what do you need to become a Hex-player?
1. a separate pickup for each string
...or a ready guitar with a hex output (see below). there are many options to put pickups on your guitar, either without changing it, just sticked on top of it, or by drilling some wholes, making it permanent.
a preamp for each string is needed and usually provided with the pickup. a few controls for the synth are common but not really needed, you can do it on the floor if you do not want them in the guitar.
2. instrument cable with a wire for each string
the only standard that spread over the last 30 years is the Roland DIN13 connector. its not as solid as we would like. here is a good version.
if you only want to connect synth to your guitar, there are wireless MIDI options now.
3. mixing desk or computer interface or polyeffect/synth box
here is where the processing for each string happens.
you can connect each string to a channel on your mixer and insert effects for them. on a analog mixer you can pan strings in space and add less reverb to the bass strings and remove bass bumps from high strings and send single strings to special effects. on a digital mixer you can insert the same effect for every string.
you will need a break out box (BoB) to split from your hex-cable to 6 patch cables
a more flexible solution is a audio interface for the computer with as many channels as there are strings or rather a few more for the old standard pickup and some microphone or analog effects. In the computer you can either open 6 instances of a guitar specific plugin or use dedicated hex software (not much available yet).
you either need a break out box (BoB) to split from you hex-cable to 6 patch cables - or you use a Boss GP-10 or SY-1000 to convert directly from 13pin DIN to USB!
the best solution for the moment is a dedicated effect and/or synth unit with a hex input. there is a good bunch to choose from in the next paragraph!
Manufacturers of hex-equipment
clearly deserves to be mentioned first. they created over a dozend guitar synthesizers and hexaphonic effect units since 1980 and their 13pin DIN connection turned into the standard. the Boss GP-10 and SY-1000 also convert each string to USB audio and thus allow computer processing.
6Appeal is a smart digitally controlled analog processor capable of filtering, distortions and volume/pan modulations
single string piezo pickups and PolyDistortion since 1984 . since 2008, the split-string VST plugins PolyPlugs
Axon / Blue Chip
Antares had a great pitch machine ATG-1 for hex guitars and gave it up - maybe because it only did pitch?
instruments with separate outputs per string
Here is a collection of such guitars!
- Godin makes a lot of Roland compatible guitars with either graph-tec or RMC pickups
- Paradis / Rolf Spuler build guitars with their own piezo pickup since 1984. up to 1995 with the solid 8pin connector Neuticon, then joining in to the 13pin DIN
- Gibson holds a patent for Digital Guitar and invested a lot into network connections but then...?
- Brian Moore
- Parker, Kramer, Frame,,
pickups and accessories
- Cycfy most advanced magnetic pickups with build-in preamps
- Separate Strings big site with specific gear like break out boxes and hints
- Vintage Roland Guitar Synth Ressources is an impressive collection of information and accessories
- Primovasound accessories
- RMC single string piezo pickups and break out boxes
- Graphtech separate string pickups for acoustic and electric guitars and electronic modules
- L.R.Baggs piezo bridges for electric guitars
- Fishman offers poly-pickups a wireless MIDI system
- Shadow piezo pickup
- Ubertar magnetic pickups
- Copeland magnetic pickup
- DIY Roland US-20 GK splitter clone
- Cool Novelties 13pin cables at several length