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  • Roland GR55 Check this out before you buy...

    Okay, I usually just lurk through the threads and read up on all the interesting info everyone has to offer, but today I decided to share my experience with you all on the glorious GR55...


    I've been messing with this unit for a bit now, (Probably last 3 months or so...) Anyways, I love the stuff I can do with it (And the potential...), and although I've scoured the net looking for info on how to use 'em, and get the tracking so that it's smooth, it's been kind of hit or miss, trial and error for me... I figured it might be useful to post a collection of videos that I posted that kind of chronicle my experience with the unit.

    I use a cheapie Ibanez RG RG321RGMH and bought the GR55 that came with the GK3 pickup. The pickup has been a lot of trouble for me, as I have to clean the 13 pin connections religiously with contact cleaner, and setup/calibration has been sort of an ongoing thing. The guitar tone isn't horrible, typical Boss Cosm amp modelling. There's a lot of options though, especially if you use the 'guitar out' (which I do religiously... It's nice to have the option of blending a 'real amp' in there...) Anyways, I also found that in order to trigger/track nicely you need to set your GK3 pickup's sensitivity low enough so that when you play a note it doesn't get picked up by the other pickup. In my case, I have the sensitivity now set VERY low. Like 1 on the low 'E' 1 on the 'A' etc, etc. The high E is the highest, and is set to about 18. Strange, but it works. The other thing to keep in mind is the guitar's neck scale; be sure to enter that in correctly, or "no tracky". One last thing is the pickup's distance from the saddles. Get out an accurate measuring tape and get this right, it's real important.

    I still think that this thing has a LONG ways to go in regards to really accurate tracking, especially when it comes to percussion. Still, I have this as a permanent addition to my 'rig' and now that I have it and sort of understand how to use it, it gives me access to sounds and ideas that help me sound a bit more unique (I know my playing's run of the mill, but meh I'm working on that!)

    So anyways, here's a collection of vids that I posted on youtube that chronicle my experience with the thing so far. I haven't had a chance to really mess with some of the controller features on it, and nor have I had a chance to play with the unit's ability to play .aiff/.wav files as backtracks. Much... I will say that the fact that I can use this to store a night's worth of backtracks and control it with my feet makes this piece of gear even more useful to me... Anyways, I hope you find this somewhat useful, folks!


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8YLYWHmf3c&list=UUZ-3_vmVVw_YTadZXehJ7yQ&index=8&feature=plcp

    Probably one of my most recent attempts; lined into my interface and created a loop and then improvised over it. It's at this point where I sort of decided to just use the thing a little more like I wanted to and a little less as a 'keyboard'. I wanted to test the 'effects' side of things and as such, I had a patch with a snapback type delay, another bass patch with an octave/distortion effect (buzzy) and of course a wet lead patch with a cool "whammy-type-pitch-up" effect.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9Zl4P9PUJk&list=UUZ-3_vmVVw_YTadZXehJ7yQ&index=9&feature=plcp

    This one's a stab at using strings only, things got yucky... lol Same idea as above, using the onboard looper to create a backtrack but, tracking was warmly as heck, so I abandoned any attempt at being tasteful and just kind of mauled the thing. Sorry... Although I've gotten the pitch and tracking a lot better in recent times, strings are still kind of rough, and require much tweaking and great playing technique. Shredi knights won't like that.... Or will they?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQKPuTCAOhU&list=UUZ-3_vmVVw_YTadZXehJ7yQ&index=2&feature=plcp

    This track was an attempt at using the guitar to trigger drums and create a backtrack to play over in one shot. Drums don't trigger consistently in this, that's for sure. The Fishman Triple play looks waaaay superior in regards to tracking drums. Anyways, I tried to use a few different sounds and have some fun with this. I was kind of hoping to use guitar as a means to input drum tracks when recording... I may have to wait a bit for the tech to improve.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7mu5eq4zsg&list=UUZ-3_vmVVw_YTadZXehJ7yQ&index=3&feature=plcp

    This one was a foray into trying to get something resembling a percussion track along with a bass and guitar accompaniment to solo over. It was at this time that the GK3 was not catching my strings properly and the damn high 'E' would just not seem to trigger sometimes. It was real intermittent. I've since come a long ways on setting this up and calibrating it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftkC_WttqEA&list=UUZ-3_vmVVw_YTadZXehJ7yQ&index=9&feature=plcp

    This one's one of my first attempts at looping some of the different patches and then soloing over it. mehh... It's kind of rough but you can see the evolution of the unit's learning curve. Prior to this point I'd never used a looper before, but now I'm pretty much hooked. I now use A Roland RC3 stomp box alongside the GR55 when I'm in band or jam situations... I've since gotten a lot better at starting/stopping my loops also.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8z9EgsyWvQ&list=UUZ-3_vmVVw_YTadZXehJ7yQ&index=10&feature=plcp

    Here was my first video with this unit, and it shows how you can use the unit along with your favourite amplifier via the 'guitar out'. If it were not for the dry 'guitar out' I would not have purchased this thing.... Tracking is of course pretty rough, but hey, it was my first stab at using the unit... I immediately fell in love with being able to switch back and forth between 'guitar only' 'synth only' and 'mix' Very awesome. It seems the only weak link here was me.


    Anyways, feel free to comment and please, let me know what some of your experiences have been with this unit. Or if you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them. Thanks, and have a good one!
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  • #2
    Hey, thanks for the post! I'm sure others will find it interesting as well. These kinds of videos, whether informal or not, give a real-world perspective, especially with the comments you've added.

    Based on my general experience with guitar synths, over time you sort of unconsciously start to play in a way that helps with the tracking.
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    • #3
      Jay, Great GR-55in' there! Looks like you are taming that beast site well.

      Sorry to hear about your ongoing setup issues. When I owned the GR-55 (and the 33) I just slapped the pickup on a few different guitars and it seemed to work fine. I never had to do much regarding adjustments, and I never cleaned anything. Perhaps I was just lucky.

      I have a particular fondness for MIDI guitar and have owned several different ones over the years. I am looking forward to the Fishman Triple Play product, but until that comes out, The GR-55 is the best there is. Keep up the good work, and let us know when you post more vids.
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      • #4
        Your videos are pretty freaking rad. :thu: Would you mind telling me the settings you used on the lead on the on the first video?

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        • #5
          Your videos are pretty freaking rad. :thu: Would you mind telling me the settings you used on the lead on the on the first video?


          I'd love that patch as well...any chance you can post it?

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          • #6
            The 55 is conceptually a great idea, but in terms of tracking and sounds, IMO it drastically falls short. First, the tracking is really no better in terms of accuracy or speed than the GI-20, GR-33, or even GR-30. Additionally, the tones are very lacking, especially when compared to software plugins these days. The only saving grace of the 55 (again, in my opinion) is the VG stuff, which basically makes it a cheaper, diet VG-99. Those sounds are really useful, and is almost worth it alone for the money.
            <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="4"><font color="Red">Court Jester of the Ibanez Wizards</font></font><font size="3"><font color="Blue"><br />
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            Seagull S6<br />
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            Palmer PDI-09<br />
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            AmpKit+ for iPad<br />
            Roland GI-20 MIDI converter</div>

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            • #7
              The 55 is conceptually a great idea, but in terms of tracking and sounds, IMO it drastically falls short. First, the tracking is really no better in terms of accuracy or speed than the GI-20, GR-33, or even GR-30. Additionally, the tones are very lacking, especially when compared to software plugins these days. The only saving grace of the 55 (again, in my opinion) is the VG stuff, which basically makes it a cheaper, diet VG-99. Those sounds are really useful, and is almost worth it alone for the money.


              I think you are dead wrong about the difference between tracking of the GR 33 and GR 55. For one thing, the tracking is TOTALLY DIFFERENT on both units.

              The GR 55 is WAY faster than the GR 33! Still not quite as fast as an axon, but the GR 33 was nowhere close to an axon! The GR 55 is the best tracking MIDI guitar module for internal sounds that Roland has made to date.

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              • #8
                ooo First of all, thanks for checking out the vids. I would have posted more but alas, I plugged into the unit last week and ... no sound. None. I found if I pulled the cable (13 pin) out of the jack, then it would make a connection and I'd get some sound, but if it was plugged in all the way, then nothing. So back to roland with the unit; VERY upsetting, as there's lots I want to do with this...

                Sadly I didn't make any backups on the patches, so I can't share a patch for a while until the unit comes back. I will say that my preference was definitely the 5150 model, and I tended towards doing anything i could to get rid of midrange honk; sometimes I'd turn the 'tone' in the GR55 emulator to where I could put up with it, always had it set for neck pickup... that sort of thing. I' REALLY like the guitar out, and I was going to do some more stuff with that going into my amps and/or a Line6 pod... Anyways, here's hoping Roland will fix the darned thing so I can get back to making music with it...

                Once I get it back I'll post some more stuff, as I had a few other ideas I'd like to share about the unit...
                <div class="signaturecontainer">Lessons App for iphone/ipod/ipad <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stop-sucking-at-guitar/id433338711?mt=8&amp;uo=4" target="_blank">http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stop-...8711?mt=8&amp;uo=4</a></div>

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                • #9
                  And yeah, I'm stoked about the Triple Play also... Roland might have some work to do... lol
                  <div class="signaturecontainer">Lessons App for iphone/ipod/ipad <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stop-sucking-at-guitar/id433338711?mt=8&amp;uo=4" target="_blank">http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/stop-...8711?mt=8&amp;uo=4</a></div>

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                  • #10
                    Midi guitar is a crazy world. From what I've read, the calibration and pickup placement is VERY important....everyone's playing style is different and you have to account for that....even then often you have to adjust your playing style to suite the synth.

                    I have a GR33 that I play with my piezo midi equipped Moog E1 guitar....I definitely have to play differently depending what patch I'm on. Check the patch settings too as they make a difference in how they trigger.
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                    • #11
                      I think you are dead wrong about the difference between tracking of the GR 33 and GR 55. For one thing, the tracking is TOTALLY DIFFERENT on both units.

                      The GR 55 is WAY faster than the GR 33! Still not quite as fast as an axon, but the GR 33 was nowhere close to an axon! The GR 55 is the best tracking MIDI guitar module for internal sounds that Roland has made to date.


                      You can think I'm dead wrong all you want, but I've owned:

                      Two GR-33's
                      Three GR-55's
                      Two GI-20's
                      One GR-30

                      And the tracking with the GR-33 is just as fast as the 55. That's with a Roland GK built-in system, as well as a Ghost system. How many systems have you had to base your OPINION on that I'm "dead wrong"?
                      <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="4"><font color="Red">Court Jester of the Ibanez Wizards</font></font><font size="3"><font color="Blue"><br />
                      <b><i>Mesa/Boogie Mob</i></b></font></font><br />
                      <br />
                      Guitars:<br />
                      <br />
                      Ibanez JS2000<br />
                      Ibanez RG421 w/ Dimarzio TZ+AN<br />
                      Ibanez SC420<br />
                      Fender MIM Strat with built-in Roland GK3<br />
                      Seagull S6<br />
                      <br />
                      Rig:<br />
                      '94 Mesa DC-5 combo<br />
                      Palmer PDI-09<br />
                      L6 Echo Park<br />
                      Boss chorus<br />
                      Boss SD-1<br />
                      AmpKit+ for iPad<br />
                      Roland GI-20 MIDI converter</div>

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                      • #12
                        We all know both golfcart and polaris have the same guitar with the same strings, the pickup is placed exactly in the same spot and most importantly, they have the same exact hands and same exact technique, playing the exact same notes! So we can now make a definitive scientific claim on the speed of tracking.

                        I thought the 55 did better than the 33 on tracking, but that's just me. I also thought the 55, frankly, has total cheese ball synth tones. Now I use a AX50 and whatever I have on hand and in the computer.

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                        • #13
                          Ive owned a yamaha g50, gr30, gr33, vg99 and gr55.

                          Gr55 is the best tracking of these particular units but the difference isnt particularly staggering compared to the gr33 IMO.

                          The gr55 is strong in terms of the totality of its feature set (ie combining COSM guitar modelling, effects, alternate tuning, and midi conversion).

                          The triple play looks promising, but it seems its still a ways away in terms of release, and I actually like having the midi converter, sounds, footpedals, and switches conveniently all in one box for live playing.
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                          • #14
                            We all know both golfcart and polaris have the same guitar with the same strings, the pickup is placed exactly in the same spot and most importantly, they have the same exact hands and same exact technique, playing the exact same notes! So we can now make a definitive scientific claim on the speed of tracking.

                            I thought the 55 did better than the 33 on tracking, but that's just me. I also thought the 55, frankly, has total cheese ball synth tones. Now I use a AX50 and whatever I have on hand and in the computer.


                            That's an excellent point. I'm either very crappy at setting up a 55, or extremely good at setting up a 33. Either way, the 55 was extremely disappointing with the PCM sounds, so the 33 wins regardless. Axon is better than any of them.
                            <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="4"><font color="Red">Court Jester of the Ibanez Wizards</font></font><font size="3"><font color="Blue"><br />
                            <b><i>Mesa/Boogie Mob</i></b></font></font><br />
                            <br />
                            Guitars:<br />
                            <br />
                            Ibanez JS2000<br />
                            Ibanez RG421 w/ Dimarzio TZ+AN<br />
                            Ibanez SC420<br />
                            Fender MIM Strat with built-in Roland GK3<br />
                            Seagull S6<br />
                            <br />
                            Rig:<br />
                            '94 Mesa DC-5 combo<br />
                            Palmer PDI-09<br />
                            L6 Echo Park<br />
                            Boss chorus<br />
                            Boss SD-1<br />
                            AmpKit+ for iPad<br />
                            Roland GI-20 MIDI converter</div>

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Ive owned a yamaha g50, gr30, gr33, vg99 and gr55.

                              Gr55 is the best tracking of these particular units but the difference isnt particularly staggering compared to the gr33 IMO.

                              The gr55 is strong in terms of the totality of its feature set (ie combining COSM guitar modelling, effects, alternate tuning, and midi conversion).

                              The triple play looks promising, but it seems its still a ways away in terms of release, and I actually like having the midi converter, sounds, footpedals, and switches conveniently all in one box for live playing.


                              For me, a laptop, Apogee GIO, and Fishman solve the same problem, as well as adding GuitarRig 5 for amp modeling. Not as durable and not all in one, but better tones, IMO.
                              <div class="signaturecontainer"><font size="4"><font color="Red">Court Jester of the Ibanez Wizards</font></font><font size="3"><font color="Blue"><br />
                              <b><i>Mesa/Boogie Mob</i></b></font></font><br />
                              <br />
                              Guitars:<br />
                              <br />
                              Ibanez JS2000<br />
                              Ibanez RG421 w/ Dimarzio TZ+AN<br />
                              Ibanez SC420<br />
                              Fender MIM Strat with built-in Roland GK3<br />
                              Seagull S6<br />
                              <br />
                              Rig:<br />
                              '94 Mesa DC-5 combo<br />
                              Palmer PDI-09<br />
                              L6 Echo Park<br />
                              Boss chorus<br />
                              Boss SD-1<br />
                              AmpKit+ for iPad<br />
                              Roland GI-20 MIDI converter</div>

                              Comment

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