
6) any additional thoughts?

thanks for your time and help
I'll give my feedback on the one midi "guitar" that I've played, the YouRock guitar. The YouRock guitar is meant to be played like a guitar, but I find it to be better when used more like a keyboard with a guitar fretboard layout. In other words, I don't even strum on it, I use it in tap mode which allows me to use both hands on the fretboard, not strumming required. There are a few reasons why I do that.

First off, I don't ever intend to use it for guitar tones, so strumming just doesn't fit or seem necessary. I don't actually need to strum or pluck a string to produce a note anyway, so it seems pointless. And I don't like the strings/strumming cables very much. Even with their sensitivity turned up, they seem to be unreliable. You can't do anything with them that you can't already do with your fretting hand, so I don't even bother with that mess.

The faux strings(the rubber ones on the fretboard) are pretty awesome. They are touch sensitive, and very responsive. The fretboard is very easy to play on with 2 hands, much easier than a guitar ever could be. This is due to it not having string actions, and not requiring any real effort to produce a note. I honestly can't see any reason not to use 2 hands on the fretboard when using it. For me it's just a keyboard for guitarists. The onboard midi sounds are awful, but it sounds great when running a vst in Reaper. And no interface is required, just a UBS cable(I think one comes with it too).

My one complaint is that it sticks to guitar "rules" in that you can play 2 noted simultaneously on the same string. If I could change anything, it would be that. I don't know if the developers have fixed that with the newer versions or not, I might need to look into that...

So, if you're looking for a cheap, simple, and easy to use "keyboard for the guitarist", the YouRock guitar is pretty damn good. It looks like a toy, but it's pretty serious.
Last edited by W4RP1G at Jan 11, 2013,
MIDI-equipped guitars have yet to really catch on because most guitarists just don't want to sound like anything other than a guitar. MIDI can facilitate some incredible synth sounds; so many in fact that you are limited only by the quality and range of the synth module that you use. Since the best ones are very expensive, that is another reason why guitarists shy away from them. But they track better than ever these days, and you'll see people in Prog Rock and the like getting into them more.

I'd say that hands down, the best MIDI guitar is Carvin's SH575. Even without the MIDI, the thing is a work of art:


If I had a kid, I'd sell him to a third world sweatshop for one of these.

Whether the construction of the guutar affects the MIDI is open to debate. Perhaps the type of sound would determine that: some sounds might be affected by guitar construction.

Analog or digital is probably a personal thing, as it is with a lot of synthesizer players.
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Well, not MIDI but I use piezo pickups on a Godin (synth access) into a Roland GR-55 Guitar Synth which also has the COSM for amp and speaker modelling.

This is an older rig set up diagram that I use.

I have never actually played with the MIDI out from the GR-55 because basically I can't see a reason to do it since it is a synth already. Also, the synth/modelled outputs from the GR-55 are in stereo just to add to the complexity.

You will notice that the rig also has a signal path that splits off the GR-55 so I can run a regular guitar pickups>effects>amp signal path either exclusively or in conjunction with the synth and modelled sounds.

The signal path diagram at the bottom shows the signal paths within the GR-55 itself and how it can be mixed.

Word of warning, this gets really expensive fast. Also, programming patches, models and effects are not for the faint of heart, you can spend days trying to perfect a sound.

I also have GK3 piezo pick ups that can be attached to regular guitars. Just a side note, the Godin xtSA is also my number one guitar, it is not a novelty guitar by any measure.

The underlining question most people ask is WHY?

Simple answer, it is really fun to create the sounds. Generally you can fill out your live sound in radical ways. Also, my work entails me doing a lot of ambient and background music/sounds for videos and this has turned out to be the easiest way to do that efficiently. But I mostly liken it to a theremin, kind of a pain but a heck of a lot of fun to play with.
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Great replies:
YouRock guitar seems pretty cool but really not a guitar and not what I'm lookibg for .

This Carvin ia really interisting, I liked it a lot, very versatile and yea, midi setups seems to be pretty expensive but it takes to whole new levels of creating sounds, I may have to wait a lot to acquire the sum of money needed but propably it's worth it.

Nice schematics and nice setup! very detailed and you gave me some ideas of other possibilities

thanks guys

Anyone else has anything to share?
Last edited by Metalloy at Jan 12, 2013,
Most people agree that Godin makes the best midi equipped guitars available to date. They're reasonably priced, too. You can get a new Freeway SA for like $800 and besides having great midi it's a also a really nice "regular" guitar. John McLaughlin even uses one on tour (he's been playing midi stuff for a very long time)! What makes the Godins so good for midi is the Graph Tech Ghost system. You can buy and install this on any electric guitar (with some modification), but for the cost of parts and installation, you can usually just buy a Godin with midi. I believe that Carvin's midi guitars also use this system, but they're more expensive. Another popular midi pickup system is Roland's GK. Although the GK is probably the most popular system out there and is considered the industry standard, virtually everyone agrees that the Ghost system is much, much better.

There are also options on what to play your midi guitar through. If you have computer programs with midi synth sounds, such as Logic or Reason, you can use an interface like the Roland GI-20 (which is a really great unit, but is now discontinued) to connect the guitar to your computer. If you're starting from scratch, you can get a guitar synth like the VG-99. These units have built in sounds and effects. The VG-99 also has a midi out function so you can still connect it to a computer. Personally, I'd go the GI-20 (or something similar) and laptop route, but it's up to you.

Check out this site for more information:

Also, remember that you can still play a midi guitar's magnetic pickups through an amp instead of just using midi all the time!
The cost difference between the Godins and the Carvins is mainly due to the customization options on the Carvins.
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