Fishman TriplePlay Demo:
Now with More Nasty!

For the first Fishman TriplePlay demo I posted last month, I featured pretty, naturalistic acoustic sounds. This time around I went for something a little less polite.

I’ve been having a blast — albeit a humbling blast — trying to play real-time drum parts from the guitar. I still suck if it’s much more complicated than what I play here, but I can imagine learning to do it well. It’s also fun using the guitar to access the big keyboard sound libraries I’ve built over the years. Perhaps most exciting of all are the hybrid guitar/synth/sample sounds I’m starting to develop. (There aren’t any in this demo — the sounds are either samples or processed guitar, though I blur the lines with guitar-ish samples and guitars processed to sound like machinery. Next time, though, I’ll try to showcase some of those unholy hybrids.)

Here’s how the setup looks from my perspective. (I’m not trying to be secretive about what’s on the floor — it’s just hard to fit into the frame, even with a wide-angle lens.)

Joe's looping/MIDI rig.

Joe’s looping/MIDI rig.

  1. Homemade strat with Fishman controller/pickup. MIDI transmitted wirelessly.
  2. MacBook Pro running Apple’s MainStage software. I use a ridiculous number of plug-ins and some ridiculously huge sample libraries. My main sampler is NI Kontakt.
  3. Focusrite Scarlett interface. All the prosumer interfaces sound pretty decent to me these days, though I like the fact that this one isn’t made out of cheapo plastic.
  4. Boomerang III looper. I love its ergonomics and smooth looping points. I screw up my loop points constantly, but I have fewer disasters with the Boomerang than with anything else I’ve tried.
  5. Boomerang Sidecar. Basically just extra buttons for the Boomerang so you can access more features without reprogramming it or performing awkward foot moves.
  6. Keith McMillen SoftStep MIDI controller. Powerful, rugged, feather-light, and not too expensive.
  7. Logidy UMI3. A nice, rugged, and inexpensive USB MIDI controller — just to have a few extra switches.
  8. Generic controller pedal. Its role varies from patch to patch. It might be a mod wheel, a pan pot, a fader, a filter cutoff control, etc.
  9. Piles of crap. These magically materialize every time I start messing with this stuff.

Just to be clear — these sounds are from my collection, and are not included with TriplePlay. Also, I used TriplePlay in “simple mode” for this video — in other words, I’m not using the dedicated TriplePlay application, but simply using TriplePlay as a generic MIDI controller to trigger sounds loaded into MainStage.

BTW, I’m about to head out for Musik Messe in Frankfurt, Germany, where I’ll be demoing this contraption. Oddly, I’ve never been to this vast musical instruments show, which has been described as a much larger NAMM show with more sausage, beer, and accordions. I’ll be sure to tell you about any cool stuff I see!

DISCLOSURE: Fishman, Apple, and Keith McMillen are among my clients, but no one paid me to make or post this video.

54 comments to Fishman TriplePlay Demo:
Now with More Nasty!

  • Übercool!
    So nice to see someone reaching those digital realms.
    With my own gear I am way puzzled if I should put wah before fuzz or fuzz before wah…

    The “I”-pile might well be the most valuable part of your set, if everything else happens to fail.
    Rick Wakeman had always a tambourine at hand if his fragile hammond/mellotron/synth setup might die.
    During thunderstorm/power failure your ukulele might just do it.

  • s.huck

    funny you should post this. I had a discussion with a friend of mine the other day. He said that there will never come a time like the late 60’s where the sound of the guitar will change that much. I said I think that the technology is fixing to get to where we can manipulate sounds much more than people realize. Now my question. It says that the Fishman is transmitting MIDI wirelessly, could it be used to control a MIDI switchable amp and rack effects? or Maybe, can it control patches in Amplitube? which I see it ships with. Hmmm….

    • joe

      Well, the receiver is a USB dongle, which means you probably can’t use it with a MIDI unless you use a computer as the brain. But yes — it would totally work with AmpliTube.

  • NotSoFast

    That was really cool, thanks! And “I” made me laugh out loud. “I” I’ve got. In spades.

  • Oinkus

    Pretty cool stuff ! I might even be in the anti-noise category (guy with studio , it bothers me to play with him) but that is a great demo on doing what you do.I can see where that is going to be a useful tool for you Joe. Best part is you are using the stuff you have built up and created pretty seamlessly.I am going all high tech next week getting a chance to play around with the new TC electonics Ditto looper (1 switch 1 level knob).Wasn’t interested in a looper til I started hanging around here geez?

  • smgear

    very cool. It sounded ‘legit’. I don’t mean that in a patronizing way, I just mean that the playing approach and the textures fit together nicely and the end result would sound appealing in a blind listening situation where the listeners don’t know that it’s all one person on a guitar. I’m really happy that the midi/synth realm has expanded in the past few years to include the traditional emu/simulations as well as convincing dirt/dist/grit. Side note: I wonder if any of the manufactures have done any customer research on which patches have actually gotten used over the years. So many of them are vaguely cool, but generally unsuited for real use (don’t really fit with other patches/tones or any typical genre/style). The tech finally integrating is one issue, the other is having some new tone pallets that play well together in diverse contexts…. I could have said that better, but hopefully it made sense.

  • smgear

    Oh, and I dream of the day when we can do all of this without ‘I’.

  • Bear

    That’s pretty much delivery on the promise these techs have been promising for decades. Which is to say, totally awesome.

    @ S.Huck and Joe on MIDI: It’s kind of weird that MIDI has gone to being an in-the-box connectivity standard and is walking away from inter-component connectivity. I mean, you can take it back out with appropriate hardware, but the USB-MIDI standard seems to be making an orphan of the MIDI-DIN world. These guys seem to take the opportunities seriously: They’re at MusikMesse, if Joe wants to check them out.

  • […] Joe Gore says here, his last demo was more about imitating other instruments with the new Fishman TriplePlay […]

  • Sunyatal

    A couple of questions about the triple play that I can’t seem to find on the web.

    How is the controller and the midi pickup mounted on the guitar and is it easy to move from one guitar to another.

    Also, can this be mounted on an acoustic guitar as well as an electric?

    Thanks for the advice and the beautiful sounding demos!

    • joe

      The TriplePlay package comes with an array of mounting brackets suitable for most electric guitars. But the pickup does not work with acoustic guitar and bass — or at least not yet. 🙂

  • That was great! I enjoyed those sounds.

  • sunyata


    Got the fishman triple play. Suprisingly, the only way the pickup fits under the strings of my Stratocaster is without any buzzing is without any mounting pad at all. Is that your experience? If so, any idea what type of adhesive I would use to mount it directly? It is a 70’s era strat with a vibrato bar.

    I also have the option of mounting it on my Line 6 Variax (early model). any idea if it would work on that type of guitar?


    • joe

      Yes, actually that IS my experience. On some Strats, in fact, it doesn’t fit at all without shimming the neck. If you contact Fishman, they can provide an advanced installation guide to cover cases like that. Alternately, you could just take it to a guitar tech — should be a quick, inexpensive job. The amount of clearance between pickguard and strings varies a a great deal between different Strat models, with vintage-style Strats being the trickiest.

  • So, would it work triggering Reason?

    My understanding is that you could, but had to ask.

    And, What’s the relation/function of the MIDI foot controller?

    Awsome videos demoing the Fishman, thanks.

    • joe

      Hi Leo!

      I haven’t used Reason in a few years, so I may be out of date with my info, but it should work fine triggering all the Reason virtual instruments. I believe, however, that you can’t use TriplePlay in mono mode, because you can’t run the TriplePlay software inside reason since it doesn’t support VST plug-ins. (This is still true of Reason 7? Someone help me out here!). However, should work fine in poly mode. And FYI, all my online demos so far exclusively use poly mode. In my setup, the MIDI foot switches and pedals control parameters in hu software host, MainStage, and not any specific TriplePlay parameters. Just as you might use a hardware controller in Reason to switch patches or, say, control a filter cutoff point.

      But despite the limitations, you should still be able to do some serious damage! 🙂

      Hope that helps!

  • Richie

    Just a quick question.
    This may be a silly one but if the dongle was inserted into the Edirol SD20 sound module, which in turn has its outputs going to a desk, could the internal sounds be accessed?

    Kind regards

    • joe

      Not a silly question at all — but the dongle/receiver only works with a computer. However, you could connect both the receiver and the SD20 to a computer and access the sounds that way.

  • Pavel

    How is your gear exactly connected? Your guitar goes to looper and then to audio interface? Or different route? You do t use any preamps? The preamps in focusrite are good enough? I am very curious on the exact connection because I would like to make my own guitar-computer set up for live playing.

  • Kenneth

    Hey Joe.

    I watched all your youtube vids as the TriplePlay was being tinkered with. I didn’t expect to see half of those items in your arsenal, because it is almost exactly what I was going for! SoftStep with each pad having an XY built in, UMI3 for presets, TriplePlay, (cheaper) loop pedal! SoftSynths here I come. I just wanted to let you know that the link you posted for your in depth setup is just a link to this page again. Could you post again please?
    You are an inspiration for the digital era of music, I’m just mad you beat me to it!

  • joe

    Thanks for the kind words, Kenneth. I guess feeble minds think alike!

    Um, this post is the only one I’ve done, on the setup. Is there anything more specific you’d like to know?

  • Oinkus

    Just to point out the simplest , cheap looper is the T.C. Electronics Ditto Looper $129

  • Kenneth

    Yes, I was wondering how you set up your looper in your mix. I actually have the Ditto that Oinkus pointed out. I am wondering if it will take the stereo signal from my computer (makes the most sense), or do I need to place it in my guitar signal path beforehand?

    • joe

      Oh, now I get it! Yes, the processed signal goes from the computer, through the audio interface, into the looper, and directly from the looper to…the house PA, or my portable PA, or the recording device.

  • Kenneth

    Awesome. I was a little concerned on how to send both the MIDI and guitar audio (GuitarRig) to the looper, so that makes sense. Thanks for your help!

  • Reno

    Hey Joe,
    Big fan of you and your appetite for exploring the far reaches of “possible”. I was curious how much RAM you had running on your macbook when running with mainstage and the triple play all at the same time. Do you also run the softstep software, also, or just program that looping within Mainstage?
    Thanks, and keep on exploring!
    – R

    • joe

      Thanks a bunch, Reno! Much appreciated. I think I had 6GB RAM when I recorded some of those demos. I wasn’t using the MainStage software — but I probably will from here on in, thanks to the many improvements in the just-released v1.1 software. I wasn’t using the SoftStep software either — it’s overkill for me, since I’m simply using the SoftStep as a set of on/off switches. Hope that helps! 🙂

  • Hi Joe! Nice sounds! Is there a way to plug the Triple Play into an iPad?
    Cheers from Madrid, Spain

    • joe

      ¡Hola, Pepe! Thanks. Yes, you can use TriplePlay with an iPad, provided you have an adapter that allows you to connect the USB dongle that TriplePlay uses as a receiver, such as Apple’s USB Camera Connection Kit. Just one warning: Apple doesn’t officially support this functionality, so there’s no guarantee that the hardware and software will continue to work this way. There’s more info on this at the Fishman site.

  • Zanx, Joe. I had that chance in mind but i’m worried about apple’s lack of support. Is fishman considering an adapter “a la iRig”, speciffically designed for iPad?

  • Mesadeco


    Thank you for the explicit post, I mostlynwant the trip to do ‘live’, but running from ipad to amp setup is hard to find. I guess the microsecond lag is no problem?



    • joe

      Thanks! Actually, I’m playing through a laptop, not an iPad. I haven’t experimented much using TriplePlay with iPad, and I’m not sure how much latency (lag) there is. On a fast computer, though, I don’t have serious latency problems.

  • Oinkus

    Went to an open mic last night watched a guy play with one of the new Roland GR 55 setups. That thing was very cool , he had a Parker Guitar tuned like a 6 string bass and mostly used a sax sound.Think I am going to get to install the triple play on the band leaders guitar.Finding actual serious musicians in that setting was pretty wild.Got my funk on and a serious dose of out of my league too.

  • Hi Joe, Could you point me in the right direction as far as loading VST’s into TriplePlay. No matter what .dll’s I drop into my VST directory I can only see Piano one and TyrIIN (64). You seem to have an immense knowledge of this program. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance,

    • joe

      Hi Terry — while I know the TriplePlay software, I don’t know PCs at all — and it sounds like you’re working on a PC. So I may not be able to help. 🙁

      But you ARE scanning for plug-ins after dropping them into the appropriate folder, are you not? TriplePLay won’t see them unless you run the scan. (Just search for “scan” in the documentation.)

  • Terry

    Hi Joe,
    About Mainstage, are you using it in mono or poly mode? I’m trying to trigger multitimbral synths on all 6 channels but always end up triggering all channels on every string, even when selecting multitimral
    from the drop down menu. Also I’m only able to send CC# to channel 1.
    Everything works fine in Logic Pro (without Fishman app) Any help appreciated


  • Antonis

    That was great Joe!!! Very nice job!!!! Just a quick question… is it possible to install the fishman triple play on my godin nylon string guitar? (Godin grand concert)?

    • joe

      Thank, Antonis! But sadly, no, you need steel strings for the pickup to function. 🙁

    • Antonis, this is a bit off-topic but I’ve experimented with “converting” polyphonic nylon-string recordings to MIDI using Celemony Melodyne for some pretty fun effects. They’ve got a 30-day trial version. It’s a messy process because every little sound you make becomes a MIDI event, but an interesting one, FWIW.

  • Ari

    Hey, this is such a great video and it’s real similar to the gear that I have. My question is, how do you route it so that the sound so that it goes from the computer through the boomerang and out of the amp. I am running a surprisingly similar set up to you with triple play, boomerang, and logic.


  • David

    Hi Joe,
    Great Stuff! I am guitar player and playing duos with drummer. Till now we’d do just conventional playing, coloring guitar sounds with pedals only. I started researching guitar synth to be able to play bass/piano/brass licks and rhythms, loop them and play guitar over. I was considering GK3-GR55-Boss RC-300 package. Then I was suggested to look at Fishman and then I have bumped into your videos. Very impressive! If you don’t mind, can you please share what would work best for live performance – solution, mentioned above, or Fishman TP – Midi controller footswitch – MacBook Pro – Looping station (could be simpler then RC300 I assume). I still will need to be able to play conventional guitar either through amplifier, processor or software. Thanks a lot for your advice!

    • joe

      Hi David — sorry I didn’t see your post for a few days!

      Thanks for the kind words about the videos. In terms of functionality and creative possibilities,the laptop-based system is far, far more powerful than the hardware setup. But — and this is a very big but — gigging through a laptop is a humungous pain in the ass. I’ve been doing it for a few years, and it’s finally starting to feel comfortable. (I’ve written about it a lot on this site — just search for “laptop.”) I don’t mean to be negative — just candid about the hurdles.

      One factor might be, how deep do you plan to get into designing sounds? If you plan to do a lot of sonic surgery — editing, combining, exploring unconventional effects, and the like — there’s no comparison: The laptop setup rules. But if you’re mostly planning to work with sounds you already have, the hardware system might work fine for you.

      Actually, I’ve never played an RC-300, though it sure has plenty of features. I’ve been using one Boomerang or another since the ’90s, and I’ve just gotten used to them. Theoretically, you can do the looping on the laptop as well, but that hasn’t worked for me — there are enough timing discrepancies to prevent me from playing drum parts in time, and I’ve never found a looper control surface as reliable and ergonomic as the Boomerang. But again, if your looping doesn’t require ultra-precise timing, a software looper might work.

      Also, have you checked out Jam Origin? It’s pitch-to-MIDI software that works with no MIDI pickup — and it’s really good! Again, it’s not QUITE fast enough for me — it’s hard to lay down drums it solid time. But for melodic parts, pads, textures, and the like, it performs unbelievably well. Worth investigating — and it’s inexpensive.

      My recent looping lesson for Premier Guitar focused more on technique than gear, but it includes a bit of hardware info too. Might be worth checking out:

      Good luck with your quest. Please share your results — I’m curious!

  • David

    Joe – Thanks a lot! It is indeed a blessing that people like you are around! I mean it.
    My immediate goal is to imitate 4-5 piece band when playing duo or solo. For the time being I need guaranteed solution rather then creative composing (which is fascinating and I hope I’ll get there at some point). Plus, I don’t want to focus on using pre-arranged backing tracks – my passion is in doing it live.

    So, I guess laptop – based performance is next step and for the time being I will concentrate on hardware solution. That said, I will check out Jam Origin and most probably will get it so I can do some homework before going on stage. For JO I still will need midi foot controller, right?

    Read your looping lesson. It tells all you need! I thought Electro Harmonix was very interesting option.
    I’ll do more research and will let you know what I’ll come to.

    Thanks again for your time and in-depth explanations!


  • Your rig has inspired me! I was wondering if you can use the Kmi midi foot controller like a pedal board, each button programmed to a different patch for the tripleplay?

  • Stevie

    Hi Joe. Love the demos.

    Is it possible to use a USB midi controller within the Fishman app to change patch sounds? I want to do this with my feet and not with the button on the fishman controller…

    • joe

      Great question, Stevie. (And thanks for the kind words.)

      The answer is … I’m not sure! I’ve always used TriplePlay without Fishman’s software app, routing the output from the wireless pickup directly into my DAW (Apple’s MainStage). (The downside: I always play in finicky poly mode, not the more player-friendly mono. The upside: easier, faster, simpler setup.) Then I do exactly what you suggest: switch patches by foot (via a KMI SoftStep, though any MIDI controller should work), rather than with the pickup’s switches.

      But I honestly don’t know whether it’s possible to trigger the patch-change function WITHIN the TriplePlay software using controllers other than the pickup’s switches. I suggest calling Fishman tech support — they’re cool and helpful experts. Please let me know what you find out! 🙂

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




Click to upload a JPG

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.