EastWest’s new MIDI Guitar Series is a collection of soundsets designed by two producers, Doug Rogers and Nick Phoenix, in collaboration with Fishman pickups. The whole premise is that these collections of sampled sounds have been constructed to work well via a guitar with a MIDI controller pickup system. We take a look at this system to see if, perhaps, this might be the one to make MIDI guitar widely popular.
First, you will need a Fishman TriplePlay, a wireless MIDI pickup system that affixes to the front of your electric guitar and turns the strings’ vibration into MIDI note on/off information. This allows you to turn your fingered notes into something that a DAW or synth can understand and record. Generally MIDI and guitars have not always seen eye to eye and it is only really in recent years that it has become truly reliable to actually use properly.
The hexaphonic pickup can be mounted on your guitar using the included brackets, without having to modify or drill into your instrument. It includes a fast-charge power pack. It’s a wireless system that talks to your computer via a USB-powered receiver which plugs into your computer. EastWest states that it is compatible with all major DAWs.
Six times for each string?
Thankfully, you don’t have to load any of these new EastWest samples in individually for each string. Yes, that used to be a thing you actually had to do. This solution bypasses all that, and its makers say you can load up sounds quickly and get on with playing them.
Below is a list of the five titles from the new EastWest sound sets for MIDI guitar. Each one comes with a pretty sizeable library with all sounds sampled in at 16 bit / 44.1 kHz.
MIDI Guitar Series Vol 1: Orchestra – 190 instruments divided into 4 categories: Strings, Brass, Woodwinds, and Percussion. In total, this volume contains over 18 GB
MIDI Guitar Series Vol 2:Ethnic and Voices – 120 instruments divided into 4 categories: Bowed, Plucked, Voices, and Wind. In total, this volume contains over 17 GB
MIDI Guitar Series Vol 3: Soundscapes – 72 instruments. In total, this volume contains over 11 GB
MIDI Guitar Series Vol 4: Guitar and Bass – 94 instruments divided into 2 categories: Guitar and Bass. In total, this volume contains nearly 38 GB
MIDI Guitar Series Vol 5: Keyboards and Percussion – 91 instruments divided into 2 categories: Keyboards and Percussion. In total, this volume contains nearly 23 GB
Hardware and software in harmony?
Hopefully integration with Fishman TriplePlay will be as tight as the marketing says. I look forward to trying it out sometime in the near future. In the past, I was often the guy that had to demo MIDI guitar systems back in the late ’90s and so I have tried my fair share of bad guitar MIDI pickup systems. There was always the added headache of using synth or instrument patches that really were never designed to be played via a guitar, but being shoe-horned into a 19″ rackmount module that was bundled with said ‘guitar’ system. I hope that this new system from EastWest will be genuinely usable and make the whole MIDI guitar experience and enjoyable one.
You’ll need either a Mac running OSX 10.7 or later with a fast hard drive and at least an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.7GHz processor or a Windows 7 PC with a similar fast hard drive and again at least an Intel Core 2 Duo, or AMD Dual Core 2.7GHz or higher. Either system would need a minimum of 8GB of RAM.
Any modern computer bought new within the last four to five years should suffice. Problems may arise, though, if it’s poorly optimised for audio. The whole system isn’t exactly cheap, but if you are looking for a good quality set of sounds then EastWest do have a good reputation for making samples, so you should be okay. I do like that you can choose different soundsets and therefore not pay for stuff you really don’t want, but it could get expensive if you buy them all!
TriplePlay Wireless MIDI Controller RRP -USD 399.95
EastWest MIDI Guitar Series volumes RRP – USD 179 per collection normally, but with an 159 introductory offer on each sound set
EastWest MIDI guitar series product page
- Fishman TriplePlay Wireless MIDI Controller: EastWest