One of the coolest things about the new Rock Band 3 guitar is that it has a MIDI connection. With a simple MIDI cable, you can hook the guitar up to any MIDI controller and rock out in entirely new ways. A MIDI guitar basically has the potential of a keyboard; you’ll be able to get a number of strange new tones, and both experienced guitar players and newbies should have a great time.
To use the Rock Band 3 guitar as a MIDI guitar, you’ll need a few things. You’ll need a MIDI cable, which you can get at most music instrument stores, and you’ll need a controller.
Controllers come in a variety of forms. Some computers have MIDI inputs (and you can buy cheap USB MIDI connections if your computer doesn’t fall into this category), and can use special software to add new voices to your Rock Band 3 guitar. Separate MIDI controllers, most of which are designed for keyboards, are also available. These controllers usually cost a few hundred bucks, but they’re better for live MIDI fun, because they won’t take any time to process the Rock Band 3 guitar’s signal. Whatever you play into one of these MIDI controllers will instantly come out sounding like whatever voices that the controller has.
There are a few caveats to using the Rock Band 3 guitar as a MIDI guitar. First, as you’ve probably already noticed, it’s not a professional level guitar–it’s a simple Squier guitar, and you’re bound to have tuning issues. If you’re thinking about hooking up the Rock Band 3 guitar controller as a MIDI instrument in a live setting, it’s a good idea to also have a tuning pedal hooked up to it.
Also, while most MIDI controllers are going to recognize the Rock Band 3 guitar and interpret it correctly, you might not have the level of expression control that you want. For instance, MIDI controllers might not properly interpret string bends. Play aroudn with it to see what types of sounds that you can get; you might also hook the guitar up to the MIDI input of a computer and use different software options to get the effects that you want. Most MIDI software offers some type of demo version, so you can see what works with the Rock Band 3 guitar before you buy.
With MIDI, the possibilities are nearly endless, and it’s very, very cool that Fender and the Rock Band crew have brought the functionality to their newest controller. The most important thing to remember is to have fun and experiment. Over time, you’ll get a good handle of the Rock Band 3 guitar’s limitations and abilities.
Do you have any questions about the MIDI capabilities of the Rock Band 3 guitar? Post in our comments section or send me a message, and I’ll try to answer them for you.