What do you do when you’ve just bought a new Rock Band 3 Pro Guitar and your XBox 360 decides to get the infamous Red Ring of Death?
Here’s one interesting answer: forget about the 360, and use your Rock Band 3 controller as a MIDI controller, instead.
Technical details below.
…feeling weird about throwing more money into another xbox (or a repaired one) I decided to do some preliminary messing around with the guitar’s MIDI. Here, there is one track with the guitar doing rhythm work into a wurlitzer EP patch (it’s not a great interesting sound, i know, but i use it to show that the polyphonic tracking is pretty decent), and then, just for kicks another track with the guitar controlling my new addiction, the mattson mini modular, with some impromptu knob adjustment and then adding an octave saw with the moogerfooger freqbox.
the guitar is nice in that it is $280 for a guitar midi controller. it is not so nice in that (a) it will not detect any bent notes, (b) accurate transient detection requires putting up the string mute (thereby making it not well suited for using both the guitar’s audio output and the midi output at the same time), and (c) if you are plugged into a bright amp, you can hear the midi messages clicking away if it’s on… oh also (d) sometimes, depending on what you’re connecting to, having both the midi and audio connected will cause the midi generator to “go crazy”.. i think it’s a grounding thing…
all that being said, i think it’s probably unbeatable at this price – the entire fretboard is wired so that each fret is divided into 6 contact points (one for each string) meaning that polyphonic note tracking feels perfect – with the caveat that since it doesn’t use the audio for any pitch tracking, it will ignore vibrato, etc.
the guitar attempts to compensate for this by adding two axes of position detection – lifting the neck will send a scattered bunch of pitch bend signals, that, with smoothing, could be made usable. tilting the face of the guitar down towards the floor sends expression controller data which seems a little more smooth than the pitch bend… so in theory you could re-map those to get back some of the functionality you lose by not being able to wobble the strings around on their frets…?