what do you need bo 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 sold as we would like. but there are different versions.
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.

for a start, you can connect each string to a channel on your mixer and insert effects for them. on a analog mixer you would probably only do panning and some equalizing which is hardly worth the effort. but on a digital mixer you can insert the same effect for every string.
you will need a break out box to split from you 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 will need a break out box to split from you hex-cable to 6 patch cables

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

Roland/Boss

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 (although its not quite ideal)

Keith McMillen

built this Polyfuzz unit in the 80ies. Stringport is the only 13pin DIN to USB audio interface available, with a huge MAX based software. So far

SpiceTone

6Appeal is a smart digitally controlled analog processor capable of filtering, distortions and volume/pan modulations

Paradis / Spuler

single string piezo pickups and PolyDistortion since 1984 . since 2008, the split-string VST plugins PolyPlugs

Axon / Blue Chip

this companies unfortunately closed their doors. but you can find used units. the legendary MIDI conversion software by András Szalay is now in the Fishman tripple play


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...?
  • Gittler
  • Brian Moore
  • Parker, Kramer,,,

pickups and accessories