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The Yamaha EZ-EG Guitar Midi Controller Thread

Anything about MUSIC but doesn't fit into the forums above.

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SecondSkin
KVRian
 
587 posts since 15 Dec, 2003, from Hangin' out with my 5 year old

Postby SecondSkin; Sat Apr 17, 2004 9:11 pm The Yamaha EZ-EG Guitar Midi Controller Thread

For those of you interested in pursuing alternate midi controllers...

Last year Yamaha released their "EZ" series of "learning guitars" -- guitar shaped devices with a fretboard full of backlit keys (to aid in learning chords) instead of strings. While these are marketed as learning guitars, their midi controller capabilies have been generally overlooked (even by Yamaha's own marketing dept). To the best of my ability, I will try to clear that up here.

First off, the good news. This thing sends out a reliable and relatively expressive stream of midi data! Your host sequencer will recieve exactly what you played, with accurate velocity, no extraneous pitch-bends and no tracking delay. Hallelujah!

There are 72 very light action "keys", laid out in a fretboard pattern (12 frets x 6 rows). They depress very easily and light when pressed (handy for cleaning up your playing technique). All keys send midi note-ons ( 28-88 ) and are triggered by both fretting the notes and strumming the triggers (a set of bars on the body, laid out in six-string pattern).

Hidden gem #1: fretting notes (no strum) sends out a very low velocity (vel=14) note-on. This sounds remarkably realistic using the onboard guitar patches, but is worth far more when used with synths or VSTi's. By varying your synths' velocity sensitivity you can add some expressive elements to your performances. Best of all, by lowering or eliminating velocity sensitivity you can play synths simply by fretting notes (no strum necessary). This greatly reduces stray notes, and is a feature found on Starr Labs midi controllers.

Because of this feature, hammer-ons and pull-offs are quite realistic, an elusive characteristic in guitar-midi controllers. The only problem is that you can't pull-off to an open string, it simply results in a note off.

Hidden Gem #2: The triggers work incerdibly well. They respond accurately to velocity (roughly 15-128) and somehow sustain nearly indefinitely. Best of all, you can mute strings just like a real guitar. You can even mute individual stings (you will get a staccato burst of notes, just like a guitar) or let them howl. Then when you touch the trigger with your hand, the sustain stops. Remarkable.

Downsides? The pull-off issue mentioned above and the fact that the tremelo (pitch bend) bar seems locked at +/- 200 cents. But these are very minor gripes considering that I now have something that many midi guitarist have longed for for years -- a reliable stream of midi data with no tracking delay and no extraneous pitchbend data. While it is still no Ztar, for $299 (or $199 without the tremelo), I am happy.

You can find out more about the EZ-EGhere.
Last edited by SecondSkin on Mon Feb 21, 2005 7:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
And all life's fears
Can invade my ears
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lsd
KVRist
 
426 posts since 15 Mar, 2002, from Detroit, MI

Postby lsd; Sat Apr 17, 2004 9:52 pm

Good looking out! I recently had to sell my Casio PG380 due to technical reasons and have been holding out for a cheaper solution then getting a brain and pickup for my guitars. I might get the EZ-AG. So you think it plays pretty good? I liked playing pads with my casio, does it track as good as lets say a roland pickup combo? Is there a difference with the tracking between the two models?

Thomas
glurgle
KVRAF
 
1622 posts since 18 Mar, 2002, from Victoria, BC

Postby glurgle; Sat Apr 17, 2004 11:20 pm

it doesn't actually 'track' at all. It's just buttons laid out like a fretboard. That said, I want one. A Ztar would be nicer, but this is cool too. (and sooo much cheaper). Btw, can it use tuning other than standard? or just that?
SecondSkin
KVRian
 
587 posts since 15 Dec, 2003, from Hangin' out with my 5 year old

Postby SecondSkin; Sun Apr 18, 2004 5:47 am

Glurgle is right, there is no tracking delay at all since there is nothing to track (with either the EG or AG). Push a button get a sound. Hit a string, get a louder sound. It works great.

So you think it plays pretty good?


It plays very well. Your playing needs to be very clean (it is just a little too easy to hit a wrong key), especially if you are playing sounds that have sharp attacks. Pad sounds, strings and other sounds that have slow attacks work great 100% of the time.

I've had it for 3 days (and played it for many hours), but I'm still always aware that I'm playing an instrument that isn't exactly a guitar. If I look away from the fretboard while playing a lead guitar sound (tons of fun with Slayer 2!) however, I can almost totally forget that I'm not playing a guitar. Until I want to bend a string, that is....can't be done on the EZ-EG I'm afraid.

Btw, can it use tuning other than standard? or just that?


You can transpose the entire freboard +/- 12 semitones and there are a few alternate tunings (drop D and some open chords), but you can't specify individual string tunings like a Ztar.

Another thing to note is that the EZ-EG has a pretty extensive midi implementation (including firmware updates, I think). I'll bet someone could hack some serious upgrades to it.
And all life's fears
Can invade my ears
I can handle it
mbncp
KVRian
 
1280 posts since 17 Jul, 2003

Postby mbncp; Mon Apr 19, 2004 9:58 am

I just got an ez-ag a few weeks ago and have to say that this 'toy' is amazing.
It is much easier to play than using my std guitar with a G50 converter.
I'm having some good results with sampletank 2, using 6, 6+6 or 12 parts/channels and portamento on all of them.
Just great. Would have been nice a few midi knobs on it, but currently I'm using my oxygen and a midi plug to send various cc to some or all channels to the synth.
Next buy will be one of these double midi foot controller (pitchbend, velocity, all note off, ..)
14-15 frets would have been better ...
I also use the midi plug to adjust the velocity of the fretting notes (it's allways 14 ?).
When using as a controller, it's better to set it to external sync ([tempo]-[volume] -> [-]/[+])
Now, I can't wait for the EZ-BG 8)
virtual virtuoso
KVRist
 
35 posts since 22 Apr, 2001, from On the spot.

Postby virtual virtuoso; Mon Apr 19, 2004 10:02 am

I bought an EZ-AG some months ago. Would have bought the EG, but there was no trace of it in the web shops nor in my dealers catalogue.

OMG, I didn't know that it actually sends Note Off! Always played it with Local Control Off to get rid of it's internal sound and then it doesn't! Must use Local Control On (and a blind jack in the phone socket :lol: )

You really opened a new world to me with this review :)

thx
tom
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SyntheticAurality
KVRAF
 
8066 posts since 2 Apr, 2002, from Tulsa, OK, USA

Postby SyntheticAurality; Mon Apr 19, 2004 10:09 am

Interesting.. I'm assuming that you can turn off all the "easy play" stuff and just use it as a MIDI controller, or are you stuck with the flashy lights all the time?

I'm really curious about this now.. I wonder if anyone local sells them?
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whyterabbyt
Beware the Quoth
 
22289 posts since 3 Sep, 2001, from R'lyeh Oceanic Amusement Park and Funfair

Postby whyterabbyt; Mon Apr 19, 2004 10:14 am

Sounds cool, but since I just got myself a Casio DG20 off ebay, I'll be sticking with that for a while... :)
To laymen, software development is something akin to wizardry. Neither time, nor effort are involved. If software is missing features they want, or has bugs, it is solely because someone has been too lazy to wave their magic wand.
virtual virtuoso
KVRist
 
35 posts since 22 Apr, 2001, from On the spot.

Postby virtual virtuoso; Thu Apr 22, 2004 5:25 am

I'm assuming that you can turn off all the "easy play" stuff and just use it as a MIDI controller, or are you stuck with the flashy lights all the time?


Well, sort of. It flashes all the time you use the lowest six frets.

Drawbacks:
- it's very easy to start the thing playing an inbuilt song if you slide past the highest note...
- tried to use it with a synth that only receives one midi channel at a time - noticed it sends the 'strings' on separate channels (1-6)...

Anyway, this is one interesting 'midi controller', although I don't see why they didn't make it a bit more versatile. I believe it's not really the target group. :) Just try before you buy.

I also use the midi plug to adjust the velocity of the fretting notes (it's allways 14 ?)


Can someone tell me which (reasonably low priced) hosts support midi plugs or have inbuilt mechanisms to filter/manipulate midi information?

Thx
tom
SecondSkin
KVRian
 
587 posts since 15 Dec, 2003, from Hangin' out with my 5 year old

Postby SecondSkin; Thu Apr 22, 2004 8:52 am

I'm assuming that you can turn off all the "easy play" stuff and just use it as a MIDI controller, or are you stuck with the flashy lights all the time?


Of course you don't have to use the "easy play" modes at all, but the keys always light when you press them (in local mode all of them light, not just the first 6 frets). I actually like this feature, as it is a clear indication that I have misfretted a note.

It is much easier to play than using my std guitar with a G50 converter.


Glad to hear it. I came soooo close to buying a GR1. My deciding factor was all the pitchbend data that the pitch-midi systems send.

Next buy will be one of these double midi foot controller (pitchbend, velocity, all note off, ..)


Ditto, though I may try to hack a way to make one of the data keys send an all note off message. That is the biggest irritation I have found so far -- those triggers really sustain too long when strummed open and you have to touch them just right dampen them.

Anyway, this is one interesting 'midi controller', although I don't see why they didn't make it a bit more versatile. I believe it's not really the target group.


There's only a couple improvements I would make (and I wouldn't even expect them at $300): make the string damping easier, allow pulloffs to open strings, and user definition of velocity for fretted notes. Then it would be perfect (and they could probably charge $500+ for it).

In any event, Yamaha's marketing has totally missed the boat on this thing. There is literally no official info anywhere that it can be used as a midi controller at all. And as it is, is quite an effective one at at that. With the explosion of softsynths, Yamaha may be missing the real market.

Mark

Oh yeah, don't tell anyone...but I did use the easy play to learn how to play "Take Me Home Country Roads".
And all life's fears
Can invade my ears
I can handle it
atomic_(no)afro
KVRian
 
630 posts since 17 Dec, 2002

Postby atomic_(no)afro; Thu Apr 22, 2004 9:38 am

Say did you guys know that impOSCar has a MIDI guitar mode? I bet you could set impOSCar in midi guitar mode to monophonic with the right glide settings and play convincing polyphonic slides, sweet! After you guys mentioned that the EZEG/EZAG sends "strings" to different MIDI channels (the style that impOSCar's MIDI guitar mode uses) I might just have to go pick one up! 80's euro new wave cheese pop here I come!

ATA
PS the lighted frets are a nice touch, it would look awesome on an otherwise dark stage.
virtual virtuoso
KVRist
 
35 posts since 22 Apr, 2001, from On the spot.

Postby virtual virtuoso; Thu Apr 22, 2004 9:41 am

the keys always light when you press them (in local mode all of them light, not just the first 6 frets)


On the EZ-AG it's only the first six.

make the string damping easier, allow pulloffs to open strings, and user definition of velocity for fretted notes.


For me the damping and even thumb picking of the bass strings work slighly random. Not the pick, though. But velocity for fretted notes may really be a problem - or you get over double notes by playing very accurately :D

I'd expect the velocity control even for this price. Because it would make (midi) control for beginners much easier. I'd make the neck a bit less wobbly, add your suggestions and charge 300.

BTW can the string bits be replaced in case they 'wear out'?

Yamaha's marketing has totally missed the boat on this thing.


On the whole it feels like a toy and that's what it seems to be marketed like.

tom
WhiteNoise
KVRist
 
495 posts since 4 Nov, 2003, from Philadelphia, PA USA

Postby WhiteNoise; Thu Apr 22, 2004 10:07 am

Ooh, I want one. Where can I get a good deal?
David Wallin - White Noise Audio Software
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mbncp
KVRian
 
1280 posts since 17 Jul, 2003

Postby mbncp; Thu Apr 22, 2004 10:25 am

- it's very easy to start the thing playing an inbuilt song if you slide past the highest note...

Make sure to set sync to ext (tempo+volume buttons)
Can someone tell me which (reasonably low priced) hosts support midi plugs or have inbuilt mechanisms to filter/manipulate midi information?

Most Cakewalk products support mfx midi plugs. (Home Studio is about 90U$)
Cubase Sx has an mfx wrapper(vers.1.08 ) with a nasty bug (all midi channels are forces to channel 1, on live events)

MfxScript is a plug to write midi filters the ‘easy’ way, using the vbscript engine (windows only). I already made a few scripts that are useful with the EZ-AG, but I need to do some more tweaking, using a timer to turn notes off, removing the fret notes in certain conditions ..?
ejr
KVRist
 
136 posts since 30 Aug, 2001, from Towcester UK

Postby ejr; Thu Apr 22, 2004 10:43 am

Are these 'guitars' available in the UK??
Yamaha Kembles site doesnt mention them and doesnt have a way to ask normal questions by email....but you can get a manual for your moped...
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