Author Topic: MIDI guitar and Korg NTS-1  (Read 439 times)

Mark Hammer

MIDI guitar and Korg NTS-1
« on: March 07, 2021, 06:03:05 PM »
Finally got around to making a cable to control the NTS-1 I bought last summer with my Casio MIDI guitar. The guitar uses one of the standard 5-pin MIDI plugs, but the Korg unit, being about 35 years younger, uses a 3.5mm TRS phone plug to connect to MIDI, so I needed to graft one of those plugs onto a long-enough MIDI cable.

Technically, one can power the NTS-1 with a USB sync cable from the computer, but you end up with annoying clock whine. Instead, I power it with one of those USB-charged "backup batteries" that people use for their phones. Also using a sync cable, this provides clean quiet power to the unit.

The guitar is polyphonic, but the NTS-1 is monophonic, so you need to obey all the usual rules for guitar synth - i.e., pick clear and clean - but you also need to make sure you're feeding it one note at a time. The NTS-1 comes with all the multi-FX found in the Minilogue XD keyboard synth. They're digital FX, but can be used to process external audio, not generated from the NTS-1 itself. What that means is that by using the delay and reverb simultaneously, with lots of delay and repeats, you can "fake" polyphony by carefully picking a series of notes that drive the synth portion, and the FX "carry" that succession of notes, allowing them to overlap with each other, instead of the next note displacing the last one.

The guitar itself quantizes the detected notes, so if you either play quietly enough to hear the string, or have outputs for the MIDI code and what the onboard "normal" pickups detect, the synth part can sound out of tune with the guitar if, say, the guitar hasn't returned to pitch after using the whammy bar. And, as only a 2nd or 3rd generation guitar synth, using something like a GK-2 pickup, the Casio has a teensy bit of lag between picking and when the note is heard. It's not terrible, but playing like Allan Holdsworth is not recommended or feasible. The good side is that since it is only looking for the note fundamental, you can use old strings you wouldn't be caught dead using with a normal guitar.

The guitar itself allows me to adjust the sensitivity of the individual strings on the hex pickup, but I have never dickered with that. The sensitivity determines how long a note will hold, the "gate" being a function of how long the string signal exceeds some threshold before dying out. In that respect, newer strings, and heavier gauge strings,probably offer some benefit.

There are plenty of free and inexpensive 3rd party oscillator voices and effects available for download and installation in the NTS-01. I'm working my way through the 20 different oscillators I have installed, most of which have assorted kinds of waveshaping and variations. Some are better for guitar than others.

But fascinating. I wish I was more nimble. I'll see if I can post an audio clip of what this can do, once I get the hang of it.

Mark Hammer

Re: MIDI guitar and Korg NTS-1
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2021, 07:51:35 PM »
I posted a quickly cobbled-together sample.  I tried to use as diverse a range of sounds as I could quickly assemble.  Nothing special, but you'll get the general idea.  The lag between the picked string and what shows up in the NTS-1, thru the UA-30 USB interface into Audacity makes tight timing very difficult.  A Better guitar synth and interface would be preferable.  But, synchrony aside, with the exception of a little bit of fade-in and fade-out from Audacity, all effects and sounds are from the NTS-1, driven by the guitar.  Drone sounds are one of the NTS-1 envelope options.

https://soundcloud.com/mark-hammer-662907085/synth2

Nasse

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Re: MIDI guitar and Korg NTS-1
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2021, 10:47:43 PM »
Did buy NTS-1 for christmas. Was easy job to put it together, my mother could do it. Got short midi cable and few audio cables and tried acoustic guitar and my PSS-F30 trough ext audio input and fx, mostly those lovely modulated reverbs. Have not tried Reaper daw pitch to midi to nts-1 but maybe later this week, cant see why it would not work and sound awesome
« Last Edit: March 08, 2021, 10:52:10 PM by Nasse »
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Mark Hammer

Re: MIDI guitar and Korg NTS-1
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2021, 07:41:02 AM »
A pity there is no capacity for presets, where all those lovely editable parameters could be saved.  But for the money and size, incredible power.

Nasse

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Re: MIDI guitar and Korg NTS-1
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2021, 09:59:24 PM »
Tried pitch to midi and got it working somehow, of cource with some glitches and ghost notes. Arpeggios were promising. I Will try load some librarian and sounds, perhaps there is printable sheet for writing down parameters If you can not store exact sound preset


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FiveseveN

Re: MIDI guitar and Korg NTS-1
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2021, 02:53:12 AM »
Just came across this, by the way. Shows how far pitch detection has come lately:

Does the circuit sound better when oriented to magnetic north under a pyramid?

Mark Hammer

Re: MIDI guitar and Korg NTS-1
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2021, 09:55:19 AM »
Thanks for that.  I bought a few Picos the week they became available here.  Now I have something to work towards.  :icon_biggrin:

11-90-an

Re: MIDI guitar and Korg NTS-1
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2021, 11:21:10 AM »
Cool  :icon_eek:

i wonder if this has polyphonic detection capabilities, and i'm also wondering if a raspberry pi (the computer) can process the sound instead of a laptop/PC...
flip flop flip flop flip

Mark Hammer

Re: MIDI guitar and Korg NTS-1
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2021, 09:40:16 PM »
I asked the fellow and he said it is monophonic.