The Jamstik Studio MIDI Guitar is, because the true name implies a guitar. But to be clear, if you’re thinking of buying a guitar just, there is absolutely no good reason to obtain one. It’s serviceable, but nothing special. The mahogany body and enough rosewood fretboard feel decent. And the humbuckers, making use of their ability to be utilized and split as single coils, deliver a good selection of tones. But it’s not at all $800 worth of pure guitar. No, what sets the instrument apart may be the hex pickup mounted at the bridge and Jamstick’s onboard processing algorithms that turn this sort of pedestrian, rebadged travel guitar right into a MPE MIDI monster.
Now, I’ve covered the challenges before facing guitar-style MIDI controllers. The subtle variations in velocity and pitch, in addition to the unique playing techniques like hammer-ons, slides and bends of a fretted instrument just an easy task to convert to some ones and zeros aren’t. It’s easier to produce a keyboard play nice with a synth.
- Fast and accurate pitch recognition
- Excellent hammer-on and bend response
- Multiple output options
- Is a genuine guitar not really a gadget
- MIDI wasn’t made with guitars in mind
For all its faults the Jammy did make some strides in this certain area, and Fishman’s TriplePlay Connect pickup isn’t half bad. But, I must hand it to Jamstik for creating the smoothest experience I’ve ever endured converting my pentatonic noodleings into viable synth tracks. That’s not saying there wasn’t a learning curve, however the journey from unboxing to checking out a (very bad) finger tapping solo in Arturia’s Analog Lab was pretty short. (For the record: It didn’t actually work.)
All I did so was plug the included USB-C cord into my laptop and I immediately could start plucking away in Ableton Live. Jamstik is even kind enough to add a TRS to five-pin MIDI adapter in the box. So within a few minutes I could strum several pads on the MicroFreak.
Honestly, it took me longer to tune the Studio MIDI Guitar than it did to obtain it create in my own DAW. EASILY had to choose a least favorite feature it will be the tuners here. Since it’s designed to be considered a travel instrument, there’s no headstock. Instead you tune the strings at the bridge with a little tuning key. There’s a magnetic notch in the bridge to store it you should definitely in use. However the key is tiny quite, and I could see myself losing this under my desk or easily, worse, a hotel-room bed.
I don’t know if it’s just the factory strings or the tuners themselves, nonetheless it doesn’t stay static in tune particularly well. I haven’t bothered to restring it within my month of testing, but I can’t say I’m seeking to it forward. The procedure looks slightly involves and convoluted an allen wrench as well as the tuning key.
The other obstacle I encountered on was easily remedied by changing the settings early, day to determine that which was wrong nonetheless it did take me a complete. While everything appeared to work fine in Ableton just, the MicroFreak and Pigments (when running in standalone mode) never appeared to be in tune with the guitar… or itself. Works out the default bend ranges didn’t play nice with the micromovements of a guitar being fretted, and each synth had its ideal setting. Each day learn something new, Perhaps.
In general the Jamstik appeared to like soft synths much better than hardware instruments, but I had little issue setting it up to utilize my Volca Volca or FM Keys. I even found several patches on the FM that took on a fresh life when played just like a guitar. Just because a 1/4 inch instrument jack there’s, a TRS MIDI connector and a USB-C port on the Studio MIDI Guitar, it is possible to once play multiple instruments at. Simply for fun I thrilled the beta of the Jamstik Creator app, connected the Volca FM and connected to my guitar amp all at the same time. I won’t pretend the noise i made was musical truly, nonetheless it was fun to really have the arpeggios ringing from the FM while my computer tried to check out the bass notes when i strummed chords by way of a distortion pedal.
For this demo audio and MIDI data were recorded in Ableton utilizing a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 interface. The guitar’s audio signal was sent through among Ableton’s builtin amp simulators. No additional processing was done to the MIDI, it had been immediately captured as audio from the softsynth since it had been played. The samples crossfade between your raw guitar and the resulting synth track showing it had been translated instantly – warts and all.
The Jamstik Creator plugin is among the features the ongoing company is pushing pretty hard. It can duty as both a virtual instrument and configuration utility double. The app isn’t likely to leave beta until sometime in October, but even yet in its unfinished state it’s still basically a must-have. That’s where you’ll adjust string sensitivity, turn MPE on / off, assign MIDI channels and you’ll even here look for a tuner.
The instrument part of it enough is decent. Find some really solid sounds within you’ll, just like the ambient piano preset plus some fairly convincing bass. The interface could be a little confusing initially, but as soon as you find out its quirks it’s an easy task to start designing your personal sounds.
There, however, some features I wish were included, just like the capability to assign MIDI channels or disable MIDI for individual strings entirely. This might make the complete controlling multiple instruments thing a whole many more useful. You then send just the main notes to your bass synth and the high strings to plucky lead synth while strumming a chord progression. That is something you can certainly do with the Fishman app, for instance.
All these complaints are minor relatively, though, considering that is easily the very best performing MIDI guitar I’ve used. The hex pickup at the bridge is accurate and fast with regards to pitch tracking. Even hammer-ons, bends and slides are recognized easily and rendered as as you possibly can faithfully. It blows the Jammy from the water on that front simply.
Hammer-ons and bends (at least one time you’ve dialed in the proper range) are particularly impressive here. It is possible to play a VST of a guitar with this particular MIDI guitar and the full total email address details are surprisingly convincing. Slides could be a little messy. I have a tendency to prevent them just, but with some patience and practice you may get usable results.
One thing to bear in mind: A synth isn’t a guitar. And your guitar was not made with MIDI at heart. So keep your expectations in balance. Massive X isn’t likely to suddenly react such as a guitar to your playing. And you ought to expect the casual ghost note to be detected, if your playing is really as sloppy as mine especially. And very fast picking doesn’t translate well, which means you won’t be playing synthesized Slayer riffs. That said, Black Sabbath is fair game. And I won’t lie: Playing “Supernaut” on a Moog put a ridiculously huge smile on my face.
For slowly played pads and simple melody lines the brand new Jamstik isn’t just usable, but pretty great actually. And, while I would not trust it to play a live gig (not that I did so that even yet in the pre-COVID days), it’s definitely serviceable as a primary MIDI controller in a studio. You may want to do just a little tidying in post just. (Having said that, turning down the string sensitivity in the Creator app did help tidy up my MIDI data somewhat.)
The a very important factor it can’t handle is drums. Now, you can play drums on the Jamstik. I really do not advocate it just. At all. It’s a nightmare. MIDI guitars are unforgiving if you’re sloppy pretty. (Hello again :wave:) And sloppy playing can’t be easily covered through to a drum track. You can start some pretty aggressive quantization, but at that time you might aswell program manually your drums. Honestly, you need to just save the hassle and obtain a pad controller probably.
So no, I’m not ditching my Push or my MPK Mini. But despite my initial skepticism I came away impressed. Where other guitar-style controllers feel just like gimmicks which will find yourself collecting dust in a large part inevitably, I possibly could actually see myself keeping the Jamstik Studio MIDI Guitar in easy reach. Heck, I would even consider taking it on holiday because it covers both my guitar and MIDI playing needs.
But — which is really a big ‘but’ — justifying spending $800 with this is hard. If you’ve already got a guitar laying around that you don’t mind making minor and temporary modifications to, the Fishman TriplePlay Connect will turn any guitar right into a MIDI controller for $230. If you’d not risk leaving any adhesive residue on your own precious instruments rather, and you also absolutely must have a guitar MIDI controller, this may be worthwhile then.