My "Orchestral Guitar" Setup
The diagram below represents one of my former equipment set-ups. With it, I could can command a huge variety sounds, blend instrument combinations, and perform looping compositions that I wouldn't have dreamed possible when I was first learning to play the guitar. My setup's two main ingredients were the Lexicon JamMan and Roland's GR-30 Guitar-Synth. I also gigged with a simplified version that setup used only the acoustic guitar. [Note: Since making this diagram and page, I have replaced the JamMan with the Boomerang.]
The Lexicon JamMan is a small rack-mount unit that allows me to record live with a tap of a foot pedal. When the pedal is tapped again, it immediately plays back the recorded "sample" in looping form. This makes it possible to play as an ensemble by yourself. You can lay down any repetitive type chord progression or bass pattern and improvise until the cows come home. You may also record additional parts to your loop. The manual suggests a maximum of 8 layers but I have a composition where I end up with 13 or 14 recorded parts with no problem. It comes stock with 8 seconds of memory but is easily upgradable to 32 seconds. (mine has been upgraded) Although the JamMan is no longer produced, it may be possible to find one for sale. There are other comparable looping boxes available such as the Oberheim Echoplex and the Boomerang. For much more information and ways to use this type of device visit the Loopers Delight. pages.

The other major piece of equipment in the setup is the Roland GR-30. This is Roland's latest model guitar synthesizer. When coupled with a guitar equipped with a special divided pickup/controller, it puts a large array of sounds at your disposal. One of my favorite GR-30 features is that you can assign the sounds to any individual string or group of strings. This is great boon to fingerstyle guitarists because you can, for example, place one of the many bass (or tuba!) patches on your low E and A strings and have an instant bottom.

In my current arrangement, the GR-30 also serves as

a midi program change pedal for a Digitech 128 (an older effects processor) I muted the entire first bank of patches to use when playing the acoustic guitar straight without any synth. Basically, I use these four patches (A11 to A14) to call up various strengths of reverb & delay that I commonly use. This change has simplified the setup a little and eliminated the need for an extra pedal to control effects.

For more information on the digital guitar and a great many other music toys, visit: "One-Person Band" John Pollock's very in depth Troubadour Tech, and The MIDI Guitar Unofficial Home Page.

The reason I have placed the volume pedal last in the chain is that there, it allows me to manually fade out compositions made with the JamMan.

The RMC Pickup consists of six "Acoustic Gold" individual saddle transducers. I chose the option of having onboard electronics with RMC's "Poly Drive IV". It gives you 3-band EQ, the 2 synth drive control buttons, guitar volume and synth volume. The only drawback here was having to saw two good-sized orifices in one of my new guitars. But it was worth it to me to have the onboard controls and besides, the pickup works great.

Some of Richard McClish's RMC Pickup Company products are shown installed below (left to right): the 6 "Acoustic Gold" saddle transducers, the Poly Drive IV control panel, and the Polyphonic Output Jackplate.

My goal is to make my equipment setup simpler, smaller, and more portable without giving up any of its versatility. The majority of the 6-space rack is now dedicated to processing the straight acoustic guitar sound. The guitar shown above is one of my handmade fingerstyle guitars. I've found that my standard fingerboard width of 1 7/8" is particularly suited for the clean playing required for MIDI guitar.

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