GRAPH TECH GHOST ACOUSTIC MIDI SYSTEM By Chris Gill
ACOUSTIC GUITAR PLAYERS who want to control synthesizers or other musical equipment via MIDI generally have two basic options, each with its own pro and con. One option is to buy a MIDI-ready instrument that has the pickup already built in, which gives you the benefit of an all-in-one streamlined setup, though the instrument itself may not be your preferred choice. The other option is to install a MIDI pickup on an acoustic guitar you already own, a solution that lets you use the instrument of your choice but may affect the guitar’s natural acoustic tone with its top-mounted components.
The Graph Tech ghost Acoustic MIDI System has the benefits of both options with none of the drawbacks. In addition to providing MIDI control, the ghost (the company prefers ghost with a small g) functions as a professional-quality acoustic preamp. The entire system is as easy to install as a traditional acoustic guitar pickup/preamp system, yet it provides considerably more flexibility. I tested the system on a Walden CO500.
FEATURES The ghost Acoustic MIDI System is a modular system that fits inside most standard-size hollowbody acoustic guitars. The heart of the system is a specially designed set of six individual piezo pickups that fit in a typical 1/8-inch saddle slot. The piezo crystals are enclosed in permanently lubricated saddles made from Graph Tech’s String Saver, a material that helps prevent string breakage and provides warm, natural acoustic tone. The saddles are available for steel- or nylon-string guitars and are pre-notched for the selected instrument.
The system includes the Hexpander MIDI Interface, which has a 13-pin connector that’s compatible with most pitch-to-MIDI converters (including Roland and Axon units) and a Traktion switch for selecting output curves for optimal tracking with Roland or Axon converters. Finally, there’s the Tone Control acoustic preamp, which has a three-band EQ, a mid-sweep control and individual volume controls for the acoustic and MIDI outputs. The Tone Control features stacked, concentric controls for treble/bass, mid sweep/mid (tone), and acoustic/MIDI volume. You can use any concentric knobs you like, but Graph Tech also offers a set of rosewood knobs that complement the appearance of most acoustic guitars. An optional program up/down switch is also available.
PERFORMANCE If you have woodworking or basic acoustic guitar repair experience, you can easily install the ghost Acoustic MIDI System yourself. If not, leave installation to a pro. I won’t go into the details here, but you’ll have to remove the saddle and drill six 7/64-inch holes in the slot, as well as drill a 3/8-inch hole for the 1/4-inch output jack and a small hole for the mounting plate containing the 13-pin jack and Tracktion switch. In addition, three 9/32-inch holes have to be drilled in the soundboard for the control knobs. One knob is flexibly mounted so you can arrange the controls to your liking. The Tone Control preamp itself is small and light to minimize interfering with vibrations in the guitar top.
Once installed, the system performs exceptionally well and needs little tweaking to provide optimum performance. The String Saver saddle pickups provide fast, accurate tracking. Like all other MIDI pickup systems, you need to play as cleanly as possible to get the best results, but when you do the ghost rewards you by capturing expressive nuances that usually cause most other systems to glitch or flatten out dynamically. The acoustic preamp sounds great as well, providing clear, natural tone comparable to that of many preamp systems that cost about the same price but don’t have MIDI capabilities. And while the ghost system does require a small modification to your instrument, it’s much more attractive, functional and roadworthy than most other add-on MIDI pickup systems.
LIST PRICE $349.95
Graph Tech Guitar Labs
The String Saver saddles and Hexpander MIDI Interface provide fast, accurate tracking, with no discernible latency and exceptional expressive dynamics and nuances.
Featuring threeband EQ and a midsweep control, the Tone Control acoustic preamp provides warm, natural sound quality.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Graph Tech ghost Acoustic MIDI System is the perfect solution for guitarists who want the professional durability and performance of a MIDI-ready guitar but prefer the comfort of their own ax.
For the full review from the magazine, click the links below:
We’ll change the way you play!