Have any of you fitted a Roland Synth on your guitar? - Jemsite
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-03-2002, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Long Island, New York
Posts: 54
Have any of you fitted a Roland Synth on your guitar?

Hey all, my guitar instructor just got a Roland guitar synthesizer pick-up for his yngwie strat. It is the following pick-up kit:

I haven't heard my instructor play it yet, but I did see Al DiMeola use it. DiMeola had I think that exact same pick up on his Ovation acoustic. Along with his footboard he could make his guitar sound like anything! The Les Paul type sound was awesome! He was playing an acoustic and the midi system sounded exactly like a Les Paul. Then he was using it to make his guitar sound like exotic instruments and stuff. It really was awesome. My question is, do any of you have this pick-up hooked up to your guitar? What are your thoughts on it? I am thinking about getting it in the future if it really is that cool! Thanks for responses in advance!
Willin is offline  
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-03-2002, 06:40 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: London, England
Posts: 282
I use them for everything!

Funny that, i have an ynwgie strat with a GK2A roland pickup fitted too. I also had one fitted to my Jem77FP. These things are great, if they are retro fitted into the body and setup properly. You can buy the ones that just sorta...sit on top, for some reason, when i used to use that, the tracking just wasnt upto it. But with a decent pickup installation, and a GR33 or VG88 you can have access to an insane array of synth sounds (which could be anything from a grand piano to a tabla+sitar) or even play your guitar and have the notes appear on screen into your favorite sequencer. As it happens, thats how steve vai composes everything these days (according to a recent interview). Its a great system anyways. but it costs the earth to get it right...

(300 for pickup and pro installation, 400 for a GR33 (synth) 700 for a VG88 (modeller) and god knows how much more i spent on having it all running through the PC with notation software! )

The best thing has to be how you can blend your regular effects rig with the synth sounds. So when you play that crushing all powerfull open Eminor with maximum gain, an entire symphony orcestra can be faded in on a seperate volume knob to accompany you.

Yup, its worth every penny!

PerpetualBurn is offline  
post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-03-2002, 07:54 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Cincinnati, OH USA
Posts: 1,357
I had a similar set up for a while... I had a PRS EG-3 with the Roland GK2 pickup, running into a GR09 and VG8. I used it for live performance and jamming... interestingly, I never used it for recording, even though I was doing tons of MIDI sequencing and home recording at the time.

Cool as it was, I got rid of it for 2 reasons:
1) I had half a dozen guitars, but only one with the pickup. Thus, if I wanted to use the synth, I HAD to take the PRS, even though there were other guitars I'd rather play at gigs. And I wasn't about to spend $200 per guitar to put a GK2 on every guitar, especially my prized JPM100-P1!

2) At the time, I spent much more time playing with FX. Then I discovered good guitar tone and gradually started using fewer and fewer FX. My rig became simpler and simpler. Cool as the Roland gear is, it's just not the same as plugging a guitar straight into a tube amp and pounding on an open E chord for a while, and it did significantly contribute to the complexity of my rig at the time.

That said, if I could get back into a Roland guitar synth cheaply, I probably would, just for helping out with recording and sequencing work. I wouldn't really use the sounds in the guitar synth (probably use the sounds in my Triton more). I'm planning on getting a Carvin Bolt, and I could see putting the GK2 on it and getting back into the world of MIDI guitar some day.

bduersch is offline  
post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-03-2002, 09:50 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Long Island, New York
Posts: 54
Perpetual Burn, could you please elaborate on what exactly is needed to use the synth? I know you need that pick-up installed. Then what do you need to play synth's through your amp? What are the bare neccesities? I saw Al DiMeola with a pedal board type thing and he just kept stomping on that. Do you need any other equipment than that, like maybe a rack-mounted something-or-other? Or do you just need the pick-up and pedal board? What does the VG88 modeller do? Thanks sooo much for answers on this topic!
Willin is offline  
post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-03-2002, 10:29 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Cincinnati, OH USA
Posts: 1,357
All you need is:
1) guitar with hex pickup (GK2)
2) guitar synth unit (GR33 or whatever)--usually these are pedalboards
3) amp or PA to plug the guitar synth into

Optionally, you can plug the guitar synth into other sound modules (keyboards or rack gear) via MIDI, which will allow you to play the sounds from those devices using your guitar. But it's not necessary to use external sound modules with most guitar synths--it just gives you more sounds to choose from.

The difference between the GR and VG... the GR uses the hex pickup to convert your guitar's tone into MIDI, which is then passed to sound modules to generate the tone. During this process, the guitar synth receives signals from each string through the GK2 pickup--the synth determines what note you played and how hard you played it, and then passes that data on to the sound module to generate the appropriate sound.The sound modules could use waveform samples (e.g., sampled pianos, strings, etc) or could use waveform modeling (like old analog synths) to create the tone. Because the synth knows what note you played and how hard you hit it, it can send that information via MIDI to other keyboards and sound modules to generate other tones. If you want your guitar to sound like a piano, organ, violin, sax, etc, this is what you want to use.

The VG on the other hand never converts the guitar's signal to MIDI. It does however know what note you play and how hard you play it. It then uses this data, along with a ton of information on virtually modeled amps, guitars, pickups, and FX, to calculate how what you played would sound like through the selected amp/guitar/pickup/FX combination. It's really less about working with samples and more about understanding the physical and electronic characteristics of all the possible types of guitars/amps/pickups/FX. So with the VG, you could make your Jem sound like a strat, or an acoustic guitar, or a banjo, or a dobro, or a twelve string. You can experiment with different tunings without physically retuning your guitar. You can see what your guitar would sound like if the pickup was half way up the neck. Very cool, but very different from a guitar synth.

bduersch is offline  
post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-04-2002, 07:46 AM
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Holland
Posts: 147
Reviews: 1
I used the GK-2 pickup on my Jem90ham in conjunction with my Roland VG-88. Absolutely great machine, endless possibilities. Decided to sell it though, because I wanted again a normal, no-nonsense approach. My gear just became to complicated. Small adjustments weren't easy anymore. But it's great stuff!
metalmarty is offline  
post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-11-2002, 01:35 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Bellport Village - LI, NY
Posts: 659
OK, I'm late and have a lot of catching up to do for being away for quite a few weeks. I outfit one of my DBK's with a Roland GK2A pickup into a GR33 which tracks and sounds great (BTW-for those who've only tried gtr synths briefly and hated the tracking-it's adjustable to your technique). I also use the GR33 as a MIDI conversion device to use sounds from my main synth module. The tracking remains great and it's a load of fun. I also have two Boss twin Pedals that use the same 13-pin GK-p/u format that are a lot of fun, too.

I wish there was more available in the guitar synth market but I mostly understand why there isn't (interest).

My pickup is drilled directly into the body when I install it and the controller is on a bracket that is held in place by the strap button.

Mike 777 Haug
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-11-2002, 02:08 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Houston
Posts: 191
This is exactly the reason that I bought a JCRG-1 (aka JCRG-21A). It's got an internal GK2 already mounted. You may be still able to find it or it "sound chambered" brother the JCRG-2.

I run this way.....

path 1 (Main)
RG->VG8 (guitar out)->BHWah->ds-1->OD20-> Tuner->RiveraS120->(FX Loop)->Boss BF2->Ibanez PC10(stereo)->Boss CE-20->TCG-Force->BBE->HushSuperC->Rolls Line Mixer
path 2
RG-> VG8 (guitar out) ->BHWah->ds-1->OD20->Tuner->BossVF-1(stereo)->Rolls Line Mixer
path 3
RG-> VG8 (synth out) ->Rolls Line Mixer

The Rolls is a rackmount stereo line mixer(RM203?). I take the outs from this and feed them back into the two returns for the S120 (2x60W - EL34). This allows me to mix the up to all three chains as once through the Rivera's power and cabs. BIG. Fun to mix a crunch and 12-string chorus patch.

I split the GK signal using the Parallel Box and also run into a GI-10 (older midi converter, like a GR w/o the synth) that I use to feed a XV-3080. Fun to run a Choir patch and hit big, open chords.

I'd also like to to play w/a WP-20G and Roland just put a ver2 software upgrade for the VG-88....

wyldbill is offline  
post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-14-2003, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Wetzlar, Germany
Posts: 192

I just got my GK-2 and am now having problems. How do I attach it to my Radius? The space between the Edge-Trem and the bridge Pup is too narrow. It'll have to sit half on the Pup-Frame.

Anybody done that and got detailed pictures?

LennyNero is offline  
post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-14-2003, 02:24 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Canada
Posts: 4,215
You may have to trim your bridge pickup mounting ring to make space. You should also make sure the JS has space behind the trem to mount the GK-2's control box. It's a little tight back there.

Alternately, you could consider one of these http://www.ibanez.com/guitars/guitar.asp?model=RG420GK
darren wilson is offline  
post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-15-2003, 01:45 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Bellport Village - LI, NY
Posts: 659
[quote="wyldbill"]This is exactly the reason that I bought a JCRG-1 (aka JCRG-21A). It's got an internal GK2 already mounted. You may be still able to find it or it "sound chambered" brother the JCRG-2.

I think I saw one of the JCRG's used at Sam Ash in Huntington. It looks nice!

Mike 777 Haug
mike777 is offline  

acoustic guitar , bridge pickup , bridge pup , carvin bolt , les paul , pedal board , pickup installation , sam ash , steve vai , strap button , tube amp , yngwie strat

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