Polyphonic Guitar Rig sign now

Many years ago, Roland created the 13-pin "GK" standard for guitar synthesizers. This interface has evolved to be used for 3 different applications, MIDI (GR-33, Axon 100), guitar modeling (VG-8, VG-888) and polyphonic recording (RMC fanout box).

The barrier to entry for 13-pin systems is lower than ever. Godin, Brian Moore, and Switchmusic all provide affordable guitars with GK interfaces. Graphtech also provides an easy to install piezo solution for existing guitars. Roland has also refreshed its GK pickup line for easier installation on tuneomatic guitars. This, in combination of the long history of the 13-pin standard, means that there is now a very large number of GK-capable instruments in circulation.

Unfortunately, there is no clear evolutionary path forward for guitar modeling and pitch-to-midi. Roland's GR/GI hardware is all based on 1990s technology. Roland has continued to pursue amp/effects modeling with the new GT-8 but has allowed the VG-88 to languish.

Line6 has decided to pursue guitar modeling only as an internal option on its own propreitary guitars. These guitars only output a mono signal so the internal polyphonic pickup can not be used in conjunction with other polyphonic devices.

Meanwhile, we've seen a growing trend for software plugins to replace dedicated hardware.

Native Instruments Guitar Rig provides amp simulation and effects to guitarists, in addition to a hardware foot-controller and audio interface.

We petition Native Instruments to develop a polyphonic plugin which would allow you to hook up a GK cable. The plugin would allow you to run a separate effects chain for each string. Each effects chain would contain the usual amp, speaker, and effects stages in addition to guitar modeling and pitch-to-midi. If CPU allows, or through the help of the DAW's freeze function, you should also be able to apply multiple effects chains. So a single track could output, for instance, a heavy electric sound in addition to an acoustic 12-string sound.

We also suggest that NI offer the guitar models in packs and develop a community portal for sharing new guitar modeling presets.

We also suggest that the plugins not specifically require a proprietary interface but merely act upon 6 incoming audio channels. That way users with multitrack audio cards can use the software out of the box. NI should also offer an inexpensive "Guitar Port" like device which simply acts as a 13-pin-to-USB2 bridge. Guitarists may opt to use that rather than investing in the full foot-controller, or they could use that with a pre-existing Guitar Rig foot controller that lacks the polyphonic input, or a different 3rd party one.

We believe there is considerable market potential for such an expansion to Guitar Rig as it provides enormous flexibility to the guitarist. By recording the raw polyphonic signal, all processing can be adjusted without having to record another take. The artist can completely transform his songs by merely changing the guitar model from one spectrum to another, like going from a metal tone to a banjo or a sitar. And in a live setting, he can individually adjust the sound of each string both within the audio and MIDI domain in such a way that fools the listener into thinking that several guitars are being played from one single performance for a true one-man-band capability.

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Sheila BryanBy:
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Native Instruments

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