Guitar Syths question

alvagoldbook

Member
Messages
1,380
I'm a newbie to the world of guitar syths. I was thinking of getting a Roland GR-20. It would be awesome to have the ability to play "piano" or "strings" on my guitar, but I find attaching a Roland pickup to my guitar to be a nasty and nightmarish thing to deal with. So I'm wondering if there's any good synths out there with those kind of capabilities without attaching a nasty thing to my guitar to get it to work. Any suggestions?
 

jaywalker

Member
Messages
2,362
If you have a Les Paul or 335 type guitar, attatching the GK3 is a doddle, you just mount it on the bridge in like 5 seconds.
Most of my guitars are GK3 equipped, but none of the pickups are screwed onto the body, just taped with high grade double sided selotape. No problems as of yet.

I even have them on my acoustics.
 

Mincer

Member
Messages
4,541
You can get piezo pickups installed, like RMCs or the GraphTech GHOST system. Unfortunately, you can't trigger a polyphonic synth with a monophonic source, like regular guitar pickups. At least, not very well. You are looking at some woodworking to install the 13 pin jack, though, and some tricky wiring.
You could always buy a synth-ready guitar too, like the Fender RR series or the Brian Moore i-series.
 

alvagoldbook

Member
Messages
1,380
Yeh, I play mostly fenders. I was wondering if anyone tried hooking up something like a GR-20 with regular guitar pups. Is it possible? If so, does it sound like complete and utter crap?

Hopefully, I'm not

:horse

here.
 

jaywalker

Member
Messages
2,362
Yeh, I play mostly fenders. I was wondering if anyone tried hooking up something like a GR-20 with regular guitar pups. Is it possible? If so, does it sound like complete and utter crap?

Hopefully, I'm not

:horse

here.
Theres no way you can run a GR20 with regular pickups.
The GK2/3 features 6 mini singles/humbuckers and each signal is totaly independent.
sticking a GK3 on a strat is simlpe, just peel off the syicky tapa that comes with the unit and stick it between the bridge and pickup.

The control unit is then mounted to the strap button. You can take it off any time you like!
 

NyteOwl

Member
Messages
2,645
Again, guitar synths need hex pickups in order to process each string independently. This simply can't be done with standard magnetic pickups.

I know a lot of folks prefer to mount GK pickups with mounting tape, but when I first got into guitar synths I used screws to mount a GK-2A to my Strat so I could adjust the pick-up height to maximize tracking ability. I've not used one of the newer GK pickups, but having used a few Roland Ready Strats, a Brian Moore and a Godin, I can say every Roland Ready guitar I've tried so far tracked better than the GK I'd mounted to my strat.

I started out maybe 12 years ago with a GR-30 and ordered a -33 as soon as I'd heard about them. I waited six months for it and it was a much better unit than the -30. After the -20 was introduced they discontinued the -33 which, at least in my opinion, was a mistake because the -20 was step backwards. While supposedly making guitar synths more affordable, they took out half the features. Trust me, you'll be a lot happier with a -33 than any other model.

If you shop around, you should be able to get a used -33 for less than a new -20. I just found this one on eBay that's currently under $10 with no reserve, though I'm sure it won't stay at that price long.
 

Stratman76

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,115
Based on my research on this subject, I learned that most were not too happy with the tracking of Rolands' pickups in general. Godin and Brian Moore equip their Roland-GR Synth-ready guitars with either Graphtec Ghost or RMC Piezo pups and there is also a 13-pin MIDI port integrated into these guitars...I didn't find anything other than Roland's GR Synth (box) series to support this 13-pin port. Either I am missing something or that 13-pin connector is specific to midi guitar?

The Godin guitars have been well received, the build quality is good for the price and you're ready to go out to a Roland GR box! They seem like an excellent value to me. I've been looking for a humbucker equipped axe and the two below appear to be a outstanding options.


Guitars – for Midi output
Godin Freeway SA – best tracking system available $749
Connect to a (discontinued) Roland GR-33 synth. (Roland GR-20 is current model)
Godin Freeway Classic – $659 (some iterations are equipped)
Brian Moore iGuitar 81.13 – $1749 with optional USB out ($200)
Brian Moore iGuitar 91.13 – $1095 with optional USB out ($200)

Also check this tutorial site…
http://truefire.com/geekguitar/geekguitar.html


Midi and Acoustic Simulation Pick-up Systems
Graphtec Ghost System:
Graphtec Saddle Pups for Strat - $119 per set of six.
Graphtec Acoustiphonic Pre-am - $99.94 for acoustic out
Graphtec Hexpander Pre-amp - $249 for 13-pin MIDI out
plus various switches and cabling.

RMC Piezo Pickups www.rmcpickup.com
 

Stratman76

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,115
Guitar synth update...

The Roland GI-20 is a 13-pin Midi + USB interface (box). With this you can connect a 13-pin midi equipped guitar like the Godins or the Brian Moore iGuitars.
With the Roland GI-20 these guitars can control software instruments though music creation apps like Garageband or Cakewalk. Sweet!

The Brian Moore iSeries can also be equipped with a USB audio interface (in addition to the 13-pin Midi) which gives you the ability to go directly into a Mac or PC. This is a line level signal that is sending a digital guitar stream- it's a direct audio signal, not a midi/software instrument controller through USB. I don't know of anyone else doing this although Peavey recently bought Revalver (very cool amp simulation software).
 

Mincer

Member
Messages
4,541
13 pins are unique to guitar synths and the VG series of guitar modelers. All current guitar synth ready guitars have 13 pin outputs. The Roland GR-1/20/30/33, GI-10/20 and the Axon series of midi converters can accept 13 pins. The Roland VG-8/88/99 series of modelers accepts it too, but these are not technically synths.
 

Stratman76

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,115
13 pins are unique to guitar synths and the VG series of guitar modelers. All current guitar synth ready guitars have 13 pin outputs. The Roland GR-1/20/30/33, GI-10/20 and the Axon series of midi converters can accept 13 pins. The Roland VG-8/88/99 series of modelers accepts it too, but these are not technically synths.
Thank you! I did some research and learned the 13-pin connector was necessary to track a guitar (on a midi level in this context). I've read there are some issues with latency in the Roland boxes? Is Axon better? Here is how I see them breaking down...

Roland GI-20 - is expressly a guitar midi interface box + usb at about $399
Roland GR-20 is the current 13-pin compatible synth box with general midi + Roland poly synth sound at about $499 (sans pick-up)
Roland GR-33 is this a better sounding, more feature rich, discontinued version of the GR-20? Apparently the samples are better quality in the GR-20 and one would hope the tracking was better.

Axon AX-50 is a midi box + usb + general midi + some synth $499?
Axon AX 100 MKII is the original, more sound feature packed unit at $699

The word on the street is that Axon tends to track better while Roland GR's offers better sound from the box. Is this true? If one were more focused on using a midi guitar to control software instruments in Garageband, it would seems the Axon AX-50 could be a wise choice over Roland's GI 20 based on apparent tracking superiority and at least some sonic ability of its own. Axon speaks of a 32-bit RISC chip to enhance its responsiveness. That said, one could add a $40 standard 5-pin midi I/F to use the midi out of the GR-20 into a computer.

Hmmmm.... The Roland GR-20 with an additional ($40) USB-midi interface looks like the best overall value in a 13-pin midi I/F.
 

jaywalker

Member
Messages
2,362
Let's see - I use a couple of GR20s a lot, I have TV sessions where the keyboard player can't cope with all the parts at once and I refuse to mime, so I use the GR20 for synth or pad parts that the keyboard player can't handle.
The tracking is much better than any of the previous units by roland, but will never be perfect - especially at the bottom end, it's simply the way physics works unfortunately.
As I mentioned, I do solo acoustic gigs with one and have no problems with the tracking whatsoever - at least nobody apart from a keyboard player/musician would be able to criticise it in it's worst moments.

But it is a bog standard non-editable synth.

Granted you can play with the onboard reverb and chorus and even filters as well as being able to assign the footpedal to almost anything available.

The hold function is very usefull too.
 

MrDoty

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,527
the godins track better than the gr-20 that unit sucks in my opinion. with a godin guitar you are in way better shape. I never liked the brian moore guitars they just never clicked with me.
 

Gas-man

Unrepentant Massaganist
Messages
18,629
I got a GR-20 last week and installed it on my 335-style gitter.

A bit of a PITA, but not bad as far as the pup goes.

I am LOVING the B-3 sounds on this thing!

I can't believe more people don't play these!
 

Stratman76

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,115
the godins track better than the gr-20 that unit sucks in my opinion. with a godin guitar you are in way better shape. I never liked the brian moore guitars they just never clicked with me.
For reference sake, the Roland GR-20 is their synth box. It tracks also (the midi signal coming from a midi guitar). I believe you were referring to Roland's midi guitar pickups which are the GK3 (and probably others). Everything I've read supports your assertion- both Graphtech and RMC pickup systems track guitar strings better than Rolands' pickups.
 

jzguitar

Member
Messages
246
SPAM alert....

I actually have a Roland GR09 (with the expansion card) with the GK2A Pickup. Haven't used it in a long time. Thinking of selling. That is all....
 

Mincer

Member
Messages
4,541
RMCs will track better than Roland pickups. Axons will convert faster than Roland units. However, clean technique and 'how you use them' might make the advantages moot.
If you like pads and string swell stuff, it doesn't matter. Personally, I like more slow attack stuff than fast attack. Also, I don't want to sound like a bad keyboardist.
 




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