Computer Music Chronicles: The Amiga as a Guitar Pedal

US Older Music Machines & the People Who Still Use Them      05/04/24

Computer Music Chronicles: The Amiga as a Guitar Pedal


Hey adventurers, the team thought it would be a nice idea for me to write about my latest episode of Magical Synth Adventure. In the video, I run a guitar through a 1991 Amiga 500+ Computer, though pretty much any Amiga computer can make these sounds, including emulation options. Here, I can add a little more detail to proceedings, plus the hardware & software requirements of this, er, adventure.

Hardware Considerations

Perhaps this guitar magic has reawakened your Amiga nostalgia and you'd like to find a machine. Whilst there's a healthy market for these machines, prices have been rising noticeably since Covid; the time where everyone retreated to childhood. There's pitfalls to each Amiga model, some of main ones being:

  • A600/1200; can easily add IDE storage, but they need a recap/repair due to leaky SMD capacitors.
  • A500/1000/2000; cannot easily add IDE or 2MB chip memory (nothing over 512k on A1000); 2MB is advantageous for music making.
  • A500+; cannot easily add IDE, but can easily add 2MB chip - however: leaky battery alert!
  • A3000/40000; expensive as hell, leaky batteries or caps can affect these machines too.

 

Finding a machine in the wild (eBay/FB marketplace) will be cheaper, but will likely need a once over. This could be a great excuse to join your local Amiga User Group, where there'll undoubtedly be a hardware expert or two! For hassle free premium Amigas that have had all the work done, try https://www.retropassion.co.uk/

RetroPassion

Of course, connecting them to modern displays isn't the easiest thing either, being 15KHz devices. An RGB to Scart lead will suffice in the UK, but you might need to look into scandoublers if you are in the NTSC regions. Checkmate make a super-nice LCD display for retro systems, by the way.

Alongside the machine, you'll need a sampler cartridge. I showcased the Technosound Turbo & Perfect Sound varieties, both of which are available via eBay, Amibay or social media groups. Most of them use phono jacks, so you'll need adapters. Quite a shopping list!

I made sure to boost the level of the guitar and add compression to make the most of Paula's headroom - although the sound chip is quite clean, she suffers from quite a lot of quantisation noise due to the relatively low sampling rate (max 28KHz).

Software Considerations

For emulating the sampler cartridge>Amiga signal path, I've successfully used WinUAE before. The sound and input option menus can help set you up. You'll need to nab a 3.1 (my preference) Kickstart ROM too - with the option to buy legally from Cloanto. 

You can then load up ADF disk images of the musical applications. In this episode I showcased the following software:

Home Music Kit, a commercial 1992 software suite: ftp2.grandis.nu

Technosound Turbo, another commercial program: Disk 1 Disk 2

The other programs, TREG and Lowengard Harm, are in "lha" format. So you'll perhaps need to get an installed Amiga environment, via hard disk or similar, download lha.run (the Amiga's equivalent of zip or rar) and then install it.

Such technical details are a little outside the scope of this casual article, but I hope I've left you enough breadcrumbs to start you on the trail to Amiga musical fun! PS, if you live near Nottingham, we're having a big Amiga event (with afterparty!) in June. Details here: Buy Tickets – KS 02 - UK Commodore Amiga Show & Afterparty – Meadow Lane Stadium, Nottingham (Afterparty at Saltbox Bar), Sat 29 Jun 2024 10:00 - Sun 30 Jun 2024 17:00 (tickettailor.com)

Posted by MagicalSynthAdventure an expert in synthesis technology from last Century and Amiga enthusiast.



< More From: AMIGA
Even more news...


 

Want Our Newsletter?



More...

Featured Video

Brand new super-synth from UDO


Featured Video

Virtual knobs and jacks controlling over 160 virtual modules


Featured Video

Now ready for preorder


Featured Video

The sampler pedal that listens and moves with you


Featured Video

The Mantis has arrived


Featured Video

Bi-timbral noise-based soft synth with a wide range of possibilities


Play V-collection sounds in standalone


Is the Korg Drumlogue worth it in 2024? 

Developments for Korg's instrument have been slow but promising.


Aodyo Loom


New developments for Waldorf's M 

Waldorf's hybrid synth has quite the development story


SUPERBOOTH 2024: Chase Bliss - Onward Sampler Pedal 

The sampler pedal that listens and moves with you


SUPERBOOTH 2024: UDO - Super 8 Polysynth 

Brand new super-synth from UDO


Hey there, we use Cookies to customize your experience on Sonicstate.com