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Even Harmonic Gtak 1.02 (Mac/Win) Review

March 11, 2009
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I''ve often declared that MIDI guitars are, at least potentially, more expressive controllers than keyboards. I still stand by my claim, but the sad truth is that deeper levels of expression require deeper programming skills involving the controller as well as the synth. My muse has been squelched countless times by attempts to wring more expression from various controller and synth combinations. I''ve often noted that hardware and software instruments make too few accommodations for MIDI guitar; they usually lack multitimbral capabilities and legato-mode support, for example, and other oversights tend to limit MIDI guitar''s potential as a controller.

Even Harmonic Gtak screenshot

If you''re a MIDI guitarist looking for an easy pathway to playing sample-based instruments, Gtak is right up your alley.

One of the advantages of all-in-one MIDI guitar converters such as Roland''s GR-20 and Terratec''s Axon AX-100 is that they provide expressive plug-and-play advantages right out of the box.

With Native Instruments Kontakt 3, the world of MIDI control is your oyster, but it is exceedingly time-consuming to optimize patches and multitimbral arrangements into guitar-friendly instruments. At the very least, you would want to build 6-channel Multis (a MIDI channel for each string) with each channel set up as a mono legato-mode patch, each with a pitch-bend range set to match that of your guitar. Now multiply that relatively simple task by the number of Kontakt presets and add the presets of third-party sound libraries.

If you want to exploit the deeper modulation capabilities of instruments like Terratec''s Axon MIDI guitar converters, you will need to get into Kontakt''s scripting and controller-mapping features, and that multiplies your setup tasks many, many times over. Wouldn''t it be terrific if you could load any instrument in the Kontakt library and just start to play with the minimal fuss afforded by standalone MIDI guitar units?

The good news is that Costas Calamvokis of Even Harmonic has done some Herculean heavy lifting for you with Gtak. Just what is Gtak? The short-form answer is that it is a meticulous reworking of the entire Kontakt 3 library for MIDI guitar using Kontakt 3''s powerful scripting features. Furthermore, you can add Gtak functionality to third-party sound libraries. Gtak positively rocks with Heavyocity Evolve.

The net result is that Gtak bestows the same out-of-the-box ease of use to Kontakt instruments as any of the aforementioned turnkey MIDI guitar systems. In the bargain, Gtak grants access to the more sophisticated control capabilities of the Axon MIDI guitar controller. Truly remarkable is that single Kontakt patches behave like Multis: Pitch Bend is independent for each string, and slides, hammer-ons, and pull-offs work smoothly in patches. If you have an Axon, that leaves Kontakt''s multitimbral setup for more important things such as building complex fingerboard maps with different instruments assigned to discrete fingerboard zones. It also gives you the ability to switch instruments based on pick position.

Even if you don''t have an Axon, Gtak adds to the functionality of some less flexible guitar systems. For instance, if you''ve ever wished that your MIDI guitar could transmit alternate tunings, you can do that to any patch within Kontakt, as long as your controller can send on six independent MIDI channels.

If you''ve ever loaded a bass or guitar patch and found that it is not programmed within your guitar''s playable range, I share your pain. You''ll be happy to know that the reworked Kontakt patches now sit realistically on your guitar fingerboard. In addition, instruments whose range stops before you run out of frets now cover the entire range of your guitar; maybe that is not in the interest of realism, but it sure beats having unplayable dead zones on your guitar. It''s amazing how liberating it is to load a Kontakt instrument, pick up your guitar, and just play without having to fidget.

Gtak costs $95, and because it works only with Kontakt 3, it''s a rather specialized item. However, if you own a MIDI guitar and you use Kontakt 3, or if you''re a MIDI guitarist looking for a software sampler, you''d be crazy to overlook this very fortuitous pairing. Gtak and Kontakt 3 are an unbeatable combination. Go to evenharmonic.com to download a trial version and view the videos. If you don''t have Kontakt, go to native-instruments.com; you can download a trial version that will work with Gtak.


Value (1 through 5): 5
Even Harmonic
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