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Guide to Guitar Synthesizers

Guitar Synthesizer : What is it?

Guitar Synthesizers

Guitar synthesizers are devices used by guitarists for experimenting with different sounds. They produce a variety of sounds that cannot be normally made by guitars such as percussion and woodwind instrument sounds. They can be built in the guitars or come as independent systems. They are available in guitar-based and MIDI types. 

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Types of Guitar Synthesizers

Guitar SynthesizersGuitar Synthesizers

Kinds of Guitar Synthesizers include the following:

Guitar-based guitar synthesizers

Guitar-based guitar synthesizers are the first guitar synthesizer systems.

They are composed of an electric or an acoustic guitar, a divided or hexaphonic pickup, a synthesizer, and a converter.

The hexaphonic pickup offers six unique outputs where each one is dedicated to a specific guitar string. In some systems, it comes as a separate unit mounted on the guitar instead of being built as part of the instrument. Guitars with built-in hexaphonic pickups are called Roland-ready guitars.

The converter classifies the pitch of each string and sends the information to a synthesizer that produces the desired sound. It can be an independent system or built within the synthesizers. When using an independent converter, MIDI cables are used to power the synthesizers. The converter is connected to the hexaphonic pickup through a cable, allowing the musician maximum movement while playing and performing.

Guitar-based guitar synthesizers offer maximum blending of synthesizer and guitar timbres regardless of ratio. This blending allows the musician to play the synthesizer or the guitar alone.
They often need regular pickup and converter adjustments to achieve effective note tracking.
They can be used with any compatible electric or acoustic guitar.

Guitar-like MIDI guitar synthesizers

Guitar-like MIDI guitar synthesizers were developed to eliminate latency and tracking issues manifested by older guitar-based synthesizer systems.

Earlier systems consisted of an obtuse angle-linked fretboard connected to the guitar’s body.
The strings of the fretboard were used as string bending and pitch indicators, while another set of stunted strings were used for strumming and picking. The shorter strings acted as note and key triggers.

Other systems were composed of MIDI controllers that were cheaper than earlier obtuse-angle fretboard types. They had assignable whammy bars and knobs, and six same-gauge strings that detected both left- and right-hand inputs.

Current guitar-like MIDI guitar synthesizers consist of fretboards made up of keys that allow musicians to stimulate notes simultaneously.
They offer improved tracking with undetectable latency.
MIDI functions are controlled using any of the built-in assignable controllers and whammy bars.

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Choosing Guitar Synthesizers (Buying tips)

Latency: Choose a guitar-like MIDI guitar synthesizer over a guitar-based one because it has undetectable latency. Despite the flexibility of a guitar-based synthesizer system, it tends to have noticeable latency when used in low pitches. The note you play on your guitar may not sound exactly the same when translated to the synthesizer.

Expression pedal: When choosing a guitar-based guitar synthesizer, look for one with an expression pedal that allows you to activate synthesizer performance parameters in your guitar.

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