At the 2012 NAMM Show, Roland and Fender announced the GC-1 GK-Ready Stratocaster guitar as one of the V-Guitar series, am electric guitar that can be directly connected to the GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer and VG-99 V-Guitar System.
Combining an authentic Stratocaster guitar and a special Roland divided pickup with a 13-pin output; the GK-Ready Stratocaster GC-1 can be used with both standard guitar equipment and Roland V-Guitar category products like the GR-55 and VG-99.
To harness this power, Roland developed the GK Divided Pickup, a special pickup that allows each of a guitar’s strings to be processed independently. Connecting a GK-Ready guitar to the GR Guitar Synthesizer or V-Guitar System opens up a world of options, including instant alternate tunings, transforming the guitar sound into another instrument entirely, and more.
The Roland GR-55 Guitar Synth is a deep pedal. So deep, that it can be fiddly to try and edit, using just the on-board controls.
Fortunately, there are a couple of free solutions that should make working with the Roland GR-55 Guitar Synth a lot easier.
First up, there’s an iPad template for TouchOSC (shown above), created by Marc Benigni:
Many sliders have been replaced with banks of buttons, which I have found to be much more usable. (They light up when you touch them – neato! – but they don’t persist to represent current state.) I’ve taken the opportunity to replace a lot of “lawsuit-aware” labels with real descriptions, for instance LIPS becomes Dano 56-U3 and so on. This is a little more “fun” for me as a guitar geek, and moreover, it’s called out a lot of functionality that I didn’t even know was there. Embarrassingly, I didn’t realize that MA-28 etc were acoustic guitars; I thought they were mics or pickups I’d never heard of! So it’s been good to embed some of the documentation right into the UI.
There are pro’s and cons, though. I’m using a lot more screen space, which itself is both a pro and a con. And I’m using a lot more memory with this increased control count. This makes pages load a little slower, and could even result in more TouchOSC crashes. Oddly, I noticed that labels have OSC command strings, but they don’t actually respond to touch. So every button is a label imposed over a push button, doubling the control count.
PremierGuitar has an interesting review of the new Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer.
The GR-55 is a deceptively simple looking pedal that has a great deal of depth to it.
Overall, the sound quality of the synth voices, COSM guitars, and various effects is excellent. I appreciated the clarity of all of the sounds. And although I beefed up a number of patches using the onboard EQ to have more bass and punch, those adjustments were fast and easy. Keeping a guitar synth affordable typically requires a lot of design compromises. But the Roland is still a very powerful unit. And without question, it is the best tracking guitar synthesizer that I have ever played.
The ability to blend COSM guitars with synths is inspirational, and this pedal could open the door to new creative options for guitarists of any style. Indeed guitar players interested in increasing their tonal palette in a big way may find that the GR-55 alone can do far more for them than a rack of regular stomp boxes or multi-effects.
The GR-55 combines two banks of 910 synth voices with Roland’s COSM models and the ability to mix in dry signal. At about $700 street price, the new Roland GR-55 guitar synth looks like the best guitar synth deal in town.
I recently got Native Instruments FM8 software synth and I’ve been getting some good sounds for Midi Guitar with it. Using Ableton Live 6 I am able to load (and arm for recording) six instances of FM8. That way I can play the synth in a natural guitar-like manner. What I mean is that I can bend one string, sending a pitchbend message for one string (one midi channel) without that message bending the pitch of what’s happening on all the other strings. It seems to work rather well. I thought that it might be of interest to other midi guitarists.