Playing guitar, bass, and vocals simultaneously

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by markdredmond, Jan 19, 2019.

  1. markdredmond


    Jan 19, 2019
    So I'm hoping to create a very interesting electric guitar (note-not bass guitar) that might be able to let me play live with all instruments except drums. I am in a two-piece with my girlfriend and hoping to get closer to what we are wanting to live.

    I want to make a guitar with 2 outputs. The first output will comprise of the highest 4 strings and be sent through regular channels to a guitar amp. The second output will comprise of the two lowest strings, and be sent through *something* that will turn it into a bass signal, and then be sent to a bass amp. Vocals will obviously be sent through a PA.

    You might think this sounds like a lot, but I have already transcribed several of my own songs into this format successfully while singing at the same time. My questions is, what should that *something* be that creates a bass sound out of the lowest two strings?

    I have a Whammy pedal that has a 2 octave -down option, but it does not have the right sound. What I WANT, is the sound from my Hammond Organ's bass floor pedals. If I could have that sound, it would be perfect for the jazzy sort of pieces I am working on.

    P.S. This is my first post, so I hope to not be rude. I hope to create a discussion and not only answer my own questions but other people's questions as well. Peace and love from Heaven's Yeah
  2. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Just spitballing. You could use an octave or 2-octave down pedal on the two low guitar strings with 100% wet signal. Or you could create a hybrid instrument with 4 guitar strings and two bass strings.
  3. markdredmond


    Jan 19, 2019
    Well I have a two octave down setting on my Whammy, and I've heard the POG and others, but I want a more authentic sound. I am wondering if using Midi might be the best choice? I do not know much about midi conversions though...
  4. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    How are you going to trigger midi? Maybe you should read about Futureman's (Roy Wooten) Drumitar which started out as a SynthAxe.
    Futureman's Drumitar: Guitar Drum Kit - CDM Create Digital Music

    There are standalone optical pickups that generate a midi output so you can drive synth modules. OPTICAL PICKUP MIDI GUITAR

    I believe Roland and Boss have made various complete guitar synth packages; some that use added optical pickups and some that just use the guitars stock pickups. I believe tracking is better with optical. I believe this is their current offerings.
    Roland - GR-55 | Guitar Synthesizer
    BOSS - Guitar Synthesizers

    Honestly, I think you are going down a crazy rabbit hole that you have not really exhibited an interested or skill for exploring. From what I have seen, there is no easy or eloquent solutions for what you desire. I have played with guitarists who used a guitar synth. While it was cool, it was also very limited, quirky, and gimmicky. Not saying you shouldn't do it...but you probably need to do a lot of reading and chase down a lot of dead ends.

    Before going through the effort of building a custom instrument, I would try to track down a guitar synth so you have a better understanding of how the tracking works and can experience the limits of the technology. The experience of playing a guitar synth tend to make you feel a bit disconnected from the instrument because tracking delay/latency, which is inherent with digital processing.

    I do think your overall concept is cool though. The actual technique is not all the unusual. I have worked with several jazz guitarists who worked out playing walking bass lines and chord comps simultaneously, but they just used the natural voice of the guitar. So your idea of dropping the pitch of the lower strings is a bit of a development of the idea.

    Good luck.
  5. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!"

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I'd suggest exploring a high quality MIDI conversion device that allows you to assign pitch and sound selection to each range of strings individually, like the Roland GR-55 + hex pickup. (Willcox Guitars makes some pretty slick guitars/basses with the hardware integrated.)

    With a combination of splitting signal paths (internal routing in the fx unit) and blending with the real guitar sounds, you could probably get a pretty nice thing going on without going crazy trying odd string setups (real ones), splitting paths, adding pitch shifters, etc.

    It is a different can of worms, though, using MIDI converters on guitar. Setup is critical, not necessarily cheap for the full hardware set, and there are other issues - all associated with digital effects and MIDI conversion.

    Just throwing it out there.
    Wasnex likes this.
  6. markdredmond


    Jan 19, 2019
    Well thank you kindly. I've been playing guitar for a long time and noticed that my playing style uses walking bass lines. My playing often interferes with the bassists I am playing with because the would have to play what I am playing to have the bass truly defined through both of our instruments.

    I am hoping to separate them. I want my guitar to be analog, which is why I always use tube amps. Bass on the other hand, I honestly like the sound of synthesized bass.

    I appreciate all the advice. I am going down the rabbit hole yes. I am hoping to learn much more than what I intend to.
  7. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
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  9. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!"

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
  10. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    A bit of unsolicited advice ;). The technique and technology you describe can work really well in a guitar duo. But, in general you really should not be using this sort of technique in conjunction with a bass player unless you are accurately doubling the bass line (for example tic-tac style). Even playing low notes across the bass line on the E and A string of the guitar should be considered taboo, because it clutters up the low end. Course I am sure you already know this.

    If I was a bassist in a band with you, I would not tolerate you playing freely on songs where I was also expected to play. We would either come to an agreement where I play bass, or one of us would leave the band. My position on this is the same with keyboard players who think they need to bang around too much with their left my problem is not with you specifically.

    Similarly, I don't think you would appreciate if I used my 6-string bass to play power chords up in the guitar range...this is known as the nuclear option. IMHO diplomacy is far better solution than mutually assured destruction.

    Here's an example where the bass and guitar tastefully cover the same line.

    I have pretty much exhausted my knowledge on the specific technology you are interested in, so I will go away now. Good luck.
  11. markdredmond


    Jan 19, 2019
    I appreciate ya'lls advice and references a lot. I am hoping to explore all of these routes and come to a sort of conclusion as to whether it is really worth it making a two-piece, or help get a bass player and make it a three-piece. Even if I do make a three-piece, I will hopefully get to use some of these examples to show what the bass can sound like and how we can play together.

    Thank you all kindly
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  12. chicoLow


    Aug 3, 2018
    Get some organ pedals, sit down, and play them with your feet. That's the sound you're after anyway.

    Nord Pedal Keys 27
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  13. TNCreature

    TNCreature Jinkies! Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2010
    Philadelphia Burbs
    Is a bass pedal synth (foot controller) an option, like the Moog Taurus?
    craigie likes this.
  14. thetragichero


    Jan 4, 2019
    so a couple months back I saw a two piece metal/powerviolence band where the guitarist had some sort of sub octave pedal feeding a bass amp

    I've got an attempt at something similar on one of my breadboards, but the idea is buffer split into 1. low pass filter to suboctave to wet out 2. dry out. (well, mine has a high pass filter into a muff circuit, but that's because I don't need it to be clean)
  15. mmon77

    mmon77 Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Southern MN
    You could try doing that with a Line 6 Helix and one of their Variax guitars. In Variax mode, you can electronically "tune" the strings to whatever pitch you want, or even shut them off. I believe it would also allow you to split them into separate audio paths so you could handle the guitar/bass differently.

    I'd want to try it out to make sure it works the way you like it before buying though. It would cost upwards of 2k for the setup.

    This guy and his band are probably the best example of what can be done with them. It's not the type of music you're playing I'm sure, but it should give you an idea on what you can/can't do with the technology. He's playing a Shuriken Variax baritone scale guitar, but you can do the same with any of the JTV or Variax standard models.

    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
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  16. elgranluis


    Feb 14, 2003
    Vail, CO
    I think that what you are looking for is called a “guitar”.

    Seriously, if you’ve ever heard a classical guitarist , you’ll hear that they are playing a bass line on the bass strings and a melody on the treble strings.

    And yes , your idea about different pickups and outputs should work.
  17. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    If you pursue this seriously and are open to exploring using guitar to play MIDI voices, have a look at Jam Origin's Guitar to MIDI (available as an app or full application). Fast, polyphonic, and interfaces well with a range of soft synths and DAWs.
  18. mpm32


    Jan 23, 2009
    It's been done before. Check out Local H. He does exactly what you describe. I added half a p-bass pickup to my telecaster. It has a separate output. I run that through an octaver and a bass rig. The guitar output goes to the guitar amp. Works great.
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  19. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015

    That’s a ton of fancy finger work. Since you have an organ with pedals may be easier to get the pedals going along with your guitar. I’m sure the hunter approach would be rewarding though.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
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  20. markdredmond


    Jan 19, 2019
    Charlie Hunter is actually the one who is influencing this decision of mine! I have all of his cd's. I guess that would have been useful information.
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