Sending GuitarSharp MIDI to a DAW

GuitarSharp allows you to play your music through an Audio or MIDI device. In a previous article (Better MIDI Sound), we showed you how to send your MIDI output to MIDI Synthesisers like the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth and VirtualMidiSynth. However, you can also send the GuitarSharp MIDI output to a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). To do this, you need to make use of a Virtual Midi Loopback. This is needed because GuitarSharp is not a hardware MIDI device, and so a Virtual Midi Port is used as a loopback. GuitarSharp can be configured to send its MIDI output to this Virtual Midi Port, and the DAW configured to receive from this Virtual Midi Port.

In the steps below, we will use PreSonus Studio One 5 as our DAW, and get it receiving MIDI data from GuitarSharp. Initially we will get this working in the simplest way possible and go through the necessary steps of getting all the components communicating together. This will send all MIDI data to a single Instrument/Track in PreSonus Studio One 5. In a subsequent section we will see how we can split the Channels of MIDI data into different Instruments/Tracks.

The Simplest Scenario

Step 1 – A Virtual Midi Loopback is needed so that GuitarSharp MIDI output can be sent to the DAW. For this tutorial we will use Tobias Erichsen’s loopMIDI which can be downloaded for free from:

Step 2 – Start loopMIDI once you have installed it.

Enter a name for your Virtual Midi port in the “New port-name” field and then click the + button:

You should now see your port listed:

Step 3 – Run GuitarSharp and load/import your previously saved file that you want to output MIDI for.

Step 4 – We need to tell GuitarSharp that you want to send output to MIDI rather than Audio. In the PLAYBACK menu tab, in the Playback Output section, select the MIDI button.

Step 5 – Now we need to tell each Part (Instrument) which MIDI device/channel it should use. In the VIEW menu tab, click the Explorer button so that the Explorer pane is shown at the bottom of the screen.

Step 6 – Each Part listed in the Explorer pane has a MIDI icon which can be clicked on. For each Part you should click this icon and then select your previously created loopMIDI device from the Device Name list. Also, select the MIDI Channel that you want to be used on this device. Each Guitar String can have its own Channel if required, but for the meantime, clicking Select Default Channels will assign the same free Midi Channel to each Guitar String. Once all Parts have had this configured, we have now completed configuring GuitarSharp for MIDI output.

Step 7 – Start PreSonus Studio One 5.

Step 8 – From the start screen, click the Configure External Devices… option, and then click the Add… button.

Step 9 – Pick the New Keyboard item (note, don’t select the New Instrument item as this is not suitable). Enter a Manufacturer and a Device Name. Ensure All the Midi Channels are selected, and then pick your previously created loopMIDI device from the Receive From list. Then click OK.

Step 10 – You should now see your newly added device in the list. We have now completed configuring PreSonus Studio One on how it should receive MIDI sent from GuitarSharp.

Step 11 – Click New Song from the start screen and accept the default settings.

Step 12 – For this tutorial, we will pass the GuitarSharp MIDI output through the PreSonus Studio One Distorted Guitar Instrument. From the Instruments pane, open the Guitar items and drag/drop the Distorted Gtr item onto the timeline.

Step 13 – Your screen should now look something like this:

Step 14 – Our setup is now all complete. So let’s just recap what we have done here:

  • Added a device to loopMIDI.
  • Told GuitarSharp to output MIDI.
  • Configured each Part in GuitarSharp that it should send its MIDI output to the loopMIDI device.
  • Added a new External Device to PreSonus Studio One so that it knows to receive the MIDI data from the loopMIDI device which GuitarSharp is sending there.
  • Added a Distorted Guitar track to PreSonus Studio One so that the MIDI data received can be translated into audio that we can hear.

Step 15 – Everything is now linked up and we are now ready to go. In GuitarSharp, in the PLAYBACK menu tab, click the Play button.

Step 16 – You should expect to see the following:

  • GuitarSharp is playing.
  • The loopMIDI screen is showing some changing values for Total data that is has processed.
  • The MIDI icon at the bottom of PreSonus Studio One is flashing to indicate MIDI input is being received.
  • An output bar is pulsating beside the Distorted Gtr track in the PreSonus Studio One track pane.
  • You can hear the sound (make sure your speakers are turned on!).

Step 17 – You can now alter the sound parameters within the PreSonus Studio One Distorted Gtr instrument. You can also record the
music by clicking on the Record icon on the toolbar along the bottom of the PreSonus Studio One screen.

Taking Things a Step Further

If you have multiple Parts/Instruments in GuitarSharp, then you are likely to want them to be directed to separate Tracks/Instruments in your DAW so that you can mix/edit them independently.

In the above section, we used the Midi Output Settings screen in the GuitarSharp Explorer to configure the MIDI Channels for each Part in turn (Step 6). Clicking the Select Default Channels button will have given each Part its own dedicated MIDI Channel. For example, a Lead Guitar Part could have gone to MIDI Channel 1, and a Rhythm Guitar Part could have gone to MIDI Channel 2. These are distinct MIDI Channels of communication to the GuitarSharpLoopMidi device and form the basis of allowing us to split the sent and received MIDI data.

When we previously setup the External Devices in PreSonus Studio One above (Step 9), we selected the All option for the MIDI Channels. This meant the External Device received all the channels of MIDI data. You can now go back and edit these settings to add multiple External Devices – one dedicated to each specific MIDI Channel.

In the example below, we have created three instances of the External Device. All of them Receive From the same GuitarSharpLoopMidi device, but each only listen to a single dedicated MIDI Channel (not All). Below we have setup three instances, each is named to indicate which MIDI Channel it corresponds to as that will make it easier for us later, and is set to the specific MIDI Channel.

Note: When you setup multiple usages of the same Receive From device, PreSonus Studio One will show the below warning:

You can ignore this as we won’t actually be using the same Port on the same device.

Once you have setup the required number of instances of the External Device that corresponds to the number of Instruments/Tracks you are interested in having play in PreSonus Studio One, your External Devices screen should look something like this below which shows we have setup MIDI Channels 1, 3 and 5 to receive MIDI data from device GuitarSharpLoopMidi:

To use these External Devices in PreSonus Studio One, you should drag/drop the required number of Instruments from the Instruments pane, onto the timeline. Below, we have added three types of guitars that we will use to each receive their dedicated MIDI data from GuitarSharp.

When you click on each Track’s top right Keyboard icon, you will be shown the control panel for the track’s Instrument. From here we can tell the Instrument which MIDI Channel it should receive from. The drop down in the top right will show you the External Devices we previously setup (this is where it pays to name your External Devices clearly!). By selecting the External Device that corresponds to the MIDI Channel required allows the track in PreSonus Studio One to just receive the data from the Part in GuitarSharp which has been configured to send to that MIDI Channel.

We hope that you found this article useful. By linking GuitarSharp to a DAW via MIDI means that you benefit from the guitar centric composing features of GuitarSharp and utilise the excellent audio sampling provided by the DAW.