Synth solution?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by Impper, Feb 27, 2009.

  1. Impper

    Impper Member

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    Hey guys,

    I currently run a Parker Nitefly, a Fly, a Mesa DC 5, and a '73 Fender Champ. Sometimes I use the Mesa and the Fender simultaneously with the Fly's stereo piezo/mag splitter, and it's a very interesting chorus effect. I run a Fulltone gt-500 in front of the champ for OD tones, and if I run OD through the Mesa I use what's already in the amp. I run a Carbon Copy in front of both for some slight delay, and that's the extent of my effects.

    Anyway, I was looking to add some synth-like sounds to sub for a keyboard player once in a while (it's a long story), particularly strings and organ. I was looking at a few different systems, but there's so much stuff out there that I'm a little flummoxed. So, I have a few questions:

    Is it possible to use a guitar synth box with the Parker's Piezo? I was thinking not, in which case I'd look into things like the Roland GK3

    Is there a generally accepted 'best' synth box? I'm only aware of the Roland GR-20, 30, etc. stuff, and the Digitech GNX4. I'm still not 100% sure on the differences between the systems, although the Roland seems to be Midi.

    If I have a higher end keyboard synth, would it be possible to drive the keyboard synth with the guitar, instead of a keyboard? If this is the case, what would I need? Standard Roland GK-3?

    Thanks in advance... the questions are a little newbish because I have no experience with midi guitar.
     
  2. Impper

    Impper Member

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    Sep 13, 2008
    Oh, one more thing:

    What's the best thing to run a synth box through? I was thinking of using the Mesa, because it's so easy to shape the tone with the dual EQ and MV, but are studio monitors generally better? For some reason, I'm under the impression that you shouldn't run synth stuff through a guitar amp.
     
  3. takakat

    takakat Member

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    I run GR-20 via Fender Cyber Champ and it sounds fine. I love GR-20's easy operation since I don't know much about programing and so many usable sounds in it. I play through Brian Moore C90P.13 which is a synth ready guitar.
     
  4. nitefly7

    nitefly7 Member

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    The GNX4 isn't a synth box, though it may have soundscape/synth-like patches..
    The Roland systems (GR-series) are 'midi', in that respect that you're hexaphonic (indiv. picked-up 6 strings) strings drive a guitar-to-hex convertor (Roland GK, Axon -, RMC or Graphtech Ghost), which drives the GR-synth (internally, your hex-signal is converted into MIDI, which drives the internal 'sound engine')..
    GR-series (being hex-> midi in nature) can also drive your typical MIDI-equipped sound engines like hardware synths or even softsynths..

    Due to the hex-midi conversion and midi-sound engine addressing; you might notice a slight delay/latency when playing GR-synths..
    With a well setup GK-pickup, or even better piezo->midi systems like RMC and Graphtech (GHOST) offer, this latency isn't really noticeable...



    The Roland VG-series (VG-8(8) and VG-99) skip the hex-midi conversion and 'remodel' your guitar sound on the fly; it sort of 'restructures' the guitar sound, which in effect leads to a (IMHO) 'direct' translation of your guitar sound..
    Most VG-systems have an MIDI-out, which can only be used to send Program Changes on receiving devices; VG-systems won't convert your guitar/hex-signal to MIDI, but will only allow the 'Virtual Guitar'-sounds to be played..
    That being said, due to the complete 'harmonic' remodeling of your guitar tone, VG-systems can really 'change' the sound of the guitar into realistic Banjo, (semi-)hollow, nylon-strung guitar.. but it will also allow the guitar to get that GR-synth like synthy leads (think Metheny...)

    There's also Yamaha and AXON systems, that work like Roland GR-series (hex-signal->midi midi->sound engine)


    Concerning pickups
    the thing you need to get a ('real'; 13-pin equipped, so no Multi-effects boxes that offer 'synth-like' effects) guitar synth going is a Hexaphonic pickup; this is a pickup that pickups 6 discrete signals from your strings.
    It then passes these 6 (assuming you've got a 6-string guitar) signals to a GK-convertor, summing the signals and sending it to a 13-pin output jack..
    Usually this 13-pin layout may also contain the signal from your magnetic pickups (the Roland GK-pickups have a jack- input that allows you to connect your guitar's output jack to the GK-unit and sending both hex-signal/magnetic-signal through the 13-pin cable..)

    hex-pickups come in 2 versions;
    -GK-like pickups (Roland, Axon, Shadow, Yamaha) which are magnetic an need to be attached between your bridge PU and the bridge
    - piezo-like pickups (RMC, Graphtech GHOST) that work like acoustic piezo saddles; the pressure that the string forces down on the saddle causes it to pickup that string.. Due to the 'direct' nature of this system, I've found that Piezo-based systems are less cumbersome to setup for accurate synth tracking

    Schaller bridges with piezo saddles, as well as your Parker bridge do offer 6 separate signals, that can be attached to a guitar->GK convertor..
    on the Parker-Forum, there's this guy called Alex that can do Parker-modifications to allow the piezo's to drive a synth/GK-unit...

    If I were you, I'd look into that conversion... otherwise just get a GK-pickup setup correctly...

    Concerning synths
    decide what kind of synth-sounds you'd like, if you need guitar-synthy stuff that will also allow you to play sax/piano and drive hardware synths/soft synths, you might want to look into the economically friendly GR-series.
    If you need something more 'pro', look into the stuff that AXON makes ..

    If you need guitar modelling with just as impressive GR-like synth leads, get a cheap used VG-8 of VG-88

    if you need the best of both worlds, get the new Roland VG-99...

    have fun!
     
  5. Impper

    Impper Member

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    Thanks for the awesome post.

    One question: Is there such a thing as an external guitar to GK converter that I could simply hook up to the output of my piezo output on the parker? Or would I have to get a conversion done?
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2009
  6. roquero

    roquero Supporting Member

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    You should try the Adrenalinn 3 by Roger Mayer, It has a sequencer that can do arpeggios [preset 151 was used by John Mayer for arpeggios in one of his hits- do a search on youtube and you can hear it] as well as beat synced effects [Green Day used the Adrenallin's beat synced tremolo for their hit "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"]
    It also has some improved amp modeling, which with the improvements makes it the best amp modeler I have ever heard- making the Pod look like the Pud and even better than my previous choice- the Yamaha DG Stomp/ Magicstomp
    I am amazed that this pedal is so under rated by guitarrists.
    It literally turns your guitar into a synthesizer!
     
  7. andy_i

    andy_i Member

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    Just a caveat. I also play Parker and am building a custom solution. I already use a roland ready strat into the axon ax50 with good results. Just be aware, from what I'e read on the Parker forums, that your Fishman Fly piezos will NOT work as a solution and you need to replace them with the rmc's or graphtechs. There are wiring issues involved with rmc's in a Parker - see my post on the parker forum under custom flys "building my dream guitar". I'm getting a modded Graphtech Floyd AND a gk3 with a view to upgrading to the hexpander system if needs be. At the very least, my new axe will be a fly with mag / piezo / midi out the boxm

    Hth

    Andy
     
  8. Hurricane

    Hurricane Member

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    =======================================================

    Above you will note that " talakat " uses his Fender Cyber Champ and I researched it to find that it has a whopping 5. percent THD distortion and while this is cool for a guitar is doesn't really give you the clean clear amp performance needed to hear the nuance that violins - grand pianos and other instruments that suffer badly when reproduced through a guitar amp .

    That Fender Cyber Champ is a really nice amp too when used for guitar it's combined THD and Signal To Noise ratio are cool for guitar but murder high fidelity sounds .

    To get all the best of the GNX4 mic vocal and the Roland's synthesizer sounds you need to pump their audio through a " state of the art " amp . Something that matches the THD of the GNX4's pre amp section as well as the Roland GR33's and this amounts to an amp with .5 THD or significantly less .

    The GNX4's THD is measured @ .0018 and the signal to noise is the same . The Roland is comparable .

    I pump the guitar out in stereo to two guitar amps one a tube and the other a solid state with all guitar FXs

    and

    no synthesizer sounds through them .

    The Roland GR33 goes into my GNX4's line input and then to the two low hz XLR outs to my power amp clean with no guitar at all through it .

    My vocal goes through the same was because vocals ( my GNX4 has a XLR ( w/phantom power mic input ) like fine synthesizer sounds suffer negatively when pumped through a guitar amp .

    I don' need a mixer when I do a solo with this set up . My solid state power amp operates at .05 THD and S/N /

    That's my story and I'm sticken to it .

    Good luck

    Hurricane Ramon
     
  9. Hurricane

    Hurricane Member

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    =======================================

    Something like this maybe ,



    I want to make one ( custom midi electric guitar ) myself too

    HR
     
  10. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    One solution would be an EHX HOG or POG/POG2, neither of which require a special guitar pickup. I have a HOG and it's particularly great for organ tones. EHX effects wizard Bill Ruppert demos the organ tones here:
    http://www.ehx.com/blog/effectology-hammond-b3-organ

    Here he demos some string sounds and explains in detail the pedal configurations: http://www.ehx.com/forums/viewthread/1288/

    As you have seen, not without significant modifications to your Parker.

    No, there is no "generally accepted 'best'". It depends on your needs/expectations.

    I got a Roland VG-99 because at the time I wanted to fool around with alternate tunings as well as synth sounds. The MIDI output for controlling my keyboards was more like a bonus for me - it was not a primary requirement. I'm not a great keyboard player, but I'm comfortable enough that I don't use the MIDI guitar functionality that much. The synth sounds within the VG-99 are good enough for me, and they respond with greater dynamics and tracking than any pitch-MIDI guitar system because they are generated by processing the real guitar strings.

    If driving a keyboard synth from guitar is an absolute must, the Axons might be worth a look. Based on what you have posted so far, I'm not sure you really need to go this route - effects processors/pedals such as EHX's, Moog's, the VG-99, etc. are really, really good at generating synth sounds without MIDI, and respond with the dynamics you would expect from playing guitar through any effects unit.

    Yes, but you need a hex pickup system and a MIDI converter. The GK-3 is the cheapest and quickest to set up hex pickup system, unless you also consider the used market. Piezo hex pickup systems reportedly "track better", but have greater startup cost and installation work.
     
  11. takakat

    takakat Member

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    This thread is over a year old but it just popped out so I like to explain regarding my statement of using Cyber Champ for synth guitar.
    I use Cyber Champ for my electric guitar and I really like it so I bought two more Cyber Champs for a back up and a spare since they are sold so cheap. I am sure of that more expensive amp will sound much better for synth but for small gigs Cyber Champs clean channel does adequate job for my GR-20 synth sound. I am a working musician and I like to keep it simple and inexpensive for my gigging set up since all my amps stay at clubs all the time since I usually play a month long engagement.
     

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