Industrial Radio- SOLANGE 6 MIDI GUITAR

Started by Elantric, May 22, 2012, 08:11:51 AM

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From the same company that developed the Peavey Cyber Bass and Valley Arts MIDI Bass.

Hi all,

Industrial Radio is excited to announce that we have finally incorporated the IR midi technology into a prototype 6-string guitar and are amazed by its performance! The guitar performs at ultra-low latency (2mS-4mS consistent on all strings and notes), has pitch bend and triggers reliably even when played agressively/strumming, especially when it's used in conjunction with our patented RadioPick technology (also soon to be released). We hope to make a video showing the prototype in action in the next few weeks.

Keep in mind that the IR midi guitar will be a complete instrument solution (ie. no retrofits), a regular electric guitar with regular pickups and strings. So let us know what you guys think about guitar designs, pickups, etc. PS. No whammy.

Kind Regards

Industrial Radio


Midi Bass Technology

The Midi Bass consistently provides highly accurate, low latency MIDI tracking, at approximately 5mS for fixed velocity tracking; and typically 8mS for dynamic velocity tracking on all notes. When we refer to the latency of the Midi Bass here, we are specifically referring to the time it takes for the Midi Bass to analyse and output MIDI data. To gain some perspective, consider that sound travels through air at one foot per millisecond, so an additional 8 milliseconds of latency is akin to standing 8 feet further away from your speaker cabinet.

The performance of the Industrial Radio Midi Bass is made possible by the unique, wired-fret approach to MIDI tracking. This system utilises multiple sensors integrated into the bass which include the wired-fret neck construction, tension sensing bridge pieces, and piezo bridge saddle pickups.
Sensor Overview

When you play the Midi Bass, the onboard electronic sensors detect that you are playing, and generate a parallel stream of MIDI data that mirrors your actual bass performance. The fret-sensing fingerboard tells the Midi Bass what note you are playing, strain gauges in the bridge measure string bends, and the piezo bridge saddle pickups measure the dynamics of the string. The Midi Bass continually monitors all these sensors and translates your playing to MIDI.

Basic MIDI messages are comprised of note on, note off, note number, velocity/dynamics and pitch wheel. The Midi Bass' computer constructs the midi output messages from its sensors in the following manner:

    Wired Frets = MIDI note number
    Bridge Strain Gauge = Midi Pitch wheel
    Piezo pickups = MIDI note on, MIDI note off  and velocity/dynamics

Fret Sensing Fingerboard

Each fret is split / electrically isolated into 4 seperate fret segments and is wired with an array of resistors. The fret segments tell the bass where you are fretting the string.

Tension Sensing Bridge

The Midi Bass bridge is comprisied of 4 individual pieces. These bridges are constructed of a spring steel that allows for a small amount of flex. An electronic sensor called a strain gauge is fitted on the back of the bridge pieces. These sensors measure the tension in the bass strings. From this tension information the pitch bend of the string can be accurately calculated.

Piezo Bridge Saddles

The Midi Bass uses Graph Tech "Ghost" piezo saddles. The output of the piezos are then processed by special, low frequency pre-amps. This results in a very distinct transient voltage output. The dynamic pressure of your fingers on the strings is actually monitored.


Interesting.  No whammy is a bit of a buzz-kill for me, personally, but otherwise...  If they're looking for guitar designs that will appeal as broadly as possible, getting as close as your legal dept will allow to a Strat and a Les Paul is a no-brainer.

However, I still hold that the industry is working too hard to solve the wrong problem(s) when it comes to MIDI guitar.  Instead of worrying about guitar-specific technology, pickups, retrofits, et al, they should be trying to solve the problem in software, with whatever brute-force is required.  Over 5 years ago I was running a cheap VST plug in called WIDI that converted a mono guitar signal to poly MIDI in real-time.  It wasn't fast and it wasn't accurate enough, but it worked well enough as proof of concept that alarm bells should have been going off at Roland, Axon, etc.  If this could be made to work by an independent VST developer asking for a $10 donation (or something in that ballpark), running on an off-the-shelf laptop with a lumbering, unpredictable OS (WinXP), then imagine what you might achieve with purpose-built preamp, filtering, and optimized embedded firmware. 

IMO, I should be able to buy a stompbox with a 1/4" guitar input, a guitar pass through, and a 5 pin MIDI out by now.  I should be able to use it with whatever guitar, keyboard, computer I'd prefer on any given day.  And I should be able to lend it to a violinist, or bass player, or any other musician to experiment with (albeit with mixed results...)


QuoteHowever, I still hold that the industry is working too hard to solve the wrong problem(s) when it comes to MIDI guitar.  Instead of worrying about guitar-specific technology, pickups, retrofits, et al, they should be trying to solve the problem in software, with whatever brute-force is required.


That is why I look at the advancements in normal guitar to synth trigger development with Shredder on the ipad


Interesting!  Is this conversion strictly monophonic (as with the guitar in on the old GI-10)?  This was my assumption, and I figured that was the primary impetus for including a "Chordmaker" feature.  But then "upgraded synth engine with 6-voice MIDI In" is a little vague.  Are they implying their conversion can respond to 6 strings simultaneously, or merely that the synth can voice six notes simultaneously?

Anyway, if you want to dig (ironically) back in time a bit, you can find the VST I used to use at  Drop it into an audio track in your DAW, route the resulting MIDI to a MIDI port (or a virtual port; I used to use loopbe for this) and from there back into a MIDI track.  Voila, MIDI guitar - chords and all - without hex.  I used to run Ableton, Guitar Rig, Dimension Pro, and a bunch of other softs on my laptop, and control it all with a wireless unit.  A little glitchy, but perfectly functional for swelling in pads, strings and the like.

There's another plugin called TSAudio that will even recognize timbres, and translate to polyphonic multi-channel MIDI, separating different instruments to different tracks!  It won't do this in real time, but still, quite amazing IMO. 

I look at these independent efforts from so many years ago, and I'm amazed the big players haven't gotten farther with a commercial product.  If I were to remove my tinfoil hat, I'd start to think it's because the obvious and best solutions aren't adequately profitable for those involved.


Good examples of today's post-modern guitar styling are the current Variax guitars. One is similar to a Strat, one to a Les Paul, and they even have a shredder.  But, they are different enough from the source guitars to have their own identity, without looking awkward.

The Yamaha Pacifica (a cross between the Stratocaster and the 1980s Hamer Phantom) is a really good example of a strat-like guitar with its own personality.  Ibanez has mined the "stratty" well very effectively, too.       




I work at Industrial Radio and just wanted to say that we recently incorporated the Industrial Radio midi system into a 6-string electric and it works like a dream. We will definitely be releasing a 6-string. We are hoping that it will be early 2013 at the latest.

I look forward to seeing this occur!!!

Congratulations on your hard work.

Details here:




Thanks for the heads up on this. Base price $3,995 with additional costs for options, like $150 for a laminate top. It will be interesting to hear a demo. Sounds like it's on/off switches built into the frets and sensors to detect pitch bend. So another attempt to turn a guitar into a keyboard? I remember Pat Metheny saying something to the effect that in guitar synthesis, the string needs to be the oscillator, which is what the GR-300, VG-8, 88, 99 and  SY-300 do. Imo, that is where the expressiveness of a guitar comes from, the interaction between us and a vibrating string, sending out waves. With that said, Allan Holdsworth did produce some excellent music with the synth-axe, which was a switching type guitar looking thing that did a good job sounding like a midi keyboard. Imo, Guitars are so much more than switching devices to send midi note on/off, velocity, and pitch bends messages to midi synth modules. However, if you're well invested in those types modules, like many of us are, this may be a better solution to their use than the current glitchy guitar pitch to midi converters.   


Rut roo, i read the site further and they talk about a 85 dollar pick accessory that has a steel tip and a wrist band that  transmits a midi note on message when the pick contacts the steel string (another switch i suppose)that makes playing complicted riffs translate better to midi. Wow. I also see that there is a whole thread here that i need to read (i responded to a new thread on the subject and was moved here).   


Just keeping thing orderly

We have been awaiting this product since 2012 when it was first announced by Industrial Radio as being under development
Industrial Radio has been doing Wired Fret to MIDI Conversion since 1989

They sold their first version in USA as the Valley Arts MIDI Bass

By 1994 they developed the Peavey CyberBass

The SOLANGE has been in development for decades.

Search "Industrial Radio"

And Radio Pick info is here:

Both SOLANGE MIDI guitar and MIDI Bass require the FSi-1 Fretsense interface box



Sounds very nice, but I can't see such complex technology being produced on a larger scale and becoming more affordable.  To me the tracking in Roland's GR-300 remains the benchmark and digital/MIDI technologies have been trying to catch up.  Don't get me wrong, I love my FTP and GK guitars.  To me the essence of guitar (or any musical instrument) is the stream of frequencies and all their nuances in time.  When the conversion fails to capture all of those (i.e. what's in the "fingers"), it starts sounding more artificial.
"There's no-one left alive, it must be a draw"  Peter Gabriel 1973




I want to know what the secret is for maintaining a head of hair after 60!  It'a a challenge I'm definitely on the losing side of - so to speak.


Quote from: snhirsch on January 29, 2018, 11:04:36 AM
I want to know what the secret is for maintaining a head of hair after 60!  It'a a challenge I'm definitely on the losing side of - so to speak.


It's all about the music...
...I turn 70 in a few months and I've never had this problem..

..what I do find however, is that the music has a tendency to make me grow taller as I get older.

I know this because I progressively find the the top of my head is growing through my hair.
Read slower!!!   ....I'm typing as fast as I can...


Take what you need, put back a bit more, leave the place behind you better than it was before :-)


Bass Bench: MIDI Sensing on Steroids
Heiko Hoepfinger
July 01, 2018

Looking at the sophistication of its onboard electronics, you can see why this Industrial Radio system isn't offered as a retrofit. Photo courtesy of

Last time out, we explored the strengths and weaknesses of the most common types of sensors used to generate MIDI data ("The Pros and Cons of Pitch-to-MIDI Technologies").

Now it's time to dig even deeper and celebrate a pioneer of MIDI bass, Australian Steve Chick.

In the early '80s, while Roland focused on their right-hand-driven, pitch-to-voltage MIDI technology, Chick was developing a system using split frets to generate MIDI data with the player's left hand. This wasn't the first time split frets were used for triggering. Some might remember the Guitorgan, which was introduced by inventor Bob Murrell at the 1967 Chicago NAMM show as the first instrument to sport a fret-sensing mechanism to trigger organ sounds. The Guitorgan used split frets to detect pitch and then trigger internal organ circuitry. In many ways, it was a precursor to the guitar-synth craze of the late '80s.

In the early days of MIDI, latency was the key issue of all right-hand sensing systems. Chick knew how to fight the latency problem, but it took him until 1985 to develop his first complete system, which included a secondary magnetic sensor to capture more of the plucking info. Not wanting to be a bass builder, he modified customer instruments and also licensed the system to several manufacturers, including Manton, Wal, and Valley Arts. In 1990, the refined system, named PB1, became the technology behind Peavey's Midibase and Cyberbass.

"The ultimate challenge is right-hand triggering and dynamics."
—Steve Chick
The system came with programmable presets and measured tension at each string to detect pitch bends. The days of these basses are long gone, but Chick is still active at Industrial Radio, which he founded in 2009. He has spent a lifetime working with MIDI bass, so it's worth examining how far his system has come and what he sees as the main problems facing low-enders that want to trigger electronic sounds.

Here's what Chick has to say about this in 2018: "The crazy thing about the science of MIDI bass is that everyone is fixated with latency. It is really important. I solved that problem over 30 years ago, but the ultimate challenge is right-hand triggering and dynamics. It's the really hard problem to solve."

Sold under the Industrial Radio brand, Chick's current line of basses incorporates his fret-sensing technology, as well as individual piezos linked to digital signal processing designed to analyze their signals. Without going into too much detail, the hardware and software clean up unwanted noise from the signal, while preserving playing dynamics and respecting intentional notes and sounds. One of the adjustable parameters is "aperture," which essentially measures sensitivity over a time interval. A high-pass filter controls how much low, "rumbling" frequencies get through, while a low-pass filter screens for fret noise that could produce unwanted triggering.

Plucking detection is just where you'd expect it—in the pick itself. Photo courtesy of

Although all these parameters can be adjusted independently, the software comes with presets that reflect Chick's decades of experience dealing with our messy signals. His research shows that there is far more to it than just right- or left-hand sensing, and Photo 1 revealshow complicated a hybrid system can get.

Because dialing in all these parameters to accommodate a bassist's personal playing style takes time, there was another lesson to be learned. "In the process of demonstrating MIDI bass systems over the years," Chick says, "I noted that players expected instant results in performance."

This realization ultimately led to another type of sensor designed to deliver immediate gratification to the antsy novice. And this device is located precisely where one might expect plucking detection in the first place: our right hand. The RadioPick (Photo 2) is essentially an electronic plectrum that sends a trigger signal each time it hits a string. The wristband transmits these signals via radio frequencies to specific sensors within the instrument. Perhaps if we all played with flawless technique, the RadioPick would be unnecessary. But we don't, so it has to pick up the slack and clean up our technique for us.


I was really, REALLY interested in this $4k guitar. Then, I tried out MIDI Guitar 2 for $30, and discovered that it tracks my style of playing very well.
I'm almost embarrassed about it. I was thinking through what gear to sell to pull together the 4k, and then - poof!


Quote from: Rhcole on July 03, 2018, 03:32:31 PM
I was really, REALLY interested in this $4k guitar. Then, I tried out MIDI Guitar 2 for $30, and discovered that it tracks my style of playing very well.
I'm almost embarrassed about it. I was thinking through what gear to sell to pull together the 4k, and then - poof!

After this past 2018 Winter NAMM,  I came to same conclusion


 it seems like this guitar system would be a really great way to trigger midi if you were into playing piano or sampled cello type tones on your guitar.


Right Chrish. If you need/want virtually no latency and false triggers. Steve Chick told me that he had a guitar sample loaded and people thought they were listening to the actual guitar.