In part one of my Ibanez Gio Mikro mod I showed you how to replace the tuners, machine-heads or gear-heads, however you want to call them, on that great little guitar. A mod that is definitely required. But to go beyond pure requirements why not make this guitar control synthesisers. Make it a V-Guitar, GK-Ready, 13pin-connector-guitar, hexaphonic or a Roland-and-Axon-Ready guitar. However you want to call it.
Short explanation of what all this Fender/Roland/Axon/V-guitar/13pin/hexaphonic pickup gibberish is all about: It is about having a special pickup on the guitar that picks up each string separately and then sending all these signals to a device that is converting these audio signals into MIDI signals. The MIDI signal then can be used to control any synthesiser like a keyboard would. So with the strings of our guitar or bass we can produce MIDI notes, send them to a keyboard/synth and play them as if we were pressing the black and white keys on the keyboard. Sounds like fun? It is fun. Sounds like being practical? Well, yes and no. We’ll discuss that another time.
Mod No 2 – Roland 13-pin connection
This mod is purely for fun. I wanted to surprise everybody by producing sounds with this little guitar that could never come out of a normal electric guitar. Triggering some cool synth sounds and play trumpet, cello, flutes, a full orchestra, … it’s endless. I love connecting my guitars to synthesisers. So here we go.
This was a bit trickier than part 1. It started with the choosing the right pickup type. There was no way that I would just add an external Roland GK-3 with its plastic housing on top of the guitar. It had to go into the guitar to look cool. I had basically two options:
- using Graph Tech piezo loaded Ghost saddles with their Hexpander Preamp or
- Roland’s internal GK-KIT-GT3 that comes with a preamp included
I took the Roland kit, simply for the reason that it was available at a local music store. Bear in mind when thinking of using the Graph Tech: the saddles must match the bridge. I already have the Ghost system installed on a Fender Telecaster and a Godin Freeway SA guitar and it’s absolutely cool. The difference of to the Roland system is that there will be an additional thin pickup on my Ibanez. Another reason for using the Roland kit: the guitar with its full name is now called ‘Ibanez Gio Mikro GRGM21GB with Roland GK-Kit-GT3’. Repeat that without looking…
So, off to the workbench, there is a major change waiting for me.
The challenge was to fit all that stuff into the guitar. But I knew I would leave out a few parts anyway. Here the list of options and what I did with it:
- Volume pot: I left the original volume pot on the Ibanez. It controls the magnetic pickup volume. And I topped it with a metal knob.
- Tone pot: I took the tone pot out and replaced it with a new pot (there was non included in the Roland kit that I got) of 47k Ohms to control the synth volume. I don’t mind the missing tone control at all. I never use it anyway. But I topped with a metal knob, getting rid of the cheap plastic knob
- Magnetic-pickup select switch: untouched, it switches between the magnetic pickups as usual
- Synth/Magnetic/Mix-pickup select switch: with this switch you can quickly choose between the pickup signals of the synth and the magnetic pickups. I don’t need this and control this purely using the two volume controls
- Program up/down switches: they are often called S1/S2 switches in the MIDI guitar controllers. I don’t use them much, decided to leave them out to reduce wiring. And, they weren’t included in the kit either.
- LED: there was none included in the kit that I got. It could look cool in the guitar but I didn’t want to add more wirings
- Output jack for normal guitar cable: I want to use this guitar also with just a normal guitar cable over any standard guitar amplifier. To free the original position on the Ibanez for the guitar output I added a Stratocaster style output jack onto the body. I think this looks totally cool and better than before!
- Output jack for the special Roland cable: This sits now on the bottom side of the body where the normal output was. I widened the opening a good bit to fit the Roland connector in.
Now this guitar can be played in normal fashion over any amplifier or it can be connected to any guitar synthesiser equipment. Did I say it already? It’s not a guitar for children anymore. No kidding.
What’s left? Guitar finished? No? No. One day the pickups will have to be replaced.
Some more pictures
Contact me if you want to have your guitar to talk to synthesisers. And I’d be interested in what you think of such a mod. Feel free to leave a comment.