No matter how many devices we play around with throughout our professional life, when something new and innovative jumps up, we are still intrigued to try it out. We want to see what makes it different from everything else and how it can improve our performance. That’s the reason why we usually end up with numerous pedals that are essentially the same, with just a couple of features that set them apart from one another. However, the market of musical equipment isn’t the place where everything is set in stone. Unimaginable things happen rather frequently and brands come out with products that are unique in their character. In this case guitarists are even more intrigued and can’t wait to empty their wallets. Such attitude is what keeps the companies running and the customers busy (I think I’ve simplified this complicated process too much but you get the point). Today we’re going to talk about the product that has many distinguishing features. Its manufacturer is a well-known brand that knows a thing or two about musical equipment. Yeah, you’re right, we’re talking about GR-55 from Roland. This guitar synth will occupy most of your time and captivate your attention from the very first moments of your encounter. Let’s list down all of its significant properties and prove its worth once again. Shall we begin?
Before we move onto the actual qualities that you’re waiting for eagerly, I want to inform you that GR-55 has two models. One includes GK-3 pickup, while the other is designed for guitars that have their own hexaphonic pickups. I’ll be talking about the first version, but there’s no other difference between the two except for the pickup configuration. If you’re wondering what difference GK-3 can make, let me explain: it recognizes the individual notes you play and transmits them to the pedal itself. This way you don’t have to plug in your instrument directly to GR-55, which makes things simpler and a bit complicated at the same time. Either way, let’s move on to the actual features. This multifaceted device offers the combination of synth and COSM modeling. It utilizes four sound sources simultaneously in order to guarantee seamless transition/blend between the two. It is equipped with two types of multi-effects engines, allowing you to experiment with any effect you could think of. More importantly, this puppy has up to 900 PCM sounds, which means you can synthesize anything from piano to organ. GR-55 has a vast amount of available presets that can be recalled immediately and experimented with whenever you want. You do also have two USB ports to work with: the one on the rear panel makes it really easy to connect a MIDI device, while the one on the side-panel can be utilized for connecting an external memory device. This pedal has a built-in looper, which provides you with 20 seconds of recording time. Though it might not be enough for loop-based performance, it’s still usable when you’re trying to perfect a certain piece. Of course it has a tuner, along with an LCD display which visualizes all the settings and helps you choose the one that you desire. Apparently, GR-55 is a real monster that unleashes the musician dozing inside you.
When it comes to taking full control over GR-55, it goes without saying that there’s a learning curve. You can’t expect to get your hands on the unit and start performing right away. You’ll have to scrutinize the manual to learn all the combinations, then utilize them in practice to see how everything works. Once you get the hang of it, there won’t be anything complicated about this one. With that being said, the available settings are still too much to discuss in depth in this article. But there are things that I’ll happily guide you through.
As you look at the pedal, all you can see is a footswitch – a footswitch every which way you look. Though such layout might scare you in the beginning, it is a synonym of user-friendliness. What I mean is that the majority of settings can be accessed with your feet, which makes this unit a perfect match for live performances. What’s more, GR-55 also provides you with the ability to operate USB using the footswitch as well. Even though there’s no editing software with this one, the LCD display can be used to create original sounds. With the knobs and buttons themselves you can alter volume, scroll through various patches, exit the menu, access the menu, select a patch and etc. As you can see, this pedal is still-user friendly regardless of the number of properties you can alter.
The sound is where GR-55’s true qualities come into play. When you go through the settings, you don’t even have the idea what is ahead of you. This little monster has such a fast tracking that you’ll be totally amazed. It can literally reproduce your sound in a blink of an eye. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that we’re dealing with fastest (at least one of the fastest) guitar synths out there. What’s more, if you choose your playing style accurately, you’ll be able to reproduce the sound of pianos, organs and other available instruments without making them sound artificial. When it comes to the guitar simulations or audio effects, things are still pretty accurate and organic. We have global delay, chorus and reverb here, along with the EQ. GR-55 might blow you away so be careful.
All in all, Roland once again created a product that screams quality from engines. GR-55 is a versatile guitar synth that lets you access multi-effects as well. Its sound processors have wonderful quality, otherwise the results wouldn’t be the same (not even close). The opportunities you get here are out of this world – all you have to do is close the door of your bedroom, take your guitar and start exploring what GR-55 has prepared for you. Let it take you away in the realm of creativity. Good luck!
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