midi guitar pickups

any experience

hey fellas
i was thinking just now of buying me one of theese pickups you can latch onto your guitar that will interperet the notes and convert them to midi and then send em on as a midi message. has anyone used em?? any comments. i was looking on the roland site and their model (gk something) is for use with gk compatable gear. what is gk. i know what generla midi is GM but gk??
anyway any comments would be welcome!!

I don’t know anything about those, but they sound pretty cool. Interested to hear more.

I have a roland GR-1.
I is a pretty old thing now, and I think maybe the newer roland guitar synths may track better but it works OK.

I have a GK2A pickup attached to a peavey strat copy.

I find it works better if you use the screws and springs to mount the pickup as you can adjust it to get it as close to the strings as possible.

Also new strings make a big difference in the tracking of the thing.

Also you need to play really cleanly or every noise you make will be interpreted and tranlsated to a midi note.

When recording I usually have to go through and manually edit out any extraneous notes and adjust the velocity of others as they may not have been pickup loud enough.

But I can play alot more in time and with a lot more feel using the midi guitar than a keyboard so is good for me to do melody lines etc.

There are a few different midi systems out there.
The roland is the most popular but ther are better ones that are more expensive.
Also instead of the GK2 pickup you can get something like a Brian Moore or Godin guitar with a midi pickup and 13 pin plug built into it.
Apparentlyu they track better than the GK2 pickups and are compatible with the GR synths


James, there was a thread about this in the last few months. Search it out and you may find something of interest.


I dont know what the GK stands for but it doesnt have anything to do with the various MIDI formats. This will work for your pc but you can also get an outboard MIDI module, or keyboard to plug into for live performances.
You can learn more about GM or MIDI in general (ha ha) by just googling it.

Can’t remember what I posted here and what i said on homerec…brain tired.

GK-xx is just Rolands series of hex pickups for use with their (and others) guitar synths/guitar to MIDI converters. Other people sell their own lines of hex pickups, which may be magnetic or piezo based.

The hex pickups hook up to a 13-pin cable that was a Roland designed standard that almost everyone else has adopted for guitar to synth connections. Using the 13 pin connection directly to a synth made for guitar usage gives far better tracking and programming flexability than trying to convert to MIDI and then send data to a MIDI synth.

The 13 pin interface allows the synth to recieve and process seperate signals from all of the strings simultaneously This lets you do things like program the synth to ignore certain strings, pitch shift individual strings or groups of strings, only convert certain strings to MIDI - you get the idea.

The Roland synths have MIDI out in addition to their own internal synth sounds. It is usable for some stuff but there are tracking/conversion issues. Some are pickup related and some are synth/converter related.

I have played the Brian Moore guitars. They were making two types. One with a 13 pin output and another that went directly to MIDI inside the guitar. The ones I tried had 13 pin output and did track somewhat better than my guitar (modified Squier Strat/Gk2A) or a Fender Roland-Ready Strat. I think it is because the Moore guitars use a piezo based pickup system to generate the hex pickup signals. I did this testing with a Roland GR-30 which is the synth that I own.

The Axon is usually acknowledged to be the best guitar to MIDI converter but it is more expensive than anything Roland or Yamaha has made to date.

I saw John McLaughlin do a show some years back where he played through an Axon connected to a nylon stringed guitar with a piezo setup. It was quite coll but look who was playing…

I willpost a pic of my Strat later.


well fellas
thanks for the info!
i been trawling (and i mean trawling) through a few websites to get some more info, its seems very limited on this subject. but your contributions are much appreciated,
as far as previous threads: i did do a quick search of the forum before i posted, i think i put in " midi guitar" but it returned threads to do with midi and guitar but not midi guitar. soryy bout that, btw is there any special syntax or punctuation i should be aware of when doing a search on the forum?? i 've done a few searchs previously but i dont think i manged to hone in on the subject matter very effieciently! :p

Do a search for “midi and guitar” but don’t put the quotes in the search field.

Also There was a discussion on audio minds a while back too on the same subject

Make sure you set the “Search From” field to "today and older"


Probably easier to make your querries here…

With one of the midi pickups, Roland, Yamaha, Axon (which is a version of Rolands) you can record all the midi data you want or need. With just this item you can patch it to your PC and plug away. You won’t need any other hardware or software.

The Axon is as TrakGrrrl stated, the cream of the crop. If you’d like to hear what it can do, or a facimile, get John McLaughlin’s, Que Alegria, or Live at Royal Festial Hall (live).
McLaughlin is the master at this…

There is no doubt in my mind that a properly set up piezo system is superior to the magnetic hex pickups. The main reason I didn’t go with the Brian Moore import guitar with the piezo based integral 13 pin system was that at that time the street prices started at about $850 (the model I wanted was probably a hundred or two more).

Instead I installed the GK-2A on my MIJ Squier Strat.

The pickup is secured with thumbscrews that go into two small (pickguard screw sized) internally threaded wood screws from an old G-Vox. I cut a bit of the pickguard away to make everything fit. The control unit is secured with velcro. The whole thing comes off in seconds and the two screw holes could easily be covered up with a replacement pickguard.

The saddles are Graph-Tec, installed during a period when I was pretending to be Dick Dale and breaking a lot of strings. I am using a more gentle attack these days and a lighter nylon pick. I was getting sick of the smell of melting celluloid…


Quote (syn707 @ July 02 2005,23:41)

With one of the midi pickups, Roland, Yamaha, Axon (which is a version of Rolands) you can record all the midi data you want or need. With just this item you can patch it to your PC and plug away. You won’t need any other hardware or software.

Just to clarify this… in addition to the pickup you will need a unit to plug the pickup into and then run a midi cable from the synth unit to a midi port in your PC.

The pickup have a 13 pin connector which is not the same as the standard midi connector.
This 13 pin connector will plug into a guitar synth (eg. Roland GR series) and the then you can either record the audio or midi output of the guitt synth like any other synth on your PC.


Yikes!!! Thanks for adding this important piece of info Rich, I forgot about the interface from the pickup to a PC. I am still in ancient mode with my GR700 synth, which is all inclusive and has a midi out.

I bought a GR-20 and installed the GK-3 pickup that came with it on a Fernandes Strat. I use the sounds in the GR-20 to play live, and I use the midi ins and outs to control softsynths in FL Studio. It all works great. One advantage of using the Roland pickup is that you can change patches from the guitar. I am not sure you can do that with any of the piezo units. I don’t have much problem with tracking, but you do have to play clean.