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Ghost Vs Powerbridge...


PSY
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Hi,

I'm thinking about fitting a piezo tune-o-matic bridge to my BC Rich NJ Classic. The 2 bridges that seem to be mentioned most are the GraphTech Ghost & the Fishman Powerbridge. Which one is the best? Or is there any others out there that beat these two?

Cheers,

Psy

:D

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I have experience only with the Ghost; I really like it. The instructions are very clear, easy to put everything together. And if you ever decide you want to go MIDI, they sell a piggy-back circuit board that plugs directly into the Acoustiphonic PCB without rewiring (except the additional 13-pin output jack).

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I have experience only with the Ghost; I really like it. The instructions are very clear, easy to put everything together. And if you ever decide you want to go MIDI, they sell a piggy-back circuit board that plugs directly into the Acoustiphonic PCB without rewiring (except the additional 13-pin output jack).

Thanks, from what I've been hearing from other places it's starting to sound like the ghost system is the best one out there. Right then... I'm off to find some UK prices :D

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  • 8 months later...

I have been giving the whole MIDI thing a bit of thought lately and one thing doesn't make sense to me.

I'm greatly disappointed with the tracking I'm getting from a GK-2 and GI-20 rig. For the most part it plays alright but if I pick the same note on the same string twice even fairly slowly it's ****-house. Forget trying to actually solo with it.

I've read that rigs by Graphtech and RMC are far better and I haven't really questioned it much but now that it comes down to putting dollars on the line it has me thinking more. Unless I'm mistaken, the actual MIDI conversion takes place externally (GI-20, AX-100 etc). The only way I can figure that the pickup will make a difference is by providing a clearer signal (i.e. more range and picks up the initial attack more) but that still doesn't make much sense to me. Isn't half the point of modern piezo pickups that they provide a smooth response and eliminate 'quack', thus also eliminating the advantage it might offer when trying to track distinct notes? On the other hand if the pickup is not actually any clearer than a magnetic hexaphonic pickup like the GK-2 then the only way I can figure it possibly being better for MIDI tracking is if it's louder. Again, I can't quite see how that would actually help as if it's sensitive enough to pick up things like tapped notes already it should only raise the overall volume and increase the odds of chained notes not falling below the threshold at which it detects a note 'ending'?

Sorry if I'm rambling or my thoughts don't seem to run in a coherent line. In short my basic question is: WHY are, for example, Ghost and RMC pickup systems able to offer better MIDI tracking if even at all? I don't want to throw money away on something which ends up disappointing and unused like my Roland pickup.

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Yes you're correct, the actual MIDI output is generated by the controller; the Ghost system is itself not a controller, it just supplies the analog signal to the controller.

I have not yet tried the Ghost system with MIDI, but I'll give you a semi-informed opinion based on similar experiences to yours when trying out those Roland-ready Strats at various music stores.

The Ghost saddles are piezos, which will have a quicker response than any magnetic pickup. The problem you're having with playing two notes one-after-the-other is that the MIDI controller is not able to tell when the first note is OFF and when the second note is ON; it needs a more clear note definition. This should be much better with the Ghost system, but still may not be perfect. You may still have to tweek your playing style to get perfect tracking...that said, there is just some stuff that you just can't track via MIDI with a guitar. I think there are also settings that can be used in whatever controller you're using (Roland, Axon, whatever) that you can play with.

It could also be the sound patch that you've chosen; if you're trying to play staccato and you have a legato patch without much attack...well, there you are.

. Isn't half the point of modern piezo pickups that they provide a smooth response and eliminate 'quack', thus also eliminating the advantage it might offer when trying to track distinct notes?

Not really....some of that "quack" is attenuated by the preamp that is intended for "acoustic" tone; at least on the Ghost system, the Hexpander MIDI board bypasses the tone-shaping part of the piezo circuitry.

I think the short answer to your main question is that piezo pickups have a faster response than magnetic pickups when it comes to a digitized/quantized signal.

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The downside of the GI-20 is that your GK signal is converted to MIDI, which in turn drives a MIDI synth. The advantage of a dedicated guitar synth like the GR-20 is that the GK signal is processed directly by ithe GR-20 without going through a MIDI conversion. 1 conversion to MIDI and 1 conversion from MIDI means 2 additional conversions that you avoid using a dedicated synth. That results in faster, better tracking overall no matter what pickup system you use.

Edited by Saber
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The downside of the GI-20 is that your GK signal is converted to MIDI, which in turn drives a MIDI synth. The advantage of a dedicated guitar synth like the GR-20 is that the GK signal is processed directly by ithe GR-20 without going through a MIDI conversion. 1 conversion to MIDI and 1 conversion from MIDI means 2 additional conversions that you avoid using a dedicated synth. That results in faster, better tracking overall no matter what pickup system you use.

Sorry, my mistake... I meant the GR-20 is what I'm using.

Even with that, I dare say you'd still have the same analog -> MIDI -> analog conversion happening, it just happens internally instead of spread over the signal chain.

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The downside of the GI-20 is that your GK signal is converted to MIDI, which in turn drives a MIDI synth. The advantage of a dedicated guitar synth like the GR-20 is that the GK signal is processed directly by ithe GR-20 without going through a MIDI conversion. 1 conversion to MIDI and 1 conversion from MIDI means 2 additional conversions that you avoid using a dedicated synth. That results in faster, better tracking overall no matter what pickup system you use.

Sorry, my mistake... I meant the GR-20 is what I'm using.

Even with that, I dare say you'd still have the same analog -> MIDI -> analog conversion happening, it just happens internally instead of spread over the signal chain.

I've tried a GI-20 connected to a synth module and the tracking was much slower than my GR-09. And the GR-09 is an old model. The MIDI protocol is a modified RS232 so its speed is limited. While the GR-20 may have internal analog<->digital conversion, it's not the same as MIDI. Here's a quote from the GR-09 manual. "The response time (and other factors) can seem somewhat altered, and you may feel there is a slight disadvantage to using MIDI to play an external unit, as opposed to the GR-09's internal sound generator. This is caused by restrictions in MIDI specifications, not the GR-09 or your external unit."

In the early days of guitar synths, I remember Craig Anderton writing that a less lively sounding guitar possibly with old strings tracks better because the fundamental tone is stronger since less upper harmonics have to be filtered out. I have also noticed that my mahogany-bodied Ibanez 540SLTD with a GK-2A pickup tracks a bit better than my basswood-bodied RG1520 with its piezo-equipped trem. So I would think that a lively guitar like a Strat might not be the ideal candidate for a guitar synth, and a more mid-heavy guitar would be better, even though Roland may have improved their techniques for filtering out the harmonics in recent years.

Edited by Saber
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