Being a guitarist myself, I bought one of ART's original SGX2000 processors back in 1992. At the time it was state-of-the-art, quite popular, and unlike much else on the market. It quickly proved itself very valuable at live gigs, replacing a bunch of other gear I had struggled with for some time. ART subsequently came out with the new-improved "SGX2000 Express" and I eagerly upgraded to the new chip. As other pre-Express owners have related, I had to send mine in to have the expanded socket installed. But in the end this gave me four banks of presets... 475 of 'em! Of course, that's when the trouble began. It was quite a chore to go through them and compare them and to identify the good ones and which patch would work with which song, organize them into a usable live bank, etc. Plus, how can you really learn and experiment working with one parameter at a time in a tiny LCD window? What makes a good preset? How can you find that perfect tone? And what about backups? Batteries don't last forever and how can I save my work, let alone manage hundreds of presets?
About the same time I had gotten my first PC (anybody wanna buy my old 386?). I had also played around with keyboards and MIDI sequencing and notation software.Having tried my hand at editing keyboard patches and just reading about the SGX's MIDI implementation, I wondered how I could put together something really useful that would allow me to solve these problems. Keyboardists already expected to have such tools. Why shouldn't the guitarist?
So I bought a MIDI interface card. A basic MIDI utility came with it. I had found that by using the SGX2000's Utility menu, I could send the current preset. The resulting file could be stored and loaded back easily using the utility. I decided to use this to save each preset to a file. So I made a batch file with a simple loop that allowed me to do just that. But it wasn't very automated. I had to select the preset on the SGX and trigger the send process from it's front panel. Then I would switch back to the PC where the batch script was hopefully prompting me to save the file it had just received. I keyed in a meaningful filename, usually pretty close to the preset title (limited to 8.3 character DOS names at that time of course) and like magic, my preset was saved. The script then waited for the next file to arrive. Thus I finally managed to build my first library (which you can download today from my SGX2000 page). But of course... there was no patch editing capability.
But very fortunately for you, I went on to solve these problems. I got some better tools and vowed to someday make it happen. It took me a while, but I finally released the first SGX2000 editor in January 1998. And the rest they say is history. You can today simply download the latest SGX editors from the links above (yes, for free... you're welcome). The folks at ART supplied me with the complete specification of their MIDI implementation. They also doubted that anyone would have the patience to make an editor as the file format is rather difficult to work with because it varies based on what effects are selected. It wasn't the easiest project. But being a software developer in my day job sure helped (what you thought I could make a living at music?). Anyway, I got through it just fine.
It must have been successful anyway. I got lots of positive feedback. Over the next couple of years I added many features, most of which originated from user requests. Of course, I eventually heard from users of other SGX products; "Will your editor work with [insert your favorite processor here]?". The answer was no. But I had noticed that the specifications for most of the SGX products were also contained in the same document I had used. It was largely a matter of adding or removing certain effects and parameters and changing some messages codes, and so forth. So I eventually took the challenge and to date have made editors for the SGX-Nitro and the Nightbass processors as well.
Unfortunately as you may know, the SGX2000 is no longer in production :-( Sad but true, it's listed on the ART website in the discontinued section. It's disappointing that they were not able to build on this success. The SGX2000 was quite a fine piece of gear, considered somewhat upscale at the time. It still does what it does very well in fact. But it seems that the newer modeling amps and other innovations have now taken over that market. And I must confess that I have in fact stopped using the SGX2000 in my live setup. I do still have mine and use it for rehearsal/practice and such. But live I now use the Line6 POD Pro. I guess I kind of felt that the SGX had run its course and since ART had no intention of improving the product, why go down a dead end road? As for the POD, it meets my needs quite well. I don't use a lot of effects actually, some echo, a little reverb, etc. But basic tonal variety is what I really need and the POD seems to offer more in that respect. Your mileage may vary. I also have released a Line6 Pod editor for those of you who might be interested.
I do still use the X-15 foot controller however. No one has improved on that as far as I have found. The SGX's real time control is still second to none. The way you can configure each patch to listen to a certain controller (up to 8 of them actually!) is something I do miss using the POD. With the POD, each effect/parameter is hard wired to listen to a specific controller. So I had to pick my two favorites (one for each pedal) and leave it at that.
Anyway for those of you still getting good use out of the SGX line, I hope you enjoy using the editor and trying out some of the patches. Somebody seems to be downloading the stuff on a regular basis (not too bad for an obsolete product line). It seems there is still great interest for these processors on the used market. So drop me a line if you like the software. And hey, send me some patches! Best of luck in your musical endeavors.
Glenn Thomas, 2002