Since the introduction of readily available MIDI instruments in the mid-1970s the possibility of being able to find a truly useable and playable MIDI interface for guitarists has been something of a holy grail.

Many of the early attempts to move away from keyboard based instruments as drivers of MIDI information were absolutely terrible, and most of them were aimed at the guitarist market. Some of the wind-controllers were not too bad but the first guitar based controller to even partially work in non-professional hands was Roland's GR-50 Guitar Synthesiser. This had a good range of in-built sounds which could be readily expanded via the application of a MIDI-patchbay such as the Roland A880, and another expansion box, either synthesiser or a pre-sampled sound module (examples are Roland's D-110 synth and U-110 sound module). Unfortunately the tracking via the GK-2 hexagonal pickup which could be fitted to electric or acoustic steel-strung guitars still had extreme problems for certain styles of playing.

If you played single string riffs as a lead guitarist then the set-up was usable, but attempting to play finger style arrangements was extremely difficult with loss of tracking, foreign notes, extraneous notes produced by finger lifting, chord & finger repositioning, etc.

Just recently (early 1998), I have heard a semi-acoustic using the very same GK-2 hexagonal pickup but controlled via a Roland ???? midi translator synthesiser. What a difference a few years seems to have made. The tracking appeared excellent and the sound clear and clean! Was it the equipment, or was the guitarist just so much better than myself? I would like to think it was the difference made by the equipment but perhaps you would like to tell me differently.

If you have seen, used, or have MIDI guitar equipment which allows you to finger-pick and still gives clean, clear sounds with great tracking please do e-mail me about it as I would like to know more, as I am sure would many other acoustic guitarists who don't want to change the style in which they play (at least not too much, anyway). You can contact me on: . Many thanks.

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