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Post new topic Poor man's MIDI for pedal steel (Roland GK-3 converted)
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Author Topic:  Poor man's MIDI for pedal steel (Roland GK-3 converted)
Brad Higgins


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 12 May 2017 1:33 pm     Reply with quote

Do NOT try this at home unless you have a steady hand, good eyes, and a background in electronics.







Here is how it sounds.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOkbuXsHz7Y
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Lee Warren


From:
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Post Posted 12 May 2017 4:13 pm     Reply with quote

Smart adaptation, that sounds great.
Well done!
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Brad Higgins


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 12 May 2017 5:11 pm     Reply with quote

Lee Warren wrote:
Smart adaptation, that sounds great.
Well done!

Thanks Lee!!!
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Peter Harris


From:
South Australia, Australia
Post Posted 13 May 2017 4:54 am     Reply with quote

Well done, Brad !!

What processor are you using with that?

Cheers,
Peter
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If my wife is reading this, I don't have much stuff....really!
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Brad Higgins


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 13 May 2017 5:44 am     Reply with quote

Peter Harris wrote:
Well done, Brad !!

What processor are you using with that?

Cheers,
Peter

Hey Peter, it's a Roland GR-30 Guitar Synth.
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Greg Cutshaw


From:
Corry, PA, USA
Post Posted 13 May 2017 5:52 am     Reply with quote

The piano sounds really good and totally useful for recording or live use. Getting all 12 strings covered for midi would eliminate a lot of bar movement and make it even more realistic. Nice demo!
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Brad Higgins


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 13 May 2017 7:15 am     Reply with quote

Greg Cutshaw wrote:
The piano sounds really good and totally useful for recording or live use. Getting all 12 strings covered for midi would eliminate a lot of bar movement and make it even more realistic. Nice demo!


Hi Greg, of course a full twelve strings would be much better, but I don't think that anyone makes midi for pedal steel anymore. Besides, for E9, since my low D is on my B string, I'm actually only missing the first three strings, the F#, Eb, & G#. As far as bar movement, that's the way I normally play E9 pedal steel with one exception, I don't normally play that choppy, but I like the particular chord voicings that I can achieve working out of multiple positions, rather than limiting myself to all of the same inversions of the same chords. That way my playing is a bit more unique when I'm playing E9, with a little more of a classical feel to the chord voicings, even though I have standard E9 tuning and pedal layout.


Last edited by Brad Higgins on 14 May 2017 4:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 13 May 2017 7:49 am     Reply with quote

Very cool. Cool
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-b0b- (SGF Admin) a.k.a. Bobby Lee ♪ CopedentsRice & BeanWine Country SwingStella
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Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post Posted 13 May 2017 11:01 am     Reply with quote

They're actually not hard to install if you have room. The pickup is so thin & light you don't even need to bolt it in place - silicone adhesive works great. I installed one on one of my Fenders a while back just to mess with it - worked great! It was "borrowed" from a 6-string so I took it off.

Synth modules like the Roland GR30 - used with the Fender Roland-Ready Strat - are relatively cheap on eBay and Reverb. Many of the "non-synth" synth patches regret - I especially like to play "tenor sax", which I played years ago.. It works well on steel as well - as long as you don't play "steel" stuff and work out sax-type phrasing.
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Brad Higgins


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 13 May 2017 12:20 pm     Reply with quote

Jim Sliff wrote:
They're actually not hard to install if you have room. The pickup is so thin & light you don't even need to bolt it in place - silicone adhesive works great. I installed one on one of my Fenders a while back just to mess with it - worked great! It was "borrowed" from a 6-string so I took it off.


Hi Jim , long time no hear. While a GK pickup may be easy to physically mount on a pedal steel, it won't work properly, mainly because it's not actually a pickup, it's six individual pickups, and each tiny pickup is meant to pick up the string vibrations of only ONE string. The string spacing of a pedal steel is so much narrower than a guitar that two or three of the pickups will be trying to get a pitch reading from more than one string at the same time, unless you are plucking only one string and not playing chords. It would be like trying to tune a string with a tuner, but plucking two strings at the same time, your tuner won't respond to a mix of frequencies, it's exactly the same thing, because a Roland Guitar Pickup & Synth. setup, is in reality six pitch to Midi converters.


Last edited by Brad Higgins on 14 May 2017 4:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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b0b


From:
Northern California
Post Posted 13 May 2017 1:30 pm     Reply with quote

What exactly is that pickup you're using, Brad? Did you make it from a Roland GK?
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-b0b- (SGF Admin) a.k.a. Bobby Lee ♪ CopedentsRice & BeanWine Country SwingStella
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Brad Higgins


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 13 May 2017 2:35 pm     Reply with quote

b0b wrote:
What exactly is that pickup you're using, Brad? Did you make it from a Roland GK?

Hi Bob, yes, it's a modified Roland GK-3. I own three, so I was willing to take a chance with one of them. It was quite delicate surgery though, each of the six pickups is only about 3/8" in size and consists of basically six pieces including two tiny coils on each pickup. I almost ruined one of them, but luckily I was able to get it working again. Also, luckily, these tiny pickups do work if they are rotated 90 degrees, which is what I had to do to allow enough room for mounting and wiring with the narrower string spacing on my steel.
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Leo Melanson


From:
Massachusetts, USA
Post Posted 15 May 2017 10:39 am     Gk3 Reply with quote

Very cool! I have been an avid GK3/Roland GR55 user for many years now .. and the versatility of this guitar synthesizer is amazing. It really opens up my arsenal of instruments that I can use to get cover gigs ... especially where there is no keyboardist.

I have seen elsewhere that the fiddle/violin community has also stumbled upon the Roland synths .. and some upscale electric violins now come with the 13 pin roland connector and pickup.

Adapting the pickups to steel is genius ... great job. It appears that you have to change your playing style just as you do with a guitar .. to get realistic keyboard sounds (i.e. playing more pianistically) ...

agree with others .. if you could somehow add more string pickups .. you could get the unique pedal steel chord voicing .. on other instruments like piano and organ.
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Brad Higgins


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 15 May 2017 12:43 pm     Re: Gk3 Reply with quote

agree with others .. if you could somehow add more string pickups .. you could get the unique pedal steel chord voicing .. on other instruments like piano and organ.[/quote]

I totally agree also, I didn't make it this way because I ONLY wanted six strings to be midi, the main problem isn't as simple as just more coils on the pickup, the problem is, none of the Roland GR or GK units are setup for more than six strings, someone would have to convince Roland to make the changes and manufacture different units. Thanks for your post Leo!


Last edited by Brad Higgins on 15 May 2017 1:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post Posted 15 May 2017 1:39 pm     Reply with quote

You could use two Roland synth units - each being driven by 6 strings.
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Brad Higgins


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 15 May 2017 1:47 pm     Reply with quote

Jeff Mead wrote:
You could use two Roland synth units - each being driven by 6 strings.

I certainly considered that, but after being a working musician for well over forty years I've grown weary of lugging, setting up, and tearing down too much crap at gigs. I keep down sizing more and more as time goes on, but thanks for the suggestion.
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Tony Oresteen


From:
Georgia, USA
Post Posted 16 May 2017 8:36 am     Reply with quote

Great idea! I like MIDI guitar but for most it is very difficult to mix & match MIDI components.

I built my own MIDI guitar using the Ghost system by GraphTech:

http://www.graphtech.com/products/product-categories/electronics



It works great with a ROLAND MIDI unit but with a Yamaha MIDI guitar interface driving an Alesis QSR MIDI sound module I have not been able to make it work 'gig' ready. Everyone one blames the other one for not working.

Best MIDI guitar practice IMHO is to use everything from the same manufacturer because they never work the first time.

The full build story if you are interested is here:

https://www.squier-talk.com/threads/new-squier-build-what-am-i-making.7209/

https://www.squier-talk.com/threads/goldie-part-2-midi-and-lots-of-photos.14351/
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post Posted 16 May 2017 9:20 am     Reply with quote

I've had pretty good results with both Casio guitars that put out MIDI directly and Roland GK guitars that will only drive GK modules or MIDI with a GK to MIDI converter.

I'm planning on mounting a GK pickup onto a Fessenden 6 Shooter which has wider spacing than a 10 stringer. I'm going to use an old GK-2 pickup as it's flatter than the newer GK-3.

I mostly use MIDI to connect to a computer to drive virtual instruments although might be getting involved in a more experimental project soon which could make use of a pedal steel driving a Roland GR synth in a live environment.
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Brad Higgins


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 16 May 2017 1:30 pm     Reply with quote

Tony Oresteen wrote:
Great idea! I like MIDI guitar but for most it is very difficult to mix & match MIDI components.

I built my own MIDI guitar using the Ghost system by GraphTech:

http://www.graphtech.com/products/product-categories/electronics

It works great with a ROLAND MIDI unit but with a Yamaha MIDI guitar interface driving an Alesis QSR MIDI sound module I have not been able to make it work 'gig' ready. Everyone one blames the other one for not working.

Best MIDI guitar practice IMHO is to use everything from the same manufacturer because they never work the first time.

The full build story if you are interested is here:

https://www.squier-talk.com/threads/new-squier-build-what-am-i-making.7209/

https://www.squier-talk.com/threads/goldie-part-2-midi-and-lots-of-photos.14351/


Hey Tony, it looks like good functional ax, I bet you're having a lot of fun with it.
I'm down to two midi guitars now, since I robbed the pickup off my third one to adapt to my steel. Here is link showing my midi equipped acoustic that I built for myself, which I used on "A Song For Patricia", which is a song that I wrote for my wife Patricia, depicting the whirlwind of emotions that she and I have been going through during her ongoing battle with cancer, it's the second link below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLaRy-TZ3vs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0LZZDaoG34


Last edited by Brad Higgins on 16 May 2017 5:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Brad Higgins


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 16 May 2017 1:37 pm     Reply with quote

Jeff Mead wrote:
I've had pretty good results with both Casio guitars that put out MIDI directly and Roland GK guitars that will only drive GK modules or MIDI with a GK to MIDI converter.

I'm planning on mounting a GK pickup onto a Fessenden 6 Shooter which has wider spacing than a 10 stringer. I'm going to use an old GK-2 pickup as it's flatter than the newer GK-3.

I mostly use MIDI to connect to a computer to drive virtual instruments although might be getting involved in a more experimental project soon which could make use of a pedal steel driving a Roland GR synth in a live environment.

Hey Jeff, I had a Casio, and it worked great, I loved it, it really got me hooked on midi. The ONLY reason I got rid of it was because of my lower back, after a long gig it took a couple of weeks to recover, that's when I started getting all of my GK-3s and started putting them on my lighter weight guitars. Anyway, let me know how your Fessenden works out when you get it finished.
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Tony Oresteen


From:
Georgia, USA
Post Posted 16 May 2017 6:03 pm     Reply with quote

Brad Higgins wrote:


Hey Tony, it looks like good functional ax, I bet you're having a lot of fun with it.
I'm down to two midi guitars now, since I robbed the pickup off my third one to adapt to my steel. Here is link showing my midi equipped acoustic that I built for myself, which I used on "A Song For Patricia", which is a song that I wrote for my wife Patricia, depicting the whirlwind of emotions that she and I have been going through during her ongoing battle with cancer, it's the second link below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLaRy-TZ3vs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0LZZDaoG34


Brad,

Beautiful "Song For Patricia" - I loved the way you brought in the strings. Very nice.

Clearly you have real building skills - I just mod. You parlor guitar is stunning - both in looks and sound.

Thanks for sharing!
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Tony
Newnan, GA

Too many guitars, not enough time to play
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Brad Higgins


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 17 May 2017 4:23 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
Brad,

Beautiful "Song For Patricia" - I loved the way you brought in the strings. Very nice.

Clearly you have real building skills - I just mod. You parlor guitar is stunning - both in looks and sound.

Thanks for sharing!


Thanks so much Tony, you're too kind!
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