Roland GR-55GK Black by Frippian
The GR-55 from Roland is the latest (2011) attempt at turning Guitarists in Pianists, flutists, Trumpet Players, and so on.
How well does the GR-55 translate a picking/plucking motion into splitting air in a Flute, or hammering strings in a Piano? Not having experienced previous Roland Synthesizers personally, I cannot compare the GR-55 to them, no less my impressions after roughly three years of using the Unit are highly favourable.
(I Should point out, that I always use my GR-55 in tandem with my PC, making it much easier to edit tones.)
My guitar is equipped with an eternal GK-3 Pick-up, closer to the bridge of the guitar than the GR-55 can be set-up for, and it seems that the closer the hexaphonic pickup can be to the bridge, the better. It may take some time, for myself, up to half of an hour to get the setting in the GR-55 to match your play style. If you require settings for multiple play styles, the GR-55 has accommodation for multiple play styles. Do not skimp on spending time getting an appropriate setting for your picking strength/ String size/ bridge height/ E.T.C. If time is taken to set-up right, the system tracks exceedingly well with the standalone GK-3 external pick-up.
Moving onto the features of the GR-55 the dual synthesizer engines can be set to play any of the 910 synthesizer sounds. What is more, each of the engines can be calibrated separately in terms of filter’s, sensitivity, nuance detection, envelope, and so on. Many of the 910 synthesizer sounds are of great quality, but are raw, and typically require appropriate filtering to emulate acoustic quality, as per the instrument or tone in question.
The Categories of PCM Tones included:
• Acoustic Piano
• Pop Piano
• Electric Grand Piano
• Electric Piano 1
• Electric Piano 2
• Electric Organ
• Pipe Organ
• Reed Organ
• Acoustic Guitar
• Electric Guitar
• Distorted Guitar
• Acoustic Bass
• Electric Bass
• Synth Bass
• Solo Strings
• Ensemble Strings
• Solo Brass
• Ensemble Brass
• Synth Lead
• Synth Brass
• Synth Pad/Strings
• Synth Bellpad
• Synth PolyKey
• Synth FX
• Synth Seq/Pop
• Beat & Groove
• Sound FX
• Ride Cymbal
46 Categories = 910 PulseCodeModulation Tones
In addition to the 2 synthesizer engines, the GR-55 also includes a COSM unit, including several guitars, plucked instrument, and analogue synthesizer models. The models are quite accurate from my experience of using them. The direct input from your guitar’s electromagnetic pick-ups can also be used in tandem with any combination of the other three engines.
Once the tone the user is looking for has been achieved, the signal chain of the GR-55 leads through a multi effects, or Amp/Mod, then through separate modules for Delay, Reverb, and Chorus and at last through an equalizer.
The Multi-effects unit include the following:
• VK-Rotary Speaker Emulator
• Hexa-chorus (A fantastic effect when made good use of.)
• 3-tap pan delay
• Time Control Delay
• Low fidelity Compressor
• Pitch Shifter
All of the above effects are of high quality, with many variables to play with and tweak to the player’s liking. Combined with the 910 synthesizers, across 2 engines, plus COSM and your original guitar tones, the possibilities are already endless. Yet, the abilities of this unit don't end here.
Moving on to the Amp/Mod channel, the Amplifier models:
• 42 Amplifier Models
• 9 Speaker Size Settings
• 5 Microphone model types
*Each Amplier includes gain settings, Bass, Mids, Treble and Presence.
The Mod Effects include:
• Distortion (25 Types)
• Flanger Tremolo
All these effects are mind-boggling. Don’t try and consider all the possibilities at once. You likely won’t survive the endeavor.
You especially will not survive using the GR-55 if you do not make full use of the assigns. The assigns are 8 assignable commands, set to absolutely ANY parameter, including the alternate tuning, and so on. The assigns can be used with the CTL pedal, the 2 buttons on the GK pickup, if you have them, the expression pedal, the pedal button, and even the GK volume dial.
The assigns are fantastically useful. Essentially, if you can imagine a sound with-in the parameters, you can achieve it.
One last mention: The Looper.
The looper is a 20 second built in, with no memory. It is possible to loop a 20 second phrase, and then loop any number of layer's over-top the initial loop, until a total of 80 seconds of loop length has been reached.
Bottom Line: The GR-55 tracks wonderfully well with your playing, if you take the time to change the settings for your playing. The effects are immense, and the Engines have immense tweaking potential. HUGE bang for your buck IF you take time mastering the use of the GR-55.
Also, I HIGHLY Recommend using Gumtown’s GR-55 Floor Pedal Editor: GR FloorBoard download | SourceForge.net
Props to Gum Town!