• Pros: The lowest latency of probably any guitar synth on the market.
• Cons: You’re going to be spending some time with the manual.
• Overall: A great piece of technoloty that could revolutionize your home studio.
First, it’s important to realize that the Roland GR-55 isn’t a multi-FX floorboard per se: it’s a guitar synthesizer. Depending on what you’re going to use it for, this will have a huge influence on whether or not this product is right for you. Certainly, when it comes to design, it hasn’t been developed with use as a live floorboard in mind; rather, it’s aimed at the home studio market with a fully functional MIDI interface to drive external equipment. Significantly, you can’t use this unit with just any guitar. You need a guitar that’s been specially configured to work with the synthesizer input. That means a special pick-up and cable configuration. So, if this isn’t what you’re looking for, best head over to one of our other floorboard reviews.
Sounds Out of this World
However, if you are looking for a guitar synthesizer, then Roland certainly has a lot of expertise in this area and the GR-55 should be able to give you everything you need when it comes to transforming your six-string (or four-string) into a veritable orchestra.
The GR-55 does this via two distinct sections. First, there’s the COSM section, which emulates different types of guitars, such as Telecaster, Stratocaster, Classical, Les Paul, etc. Second, there’s the main synth section for manipulating and shaping your signal.
The Roland GR-55 performs very well on both fronts. But there’s another reason the GR-55 can take on its competitors and come out with flying colors. Roland has built the GR-55 in such a way that latency, i.e., the time it takes from hitting the string to the processed sound coming out of your speaker, is next to nothing. In effect, it plays as close to real-time as you can possible get. And that’s a big, big plus when it comes to guitar synthesizers.
One for the Tech Heads
Being a highly intricate piece of technology, the GR-55 isn’t one you’re going to be able to operate straight out of the box. What’s more, if it isn’t set up properly, it can be noisy, so take the time to go through the manual before passing judgement. If you do, you’ll soon discover that this machine can make just about any sound you can think of and then some.
The amp modeling isn’t going to sound as authentic as other dedicated modelers for guitar. Best to look elsewhere for that sort of functionality. But that’s not what the GR-55 is all about. It’s a guitar synthesizer first and foremost so you won’t be using it if you play in an AC/DC cover band.
In summary, the Roland GR-55 is a fantastic piece of equipment and makes a perfect addition to any home studio set-up. You’re only limit is your imagination.