School me on Guitar Synths (Boss, Roland)

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by stevel, Mar 14, 2015.

  1. stevel

    stevel Member

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    So, I'm thinking about this.

    I've played the old Roland VG synths years ago with the "roland ready" strat. I understand you have to think and play "like a keyboard player" to some degree - IOW, "strumming" your guitar like it's a guitar but with a piano sound isn't going to give you a very useful sound. Bonus here is I can play some keys, and know MIDI well, etc. That's been 15 years ago and even back then the tracking seemed pretty good and all the alternate tunings could be extremely useful. Just messing with it in the store after a few minutes I had the "hang" of playing it like a keyboard player (for those types of sounds)

    So my questions are maybe on the more practical side.

    1. Roland GK3 on a Strat - looks pretty easy to install. Double-sided tape on the pickup, and the "controller" thing looks like it now just attaches to the strap button with some kind of mount.

    So I'm looking at "reversibility" - can I put this stuff on and then later, if I decide to take it off, it's not leaving goo or scratches, etc. all over the guitar for the controller (I realize I might have to wipe off some residue from the tape under the pickup).

    2. I see some discussion about the pickup height and sensitivity. Are they pretty forgiving or are they very finicky? I play with a fairly high action. I know Roland has specs but I'm wondering if people's experiences have been that it's pretty much stick it on and it works - or will it need a lot of adjustment?

    3. I was looking at the Boss GP10 synth. Anyone have it? Pros/cons, especially compared to the Roland GR55 (or whatever the current production flagship model).

    One thing I would like to do would be to not only play the sounds in the pedal/synth, but to take a MIDI out and play sounds from additional devices as well. The GP10 doesn't do this without going through some USB device first so that might make the more expensive Roland the better option.

    4. I would basically want my guitar to be able to play my traditional guitar rig, OR the synth, and possibly combine the two. It looks like I could just take the 13 pin out to the synth, and have it's sounds go on to the amp/monitor via L/R jacks. Then my guitar 1/4" could go straight to my guitar rig as before (hmm, two cables coming out of the guitar...).

    I still want my "straight to amp" signal and I'm willing to bet that even in some kind of bypass mode this device is going to color the signal. Especially if you can plug the output of your guitar into the controller and then that gets passed down the 13-pin. I'm sure impedance will be messed up and there'll be no "true bypass" models or anything.

    But since I'd be sending to both, I'd need some way to mute each signal path. I can easily set up a pedal with the volume on zero to mute my guitar rig. But I'm wondering if it's practical to do the same on the synth? I know with the pickup, if both signals are going through you can use the "guitar/mix/synth" thing. But since I wouldn't be doing that I could turn the volume on the guitar down to not pass any guitar signal (and bring it up to blend) but to mute the synth - I think changing that button on the pickup controller to "guitar" (to not send signal to the synth, thus "muting" it) is not going to be "performance durable" in the same way just muting the system would be (can I set the control pedal to volume and make it zero or otherwise bypass the unit so it may be receiving down the 13 pin but not playing?).

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2015
  2. ERGExplorer

    ERGExplorer Member

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    The GK pickups *can* be put on just using the adhesive tape, but the pickup *does* have to be fairly close to the strings. Adjusting is easier if you have the pickup screwed in, but you can get there with just the tape with time.

    You'll notice that the GK pickups has a 1/4" plug on it. That's so you can use a short cable to connect your guitar's output jack to the GK pickups, and then have that signal run over the 13-pin cable to the unit, which has an output jack allowing you to then run the dry signal to whatever gear you wish, in addition to the outputs dedicated to the output of the processed signal.

    (Keep in mind that I have never used the GP-10, although I do have experience with the Boss GT multis, the Roland VG gear, and the older Roland guitar synths, as well as guitar synth gear from other manufacturers. What follows is from me reading just now, combined with what I knew before.)

    The GP10 uses the sound of each individual string as the oscillator/sound source for its synthesis/modeling. That's the process used by both the amazing GR300, and the modern VG gear. It is much faster than pitch-to-MIDI conversion.

    From watching the demos available and looking at the editor, it seems like the GP can cover all the sounds of the GR-300, including the things Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp and Pat Metheny. If you read through the manual, and then work your way through the excellent Sound on Sound series Synth Secrets, by Gordon Reid, you'll unlock the potential of this device far more thoroughly than all but a tiny minority of the user base.

    The GP-10 also contains the sound engine of the GT-100. I use a GT-10, the predecessor, as a monophonic guitar synthesizer. Learning that the GP-10 has the ability to reproduce that kind of patching and processing is very exciting.

    In all, even if you never go the outboard MIDI-soundbank route, the unit contains the GR-300, the VG, and the GT-100 for the cost of a GT-100 alone. That has me considering one for myself.

    And, if you decide you do need the MIDI converter, you can normally pick up the diminutive Roland GI-10 for around $100, along with the GK parallel cable so you run it alongside the GP-10.

    I suggest you listen to demos of not just the GP-10, but also of the GR-300, the VG-88 and the Boss GT-10 and GT-100. That will give you a good idea of what the GP-10 can do in each of those areas.

    Whatever you decide to do, good luck!
     
  3. stevel

    stevel Member

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    Thanks for the response. Maybe some others might chime in as well.

    My concern about running the guitar signal down the 13 pin is with how that's going to react to my amp. Firstly, it needs to simply go through the unit, unaffected, and on to my pedalboard. Everything currently is "guitar level" with the guitar, amp, and effects. I'm concerned if there's any impedance shenanigans on the guitar in and out on the synth, it's going to screw with the tone.

    Steve
     
  4. stevel

    stevel Member

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    Yes, that's similar to what I'm thinking. As much as I'd hate to have to deal with two cables coming out of the guitar, I already have so much crap on stage it really doesn't matter.
     
  5. ERGExplorer

    ERGExplorer Member

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    If you're worried about it, it shouldn't be any more problematic than running a wireless unit and a Radial box...
     
  6. slybird

    slybird Member

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    I purchases a used GR-30 and VG-8 about 5 years ago (super cheap). I don't use them live. Tried once, it was more trouble then it was worth.

    The VG-8 is great, worth the price of admission. I love it. Don't get the divice if all you want to do is sound like a guitar into your favorite amp. But if you want bass, viola, and just some oddball sounds this VG-8 is wonderful. Pan some strings right side, others left side. One day I want to experience the VG-99.

    The GR-30 sounds are terrible, but it is adequate to control other synths. That said, I find is easier and get more satisfaction using a keyboard controller. I probably will never find a use for a guitar synth, but I guess if one is unwilling to learn a keyboard.

    I've had no issues mounting the hex pickup. My hex pickup guitar is a Fernandez with a sustainer. Didn't have to do any mods to the guitar.
     

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