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June 2017 Giveaway

Roland GR-55 Guitar Synth - Black - With GK-3 Pickup Reviews

4.0 stars based on 23 customer reviews
Questions about the Roland GR-55 Guitar Synth - Black - With GK-3 Pickup?

Questions about the Roland GR-55 Guitar Synth - Black - With GK-3 Pickup?

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  • Rob
    from April 17, 2017

    GR- 55 synth

    Great tones and effects, little disappointed in the tracking for the fiddle and banjo, but I think I can tweak the pickup and change the sensitivity and nuance. Hope they come up with a wireless solution, don't like to be tethered.

  • Jonathan Martin
    from jonscomputers@earthlink.net October 31, 2015

    Fantastic Guitar Synth

    Another great product from Roland not really that surprising since Roland has always produced great products. I upgraded from a GR3 which I liked very much but this little jewel is a like a whole new world when it comes to guitar synthesis . I especially love the guitar modeling with very realistic sounds and 0 latency makes this like not only getting a new guitar synth but also getting thousands of dollars worth of guitars too! and the alternate tunings with the touch of a button is totally awesome ! So many features and ease of use makes this a real winner in my book and the GK-3 pickup is like the icing on the cake ! super fast response and great tracking Another Winner ! Thanks Sweetwater !

  • Paul
    from N Dallas January 16, 2015Music Background:
    not doing live gigs, studio, private projects

    Roland GR-55 synth - better than first glance

    To begin with this unit is a tool for the adventurous experimental guitarist of some relative ability, touch, and talent. It is not a plug and play unit, at least not until you get your patch tones established and arranged for performance. Like most multi units the factory preset patches are not going to begin to render the true potential of this unit. In fact I have managed to use none of them even as editing starts.
    Limited only by your imagination and how in-depth you comprehend the editor features. There is a web forum for this unit loaded with excellent information on how to use the unit to its potential, which is considerable. There is a PC/Mac editor software and the Roland library software which is a must have for this unit. The PC allows to see graphically on the PC how the unit is configured and what it is doing.
    The more I use it the more imaginative my patches become. Recently I made one with sirens, and gun fire, one which press and the gun becomes a machine gun and another the siren into a train passing by. All that with a powerful GR synth voiced COSM guitar or a mellow cool L4. I made patches with rain and thunder and a cool jazz vibe guitar sounding like you are playing in a cafe during a summer rain. Artful use of hold functions and param assign switching can lift a boring couple sound patch into a wonderland of cool.
    I created full orchestrated patches for Zeppelin's Kashmir complete with Dmodal tuning. IF all you see of this unit is a walk through of canned patch presets it will probably not tempt you to get one. I had previous experience using a synth and I sat out a yr before dropping the dime. As fusion based experimentive guitarist this is an amazing tool, will do so much more than you have in your head and you will improve as a guitarist, as your sense of touch and feel develop using different instruments and their touch. One does not do Townsend wind mill cut your hand things on a string patch. So for the thinking guitarist who wants to expand what they imagined the guitar could do, hell of a tool.

  • Patrick Marr
    from Winston-Salem NC May 17, 2014Music Background:
    gearing up for a solo act

    from GR-1 to GR-55

    I've been using the GR-1 since it came out years ago, and I've jumped over all the versions in between until now. Roland has greatly improved the concept with this generation of guitar synth/COSM modelling.

    I had read reviews saying that the editing was difficult due to the layered menus. I disagree.. I find the editing process to be far more intuitive than any other modelling pedal I've ever tried. I'm 61 years old and my memory is not what it once was. Long series of steps that must be followed sequentially in order to change something really bog me down... but the tabbed layout of this editor is (IMO) a very good way to organize the functions. I don't even need the manual to make edits, and that amazes me!

    Ease of editing is no small achievement since the GR-55 includes all the COSM stuff in addition to the synth patches... all of which is editable. This may well be the best bang for the buck in the guitar pedal world, and that is a very bold statement given the high quality of pedals available today.

    favorite patch: the cello is amazing.. I don't know how they captured all the nuance of an acoustic cello, but it is a major improvement over the cello on my GR-1.

    I'm gearing up for a solo act with backing tracks, and this pedal will give me a way to perform all the solos on all the songs, regardless of the instrument in the recording. Bottom line: I am very happy with this purchase, and I wish I hadn't waited so long to buy it.

  • MR
    from Rochester,NY March 28, 2014Music Background:
    Pro Musician


    A excellent tool for me as a song writer guitarist,it has incredible editing capabilities which opens up sonic possibilities.

  • Rommel Buela
    from November 22, 2013Music Background:


    I was looking for a guitar effects/synth that can do a lot of things, different tones/sounds, sounds that you cannot find in a regular multi effects pedal, things like that. And GR-55 is the answer. Check out their videos and you'll know what I mean. It took me a while to get the tone that I wanted. Installing the GK-3 pick up is not as hard as I thought on my old Washburn but I bought GC-1. I like my washburn as it is (without the GK-3). The only negative that I find is the 13-pin cable. It does not look as tough as the regular guitar cable. But all in all it's worth the price and I'm happy with it. Thank's to Brian Looney, my sales engineer (where is my candies??)...

  • Patrick David
    from Murfreesboro Tn. July 18, 2013Music Background:
    Producer / Engineer / Artist

    Studio Tool Extraordinaire

    If you are a guitarist, or studio owner, you seriously need to read this honest review. Being a studio owner, I have seen a lot of gear come and go as far as the actual usuage and pupose of the product whatever it may be. Trendy guitar foot pedals, a new compressor type, preamps, guitar simulators, whatever. Very rarely, have I ever seen such a ground breaking product come along as this one.
    So here is the review, to the point, step by step.

    Opened the box, and was very suprised by the build and weight of the GR-55. This unit weighs about 8 pounds.Very heavily built.

    LARGE SCREEN: well lit, extremely easy to see and read. Much larger screen in real life than it appears in corralation to the size of it shown in stock photos of the GR-55. Its about a quarter of the size of the entire unit. When is the last tme you saw a 4000 dollar synth keyboard with a screen that was 1/4 of the size of the entire unit?......you haven't. There is no such thing. Its large on the GR-55.

    POWER UP: in about 5 seconds, ...no waiting.

    BUILT IN TUNER: There are actually 2 of them. One can tune all six strings simultainiously, meaning it shows all six strings at one time in a vertical line, so that you can tune all six strings with a single strum of the strings at once, in mere seconds!!... and shows on each string whether they are sharp or flat, or you can set it for the old standard one string at a time style tuner. You can set it at 440 hz, or whatever tuning you desire. I have a big name 500 dollar tuner in the studio ....that can't tune 2 different strings at one time, let alone all six. And thats just the tuner folks.

    MANUAL: Comes with a VERY in depth manual of operation. They did not miss a thing. Has a fast start guide in the begining, which we all love to see that in any manual to get up and running right now.

    SET UP: Plug in your 13 pin synth cable, page over to the System screen for guitar set up, hit GK set up, scroll to the synth pup that you have on your guitar, and exit out. It is that fast. You can even fine tune it for your guitar and playing style.

    SOUNDS: This is where it all happens. I have never heard , or seen anything like it...ever. 26 different guitars, 17 different basses, expensive boutique amp heads, and some of the guitars are very high end guitars, like Gibson, Martin, Rickenbacker, Guild, Stratocaster, Telecaster, etc. And these are not your everyday crappy modeling software wannabe type sounds...these are the sounds of the REAL THING. And every single sound, whether it be the guitar, synth sounds, effect sounds, are completely adjustable to your liking. Lets just cut to the chase at this point.

    EXAMPLE: Imagine having a old acoustic Martin D- 28, which today is worth about 4-6000 dollars, which sounds beautiful in and of itself.
    And, as if that wasn't good enough for any of us to ever own a guitar like that in the first place? Just click a footswitch, and there it is, in your hands. Now, imagine being able to just click a button, and it is now a 12 string version...of itself!! And I mean a REAL12 string. Not the thick chorus effect, with the pitch shifted a few cents to get it to simulate a make believe 12 string. NO, I said a real 12 string.
    You can even tune all 12 strings individually. Simply put?...UNREAL.
    Want to hear a beautiful 6 string electric, or 6 string acoustic, or nylon classical acoustic with orchestra strings fading and swelling like the real thing, with every note and guitar chord that you play?
    You have two individual synth patches,as well as your own guitar sound on top of it all, which you can adjust ALL to your liking, then hit the WRITE button, and its saved forever, to be called up at the click of a foot switch. Need a Mandolin? Banjo? Harpsichord? Sitar?
    Every style of tuning and drop tuning invented by mankind? Strings? Quartet Strings? Orchestral Strings? Cello? Synth leads?12 String Guitars? and on, and on? Its one of those products, that if you write songs, you will be writing endlessly just by the inspiration of the sounds that you are hearing. This unit is endless in sounds. So the inspiration never stops.

    TRACKING: Once you set it to your guitar pup, you have just entered a whole new world of sound. This is not the garbled, warbling sounds of guitar synths of the 80's and 90's, this thing is a dead nuts on, note for note, strum for strum tracking synth. Whether you have a GK-3 pup, or graphite Ghost pup, or a RMC pup, doesn't matter.

    OVERALL GR-55: Once you start working with it the first day, it is seriously ....a jaw dropping experience, just to hear the sounds that are coming out of this unit. As a studio owner, and as a guitarist, I could never afford all the instruments that are in this unit. It would cost 100's of thousands of dollars to even attempt to do so. A Gib 335, Les Paul Std, a Rick 360, a Martin D-28, a Guild D-40, a 5150 amp head, a Matchless amp head, a priceless Marshall head, just to name a few??? and synth sounds from Rolands most expensive keyboard synths?.....You get my point. As a studio owner, it is probably the most valuable instrument piece of equipment that you will ever own as put into its proper perspective for sound creation.
    As a guitar player, you have no earthly idea, of what this machine is capable of doing until you actual have one in your possesion. It is stunning to hear it.
    Lead guitar players? Your world just changed...forever.

    OUTPUTS: It can be configured so many different ways, too many to even list. Even has USB to go direct into your DAW.
    THE GR-55...IS A BEAST.

    VALUE: I will be using it in the studio until the motherboard fries.
    And will then, buy another one. You can't place an actual value on this unit, you really can't. Dollar wise? Roland could have sold it for 2000 dollars, and no one would have even raised an eyebrow.
    This thing is a monster piece of professional equipment, that you will be using non stop. And for a guitarist?, it will allow you to define and create, your own original sound that you have never even thought possible. Roland said the GR-55 was a culmination of 35 years of building guitar synths...I am here to tell you..there is no hype involved. A 5 star rating?, is a very huge understatement.

  • Dave
    from Knoxville, TN February 28, 2013Music Background:

    Roland GR-55

    I am incredibly satisfied with the Roland GR-55 ! That being said, in my opinion, there are only two negative aspects to this great piece of hardware.
    First, it is a bit pricey, and second, guitars have to be equiped with a GK (or compatible) pickup.
    I had my eye on this synth since it hit the market, but stories that I read about latency issues (on earlier synth models), spot on tuning requirements and problems in adapting guitars with the GK-3 pickup, put me off for quite awhile.
    I finally decided to take the plunge, but I also purchased a Wechter Pathmaker 7314 with a 13 pin Graph Tech Ghost Hexpander-MIDI output. This gave me a very nicely featured solid body guitar, and I was able to enjoy the GR-55 right out of the box (setup of the GR-55 was far easier than I expected).
    Someday I will try to install the GK-3 on one of my other guitars, but right now I'm having too much fun playing the Wechter throught the GR-55.

  • R. Bahlman
    from Meyers, CA December 29, 2016

    Roland GR-55--only just begun...

    The Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer has a lot to offer. Before getting my hands on this device, I recorded music using guitars, a drum machine, shakers and a keyboard. The education in music arrangement I am receiving from having dozens of effects and instrument sounds is quite remarkable—a solo guitar part I thought fit the song has been replaced with an oboe or a flute or a combination of organ and guitar. Easy tracks to a looper turn into wonderful backing for practice and melody creation. Using this device reminds me of the eye-opening experience I got when first plugging in a looping device with its endless possibilities. Set-up is simple and uncomplicated with clear instructions, and Roland offers a fair amount of support on line and over the phone. Most programmed tones come through clear and precise. There are some tones that require a bit of patience and adjustment in technique to achieve quality sounds—don’t get discouraged when the Mellow Sax has squeeks and chirps. Navigating the tones is fairly hassle-free with a controller on the floor box and another on the guitar itself. I like the fact that I can plug directly into my interface to record to computer or run a line to a looper or any other device then to the computer or amp, without dealing with software. The price--yes, it is up there, but the rewards are there as well.

  • Mike
    from Canton, Oh September 5, 2016

    Express Yourself

    Awesome sounds enables a guitar player to express himself. Pedal controls allow me to navigate through live performances. My only issue is that the patches are not laid out in categories. It would have made the set up of user patches less cumbersome. What Roland left for us to program is made up by the quality and purity of the sounds this thing generates. Wow!

  • Kevin
    from Stoughton, MA December 8, 2015Music Background:
    35+ years on several instruments

    Roland GR-55 Review

    I've only had this for a couple of weeks, so my review is still early. However, having said that, I am pretty blown away by this device. If you have a Strat, then this fits out of the box. If not, then you need to decide how to attach the GK-3 pickup. I used the double sided tape on my Strat, and affixed on the plastic pick guard. I did not want to run the "risk" of putting double sided tape on any guitar finish, nor drill holes. There is another plate you can use for Gibson's and other guitars,

    I will say that I will probably not being using any more pedals. I play mostly rhythm, and this unit is amazing! I play the synth sounds through the PA, and using the guitar thru out to my Marshall stack. The combined sounds are outstanding. I can be strings, grand pianos, horns, you name it. Note: I do recommend watching the available YouTube videos for added tips and insights. I would definitely recommend a buy for this!

  • Sean
    from California July 30, 2015


    Fantastic creative tool. You have to adapt to it for reasons that become obvious, quickly. You can't play a "piano" the way you play a guitar. Or a saxophone. You have to play those voices, like you'd play those instruments but the sound and flexibility of this unit are top notch.

    And as always, Sweetwater delivers great customer service, great products and at a great price.

  • Brendan
    from Denver, CO, USA December 9, 2014Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    So far so good

    Works great so far. I have it for a fretless SA Godin, and the pitch tracking is second to none. Once I finally dug into making the sounds I wanted its quite straight forward. The only two things I would have liked to see is it not quantize the midi out to half steps (this is really only an issue because I'm rocking the fretless) and almost all of the bass sounds are over distorted and tons of delay/reverb. not a huge deal, but I'm slowly working through making more reasonable sounds,

  • Paul Roethlinger
    from Greensboro, NC October 22, 2014Music Background:
    Former Pro Musician and current Praise and Worship Lead

    Great addition!

    I am a former Polydor Records recording artist who has plenty of gigging time and equipment usage under my belt. The GR-55 has been like a best friend to me and my Strat as we spend hours of time preparing for my new music love, Praise and Worship service. In the realm of P&W music, I can set the GR-55 to simulate clean Strat sounds with swelling pads or crunchy sounds for full rhythm or bold lead breaks. I really love the availability to bring cello, violin, strings and banjo into a performance when needed. I admit the aspect of setting up the GR-55 upon initial purchase seemed daunting but found the GK3 set up to be fast and painless. I am getting up in years, (61) and have the normal memory issues that come with aging. Getting through the menus to tweak the sound to my liking is becoming second nature now. I wish Roland had offered this device in Black when I purchased mine 3 years ago. My only real complaint is the 13 pin cable and connectors. Be careful not to "wear out" the male or female connections or you may experience some "noise". It is true, there are many sounds you will never use or consider using, however, the amp and guitar modeling this device offers is worth the price.

  • JeffinFla
    from July 18, 2016

    Roland GR-55

    Very versatile and great in my 3 piece group. Just got it so there is a learning curve to get use to but so far the sounds are great! The service & sales personnel are first rate with Sweetwater!

  • Dennis Pratt
    from IN November 24, 2014Music Background:
    Musician, Hobbyist

    First impression of GR-55

    There are 2 things needed before considering a GR-55. First is the type of guitar you have. The GK-2 pickup will not fit on a telecaster without drilling holes outside the pick guard. It fit well onto my strat, but I drilled 2 holes into the pick guard & guitar to mount it. The second is the amplifier. It works well with my small PA and Fender amps. But, for some sounds, (bass and other low frequency instruments), a hi powered, flat frequency response amp might work better.
    The set up and calibration of the GK-2 and GR-55 is easy. There are some on-line documents I used for guidelines. The book is good once you are up and running.
    I wanted violins, flutes, piano, and an organ. It works well for those. I need a saxophone, but I am still tweaking that sound. There are several guitar and amplifiers available in addition to a ton of sounds I will never use. I wanted a pedal steel guitar, but it cannot do that.
    Since I like my strat guitar/amp sound, I switch between the GK-2 and the strat pickups. It can be done using the GR-55 or an external ABY switch, (I use the ABY).
    Not impressed with the cable. It made a lot of noise until the protective material used for the contacts was removed. I am going to get a spare. That thing looks fragile and my band mates have big feet.
    Overall I like the unit and it will definitely add some "spice" to most bands. I hope this thing outlives me, I cannot afford another one at this time.

  • Dan Voetmann
    from Seattle, WA USA April 29, 2014Music Background:
    I play in a regularly gigging band and also do a couple solo gigs a month. I own a recording studio and do a lot of jingles in my day job.


    I've been thinking about getting into guitar synthesizers, primarily to enhance my solo gigs (we have a couple keyboard players in my band so they cover the extra "layers"). However, I've been reluctant because my previous experiences were less than stellar. But I took the plunge and have been blown away by how good the sounds are, how quickly and accurately it tracks, and how relatively easy it is to set up different sounds. However, you've got to be willing to take time to really explore the GR-55 if you're going to use it effectively. For starters I spent a Saturday morning going through all the patches and all the sounds to catalog the ones that would be useful to me. Then I spent some time examining how patches that were similar to what I was interested in were set up and tweaked. And I read the manual twice...once before and once after doing my dive. That set me up with enough knowledge to start working through my set lists to create patches on the GR-55 for songs where it would be a positive addition.

    I cannot stress enough how important it is to follow the instructions on setting up the GK-3 pickup. There was a 1000% difference in the tracking and the quality of the sounds from the patches AFTER I set it up properly. When I first put the GK-3 on I was on the fence whether or not I was going to keep the GR-55...after it was set up properly it worked consistently and that's when the magic started.

    I would give this a 5 star rating if it had a computer interface like the Line 6 HD500 POD does. I love setting up patches via my laptop and it is so much faster to tweak than having to scroll through menu after menu to get what you want. BUT despite the frustration it is still worth it. However, I can't imagine why Roland hasn't joined the 21st century and developed a computer interface because it is the number one thing all the GR-55 users are clamoring for.

  • Scott Booker
    from Columbia City, IN January 3, 2014Music Background:

    This Roland Rocks!

    The GR-55 is easy to use, versatile, and FUN! I stayed up till the early morning hours going through all the presets this unit has to offer. I love being able to play a plethora of sounds with my guitar. There were a couple of obstacles, i.e. mounting the GK-3 pick-up to the guitar, and a few patches that don't track as fast as you can play. Overall, I am very pleased with the sounds and ease of use with this unit.

  • Jelly Bean
    from Deltona, FL March 5, 2016

    It's good if you use it all the time

    This is an item too good to want to put on a cheap guitar, but then, like me, you end up changing the look of your favorite guitar (almost permanently) to make it work. It has the most amazing guitar effects I have ever heard in my life. Of course, many are not even effects, they are actually realistic sounding instruments. I had fun with this thing for a while, but then I missed having my guitar looking original. You could disconnect everything and put it on again later, put it is not a short plug in process.
    I think they are way over priced. For the price they sell, you could get an actual synthesizer (even a Roland) that are more specific to your preferences, and you don't need to be a piano player to get use out of a synthesizer, especially for recording.

  • Dhanushka
    from March 1, 2017

    Play delay

    I have purchased this product year ago. I was so happy about the synty tones and guitar tones too.... i got 2 problems...
    1. There is a playing delay ...its very difficult to play a solo with a band. Always late when i play faster....i tried to edjust the GK3 pickup position, the hight and settings ...but unfortunately its not gonna work for live situations
    2. I cant assign the expression pedal as volume before the delay n reverb effects. When u cut the volume at once , the delay n reverb wont flow alone with the tone... bcos i only can assign the volume at the end of the pedal effect loop....

  • Customer
    from December 20, 2016

    Needs a good librarian...

    I was so happy to get this device, being an owner of a VG-8 for a couple of decades now.

    Sounds great, amazing in fact, BUT without a good editor app, is pretty much a "preset" device... I suspect the VG-99 is next, and this will become a glorified guitar to midi converter with some good sounds.

    Roland, please help us to get inside this thing to really use it. As it is, I'd return it and grab the other device. It's taken me a month to see this, so I'm just gonna have to use it anyways.

    This is why I use software for everything now" a total lack of support for a device like this one, no editing ability without having it on a desk in front of you (can't use the foot expression pedal then), so frustrating....

  • Chris nickey
    from Newtown Pa November 18, 2014Music Background:
    Semi professional musician

    total disappointment

    i had no trouble navigating the menus and ,the sounds were top notch . the COSM effects and Modelling were great however,i found that certain sounds (for example pianos and electric pianos) tracked horribly . i had this professionally set up by a certified Roland tech so all the global settings were spot on IE: GK3 pick up calibrated for height, distance from bridge etc. , intonation on actual guitar,velocity settings etc. .don't believe all the hype around this machine folks it had lots of latency and double notes and dead strings to the point where you think you have it set up wrong ...but, no that's how it is ....just really bad ....i did a lot of research on how to make this thing work like the videos on youtube to no avail.....finally it got to the point where it was getting tedious and ,i got so fed up after hours and hours of tweeking individual sounds that i threw in the towel and sold it at major discount....seem like a wonder box til i acually played it ...i was totally underwhelmed

  • Denny B.
    from United States December 27, 2013Music Background:
    Songwriter, worship leader

    Beware If You Are Not a Techie!

    The quality of this unit and the pickup are fine: I just was unable to really grasp how to use it. While this synth produces some amazing sounds in the presets, I found most of them to be interesting but unusable. Furthermore, I was totally frustrated by the complexity of programming custom effects (which is what you really must do to make it usable). I admit I am not a tech type person. I bought this thinking I could just choose, say, "violins", and get them. No way. I found the programming aspect overwhelming and after trying to get what I wanted over a month's time, I sold the unit for half what I paid. If you're a techie, you might love it. If not, beware!

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