I plugged a Fender Stratocaster into the
Sonuus unit and tested it by running a MIDI
cable out of the device and alternating
between two interfaces—an M-Audio Firewire
1814 interface and an M-Audio USB Midisport
Uno—that sent a MIDI channel into Ableton
Live software on my Mac. The Uno is a MIDI-only
interface, but the 1814 allowed me to
run audio into a separate channel in Ableton
Live, which instantly recognized the incoming
MIDI data. With the flow of data intact, I tried
the converter with various software synthesizer
plug-ins, and everything was easier from
the very beginning with the Sonuus.
For starters, the G2M has a unique way of
dealing with audio input level. In interfaces
that require a hexaphonic pickup, the instrument’s
overall output is determined by the
pickup’s distance from the strings. Each of
the six separate string levels is then controlled
within the converter. It is much simpler
with the G2M. I started with my guitar volume
full up and the G2M’s boost switch off.
Finding that the tracking was not as accurate
as I’d hoped, I turned on the boost. The clip
LED then started coming on more than it
should, so I backed off the guitar volume a
bit. Once the light only flashed occasionally—
as recommended in the G2M’s delightfully
brief manual—the unit achieved a level equal
to, or better than, any converter I have tried
with a few simple adjustments.
Sliding into notes was still sometimes problematic,
but vibrato and half- or whole-step
bends worked well. Even slight whammy-bar
dips tracked accurately, giving me more of
the expressive power we’re accustomed to as
guitarists. As with any converter, I found that
tracking varied greatly by synthesizer plugin—
and there was still the typical variation
between patches within each plug-in. But the
G2M certainly gives you an advantage and
flexibility in coping with those variables.
Will the G2M track lightning-fast shredder
solos? That depends largely on how cleanly
you play. Being monophonic, the Sonuus
unit will sound glitchy if any note rings into
another note. Rather than thinking of this
as a flaw, you could simply practice picking
more accurately (which can only be a good
thing). And if you record the MIDI signal
you’re sending, you can easily go into that
track and fix any bum notes or bad timing,
as well as erase any falsely triggered notes.
One of the joys of MIDI, of course, is that
you can also replace the original sound with
any other MIDI instrument you choose.
I got around Sonuus’ other monophonic
limitations in some interesting ways.
Lengthening the release time of the synthesizer
patch caused the first note I played to
keep going while I played the second, and
so on, allowing me to stack chord tones.
Many synths let me tune their multiple oscillators
to different notes, thereby also creating
Here’s another trick: I recorded an audio
Gmaj7 guitar chord and loaded its file into
a sampler. I was then able to trigger it via
MIDI with a single guitar note and change
the chord’s key as I played different notes.
Why not just play the different chords?
Because once the chord was loaded in the
sampler, I could manipulate the guitar sound
in ways that audio effects can’t (check out
the audio clip on the web).
Placing Live’s Arpeggiator plug-in in front of
various software synths, I was able to turn
one note into a rhythmic flurry of notes.
Using the Arpeggiatior’s hold function, I
could keep rhythmic parts playing while I
soloed over them. I enjoyed the fact that the
G2M let me solo with a synth tone blended
with a distorted guitar sound. This technique
disguised any latency in the synth tracking,
and it also hid the occasional mistakenly
MIDI offers guitarists used to—and perhaps
bored of—the standard guitar-pedal-amp
setup a wealth of new sounds. And with the
Sonuus G2M, you can get into the action
and start laying down drum parts, bass lines,
arpeggiated dance or prog-rock parts, string
lines, and more right away—and for half the
price of a hexaphonic pickup! (You can even
use it with transcription software to print
solos or lines for students or publication.)
Guitarists looking for polyphonic operation
and the ability to switch synth patches from
the guitar will want to stick with a Roland
GK-2A or Ghost hexaphonic system with
a Roland, Axon, or another polyphonic
converter. But for those with more limited
needs, or anyone who wants an easy way to
start exploring the world of MIDI guitar, the
Sonuus G2M is just the ticket.
you want a simple way to convert
a mono guitar signal into MIDI for
recording, performance, or notation.
you need massive MIDI control and