Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Nuk3m, Mar 12, 2006.

  1. Nuk3m


    Sep 18, 2004
    Down Under
    So, what are they like?

    Can anyone point me in the direction of a good company?

    How well do they track?

    How good are the external pickups as an alternative?

    How about the saddle bridge pick ups?

    Ive heard you can only play above the 12th fret because it doesnt work with notes below that on a bass. This true?

    Thanks guys;)
  2. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Supporting Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder: Wing Bass
    Any bass can become a midi bass with the mounting of a pickup like the Roland GK2B (http://www.zzounds.com/item--ROLGK2B). Of course you'll need the synth also. The only company I can think of that would offer MIDI as a standard option is "M" basses, however a lot custom builders will install the pickup for you on a new build.

    I researched this a little while ago. As far as tracking, the lower strings (B/E) won't track exactly right, that is why most applications have been on the higher registers of 7-8-9-11 string basses. You might get away with using the syth on A thru G strings.
  3. MrWalker

    MrWalker Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2002
    Conklin also offers MIDI as an option on their basses, but these are of course custom built... :)

    But the Roland MIDI pickup can be mounted on any bass, so it should be a safe way of getting into MIDI on any bass :)
  4. Classical_Thump


    Jan 26, 2005
    I've got a Roland GK-2B on my Carvin LB70, it plays and tracks pretty nicely. I would have to suggest Brian Moore guitars however, they come with MIDI pickups in the piezo saddles, and the 13 pin input already on the bass. Plug in and play, its pretty easy.
  5. Nuk3m


    Sep 18, 2004
    Down Under
    I heard a piezo can be used for midi? or did i hear wrong?

    If so what are some of the better piezos out there?
  6. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    Yes, there are piezo solutions with a 13-pin output which could drive a compatible synth interface thingy, like the Roland or Axon models.

    I've been told that RMC makes the best, but also most expensive, piezo pickups. But there is also Shadow (perhaps not piezos that do MIDI - I haven't looked into it) and there is Graph Teck.

    My bass has the internal Roland GK pickup. It works very well.
  7. Actually the gk2b has been replaced by the gk3b, which is supposed to be better - no idea if it actually is.

  8. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Just a little clarification--the Roland pickup and the RMCs, Graphtec's and other piezos aren't exactly "MIDI pickups". That is, they don't generate MIDI signals on their own. Rather, they can provide the 13-pin output that can be used by external MIDI converters to generate a MIDI signal, which can then be used to drive a MIDI synth or other sound source.

    For that matter, I don't know of any real "MIDI basses", just some basses that come with one of the above 13-pin output systems built in...

  9. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    Quite correct...I wish more people understood this. You will need something like (I say this because there may be others) the Roland GI-20 to convert the signal from the pup into a MIDI signal.

    As for tracking; there are no tracking issues with the GK pups (witout converting it to MIDI). Try it with a V-bass...you won't need MIDI at all....really...
  10. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Yep, the "tracking" doesn't happen in the pickups themselves, but in the MIDI conversion process....

    It depends on what sounds you're looking for, I suppose, but I second the V-Bass suggestion. It's not MIDI, but for most things I think it probably works better, without any tracking problems at all.

  11. To add to the above clarifications and confuse everyone (sorry for the g****r references - but that is where my string to synth experience lies).

    First let me say that IMO all this stuff has significant drawbacks. If it worked perfectly, many more high level pros would be using it live. The only string-to-MIDI equipment I have ever seen used by a big name pro was an Axon triggered by a custom piezo equipped g****r.

    From my experience using the Roland gr30 g****r synth with a gk2a, the synths actual audio output tracks better than the conversion to MIDI. There is additional processing required to go to MIDI including an algorythm to map the data into the MIDI language and things seem to degrade a bit going through this conversion. BUT I have to say that even with some tweaking, the tracking of the Roland synth was nowhere near perfect with the gk2a.

    I went to a shop and tried a Brian Moore piezo equipped/13 pin g****r with the same Roland unit and. With only minimal tweaking, that combo tracked noticeably better than the strat+gk2a combo.

    I have used the strat+gk2a combo set up and used the synths transposition features to play "bass".

    I will also note - that generation of Roland synths had much more trouble tracking the lowesr g****r notes and Roland, when asked at that time, told us that the technology was not well suited to bass. They never stated all the reasons but did mention the latency involved doing frequency detection at lower frequencies. I guess Roland has put in a few updates since then.

    I have seen John Mclaughlin perform using an Axon to do his MIDI g****r conversion, seemed to work well enough for him not to be cussing the equipment and he was playing blazing fast at some junctures.

    My advice with these things is to try before you buy or make sure you can return it. It works much better for some playing styles and techniques than for others. One shop owner was nice enough to let me have a ton of time with the gear on a slow afternoon before I purchased it from him.


  12. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area

    I don't really need anything else since I've gotten the V-Bass, but once in awhile it'd be nice to play a 100% accurate piano or horn tone.

    Even the old Peavey Midibass and the equivalent Wal are not true Midi basses. The output from the fret "switches" is sent to a rack unit that converts the signal to midi and then you can hook that up to any synth/sample module you want. I have the Peavey, and playing piano etc. is cool but I never use it and am afraid to gig w/ an antique. I'll probably sell it . . .
  13. If you're looking for a serious midi bass controller be sure to check out Starr Labs' website.


    Their stuff is much more functional than a midi pickup would be.