While designed primarily for learning guitar, the Zivix jamstik+ [$299 street] sends standard MIDI data to interface with Mac apps—making it suitable as a MIDI guitar-type controller for Mac, but also Windows. Before getting too excited about this, please note there are only five frets (although you can transpose octaves and semitones) and sketchy pitch bending. However, the jamstik+ uses physical strings, and even though they’re triggers that don’t actually generate notes, in conjunction with the neck and frets they provide a guitar-like feel. What’s more, the jamstik+ sends very “clean” MIDI data. The tracking is excellent, because there’s really nothing to track, the velocity response has good dynamics, and you won’t have to do the cleanup often associated with MIDI-retrofitted traditional guitars.
Apps for iOS and Android can tweak the velocity response and other attributes. There’s no equivalent Windows app, but the jamstik+ stores any changes made using a supported host. You don’t need an app to change octaves, initiate Tap or Pitch-bend mode, or choose the MIDI mode, because physical buttons can do these functions. The jamstik+ supports MIDI Bluetooth Low Energy, so you can use it wire-lessly with compatible devices.
SOME JAMSTIK+ TIPS
The jamstik’s MIDI data, as captured by Cakewalk SONAR.
■ Because the controller is physically small, it’s harder to work with than a standard guitar, and you’ll need to use the included strap. .
■ Jamstik+ defaults to sending each string’s data on its own channel, and this is your the best option, assuming the target synthesizer is multi-timbral, and can produce sounds on different channels. These sounds can be the same (if you want to copy the same voice for multiple channels), or you can do tricks like set the fifth and sixth strings for an octave-lower bass sound.
■ For best results, set each synth channel’s polyphony to 1, so it plays one note per string—like a guitar. If your synth isn’t multi-timbral, a Single MIDI Channel Mode can send data from all strings over one channel.
■ Glitches aren’t really an issue—although it is possible to generate sub-20ms notes on attacks that aren’t problematic, but also not needed. Many DAWs can nuke all notes under a certain velocity or duration. Also, jamstik+ generates DAWirrelevant controller data, so filter out controller data at your DAW for a slimmer data stream.
■ Where the jamstik+ shines is playing pads and rhythm-guitar chords—although you can transpose up and play solo lines.