I started out playing music with a guitar, and as I ventured further into electronic music production, I always wished for the ability to play synth parts and samples using a guitar instead of a keyboard.
I remember first hearing about the Roland V-G8. It looked pretty cool and I read that it sounded good & worked well, but it was a bit on the pricey side, something like $2000 from what I can remember. I was already using a digital multi-effects unit, and having another pedal board to deal with felt like a bit much. You also had to mount a pickup & controller unit on the guitar, and I was never really sure if this would work well on a lefty. Nowadays, there’s the GR-55 which looks nice, but it’s still a bit pricey at $699. Another option at the time was the AXON AX100 MIDI Guitar Converter, which had many similarities to the Roland gear as I described above, but no sound module.
My current setup consists of Native Instruments Guitar Rig & Rig Kontrol for most of my guitar effects processing both live & in the studio. Most everything is done, “in-the-box” so I really just wanted the ability to trigger my existing plugins within Ableton Live.
I was excited about Ableton Live 9′s new audio-to-MIDI conversion and my decision to upgrade was based mainly on this feature. It works well, but it doesn’t process in real-time (you have to convert audio after recording, and longer parts can take a little while to complete). Definitely good stuff, but staring at that damn loading bar has a tendency to stifle the creative flow.
After a bit of Googling, I found what looked like a good solution in the Sonuus G2M Universal Guitar To MIDI Converter, but as it turns out, the unit is monophonic, which means it won’t translate chords to MIDI. Bummer.
Then I came across the MIDI Guitar App from JamOrigin (an independent software and research company based in Aarhus, Denmark). It runs as a standalone app on Mac & Windows, as well as a VST plugin in Ableton Live. After downloading it and playing around for a few minutes, I was hooked. This thing is amazing and works really well! I wound up laying down an almost complete track in under an hour, which rarely happens when I use a keyboard to come up with parts.
It’s currently in beta, and interruptions are added when using it in trial mode. I decided to purchase a license to support the developer. If you’re into stuff like this, definitely give it a shot!