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The Misa Tri-Bass is a MIDI controller. It makes no sound of its own, so you need to connect it to a sound generator (like a synthesizer, or a computer). It has two main parts:

  1. touch sensitive neck
  2. touch screen

WHAT IS INCLUDED: One Misa Tri-Bass with internal rechargeable battery, power adapter, MIDI cable, MIDI-to-USB cable.

The tri-bass has been designed specifically for tomorrow's electronic music. Although it looks like a guitar, and has a name like a bass guitar, it is played like neither. The tri-bass design is pretty far removed from traditional guitar, even more so than the original misa kitara. Partly this is to try and break any assumptions people may have of digital guitar style instruments; mostly though, it's to make the instrument fit perfectly in a modern electronic music setting. So with that out of the way, let me break down the core elements of the design.

The neck is touch sensitive to encourage sliding along the neck. In fact, that's what it's all about. There are no push buttons. This is to stop the bad sound of amplitude and filter envelopes restarting, something that happens when trying to slide across an array of push buttons. When you set your synth to glide, this neck design will make sure it sounds better than anything. The fingerboard is wave shaped with channels to lock the finger to the sensor area. This is mainly to provide the tactile information a player needs about their hand position.

The tri-bass has three "strings" only - six strings are unnecessary. YES I know that's a controversial statement to make. But after learning how other people were using the misa kitara, understanding their expectations as "digital guitarists" and most importantly seeing the workflow and processes others are currently using to produce modern electronic music, I knew it was the right decision to make. One note alone through a synthesizer can be enough to completely cut through any mix and provide enough tonal information to sound like bliss (if you're doing it right). Do you really need six? (And this is not to sacrifice musicality, because the multi-channel nature of the instrument - see below - more than makes up for it.) Too many times people have picked up a kitara and tried to play a barre chord. It's not really right. These sorts of six string chords are just not important for what the tri-bass is trying to achieve. The design is a reminder that the tri-bass is not meant to sound like a guitar, and it forces the user to adapt their playing style to a new electronic form. The other reason for the low string count is that three widely spaced strings allows me to do interesting things with the layout as I have more space. The result is to make playing much more comfortable and enjoyable, especially live and in dim light conditions.

The tri-bass body and neck are solid wood just as an electric guitar is. The maple neck feels really comfortable to play. This is my favourite part of the design because I think this, coupled with the embedded electronics, provide that perfect balance between traditional and futuristic forms. There is something special about combining old materials with new ones, even though it can be an engineering nightmare.

The tri-bass is a controller only and does not have an on-board synthesizer. State of the art software synthesizers are freely available to generate sound and musicians rarely limit themselves to one synth only. I want to leave the option open to the players to choose sounds based on their own taste, rather than being stuck with something provided on the hardware. Furthermore, most synthesizers are highly configurable. So my aim has been to give the tri-bass no configuration options at all, to prevent the requirement of configuration at two ends which is messy, especially when sharing presets. A minimalistic interface with configurability at the sound module end is most effective.

Perhaps the coolest element of the tri-bass is that it is multi-channel by default. The screen lets you control multiple synths or sounds simultaneously. You can mix different sounds together just by touching different parts of the screen.

In summary, the misa tri-bass is a solid, robust and stage-worthy product that has had a lot of thought go in to the design, and a lot of work go in to the engineering.



Can you play open strings on the Tri-Bass?


Do you do custom models?

I don't have the resources to do custom models, sorry. (Unless you pay me... one MILLION dollars).

Can I send MIDI over USB?

Yes, if you use a MIDI-USB interface. I include one in the box of each Misa Tri-bass.

(One note about USB ports: USB ports are a great option for instruments that don't move much, like keyboards. But they are just not strong enough for use on a guitar-like instrument where the player is always shifting it around on his/her lap. Even in the seated position, a lot of stress can be placed on the USB plug accidentally. So outputting MIDI should always happen through the MIDI output port on the instrument. It is a stageworthy, tried and tested standard that has been around for 30 years. I include a MIDI-USB interface to give you the robustness of MIDI connection with the USB-ness of USB.)

What speakers sound good with the Tri-bass?

Remember: the Misa Tri-bass makes no sound. It controls other equipment that makes sounds. It isn't like an electric guitar that connects straight to an amp. Most people are using synthesizers that output rich sound across the entire spectrum of human hearing, so I would suggest any set of speakers that sound good to you when you listen to a CD.

I can get sound but I haven't been able to set parameters for each of the areas on the touchpad. Right now all 4 of them do the same thing. I'd like to have each of them do different things and perhaps trigger different instruments. But I'm not sure how to do that in Ableton 9.

Specifically you want to assign different MIDI channels to different synthesizers. The large pad on the Tri-bass outputs on MIDI channel 1, and the smaller pads output on MIDI channels 2, 3 and 4.

When you add a synth to an Ableton MIDI track, the default setting is to have it listen on all MIDI channels. This is why all of the pads are doing the same thing.

What you want to do, after you create the MIDI track, is restrict it to listen to only one channel. For example, if you have one particular synth and you only want it to play when the large pad is pressed, then you will set it to listen to MIDI channel 1.

This video explains how to do this in Ableton 8: But I have checked and it's the same in Ableton 9. If there's something you can't see, let me know and I will check if it has moved in Ableton 9.

Can you tell me the latency of the Misa Tri-bass in milliseconds?

I don't have an exact milliseconds latency measurement, because I'd need to build an elaborate test jig to actually measure it. But music controllers with capacitive sensors cannot be judged based on latency alone. There are a lot of issues most people aren't aware of. First of all, the human ear is very good at compensating for latency. Secondly, when you touch a flat surface, the tactile feedback is very different to a push button (say, on an apc40) in that there is no discrete "on/off" point. This is further complicated by the fact that a capacitive sensor does not simply activate when it is touched; it activates when a certain capacitance threshold has been reached which depends on finger surface area (the amount that is pressed against the sensor) as well as the calibration of the system itself. I guess the point I'm trying to make here is latency has never been a problem. At least, no customer has ever complained to me about it and I myself have never considered it a problem. :)

Using Ableton with the Tri-bass, playing notes works fine, but I can't set the X/Y pad to control effects. Any ideas?

Ableton requires you to enable the "Remote" setting under Audio Settings:

My Tri-bass is not turning on.... can you help?

This can happen when turning on the instrument with the firmware programming cable connected. It just requires a hard reset.

1. Disconnect the power cable and the USB cable.
2. Unscrew the small black cover on the back of the Misa Tri-bass.
3. See the battery plug? It has a red and black wire and a white connector. Disconnect it from the board for about 10 seconds.
4. Reconnect it and re-assemble.