Would love some help make the tracking better

Hi there,

I just acquired MG2, and after messing with it for a full day, I realize I might require to change some hardware to make the tracking better.

I have tried 2 electric guitars, an electro acoustic and a classical one recorded with an sm57.

For all the DI instruments, I played with all the settings, tone nobs & pickups.
For the classical guitar I played with mic placement.

So far the best results I obtain are with the sm57 on the classical guitar.

I’d really love to improve the tracking though as sustained notes on the E & A chords are often retriggered, and other notes are simply missed. Globally there is a lot of post processing required on the MIDI output.

The following video looks very promising: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYsS1uzQNak

Unfortunately GP 10 is not buyable anymore, and also this would mean I also have to install another pickup.

I’ve also read here and there about MG3 being around the corner, I’m not sure exactly how this will help me and I try to manage my expectations.

Here is where I would love your guidance.

  1. At current times, what would be a good way to improve my setup? (pickup? with what box etc?)
  2. What will MG3 solve when it comes to tracking? Will it make any new hardware addition useless or could it still be useful?

Thank you very much.

Hi @raylixir
First off, don’t invest in any new gear initially, hoping that it is the way to better tracking. There is so much you can do to help improve tracking before that. If you haven’t seen it yet, I have a few tips and tricks collected in a video:

The struggle for the MIDI guitar tracker really comes down to one thing and that is a clean bright signal. We oftentimes talk about (a best) signal to noise ratio, meaning we acknowledge there are things in the signal chain we really need to make sure are as good as they can be, like cables, quality of audio interfaces, ground hum, or any number of potential factors interfering with the signal on its way to being converted into MIDI. That is one thing.
Another thing is realizing that the instrument you now are playing is no longer a guitar, and perhaps adapt your playing somewhat, most notably improving on your note stopping skills. The MG2 tracker is way better, the fewer notes you have it process simultaneously. It has a well know minor second interval issue, and any interval slightly out of tune falls directly into that category as well.
So, the third thing is to keep your guitar tuned and intonated to avoid unnecessary note beatings from the MG2 minor second (semitone interval)

And now to gear: the consensus seem to be a solid body electric guitar, with volume and tone on full, preferably the bridge pickup (if it is the brightest). Single coil vs humbucker are debated, but a humbucker will by the way it is constructed rid you of some unwanted hum (noise).

Skip the hex PU/GP10 setup for now. It was a suggestion for a solution to two things in particular.

  1. to get past that minor second interval issue.
  2. to introduce a way for us to use a string split setup also with MG2.

Tracking wise it introduces a calmness, of course, since we don’t have any notes “beating” anymore. But this is exactly what you will get with MG3 (answering your second question). Tracking is improved in many respects. it is faster, it is way more accurate for big chords, and my advice is to wait with any hardware purchase until you know the software a little better, and you get to test the MG3 beta, when it comes.
After that, you are in a better place to make an informed decision on any need for additional gear. :+1:

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with so many guitars, it could help to fine tune settings if you used an external midi control to tweak the noise gate and velocity curves instead of a mouse.

you might end up with two profiles per guitar, optimized for melodic vs chord work.

also, checking your intonation is worthwhile, especially if a particular string on a particular guitar is not responding as well as the others.

for sustain in terms of synth output, i use a pedal.

in terms of the guitar signal, there’s a deepfx thingie which sustains like crazy.

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Hello Raylixir,

The GP-10 has not been discontinued as far as I’m aware and is still available at many dealers. However I would not really recommend it. The tracking of the GR-55 is according to my experience and/or playing style (100% finger picking) ways better.

But…if you do not really need to seperate your stings into different tracks I don’t see the need of a expensive “GK” system.
With MG2 I have the same good and almost glitch free tracking results as with any of my GK synths.

I have zero experience with micing an acoustic guitar but with electric guitars I get the best MG2 results using the bridge PU, or with those they are equiped with the Graph Tech Ghost piezo bridges or saddles.
As kimyo already mentioned intonation and tuning stability are very important but I assume that your guitars are good to go!

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Wow thank you all so much, I did not expect so much information, that is all very helpful.

You convinced me to not look into other hardware yet.

I realize I haven’t provided much information on what I’m trying to play, and it’s actually pretty simple.

I’m playing mostly finger picking in the style of Dust in the wind for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH2w6Oxx0kQ

If you take this song as example. It would always properly pickup the first bass note + high note, but then I hit 1 or 2 other notes and the bass note is triggered again. It sometimes misses also the second highest note when the highest note is style ringing with the bass note.

I will try @LoFiLeiF 's trick to try and dampen the strings, and also make sure the the guitars are very well tuned.

Weirdly enough for me, the tone control is better left off on my 2 guitars, and for the pickup, on one guitar best position seems to be the middle one. I have a mexican fender strat and an ibanez RG 550 (in kind of bad condition so I will try to focus on the fender).

I have no problem post processing, I’m used to doing a lot of midi processing as I’m composing and arranging songs. I’ve started to look at a guitar to midi experience because I can rarely make a lot of noise at home which is limiting to finish songs where I need guitar. For me what is important is picking up all the notes so I keep all the human timings, and not having to many false notes triggered. Also I have no problem doing a song in multiple takes, so I’m not looking for a silver bullet and happy to switch configuration based on what I’m playing.

I’m very curious about MG3 now, especially regarding the problem where the bass gets re-triggered, I think this is my biggest problem right now. Do you now if new testers are still being let through?

Thank you again so much, once I get this to a usable state for my playstyle, it will be an amazing composing experience. I’ve spent hours looking for alternatives, even after I acquired MG2, and aside from going the Tripleplay (a bit pricey, and I don’t know if the pickup is that good or if I can easily route wav to the daw or if I will get midi in with no way of using MG2) or GK3-5 route (very expensive).

@raylixir In my personal experience, I’ve never felt much difference in the hardware (i.e. pickups).
But on the other hand, 80% of the precision of the notes comes from my guitar playing, which I have patiently adapted to Midi Guitar to obtain a good result.
There’s a serious compromise to be made between playing “like a guitarist” and finger placement techniques to avoid resonances and other factors disrupting the analysis of frequencies detected by the software.

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Hey, thanks for your comment.

I’m happy to adapt a bit indeed, trying right now to perfect the style a bit.

I realize that it’s very important to play “even” attacks for example.

The bass problem is near impossible to work around though.

However I found that pre-processing the signal with aggressive soothe 2 helps thinning out the guitar resulting in way better tracking. Obviously this removes all realtime playing capabilities, but anyway for me the latency isn’t good enough to be able to properly track, I can definitely feel the extra 5-10ms so I prefer to track no listening to the audio for now, aiming more for the post-processing. For now I’m playing around with the audio even with the delay to figure out how to adjust the playstyle.

i recently powered my gr-55 up for the first time in a long time and was instantly reminded of what a great product it is. i’m also a finger picker.

It would always properly pickup the first bass note + high note, but then I hit 1 or 2 other notes and the bass note is triggered again.

could you provide a bit more description here? are you holding the note which gets re-triggered? ie: playing another note while your bass string is sustaining causes a re-trigger?

or post a copy of the original audio so we can run it through ourselves.

i don’t have any experience with the lua scripts but this sounds like something which could be addressed that way.

Hello Kimyo,

I’m currently away from home but when I return to my studio by mid to end of next week I’ll record some demos (both GR-55 and MG2). The re-triggering of the bass note is also for me the biggest challenge and I often try to “incorporate” it in the picking pattern, or leave a long enough break to the next note I pick, that it doesn’t occur.

Today I made a comparison of the “Guitar to MIDI” tracking capabilities of my equipment. I used a Ibanez RG652LWFX-AGB (neck PU) and a Roland GK-3 mounted on it.
I did not play extra carefully (as you can her in the guitar audi file) nor did I edit anything after recording. I was just interested in seeing and hearing the difference of all the different toys.

I was choosing the Steinberg “The Grand” piano VST since I find it the most difficult to play piano via guitar.
All the GK synths are set to sound the best using there internal sounds, guitar to midi wasn’t tweaked but also can’t be really tweaked a lot! If a note is tracked wrong, it doesn’t make a different fiddling around with threshold sensitivities etc. (no low velocity cut is enabled in any of the synths).

That MG2 will do it’s job I wasn’t doubting, but that the SY-1000 and the GP-10 are so bad I didn’t expect. The 20 year old VG-99 does better. The GR-55 and the GM-800 are OK but they also cost a fortune. The FTP I didn’t even try since I find it unusable.

Ibanez RG652LWFX

The Grand MG2

The Grand GR-55

The Grand GM-800

The Grand VG-99

The Grand GP-10

The Grand SY-1000

the sy-1000 is like an old drunk guy talking to himself in the mirror.

the gm-800 is the best of the boss options but it does kind of wander around near the end of your clip. it’s also very mechanical in nature.

mg2 is the most musical. it sounds more like a musical instrument.

thanks for the comparison, i’m sure it will help many people evaluate their options. the image is very interesting, the difference between the sy-1000 / vg-99 and the others in measure 13 is pretty dramatic.

You could make a really good youtube video from that tests material. Very interesting comparison.

From what I’d tried, piano sounds are the worst choice for actualy performing something with midi guitars. Most unforgiving. Every tracking error (which are inevitable by nature) tries to be as noticable and ugly as possible with piano.

While I understand that choice for demonstration purposes, I wonder if results would differ with something more suitable for actual use, and reflect real-world usage of midi guitars.

I mean, with a good velocity tracking, and synth which makes good use of that - even wrong notes would be masked by low velocity. And in such conditions some tech might have adantage over another differently, and overall picture might be different compared to the pure piano tests.

Also latency would be great to include. I recall that in my gr55 days I was really annoyed by how it lags, and do not feel that with mg2. (might be a preset attack settings, rather than tracking, but in that case why boss included such a big attack slope to factory presets) It is a big part of usability as well.

@kimyo

mg2 is the most musical. it sounds more like a musical instrument.

I fully agree, it has the most natural dynamics. The fact that I have quite some glitches in my recording isn’t the “fault” of any G2M device. I left them in (or didn’t record it again until my playing was fine) because it’s also interesting how different the devices react.

@ignis32

Yes, your statements are very valid. Using any kind of pad or even combined sounds including some e-piano or bells, make a huge difference and light glitches are not audible in a mix that easily.
It would be a completely different results using “classic” synth sounds.
I could go and zoom into the start of a not to evaluate the latency, but since I recorded everything in parallel it might falsen the absolute numbers and probably “The Grand” is also eating up quite some resources. I know that the GR-55 and the SY-1000 are not brilliant in regard to latency. I can do some latency tests (one by one device) with no plugin, just recording the midi note, to find out more.

To get better tracking, if I’m using Sax midi or doing any single note playing, I use the Monophonic not the Polyphonic setting.

I think this helps tracking of single notes.

Unless necessary, I always set to monophonic the tracking of monophonic instruments, if only for reasons of realism.
On the other hand, I sometimes attach a momentary footswitch controller to allow punctuations by a duo, trio or quartet. :wink:

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