I have looked at MIDI violins today and saw they were 1500+ $ and seemed to be basically electric violins. So this raised an interesting point to me. Whereas an electric piano is just a piano keyboard hooked up to some software and speakers, an electric guitar is an actual guitar where the string vibrations are linked to amplifiers and filters. So this is a big problem for MIDI input. The line of thinking I have here is that this is why MIDI stringed instruments have problems. They cost a lot. Moreover the need to retain the physical instrument itself, vibrations, strings, and all, focuses primarily on using the instrument as its own sound generator rather than something to enter notes precisely and carefully into for example Ableton Live or Garage Band. So what I am thinking is:

The Guitar Hero Controller

I have never played Guitar Hero however I am familiar with what its controller looks like. It's a miniature guitar with four big colored buttons on the neck to let you choose where you are on the map. Anyway, how is that useful? Well I was thinking of making or finding basically the "electric pianos" of violins/banjos. It would be a lap held MIDI controller whose primary function is to write songs with rather than record audio. Instead of physical strings, there would be buttons of some sort indicating every note on the neck (or fretboard). These would function as frets and keep the MIDI input very simple. The device would have a speaker on it similar to an electric piano from which prerecorded sounds could be played if you wanted to use it without a DAW. To allow Glissando, a fretless version could exist, eg a viola where it has four buttons, each running the length of the fingerboard and representing a string. Where you pressed the button would determine the pitch, but it would NOT be a physical string creating noise via vibrations. Instead it would simply be a button with pressure inputs running along its length. If that is too expensive or complicated then a simple fretboard could exist.

Whenever I look up MIDI guitar or MIDI violin (a banjo would be more useful than a guitar due to its size) I just get what amounts to an analog instrument rather than a MIDI instrument. They hooked up an analog instrument to a MIDI interface, sort of like an acoustic piano that has been amplified and can hook into a computer. I am looking for a "digital violin." Do these exist?

  • So you're saying you do NOT like the idea being a regular instrument stringed with some additional hardware and/or software to transform string vibrations to MIDI commands (as these are available in various forms)? Apr 10 at 1:36
  • There are products like this: youtube.com/watch?v=fNf6cPddZYg actually there are some older things like Synth Axe. I think I also saw something with buttons, but can't recall where... It is a bit unclear to me what are you looking for, e.g. what do you need that e.g. MIDI keyboard doesn't have? Apr 10 at 2:33
  • Your concept is very interesting, but it's nowhere as simple as you would think. If it was, such instruments would have been available since MIDI was born. Consider pressing a button on a fretboard to produce MIDI. That's not how stringed instruments make their sound. There needs to be either a bow or a pick somewhere else on that string - the button only signifies the pitch.
    – Tim
    Apr 10 at 6:15
  • A Guitar Hero controller is comparable to a real guitar in the same way playing Grand Theft Auto is comparable to actually driving a car.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 10 at 7:11
  • "enter notes precisely and carefully into for example Ableton Live or Garage Band" = mouse. Or Garage Band for iPad with a large touch screen. Apr 10 at 13:51