Tools and gear do not determine the creativity of the individual, but they help. When you (or someone you are working with) are working to write MIDI parts for different instruments, you may not be proficient with a piano to use just a keyboard to track all of the MIDI information you want. When it comes to this conundrum, finding alternative MIDI controllers to use can solve all of your problems! You get to approach the songwriting from a whole new standpoint with the feel of a different instrument.
Quicklook: Alternative MIDI Controllers
What To Look For When Choosing an alternative MIDI controller
Looking for an alternative MIDI controller was only difficult until recent times. Lately, technology has been catching up with the ideas that creative minds have come up with and we are able to skillfully apply the knowledge to new tools. Every controller you see on this list is a new way to approach MIDI that goes beyond the basic piano and pad controller approach, all you need to do is determine which matches your work style and budget.
5 Best Alternative MIDI Controllers
1. Jammy G
This instrument has made its way all over YouTube because of the unique applications and approach that Jammy took. Ryan Bruce has one of the best looks into the Jammy G that you can see here. You play this just like you would any guitar but now it can sound like anything
The Jammy G is a 6 stringed musical wonder. You have strap connectors, a whammy bar, and even an app for controls and to keep it updated. The portability is a huge benefit to this as well with it able to be separated into 4 pieces to easily pack away for travel.
Who’s it for? Guitar Players
Connection Type: USB-C
Power: Rechargeable Battery via USB-C
Not only can the Akai Professional EWI be used with its own built-in sounds, but it can be used as a unique MIDI controller. You have connections on the underside to attach a MIDI cable that can then be used to track MIDI data and notes.
If you are looking to track any type of brass or woodwind via virtual instruments, and you have an actual instrumentalist, this is the tool for you. It helps capture the proper response for intensity and note transitions for a wind instrument.
Who’s it for? Horns and Woodwind Sounds
Connection Type: USB and MIDI Cable
Power: Rechargeable Battery via USB
Organs have been the backbone of many music genres. While it isn’t that obvious, whenever you play an organ, your feet will often be pressing pedals beneath to get the bass notes. With the MP-117, you can get an accurate feel of playing an organ and set it up to play the bass notes that your hands cannot reach.
The Studiologic MP-117 is perfect to set up beneath your desk or wherever your regular MIDI keyboard is set up. You also have controls for transposition and bank selection. This gets you the ability to change the range that the pedals are in.
Who’s it for? Organ Players
Connection Type: 5 Pin MIDI
This is a super unique and creative MIDI tool. You can attach the Fishman TriplePlay to almost any guitar to turn it into a MIDI controller. All you have to do is slide the pickup in next to the bridge and get it to line up correctly with the strings.
Fishman is one of the most trustworthy companies for pickups, especially for acoustics. They have made some of the best pickups for both inside guitars as well as on the bridge. It was only a matter of time until this sort of tool was put on the market and I’m glad it was Fishman that did it.
Who’s it for? Guitarists
Connection Type: Micro USB
Power: Micro USB
When it comes to creative MIDI controllers of the future, the ROLI Lightpad Block is on that list. The general functions are not that different from a standard MIDI pad controller. However, this is all about portability being mixed with function.
The ROLI Lightpad Block offers a wired connection but also wireless. Beyond basic tapping, you can slide and press in different ways to shape your sounds as you play them. Additionally, you can attach more Lightpad Blocks to each other to create a larger controller to use.
Who’s it for? Intermediate and above
Connection Type: USB C
Power: Rechargeable Battery via USB C
Creativity is a Killer
Keeping your creativity alive is most important when it comes to writing. It can be easy to burn out and lose focus. When you introduce a new tool or sound into your workflow, it can revitalize your creativity, as well as introduce new options that were not available before. This is perfect for small studios or newer producers wanting to expand the tools they have to work with. All of these alternative controllers are great ways to try new things in audio as well as improve the dynamics of your virtual instruments.
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