Guitar Hero as an instrument or midi controller

[Robert] wrote a program using Max/MSP that lets him make music with his guitar hero controller. There’s another video after the break where he walks through the various features but here’s the gist of it. This works on Mac and Windows and allows a sort of ‘live play’ or midi mapping mode. In the midi mode each key can be configured to do your bidding. His example uses the pick bar to scroll through different samples and the green button the play them or the red button to stop.

The live mode us much more involved. In the software you choose the type of scale and the key you’d like to play in. This makes up for the controller’s lack of enough frets to make it a chromatic instrument and these settings can be adjust from the controller. There is an up-pick offset that makes the upward movement of the pick bar a different note than the downward movement. The motion control can also be used as an input. He demonstrates pitch bending and cutoff using that method.

This looks like a lot of fun. He needs to team up with [Joran] to add drums to the mix, forming a much more creative rock band than you can buy in the store.


  1. uuuu says:

    not a hack

  2. googfan says:

    ugh, just what we didn’t need

  3. Are says:

    I’m impressed. ^ You two get over yourselves

  4. deathventure says:

    rockin a new iteration of a keytar

  5. cheese says:

    ok, problem. I installed the software and all, but to switch to play mode i have to press back and start. the problem being i have a Mad Cats precision bass for 360 and the back and start buttons are on a rotary knob. only one can be hit at a time. Now, i know i could add external buttons but i’d like to just be able to change the keymapping for this trigger. :/

  6. colin says:

    but I forgot to make a video about it.
    I was even going to submit it to hackaday. You can play any instrument including guitar and chords with binary combinations of buttons pressed. It’s just an executable, no need to install it. I promise no viruses :)

  7. tbjr6 says:

    i made a simpler but similar program in java

  8. bob says:

    @cheese the progs specically written for the standard xbox guitar. if you wanna use the app for gigs or something, hit me up through my site and i’ll mod the patch for you. or if your a max/msper i can just send you the source :)

    you might also wanna google miditar hero which is similar sans the HUD and tilt sensors but supports third party stuff (i think).

  9. as a guitar player and an electronics fanatic, i have to keep it real and declare Death To Guitar Hero.

    I can appreciate the effort and thought that went into this, but that game is to music what Simon Says is to… well, music.

    but don’t hate on my hate, it’s not directed at Robert.

  10. markii says:

    I thought that the title was:
    Guitar Hero as an instrument… of DEATH :)

  11. Andrew diaz says:

    That program is really exciting and its look like fun. but playing any instrument like guitar in realty gives much pleasure.

  12. cynic says:

    Finally, a midi instrument by someone who knows how to play it. So many similar things that get posted are just proof of concept, done by a programmer or hardware tinkerer rather than a musician who is also a hacker.

  13. McSquid says:

    now please do the same for DJ hero <3 and make sure to allow for two decks!

  14. john says:

    Wasn’t somehting very similar on the cover of MAKE a coupla years ago?

  15. DeFex says:

    now they need to make guitar hero hero so kids can pretend to play guitar hero to play music.

  16. Patrick says:

    Get a haircut and a real job.

    Also, learn to play the real guitar. It’s a lot more fun, I promise.

  17. jonnythefox says:


    Not hard, not really a hack, not worthy.

  18. patrickIsaDouche says:

    Idiots should refrain from breathing. I imagine I’m not the only tech literate person who came here looking for a dj hero mod in order to save a few hundred on a digital turn table set up.

    Being a musician with multiple outlets gets expensive. Of course the real thing is always better but unfortunately isn’t always an option when a particular piece of gear isn’t something you plan on using frequently.

    Thanks to the author for taking the time to post this instead of wasting everybodys time with inane comments.

  19. Zingus says:

    The interfacing is kind of obvious, but the way he assigned the pentatonic to the buttons, the “shake” action, the sustain, and so on, is clever. I will probably build upon that.

    He also makes pretty decent music with a pretty good deal of expression with it. (instead of the boring laptop noise demos typically emit)

    Everybody blabbing about real guitars and so on should shut up. Every now and then I want my sawtooth waves to be really sawtoothed and you should too, you analog junkies.

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