Why use more than one Channel?


You keyboardists are super smart. I’m but a step above a strumming guitarist, hoping some day there will be a MIDI guitar worth buying, none so far.

Here’s a demo of Fender’s attempt at a MIDI guitar. It’s hot and cold. At 7:00 he states “it’s a keyboard with a neck” and that is exactly what it is, but it gets the player out from behind the keyboard. At 3:45 he states that he has to set the synth to OMNI mode because each string uses a different channel. What does that mean? Any ideas why Fender chose that method? BTW, they don’t seem to be making that guitar anymore, 'not sure.


So you can use different voicing per string would be my guess.
Like how an E on the 12th fret of the low E sounds different that an E on the 2nd fret of the D string, even though they’re the same note.


Thanks, Robb_Fesig. That sounds reasonable, kind of. In my setup though, I’ve got one key dedicated to play an entire song without the lead part. But that is a separate key. I only use one channel for all keys. So yours could be the reason the same MIDI code would have the option of playing a different sounding “same” note.


I was just watching “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” by Status Quo on Youtube. Without separate channels, a MIDI guitar would not be able to play that song. So good point, Robb_Fesig!



I am a keyboardist/guitarist in all my bands. I have some VSTs that convert guitar audio signal into midi so other VSTs, such as piano, synth, etc. can be used. Chords, at best, are iffy. Single notes are…ok. Without debating why spending money on a midi guitar is a need, or learning how to use a keyboard is an option, it would be advantageous to know what you are trying to achieve.
Some of the amp sims available have pedal emulations of synths, and there are other companies that offer vst pedals that do many other sounds.
If I need a pad behind my guitar, it is simple to do with a well dialed delay. ala David Gilmour.
Before you throw money away on a midi guitar. you might want to see what is available to meet your needs in form of a vst. Just sayin…



Example: https://migic.com/


I guess the guitar works in midi mode 4 (omni off / mono). This way it transmits 6 monophonic midi messages. This absolutely makes sense if you have a sound module available that supports this (SC six trak or EMU emax could oprate this way if I remember correctly).

As mentioned there is the possibility to map different sounds to each string. But even if you use the same sound it makes sense as a guitar really behaves like 6 monophonic strings.

The reason he used omni on in the video might be ease of use or missing possibilities to program a sound module with 6 identical slots and only one voice each.

Regards, humphrey


A few years ago I started on this quest to have a guitar sound like any sampled instrument. This hobby is now bordering on an obsession. Because of this journey, I discovered Cantabile. The trial software that I tried, like Migic, and MidiGuitar2, appeared to be based on a faulty architecture. In many cases releasing a string was interpreted as a hammer off and generated a sound.

So I’m still looking at what is out there. In doing that lately I found this Channel usage. No one else seems to have attempted this.

I feel this is like the electric car, it’s coming, there are even some versions of it now, but we’re not “there” yet.


Totally agree. Kinda like Hammonds. It has taken years to get close. I have been on that obsessive quest for over 10 yrs now. The thing you have to realize is that it is necessary to have some knowledge of how the instrument you are attempting to emulate is actually played. I have seen many keyboard players attempt to play brass parts, but they approach them as a keyboardist, not a trumpet player, thus complete failure. The same thing applies to a guitar attempting a piano part. Voicings, among other drawbacks, are different. Your video example proves that as that guy is trying to strum a synth. Playing a guitar on keyboard is the same way. You still have to have knowledge of how a guitar is played to keep it from coming out as crap. Of course there are programs with strums,etc, which, IMHO, you might as well just play a backing track. Good luck on your search.




That – playing a sound like it should be played – is an excellent point, Corky, and a jumpable(?) hurdle I see down the road. At this time, I’m intrigued by MIDI technology. Here’s my question.

Let’s say that a Start command for channel 1 (0x90) for key C3 (0x3C) at maximum velocity (0x7F) is sent to Cantabile. AND, without issuing a Stop command for that channel (0x80) and key, the same Start command is sent again. Does the latter stop the former? OR, do both play – probably out of phase? By using channel 2 (0x91), would the second command ensure both instances of the same note ringing? .


Hmmmmm. Sounds like an experiment that will keep me up late tonight, lol.

Not like I have anything else I have to do…like yesterday.:smile:


I have been trying to build my own MIDI guitar, and I’ve been running into the same problems every one available has today. Here are some pics of several versions I have tried in the last 2 years.
BTW, all MIDI stuff is years old. Nothing patent-able here. Plus, this guitar would be so labor-intensive to make that I doubt any manufacturer would take it on. I heard Fender stopped making theirs. But if mine ever works, Cantabile would be the perfect host, it has been so far.


Ahhh. I see the obsession. :smile: You have really gone deep into this. Pretty cool.

MIDI has been with us a long time. I know there have been other attempts at other forms, but I guess it is mostly perfect, which is why it remains dominant.


Agreed, MIDI is super. It’s the human interface that I have as a challenge. I am not a keyboardist. I really admire people who are, and then singing while doing treble and bass! I struggle reading treble offline just to know what the composer intended, but I can do it. So I’m a guitarist, now can a guitar accommodate me? So far “no”, so I am building one to my standards.


I have an interesting pre-midi device that I’ve not seen anywhere else. It should be a museum piece, and if I can dig it out, I will send some pics. It makes a saxophone sound like other instruments. A cable is attached to the mouthpiece, which runs into a box. There are instrument tabs on the box. So, I can play an alto sax, switch the tuba tab, and it sounds just like I am playing a tuba. I figured out how to connect my guitar, and it works great. There is only circuitry inside the box. It is professionally made and apparently massed produced. It was given to me around 1974, and I can only assume it was made in the early seventies. So maybe…midi may not be the current answer, and direct audio, such as in the many recent stomp boxes, is really the way to go now until a genius finally gets it right.


Our guitar player had a Yamaha EZ-AG for a while and it was a terrific little MIDI controller for next to nothing ($250 or so). I tend to be of the opinion that you will always do better with a dedicated controller than some kind of pitch to MIDI or hex pickup solution. And since the SynthAx still goes for $20,000+ if you can even find one the Yamaha looks pretty sweet lol


Great, I look forward to any versions out there. Again, I am biased toward guitar, plus I can sing while playing.


One of the negatives on the EZ was that it had a very small “fretboard” iirc. Not a lot of range, and it would be really weird for leads. But for pads it rocked.


Yeah, I don’t care for that ukulele look for a guitar. A guitar goes from E2 to E5 and then 8 to 10 more notes. Every extra note means more circuitry, more programming, and additional latency. My versions have been limited to 32 notes, with one of those dedicated to an action like playing a (karaoke) song or whatever. Cantabile handles that very well. I’m trying to keep the “experience” as close to what guitar players are used to. My left hand only (keyboard-like) version worked okay but it fell short of that plucking / strumming experience.


I have a Roland GR55 and GK3 hex pickup on my Strat and you can program that so the strings carry different sounds. E.g. high four strings lead/rhythm, bottom strings, bass

And of course different MID channels for each string.


That’s neat, Derek. I’m in the process of getting an oscilloscope to test the input to and output from different circuits (op-amps, transistors, FETs) in order to determine if a string is vibrating. My first model had both a bobbin pickup and a microprocessor; but the pickup was picking up a hum so I took it out in later versions (MIDI can imitate a guitar anyway).

So it is back to different channels for each string. Hmmm. Cantabile can let any note be anything.