Fishman Triple Play MIDI Guitar Controller

The waiting is the hardest part. When Burr Johnson demoed the Triple Play MIDI Guitar Controller for Fishman at the NAMM earlier this year, it showed all hallmarks of changing the game when it comes to MIDI guitar. At the time, there was talk of it shipping in June. A recent conversation however with a Fishman representative pushed that date to an indeterminate time later in the year, with an “announcement coming in the summer.” Here’s hoping it will be worth the wait.

Roland has always built capable MIDI guitar controllers, but they’ve not kept up with the times nor the needs of forward-thinking musicians. The recently released (January 2011) Roland GR-55 is a boat anchor of a device that felt ancient the day it shipped. While it sounds great and tracks well, interacting with it feels like traveling in time to the mid 90’s; fiddling with clunky buttons, scroll wheels and sub-sub-sub menus. The 55 is a valiant attempt to aim the product line at the pro guitar player, my experience with the product left me with the feeling that Roland doesn’t understand the modern customer and was resting on its laurels when it comes to advancing MIDI guitar technology. At least that’s how I felt as I posted the GR-55 to CraigsList after a few months of using it.

Fishman is poised to sweep in and make the Roland line look like a relic. Stealth, wireless and far superior tracking (according to a Fishman representative) along with a price point to make one regret their sizable Roland investment. But do they have the marketing power to take MIDI guitar to it’s full commercial potential? Unlikely. Here’s why.

Roland, a huge corporation with ample marketing dollars, has had this opportunity in it’s lap for a decade or more, but has yet to convince guitar player that MIDI is a must-have utility. It clearly takes more than simply having half-broken demo units sitting dusty and orphaned in Guitar Centers. If the Fishman product lives up to its promises on release day, they should be able to take a good portion of the niche market. It my be a nice place to be business-wise, but it would be awesome if some company could really sell MIDI guitar to the main stream. It’s a potentially huge market. Who’s going to crack it? Does Fishman have the marketing savvy and budget to sell MIDI guitar to the masses? Time will tell.

As president of Tracy Evans Productions, Inc. for over 18 years Tracy splits his time between being an animator, director, producer, stage magician, graphic designer, art director, programmer, editor, consultant, speaker and writer of third-person autobiographical blurbs.

14 Comments on "Fishman Triple Play MIDI Guitar Controller"

  1. Emma says:

    The “Fishman” triggered this email.

    The YouRockGuitar is a fast tracking, no latency MIDI guitar getting much press and … yes … love from our users. Works with most mobile devices, MAC/PC/iPad and most recording and tablature software. Our patented neck technology and electronics is revolutionary and we are Smashing the Boundaries with our MIDI guitar. We were written up in Guitar Player this month and have been in Sound On Sound and New York Times Business Section by David Pogue.

    Thank you,


    • PunkJazz says:

      The YouRock is a toy, like Casio DG’s were back in the 80’s. Just a bunch of plastic switches that send out MIDI. The “String” Controllers are a joke

  2. bartos kuithan says:

    I have YouRockGuitar and Roland gr55 and even Axon usb50. YouRockGuitar is by far the worst. It’s a toy for the consoles. YouRockGuitar has bad tracking (you must pull very strong a string to make a sound, no string bending detection, no expressive play) It plays like a strange keyboard with your patented neck technology.

    Don’t waste money on YouRockGuitar if u want play guitar.

    I like the idea of wireless usb midi system. When will be the fishman triple play release?

  3. Jeff says:

    The YRG isn’t a guitar. It’s a MIDI controller. A cheap one. It’s not remotely comparable to Roland stuff, and definitely not Axon stuff.

    Also, the GR-55 was announced in Jan 2011, not 2012.

  4. Stacey says:

    Im writing about the last paragraph where Fishman may appeal to the niche guitar market, but there has been recent press that has triggered response among the massess. Here’s a link to this:

    Probably wont be well received by the guitar enthusiasts out there.

    • Tracy Evans says:

      I don’t see very much overlap in the target audiences for the Fishman Triple Play and the gTar, but I do think that the gTar is a very cool product that could fill a hole in the market. I was glad to see them reach and exceed their kickstart goal and am looking forward in seeing that product hit the streets.

  5. frog says:

    They are different products and fit in different niches. The analogy I’ve made for the YouRock is that it is comparable to Yamaha’s Portasound line of midi drum controllers. It’s the first guitar midi controller I am aware of at its price point. And as such, it is *quite* impressive. Let’s see if the Fishman + guitar is anywhere near affordable for a regular high school kid before we try to discredit the yourock out of hand.

    And that said, I’ll probably buy the Fishman too.

  6. So my digital music friend :

    What’s the word on the Triple Play now a year later ?

    Sincerely :

    Hurricane Ramon

  7. Michael James says:

    I love how he calls the Roland a boat anchor. Like hauling a laptop computer that doesn’t have any foot controllers or expression pedal is somehow more convenient? On top of that I doubt Fishman is going to have sounds as good as Roland’s. The GR-55 has over 900 sounds. Another issue is, what if your computer get a virus or the hard drive starts to fail. Or your computer isn’t fast enough? What if your playing near one of the neon beer signs, a wireless microphone system, or something that interferes with the wireless signal?

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Points well taken Michael. I do find my MacBook Air and Soft Step controller more convenient than my old Roland unit, but granted it is not for everyone. Regarding sounds, the options are almost endless with a computer. As for wireless, that remains to be seen if it is really a practical choice for gigging musicians.

      The Roland GR-55 really disappointed me when it was released. It felt like such a technology baby step. I am glad to see competition in the space with someone daringly pushing the envelope, as well as actively promoting the MIDI guitar concept.

  8. modd4fun says:

    Hi. Nice and interesting txt. I have YouRockGuitar and i aggre its a toy. Cost me about 200 USD – guitar price + cusfom tax + shiping from USA to Serbia. Long log way to my home. I find that best way to use it YRG is like keyboard simulator in ambient music or arpegiator. Then you dont have to worry about rythm. Simple a toy nothing else. I wasted my money. Loking forward to new fishman product. Sorry for my english language…

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