Keyboardists have an almost unlimited number of tones and effects at their disposal thanks to MIDI technology, but until recently, guitarists haven’t had the same tools. A MIDI keyboard is a pretty simple instrument to build, since digital keyboards already track input information from simple key presses. Guitarists use bends, whammy bars and other tone-changing elements, which are tough to translate to a simple digital signal.
A new project from You Rock Guitar hopes to change that. The company already introduced one extremely functional MIDI guitar, the YRG-1000, and they’re currently trying to build funding for a professional grade MIDI instrument known as the YRG-Professional.
The YRG-Pro combines fret recognition and pitch recognition to give guitarists more control and a more responsive instrument overall. You Rock Guitar’s team claims that the YRG-Pro is roughly as controllable as a MIDI keyboard. If that’s true, this could be a powerful instrument for composition, recording and even live performance.
The full-size guitar features a 5-pin MIDI out, user-programmable tuning, onboard switches for MIDI mapping and even a whammy bar. Because the guitar uses standard MIDI drivers, it works well with most digital audio workstations (DAWs) and audio recording programs like ProTools, Adobe Audition and Logic. The YRG-Pro works on both Windows and Macintosh platforms, and You Rock Guitar indicates on the project’s Kickstarter page that they will update the included software regularly.
The guitar features both monophonic and polyphonic modes, which means that it can transfer digital information for full chords or single notes depending on the selected setting. The single-note setting would work well for many analog synth sounds or when soloing. There’s also a setting that limits output to one note per string at a time, which would help to prevent the output problems that plague many other MIDI guitars at the proposed $899 price level.
Backers who pledge at least $500 will receive a YRG-Pro. At the higher donation levels, backers receive customized YRG-Pro guitars with embroidered gig bags and other extras. Backers who pledge at least $2,700 can receive a YRG-Pro made by legendary luthier Roger Griffin.
When this article was written, the YRG-Pro Kickstarter Project needed another $44,000 to reach its goal and had 14 days to go. It’s a big number, but the YRG-Pro has enough innovative features to spark the curiosity of the web’s MIDI-loving guitarists.