MIDI Guitar Pickup Guide
MIDI guitar pickups require minimal modification to your guitar most of the time, and often none at all.
Some MIDI pickups are simply installed or attached to the bridge saddle, while other pickup models replace the actual saddles with piezo equipped ones. Those that require no modifications will have their electronic components attached to the body of the guitar, while others might require you to drill holes to place the parts in. Once installed, you can simply connect it to a MIDI synthesizer, sequencer or computer to get the sounds you want.
Roland GK-3 Divided Pickup
This is a reasonably affordable and easy to install MIDI guitar pickup system from Roland. The Roland GK-3 can easily attach to any steel string electric guitar without any drilling or modification. It allows you to get individual signals from each of your guitar strings to GK compatible devices, letting you play chords and harmonies.
The GK-3 has a GK knob and a select switch for mixing or changing between synth and normal guitar tone. It might get in the way of your right hand but this is still highly recommended for those that need MIDI without having to modify their beloved axes. A cool trick you can do with the GK-3 is to switch patches via dynamics, just by adjusting how hard you hit the strings. Check out the latest price & reviews of the Roland GK-3 at Amazon.com
Video Demo of Roland GK-3 paired with Roland VG-99:
Manufacturer: Roland | Price: usually under $199
Graph Tech's Ghost Pickup System
The Graph Tech Ghost Pickup System is a bit complicated and requires you to get certain parts, but it is rewarding once installed. You first have to get the Ghost Saddle Pickup (around $109.99), choose the bridge assembly that matches your guitar's specifications. Then you need to get the Graph Tech Hexpander MIDI Interface Kit ($219) which is basically the electronics that will allow your guitar to connect to MIDI devices.
Note that it is recommended to have a professional do the installation for you, as it will require drills and modifications. Once all the painful process is done, your guitar will have full MIDI functionality with fast accurate tracking and low latency. With the Graph Tech Ghost Pickup System, your sonic palette will open up to a wide variety and combinations of synth sounds. Check out the latest price & reviews for Grapth Tech's Ghost Saddle Pickup and the Hexpander MIDI Interface Kit at Amazon.com along with their complete System for Nylon String Guitars.
Video Demo of Graph Tech's Ghost Pickup System:
Manufacturer: Graph Tech
Shadow SH 075 MIDI System
The Shadow SH 075 is one of the first few easy to install MIDI system for guitars, and up to now it is still popular with professional musicians. It is expensive compared to the other brands, but this is justified with its low latency operation and added features.
Aside from getting accurate notes, you get a bunch of practical MIDI features like polyphonic and monophonic mode, MIDI transpose and a MIDI keypad that allows program changes to be sent from the guitar without a foot controller. And the Shadow SH 075 does not require any modification, leaving your guitar undamaged.
Video Demo of Shadow SH 075:
Manufacturer: Shadow Electronics | Retail Price: $649.99
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