Roland GK Pickups And Synths

Discussion in 'Synths / Samplers & VSTi' started by BarilkoLives, Sep 2, 2003.

  1. BarilkoLives

    BarilkoLives Guest

    I originally posted this in the guitar forum but it occured to me that people here might know something as well - it's a bit of a tweener question:

    I recently saw one of my favorite bands (The New Deal - live, breakbeat, progressive house - three guys and excellent chops on real instruments) play a free show here in Toronto at the Harbourfront Centre. As the seating at the venue is permanent, there wasn't the usual space available for the crowd to get down with its bad self. My friends and I took this opportunity to check out the band's gear. Something in particular struck me about the bassist's axe - a red LED and what looked like an add-on pickup. I subsequently E-mailed the guy and he said it was a Roland GK series pickup and explained his general setup on stage.

    Cool enough, now I know what it is, but does anyone here have anything to say about them? Positive or negative, it doesn't matter. I know The New Deal puts it to good use and I've always been intrigued with the idea of combining guitar and synth sounds. Now that idea has come into a sharper focus - but I'd like to hear some testimonials. It would be cool to know what guitar synths and processors are 13-pin compatible or some of the intricasies of playing a synth module from a guitar...

    Incidentally, if you ever get a chance to see The New Deal, they are something else. Truly a band that restores my faith in the power of music to bring positivity and ingenuity to the fore.
  2. Nate Tschetter

    Nate Tschetter Active Member

    Feb 28, 2001

    I've dabbled in guitar synths a bit mainly because sometimes I have to do guitar "soundalike" MIDI programming and correct voicings really help nasty MIDI guitar sounds.

    Guitar synths, in general, don't really track well enough to sit down and start playing. You have to adjust your playing to compensate for the delay which is different for each string and fret position. Low strings track the worst.

    Anything the synth can't translate into notes gets spit out as a bunch of short duration / low velocity notes. Muted parts in particular are hard for the thing to figure out.

    Some people can really make them work. They can work for soloists or people who play long pads but percussive stuff seems difficult to pull off. I'm sure there are exceptions.

    Lots of guitar players get excited about being able to trigger synths from the guitar...very few have the patience to really learn how to effectively do it.

    Dedicated controllers work better. The Yamaha G10 tracked really well. But, it didn't feel like a guitar and all the strings were high "E" strings. However, because it "was" the controller, it was very fast (I think it used some kind of "sonar" to detect pitch).

    I hear the SynthAxe tracks very well too but I don't think it has string over the fretboard, only the "picked" strings.

    I've heard the old Casio guitar worked better than most and it had a MIDI out jack right on the guitar. I actually played a couple of gigs with a guy that made it sound pretty good.

    I'd love to hear from someone that uses one and programs. I might even have work for such a person!
  3. Guitarman

    Guitarman Guest

    Hey guys,

    I have used a Gr-1 fairly often. IMHO, I find it good for expanding your writing abilities, just for having different sounds. And it's ok to gig with as long as you dont over do it(tracking at fast runs). Your style has to move toward a more of a fingerstyle to emulate striking multiple keys at the same time for pads and stuff.

    The Axion(?) if thats the one I remember seeing at Namm a few years ago, has for zones split as if you placed a cross over the center of your pick-ups. I never did get to try one, but if I remember correctly that's what it did.

    That's about all I can add.

    Best wishes,

    JD( o}===;;;

    Oge's Oddessey
  4. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    I know a guy online who has one of these - he seems to like it a lot, though he sometimes complained about the delay.

    Me, personally, I usually trigger the synths I want with a duplicate channel, then envelope the synth, mix it with the dry signal, then compress, so the notes sorta "meld" from the original guitar tone into an airy, chorused sawtooth sound.

    Not using a synth pickup, though. Just using an old Boss GT-3, some extra hardware, and a bit of ingenuity.
  5. Nate Tschetter

    Nate Tschetter Active Member

    Feb 28, 2001

    The one I've used the most is the Yamaha G50. The "brain" can use Yamaha or Roland's hex pickup. The Yamaha pickup can do some of that "zone" stuff. For example, you can assign a continuous controller whose value depends on where you "pick" the strings (closer to the neck or closer to the bridge).
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