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Old 02-02-2010, 04:44 PM
Sherry C's Avatar
Sherry C Sherry C is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Bad Axe, MI, USA (The Tip of the Thumb of Michigan)
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Default Using a guitar to input MIDI

Howdy friends,

I just had an inquiry at our helpdesk about using a guitar to record into Composer. I'm pasting in my reply to him below, based on my own experience and the little research that I've done.

Knowing that we have various instrumentalists in our community here, I'm wondering if anyone has further insight or knowledge to add to the response. Please let me know if you do.

You can use a guitar as a MIDI input a few different ways. And if you can get it to a MIDI input (or .mid file), you can record (or open it) into Composer with it.

1. Least expensive, "encourages" you to have clean technique, but limited to single-note (eg. melody line, or bass line) input is the Sonuus G2M ( I have one of these, and it is useful for getting in single-note lines. The caveat is that it makes heavy use of the "pitch bend" controller, and so I find that I often have to "clear" those from my recorded .mid file. Composer makes that easy, so it's not really a problem, especially since this unit typically costs $100, only about 1/3 to 1/6 of what other solutions cost

2. Axon and Roland both make much nicer (and more expensive) pickup units, that have individual string pickups (for six string guitars). You would need the pickup and the "converter box" for these units. A pickup and converter box goes from $400 -$800, depending on which pickup and converter box you choose.

3. A dedicated MIDI pickup guitar. Godin and a couple other manufacturers make some dedicated-MIDI pickup guitars. These can sometimes be picked up used on eBay or other places, but the new ones are rather expensive.

4. You can use Melodyne Editor ( to take an audio recording of your guitar playing and convert it to .mid which you can then open in Composer. We (Notation Software) are currently working on a new feature in Composer that lets you take such .mid files, adjust the barlines to make sure they are timed correctly, and get sheet music from them. The standalone Melodyne Editor is $349 usd. Melodyne is the best audio-to-MIDI software that we have found, and there are quite a few others that have purported to make this conversion over the years (sorry we can't really recommend any other ones). It's a tough problem, and even Melodyne doesn't do it 100% accurately. However, theirs is the most promising we've seen, and Composer makes it pretty easy to "fix" the file that you get from it.

Does anyone else have further experience with using a guitar ----> MIDI setup?

Music is to the soul like water is to green growing things.
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