Jamstik+ from Zivix is an interesting solution for guitarists who want to play MIDI instruments. While it's not a guitar, it feels mostly like a guitar because it has real strings, a neck, and frets—but it doesn't make any sound. On the plus side, you don't have to change or tune the strings. Also, the basic version has only five notes, so it's more of a "first-position chords" guitar. You can't go much past a barre G or first position A played as C, and of course, playing leads high up on the "neck" is not possible, although you can transpose the range over which it plays.
Although invented more as a way to learn guitar, the Zivix Jamstik+ can also trigger virtual instruments via MIDI.
Because it's physically small you'll need to use the included strap, and it's a little harder to work your way around the neck than a guitar. However, it doesn't take long to acclimate yourself and if you want to lay down a MIDI part based on playing rhythm guitar, you're good to go. Just remember a few tips:
Jamstik+ generates controller data that's not relevant to what we're doing. So, in your host of choice you can disable everything except notes to help thin out the data stream.
Glitches really aren't an issue, because the Jamstik uses infrared sensors to detect when your finger is on a fret. However, you can generate sub-20 ms notes that while not problematic, aren't needed. Your recording software may have a function that lets you delete all notes below a certain duration or velocity with a couple mouse clicks.
Jamstik+ can work wirelessly with Bluetooth LE MIDI as well as with a wired USB MIDI connection.
For best results with synths, use Jamstik in its multi-timbral mode, so each string goes to its own channel in a multitimbral synthesizer. This not only sounds more realistic, but plays more like a guitar. If your synth has a legato mode, that can give even better results for some types of musical material.
Here is a video on how to use Jamstik+ with Ableton with a free instrument download.
Over his career, Anderton has toured and recorded with the group Mandrake, wrote the seminal books Electronic Projects for Musicians and Home Recording for Musicians, foretold the rise of electronic dance music back in 1981, consulted for dozens of companies, and lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and in three languages.
Anderton created a mechanically programmable drum machine in 1970, invented multiband distortion, started the first media-rich website devoted exclusively to musicians in 1995 on AOL, and co-founded Electronic Musician magazine. He is currently working on a book series, "The Musician's Guide to Home Recording," for Hal Leonard..