Christopher Scheidel has created an impressive Mac Mini-based rig for playing keyboards and guitars. He’s documented the whole process at his site Heavylift. There’s a lot to be learned there about how to do it yourself (including taking advantage of cheap LCDs for display), but here are the basic specs:

Apple Mac Mini 1.2G G4 / 1 G RAM, Bluetooth, 802.11g, 40G HD
Apple Bluetooth Mouse and Keyboard
Belkin USB extender
eBayed Lilliput 2″ LCD screen ($5 + $25 shipping; replaced a larger touchscreen when it died!)
Calzone 4U rack
MOTU 828 mk II audio interface
M-Audio Radium 61 USB music keyboard; Lexicon MPX R1 processor as foot controller

Native Instruments Guitar Rig
Apple Logic Pro 7

Wow, mounted in a calzone? Delicious and brilliant! Beef or pepperoni? Oh, wait, guess that’s a brand name. Anyway, I know what my next project will be.

The whole project fits in a VW Jetta’s trunk — perfectly portable, and with all the sonic flexibility afforded by Guitar Rig and Logic. Guitar Rig, says Christopher, is “by far the best software guitar processor I have encountered” and Logic Pro is “amazing” thanks to its live performance power via the Environment feature.

When we return with Part II, we’ll look at Christopher’s custom Environment for Logic Pro 7, which handles MIDI routing and program changes for all those different instruments during performance. (He’s even promised us a copy of the file for you Logic users.)

Thanks to Cris (aka Atariboy) for this one, which all connects back to a post somewhere on the boards for superb music and Comic Life developer plasq.

Related: Hands-on with Native Instruments Guitar Rig (w/ Sound Samples)

  • djproxy

    This looks to me to be a poor man's laptop. But the geek factor makes it cool.

  • admin

    True to a point, but —

    1. Mac mini can outperform many of the Mac laptops (& it's cheaper, of course)

    2. More compact — at least from a rack standpoint. And you keep the computer out of sight, letting you focus on your keys and guitar

    Plus, if you're carrying a rack anyway, nice to throw in the Mini. Not to mention, you could use the rack to augment processing power of a laptop.

    I hear Christopher is using a laptop, as well, though, alternating with this. Part of the key to this setup is the software rig (the Environment in Logic Pro) as much as the hardware setup.


  • crscheid

    Peter's right. I'm also currently using a laptop. The original impetus behind doing it this way is that I wanted a smaller screen form factor and a "turn-key" solution. The laptop was getting dirtied up being on the road.

    I'll be following this article up with another that will go indepth to the environment and the tools that I used which is the real meat of the solution.

  • Onion face

    What an ugly waste of time putting that together. Laptop would be much better & less 1960 looking

    • Lol, laptops don’t have preamps.

  • Snoog

    Very cool setup!! Total Rock approach! Dig it

  • James

    Hey thats a neat setup. I was wondering I well the Mac Mini works other programs such as Pro-tools or Reason. Thank you