Let’s face it: guitar synthesizers have been largely a bust. Honestly, how many times have you seen a guitarist on stage with a MIDI pickup controlling synthetic or sampled sounds? Once? Maybe? A few famous players have experimented with them: John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, etc. The general guitar public—not so much. Roland has been trying to make the idea user friendly since the Eighties to little avail, despite great strides in technology. Axon makes a terrific Audio to MIDI converter, which when combined with Graphtech’s Ghost system works very well. I have used them all, but when it comes to laying down a synth part I still reach for the keyboard: easy setup, no tracking issues. All the above companies are still in the guitar synth business so someone is obviously buying them, but for the most part it remains easier to get Charlie Sheen into rehab than to get a guitarist to play a guitar synthesizer.
BACK TO MONO
The first inkling that guitar synth might become more appealing came when I reviewed the Sonuus (not to be confused with PreSonus) G2M audio to MIDI converter a couple of years ago. This tiny box, smaller than an iPhone, provided tracking that rivaled the big boys with much less setup muss and fuss. It was only monophonic but that was easily worked around by layering parts and/or synths. What was less appealing was having to use a standard MIDI cable, in these days of USB MIDI, and having to use a separate cable to output audio.
Apparently Sonuus felt the same way and has now come out with the i2M musicport. Barely larger than the cables you insert, the musicport makes the G2M seem gargantuan. Despite its tiny size and plastic construction, the i2M feels solid. USB power lights up the Sonuus logo for more than decorative purposes. The light lets you know which of four Modes you have chosen by pushing the small plastic button below the first “S” in Sonuus.