You Rock + Moog Slim Phatty Jam

This is a demo, via audiomidicom, of using the  You Rock MIDI Guitar to trigger a Moog Slim Phatty.

The You Rock Guitar is a Rock Band / Guitar Hero controller that is also a full-fledged MIDI controller.

Here are some user thoughts on the You Rock MIDI Guitar, via shawnelle:

Pros/Cons 

Pros: Lowest action possible on a guitar (there are no neck strings, the neck is virtually a keyboard with very sensitive ‘string inlays’ on the neck). The pitch bend and modulation switches work very well. The outputs are impressive: one 5pin midi out, a 1/4″ out, headphones out, and usb. It interfaces flawlessly with Reason, the main sequencer I use, using either usb or midi connection. The onboard samples are actually much better than I thought they would be, especially some of the synths. I will address the latency as a separate topic from pros and cons. The software control panel is also very nice, similar to the Axon control panel for their unit. Virtually every variable is adjustable on this device and the developers seem to plan to keep opening up new bios features in future updates. Customer support is the best I’ve ever talked with. Setting up your guitar with the control panel is highly recommended as you will be optimizing it to respond to your style of playing by adjusting velocity tables, individual string sensitivities, etc. They sent me three different guitars to try (the first one I got had a dead panel). They paid for all the shipping and even called me once or twice. The customer support system online is also very nice, it keeps a running dialog between you and service reps via a forum post type of system. You can’t say this company isn’t dedicated to their patrons; they stand behind their work.

Cons: As some have noted, the instrument is plastic and light. I’m a bit circumspect on its robustness so I treat it cautiously. I doubt it would survive if dropped on a hard floor more than once but that is pure speculation. I do believe it will withstand lots of use though. I do not use this device as a videogame controller but as an interfacing tool for midi sequencers for composing. It can do alot of things other midi guitars will struggle with (rigorous chord strumming, tapping, etc) but like any midi guitar, it is NOT for replacing a real guitar. To that end, it is hard to nail down specific negatives about this kind of design because so many will have different expectations and needs. If anything goes wrong with the device, I will update this review in the future.

Comments: 

Now, for the latency questions. If you use the guitar by itself with no external sequencers, there will be no latency. Interfacing with externals is good but it needs to be clarified, as this is where users will probably experience variability between their setup and someone else’s: first, any latency occurring when interfacing externals will be due to the external device processing the signal from the guitar (Wittsworld). What follows is my personal experience with my setup. By using the 5 pin midi out I had almost no latency. Specifically, it depends on what mode I used. Using the picking strings, I had in the range of 3-6ms, probably eliminated if you have a zero latency monitoring card. If you use TAP mode (just using the neck alone as an interface) then the latency is virtually eliminated. By using the usb connection, the latency was also very good. However, with usb, the string picking mode latency was noticeably higher compared to the 5 pin connection – but the TAP mode was still extremely low latency (I use usb and tap mode by default with no problems). The neck really is a nice piece of engineering and tap mode is really great. With string picking you can strum chords without glitching, unlike other midi guitars that rely on the original guitar design with strings running the full length of the guitar – which typically results in much more unpredictability when playing. Unrelated to the guitar, when using external sequencer samples, a few may have a delayed attack for effect (creates a perceived latency on the particular sample) that you normally can adjust/eliminate in whatever sequencer program you’re using.

Last/random thoughts: As noted in the beginning, I’ve used quite expensive/elaborate midi guitar setups (~1500-2k usd). If what you want is a device to interface with midi sequencers without having to learn keyboard/piano then this is the ultimate device in my opinion. The latency is minimal and virtually non-existent at best and there is very little glitching to worry about due to the isolation of the neck and picking strings. For 10x less then an ideal midi guitar setup, it’s hard to go wrong. It is a really amazing piece of hardware. Hopefully, they will stop with the videogame aspect altogether and just make this a pure midi guitar project. This review may seem full of adulations but there is no such thing as a perfect device – and this one is far from perfect. However, in the context of the midi guitar market, it is my most preferred option and, in my opinion, the best performing, best featured, and luckily most affordable, option on the market.

The You Rock Guitar is available for about $200.

14 thoughts on “You Rock + Moog Slim Phatty Jam

  1. Another pointless POS.

    Love this site, but I'm always amazed how incredibly unmusical all these "revolutionary" new instruments and controllers are. I watch the demos for a lot of this cutting-edge stuff and invariably wonder why anyone would want to put that glitchy-ass sound on a their record.

    A common problem with many of the designs is that they are not striving for playability of real instruments. Musical expression is in the performance; control, detail, articulation… A lot of these new "instruments" can't even rival the musicality of your garden variety keyboard controller. Most will go straight to the dustbin of history.

  2. Not sure if I'd agree with your suggestion that the You Rock Guitar is either 'revolutionary' or 'cutting edge' (your terms).

  3. Not sure if I'd agree with your suggestion that the You Rock Guitar is either 'revolutionary' or 'cutting edge' (your terms).

    Ultimately, though, the value of an instrument is limited by the user's imagination.

    Kraftwerk's music, arguably, is defined more by their use of 'music toys' than instruments like the Minimoog.

  4. I'm not a fan of the YRG. Having owned one for nearly a year now I'm all too disgruntled with it's many problemos… but stuff like this gives me at least a little hope that affordable alternative MIDI controllers are being thunk up and may someday reach the market. I'm a guitar player who can't afford a Z-tar. Would love something in between these two extremes. A $500-$700 MIDI guitar that plays like a real guitar. Are you listen, God? It's me… Vagina Teats

  5. I was skeptical when I first played one, but I was pretty surprised. The only thing that messes me up when I play it, is that the scale of the neck is smaller than a real guitar. Otherwise, It tracks pretty well. It's not a real guitar, so you have to change your playing style a little.

    I bet this is only the beginning. We'll see more from these guys in the future. Lets hope for a full-sized 'pro' version!

  6. I'm always amazed when people take a stab at this site because they've seen something they didn't like. Its to be expected with any website surely? Fair enough if you want to open up debate and state your opinion negative or otherwise, but don't use it as an excuse to the stick the proverbial knife in. Especially when you haven't formed a substantiated opinion, but are making sweeping statements without foundation.

    I would always champion a company putting out gear at that price, even if it is a bit lightweight because it leads to healthy competition with the industry.

    ANYWAY.. the real shame about this video is that he didn't use a polyphonic synth (as much as I admire the slim phatty) I would love to hear some arpeggio picked chords and some big strums of chords. And also, WHY didn't he turn the arpeggiator on?!

  7. I'm interested in picking up one of these, but i thought the video was a poor representation of it's abilities. It seems to me a instrument like Omnisphere, Nexus2, or such with great ambient melodic patches would have been a far better choice than a analog synth.
    At least use some of the more melodic patches but it was all about the saws and fat basses, and i dont see that really being useful.

  8. This reminds me of the first view I had of the Roland Guitar Synth back in the the late 70's. Pat Metheny used one to great effect, but the dude at Gelb Music didn't have a nack for it. My bro-in-law, a serious guitarist, remarked how ugly the sounds were that the poor dude made.
    Basically, we are at the same stage here as we were some 35 yrs ago, just that the controller got a lot cheaper and chintzier. Is that progress?

  9. I had a ztar before I owned a yrg. The ztar played great but was limited in frets. I tried and I tried to make the yrg work for me but it wouldn't budge. The non existent strings on the yrg make it impossible to play a decent bar chord and playing the fretboard in general was a challenge at best. The poor workmanship meant the strings didn't produce an even response regardless of how hard I tried. All the features that ztars have had since inception are not to be found on the yrg._Check out Todd Keehn jamming on an old vid (prolly ten to 12 years ago) http://youtu.be/NhKdXlUMnNM

  10. I had a ztar before I owned a yrg. The ztar played great but was limited in frets. I tried and I tried to make the yrg work for me but it wouldn't budge. The non existent strings on the yrg make it impossible to play a decent bar chord and playing the fretboard in general was a challenge at best. The poor workmanship meant the strings didn't produce an even response regardless of how hard I tried. All the features that ztars have had since inception are not to be found on the yrg._Check out Todd Keehn jamming on an old vid (prolly ten to 12 years ago) http://youtu.be/NhKdXlUMnNM

  11. I had a ztar before I owned a yrg. The ztar played great but was limited in frets. I tried and I tried to make the yrg work for me but it wouldn't budge. The non existent strings on the yrg make it impossible to play a decent bar chord and playing the fretboard in general was a challenge at best. The poor workmanship meant the strings didn't produce an even response regardless of how hard I tried. All the features that ztars have had since inception are not to be found on the yrg._Check out Todd Keehn jamming on an old vid (prolly ten to 12 years ago) http://youtu.be/NhKdXlUMnNM

  12. I had a ztar before I owned a yrg. The ztar played great but was limited in frets. I tried and I tried to make the yrg work for me but it wouldn't budge. The non existent strings on the yrg make it impossible to play a decent bar chord and playing the fretboard in general was a challenge at best. The poor workmanship meant the strings didn't produce an even response regardless of how hard I tried. All the features that ztars have had since inception are not to be found on the yrg._Check out Todd Keehn jamming on an old vid (prolly ten to 12 years ago) http://youtu.be/NhKdXlUMnNM

  13. I had a ztar before I owned a yrg. The ztar played great but was limited in frets. I tried and I tried to make the yrg work for me but it wouldn't budge. The non existent strings on the yrg make it impossible to play a decent bar chord and playing the fretboard in general was a challenge at best. The poor workmanship meant the strings didn't produce an even response regardless of how hard I tried. All the features that ztars have had since inception are not to be found on the yrg._Check out Todd Keehn jamming on an old vid (prolly ten to 12 years ago) http://youtu.be/NhKdXlUMnNM

  14. I had a ztar before I owned a yrg. The ztar played great but was limited in frets. I tried and I tried to make the yrg work for me but it wouldn't budge. The non existent strings on the yrg make it impossible to play a decent bar chord and playing the fretboard in general was a challenge at best. The poor workmanship meant the strings didn't produce an even response regardless of how hard I tried. All the features that ztars have had since inception are not to be found on the yrg._Check out Todd Keehn jamming on an old vid (prolly ten to 12 years ago) http://youtu.be/NhKdXlUMnNM

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