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djobson101

Midi / Piezo ?

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If one were to want MIDI capabilities hardwired into a guitar (basically I don't want to strap one of those clunky Roland units on to the front of a project guitar), what kind of equipment would I need? I've been looking at LR Baggs and Fishman Piezo bridges but I'm not sure if this is at all the same concept. What kind of gear would I need to buy and/or wire up in a guitar to have MIDI access without using an external system (not excluding of course, whatever processing unit and additional amp would be needed)?

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Yep Baggs and Fishman both make good units, as does Graphtech (their Ghost system with Hexaphonic preamp). All of them will require the same thing, a 13-pin output jack that you need to send to an external pitch-to-MIDI converter. Roland and Axon are two companies that make good ones. I came this-><-close to putting one on a guitar I built recently, but I didn't have the cash to buy the Roland or Axon converters.

One nice thing about the Axon is that the tracking is really good and you can actually program individual strings to have different sounds - or different parts of the guitar neck to have different sounds. A nice thing about Roland stuff is that you can use the VG99 which is like a Variax on steroids and has some cool Theramin-style hand-modulated effects. The tracking on some of the older Roland stuff is not nearly as good as their more recent models. They both have the usual array of synth sounds as well.

I believe they all have small circuit boards mounted inside the guitar with the ability to send your magnetic signal to Pin 7 of the 13-pin cable, so that you don't need to run two cables from your guitar. But you'd have to look into how the different companies wire it up on the guitar end, and where that Pin7 signal comes out on the other end. I know on the Roland VG99 there's just a simple 1/4" jack that you use to send the magnetic pickup signal to your normal guitar amp.

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Quick note on using the Graphtech TOM bridge (maybe other ones too).

The piezo saddles are a hard plastic, which sounds fine BUT is non conductive. Thus your saddles are not grounded, which if you're using s tuneomatic style (like I did) you find your strings ungrounded and invite serious buzz under certain conditions.

I ended up putting bits of copper mesh (soldering wick) in the gaps around the saddles so the strings hit it, and then grounding those directly. A kludge but functional and I haven't had any trouble so far (plus it blends visually with the gold bridge hardware).

till, the acoustic tone the graphtech puts out is pretty rad. Mine is the only one I've heard, but it sounds like playing an Ovation, though a bit less resonant/reverby. Pretty dang impressed and it's a nice feature to have if you don't want to switch guitars all the time mid-set, let alone mid song!

Dave

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Very true about the Graphtech saddles being non-conductive. I don't know if the Baggs or Fishman saddles have the same issue. On a TOM you can just ground the tailpiece, or if you're going string-thru the body you can use a single metal plate in back of the guitar to hold the ball-ends and ground to that.

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Very true about the Graphtech saddles being non-conductive. I don't know if the Baggs or Fishman saddles have the same issue. On a TOM you can just ground the tailpiece, or if you're going string-thru the body you can use a single metal plate in back of the guitar to hold the ball-ends and ground to that.

+1

the graphtech saddle being non-conductive is no real issue at all. when i have used them on string through guitars i have drilled between ferrules, then from the high e one to the cavity, which was a lot easier than i expected.

The VG99 system looks awesome as far as the outboard side of things goes.

I have only used the graphtech system for its peizo sounds but its a relatively simple system to install because its modular, the 13pin connector bing the added complication with midi, but not really a problem

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Very true about the Graphtech saddles being non-conductive. I don't know if the Baggs or Fishman saddles have the same issue. On a TOM you can just ground the tailpiece, or if you're going string-thru the body you can use a single metal plate in back of the guitar to hold the ball-ends and ground to that.

+1

the graphtech saddle being non-conductive is no real issue at all. when i have used them on string through guitars i have drilled between ferrules, then from the high e one to the cavity, which was a lot easier than i expected.

The VG99 system looks awesome as far as the outboard side of things goes.

I have only used the graphtech system for its peizo sounds but its a relatively simple system to install because its modular, the 13pin connector bing the added complication with midi, but not really a problem

It's no issue IF you anticipate the issue. I built my axe thru-body and discovered, ex-post facto, that my strings were not grounded. It's tough to fix that issue once you're "done", so I'm pleased with my hack. Next time, though, such issues will be anticipated and dealt with accordingly.

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Many thanks for the responses guys. This thread will be my new bible, as a lot of confusion and wondering has been cleared up :D

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rmc has been the best ones imho. i have them factory in my BM. sad i thought i was goign to have to replace the board a while back [had a broken wire i missed during inspection] it costs more than the guitar to replace what i paid for it. about 750usd for saddles and preamp

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i have used the graphtech and quite enjoyed it but since it is a grounding issue for me for electrics i prefer to use them like the carvin ns1 which i will be purchasing shortly.

i have used the baggs sytem but only for acoustic electric signals not midi

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