How to disable open strings


Coming at the I1 from the guitar world, I find the way open strings are emulated to be probably the most confusing thing. In particular, triggering an open string when you have a LH finger touching the string higher up is very unnatural. So in a chord where one or more internal strings would be muted on a guitar, the open strings often get triggered. A common rhythm guitar fingering for Gmaj7 in 3rd position, for example, when strummed on the I1, comes out as G-A-F#-B-D-E (the A and E would be muted on a guitar, but sound loud and clear on the I1).

Since what I’m currently working on is in a kind of “jazz mode”, I actually need open strings extremely rarely, if ever. So a way around this problem for me would be to have the option of completely disabling them, as if I stuck a bit of felt or something under all 6 strings at the 1st fret of a guitar.

Is there some way to do that?

Greg Shenaut


MPE is your secret weapon here. In multichannel and fretted strummed mode, which presumably is all you’d want to do this in, the I1 sends out notes on a channel (2–7) for each string. So all you’d need to do would be to use, depending on your platform, MidiFire (Mac/iOS), Midiflow (iOS), or Bome MIDI Translator (Windows) to filter out the open note for each string on its respective channel. Does that sound like it would do what you want?


I get what you’re saying. I was looking for a simpler configuration option done within the I1 itself. (Part of this is to decide whether or not I’m going to keep it.)


Not on the I1 itself, but it is simple – just simple in a different kind of way, and the issue is more one of whether you’ll be satisfied with the results. But it’s worth giving it a shot if you’re on iOS, where you can do it all with one piece of free third-party software; I’ve just had a go and it does work very straightforwardly.

  1. Download the free StreamByter, load a Default file from the list (third button from the right at the bottom of the screen), and paste in the following text:

# Block open strings
N1 28 = XX +B
N2 2D = XX +B
N3 32 = XX +B
N4 37 = XX +B
N5 3B = XX +B
N6 40 = XX +B

  1. Then save it under a new name (e.g. “block open strings”) in Local.
  2. Load the file you’ve just created and select StreamByter rather than Instrument1 as your MIDI input in whatever app you’re using for sound.

The same code can also be used in modules in MidiFire (from the same Dev) or MIDI Designer Pro (needs StreamByter IAP); in MidiFire you’d just create a StreamByter module between your MIDI input and output, and paste the code into the window you get under the gearwheel:
If you ever do find you want to get your Sandy Denny on, just switch your MIDI input back to Instrument1 (or disable the StreamByter module in MidiFire with the green button that turns it off and on) and your open strings will sound normally.

On the larger issue of whether the I1 is for you, my own feeling is that trying to play the I1 as a guitar is a bit like using a phone as a flashlight: it’ll do enough of the job for some purposes, but it’s not what it’s really for and it’s not going to replace the dedicated tool. If what you want is a MIDI controller that you can use your existing guitar technique to play, MIDI Guitar 2 (about $40 for the two IAPs needed) is pretty much as good as any hardware MIDI guitar, and will get you closer than the I1, if still not really close enough for my liking. What the I1 offers guitarists is something rather different: a way to weaponise their existing left-hand skills on a next-generation MPE controller which functions as a tap instrument of incredible responsiveness that allows guitarists to leapfrog keyboard players in MIDI sensitivity and nuance.

If you’re on iOS, try this. Download Noise and in GarageBand select Noise Melody as an audio unit (under External) for your sound source, and make sure MPE Controllers is turned on (under GarageBand in the Settings app). In the Artiphon app, select Tap Guitar with multichannel and tilt on, and Pitch Bend set to 48. Select the Mellow Duduk preset in Fundamentals and play the fingerboard with the left hand only at various pressures, particularly with the I1 near-horizontal or near-vertical. Don’t worry about the fact that your right hand is idle (though it’s worth trying out drones hurdy-gurdy style on the bridge triggers). This will give you a pretty good sense of what the I1 can do as an expressive controller for guitarists, and whether it’s something that’s likely to find a long-term place in your musical life.

Customize midi channel for every note

Yeah, I’ve pretty much decided I have to send the I1 back. I do have Midi Guitar 2 on my Mac, and I use it with Logic. My electric guitar is inconveniently big for use with a DAW—it’s an old Epiphone Riviera—and I’ve been looking for a small fretboard MIDI controller that I can play guitar style. My next try is probably going to be an actual tiny guitar, to be used with MG2, maybe the “Traveler”.


Yes, it’s got to the point where I now travel with an Eo as well as my I1 – you can get both into a cabin bag if you don’t mind skimping on changes of clothes… The Eo is a little miracle of artisanal design and engineering (fits into the soft bag from my Jamstik!) but expensive to ship outside the UK, and the steel-string version is still being worked on.

MIDI guitar that actually satisfies guitarists remains something of a holy grail. I actually like that the I1 takes guitar as a starting-point rather than a destination, and takes you through the stargate into a complete new cosmos of possibilities that have redefined my thinking about what a guitar actually is and what I can do with an expanded concept of guitar musicianship in the new electronic landscape. Alone of the digital guitar-alikes I’ve gathered over the years (YouRock, Jamstik, Jammy) it’s actually a proper instrument you can play well. But it’s still not a guitar, and to its credit isn’t trying to be.


Incidentally, before you give up on the I1 as a desktop MIDI controller, do try it on a strap in tap mode with Logic; it leaves your right hand free for the mouse/trackpad and you can play without having to take your eye off the screen. It’s particularly good for melody lines.