Here is a look at my latest guitar setup. The previous system was built around a Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer: a great gadget, but quite complex. So after selling it on Craigslist, as well as a few other items, I started building this new rig based on staying “in the box.” This is the plan for this never-ending work in progress.
MacBook Air, Ableton Live and AdrenaLinn Sync
Live is one freaky DAW. Part workstation, part recording studio, part performance tool, part instrument. There are so many ways to approach Live it can be a bit boggling. For the moment, I am using it for plug-in hosting (Native Instruments Guitar Rig, AdrenaLinn Sync), a few synths, backing tracks and the thoughtfully designed Live Looper.
The Sonuus i2M Musicport is becoming a unique variable in the system. It inputs the analog guitar sound to Ableton live while simultaneously sending MIDI notes to selected synth channels. Since the i2M MIDI is monophonic, it somewhat randomly picks a note from those currently playing. When I channel this to a bass synth, it is almost like having a drunken jazz player backing me up. This summer I hope to add the Fishman TriplePlay wireless MIDI pickup to the system.
Soft Step MIDI Foot Controller
Portability is one of the keys to this design, so I sold my battleship-sized custom Behringer Controller and replaced it with the stealth-like SoftStep from Keith McMillian Instruments. The SoftStep is the MacBook Air of foot pedals – small ( but not too small), easy to use, super powerful and expensive. But you do get what you pay for when you consider the excellent editing software and unprecidented amount of control available with the pressure sensitive pads.
Roland CM-30 Cube Monitor
I wanted a small, low cost, light weight powered speaker for practice and personal monitoring, not a guitar amp since I am addressing all that in software. The Roland CM-30 turned out to fit my needs exactly. With several stereo inputs it acts like a mini built-in mixing console, perfect for plugging in an additional instrument or two, for example an iPhone running ThumbJam.
iPad with Lemur
Lemur is a software based MIDI control surface where you practically draw your own interface. I use it to control critical pieces of Ableton Live. It is a fun, lego-like approach to customizing the user experience of ones music technology, and it just look cooler than twiddling keys and trackpad on a laptop. Why look like your checking email while playing when you can look more like a musician straight out of Minority Report?
That’s the basic setup. More details to follow as this system comes together.
Check out Part 2 of the series – Cable Management