Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by blueprint, Jul 3, 2006.
Just curious about the system you use, your opinion about it...
Any comment welcome!
Sold mine. To me it was more of a toy than a musical tool. Without 100% perfect tracking, it's tough to accept it as a true instrument ... but still a lot of fun for messing around. Live, I've only seen them used along with the guitar tone for a guaranteed note. This waters it down, though.
I WANT to like it but the tracking is a huge problem. I love the sounds, especially the grand piano and B-3's but I can easily outplay the system when soloing...and that's very frustrating.
Maybe someday they'll get it right.
Some had recently posted an Electro Harmonix video where a guy was getting good B3 tone with an octave pedal, distortion and some chorus. You can get some good organ and synth tones using effects, the key is playing like you're a keyboard instrument. Good luck.
I've played the GR1 and own one (primarily to trigger signal processing rather than for synth sounds itself).
I do own a VG8, which is sort of a hybrid. It doesn't convert the guitar to midi, but does digitize and process each string separately. As such, it tracks perfectly, does decent pitch shifting per string. It does have synth and horn patches, which are not up to sampling/midi standards but are pretty cool! I don't use it much except if I know I'm going to be needing acoustic sounds and pitch shifting (when I accompany the school musical and the director says "just transpose that song up 3 semitones" and she still wants open chord voicings!). At the used price of ~$400-500 they're not a huge investment-much better to my ears than the GR or VG88...
I use an Axon AX-100 pitch to midi controller. It tracks way better than anything else out there with the only exception of the Yamaha model that was licensed from Axon (Blue Chip). The Yamaha tracks about the same.
The Axon I use has no internal sounds, and I use it with my Moog Voyager RME and an EMU Planet Earth. Since the Moog is monophonic, tracking matters even less. Playing with polyphonic instruments, it still glitches on occasion, but with the more deliberate your touch is, the better it sounds.
One thing I've learned is that you need to think in terms of the voice you are playing, and adapt your technique and voicing to that instrument. As a simple example, you don't play chords on a flute. Piano players voice their chords differently, also.
I've used various types of pickups, but currently use a Roland GK-3. In the past I used RMC piezos, and they track better than the Rolands, but I currently don't have the luxury of doing a retro-fit of the RMCs, so I'm using the GK-3.
Using a guitar synth is an excellent way to hone your technique. If you are sloppy at all, the synth will glitch.
One trick that not a lot of people use is to assign different midi channels to each string. This way, you can assign different sounds to each string, or just use one string for the synth voice.
Using the Moog, though, I've started working more with the Hold pedal function. That way, you can play a note, hold it, and solo over it. Works really well with arpeggiated sounds.
I have been thinking about getting a keyboard pedal set, though. I think it would be cool to play the synth with my foot, and play along with it. I'm not sure I'm coordinated enough, though.
I like to get synth sounds the hard way with effects (though I do want a HOG in the future)...
There's a song ("Funk Shui") on my myspace page ( http://www.myspace.com/stephenpolcz ) that has an approximated version of the organ sounds from the POG, however I was working with limited patch cables and without the Leslie, so the Chord & Note Sustainer is not present, which is key, and the delay wasn't set to optimize the key click sound (actually there are no compressors on the track, which is weird, but I wanted to plug in my switching system to have a Hotcake channel and a weird effects channel with the discumbobulator, deluxe moon phaser, POG and deluxe memory man... by then I had run out of cables!). You can get crazier sounds by messing with the feedback, delay time and modulation controls on the DMM and the Low Pass Filter on the POG (which you can control with an expression pedal on the HOG!) for lots of extra fun, but it's hard to do if it's not already coming out of the Loop Station because how are you going to be on the floor and playing? I guess you could get a few TIP 3rd Hands, but that'll add up really quick. Once again, I did not have enough cables for the loop station to join the party for this particular recording.
I have a vg88 (v2) and an GR33. I had an acoustic based band where I used them most of the time. I also use them when recording, to add synth parts, as I am not too good on keys. I will be working the GR33 into my regular band soon, I need to find a suitable guitar. I have a Martin AltX with the roland pickup built in along with a crappy Ibanez with a taped on Roland pickup. I was checking out the Brian Moore guitars with the built in pickups to use with my setup.
I have a GR-1 that I haven't used in a while. I would stack it with an Alesis S4+ synth module with reprogrammed patches to match the ones on the GR-1. The sounds were thick and very rich. I was able to deal with the latency, but the release portion of the envelope was set to a hard cutoff when you released the strings. This was noticeable with any type of pad and I was not able to get into the system exclusive information to try and reprogram the cutoff to allow the pads to decay naturally. Still intend to use it but not with the Magnetic hex pickup (looking to install the Graphtech GHOST system which is based on a hex piezo pickup system (no grounding problems and immediate response). Brett
I've gigged every week for six years with a Roland VG-8. Occasionally, when the song set requires it, I'll also hook up a GR-33, mostly for horn parts. I have a VG-88, but never could seem to get the hang of programming it to sound as good as my VG-8. It's actually for sale right now....anyone interested....I'll make you a good deal.
I drive these with a Godin LGXT or a PRS EG in which I installed the Graphtech Ghost system.
I used to use a GR-30, VG-8 and VG-88.
The GR-30 was neat, but I could never make it work for me as anything but a novelty. It was impressive to guitar players that I was able to get "x" or "y" tone using a guitar. However, with the guitar and my limited skill, I could only achieve a fraction of what even a mediocre synth player could with a regular synth.
The VG-8 and and VG-88 had some neat tones in them, and they respond naturally the way a guitar would. I was particularly happy with the 12 string, nylon and sitar sims on the Vg-88, and some of the weirder string effects on the VG-8. It was actually easier to get a good recorded sound out of the VG-88 than with a real 12 string or sitar. I ended up selling them because they just required too much production for limited use. The way they were configured it was a big pain to get your normal guitar sound back, and the standard electric guitar sims and amp models were no substitutes for my usual gig.
I actually think the biggest plus that the VG-88 and VG-8 offered was the ability to pan each string left or right. Having 3 of your strings left and 3 of them right is an extraordinarily rich tone. Unfortunately the ability to do this was very limited, if you want to use a compressor or any effects or amp sims, your panning would be summed to mono.
Recently I got an Electro Harmonix HOG. Even though it doesn't use a hex pickup, it tracks as well as the VG-88. It doesn't have specific models on it, but I can get a better organ sound out of it than I could out of the Boss stuff, and it is very easy to use musically. It doesn't sound cheesy and it is as easy to operate as any normal effect pedal. Easy to incorporate into your rig.