Guitar Synths & the GK-2 pick-up

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Guitar Synths

What are Synthesizers?

A device that generates sound by creating waveforms electronically (such as subtractive or FM synthesis) or from stored samples of musical instruments (wave table synthesis). - Definition of Synthesizers

Evolution of Synths

The Roland GR-500, Courtesy of Roland GR-500
In 1977, the company Roland released the first every guitar synthesizer.Roland designed a sonic palette and used it as a synthesizer that would meet the needs of guitarists everywhere. Using the Roland GS-500 guitar (which was built by Ibanez) and the newly designed desk unit synthesizer, the GR-500, they created the first model of a guitar synth using a multi core cable. The synthesizers had five sections of sound: normal guitar sound; poly-ensemble, bass, melody and an "external synth" that was used to control an analog synth.

This pioneer was unique for the ‘infinite sustain’ that took the signals from the divided pickup and then sent them back up the strings so they could react to the magnet that takes the place of the neck pickup. In short, it was like having six e-bows built into the guitar. - Roland UK Blog

The Roland GR-300 Courtest of Roland GR-300
Two years later, Roland brought out a new and improved model of the synth, the GR-300. This model was a floor unit, instead of the desktop and was still connected to a multi core cable. This, however, was short lived and was soon replaced by the first MIDI, the GR-700 in 1985. This was the first synth that used a keyboard-based engine that had two independent synthesizer sound engines (JX-3P). Using this type of equipment made hundreds of different sounds available to the guitarist including: piano, drums, bass, strings as well as numerous amplifiers. The Evolution of Guitar Synth

A year after the release of the first MIDI, Roland designed a newer model that would work with all guitars, letting the guitarists us their own guitars instead of the special ones that were the only models made available to work with the synths. This model still had the charm of the first model, with its substantial cord and the size still of a large scale. The same year, Roland released the first every Guitar-to-MIDI converter that stood on its own. This converter let the guitarist control up to eleven MIDI parameters. it had inputs that allowed the musician to have two more foot switches for the ultimate experience. This model of converter is still used today and is sometimes referred to as the best converter to date. Vintage Roland Guitar Synthesizer Resources

The Roland Gr-1, Courtesy of Roland GR-1
In in 1992, the GR-1 was released. This is known as "the daddy" of recent synths as it is the foundation to all synths made today. - Roland UK Blog. It was an example of the digital era that was about to take over how things were developed. It had digital sounding that had on-board effects, fast pitch-tracking as well as full ability as a MIDI controller. This was a breakthrough in that it was the first synth that had a "great sound" and was more appeasing to guitarists everywhere. The pitch and the effects of strings and piano were top of the range. The GR-1 was released at the same time as the GK-2A Pick-up was. The GK-2A used a much slimmer cable to connect to the synth which was more of a convenience to guitarists.

Synthesizers Today

Today the Synthesizers
The Roland GR-20, Courtesy of Roland GR-20
that are designed are still modeled on the very first one made in 1977, they have just modified it and made it better. The GR-20 costs a fraction of what the GR-500 cost in both manufacturing and retailing. It has new and improved settings and functions that, in 1977, Roland could only think about. It is also a lot smaller in size making it a sufficient companion to any guitarist. In 2012, Roland announced the GR-D and GR-S V-Guitar pedals. The GR-D and GR-S have 13-pin inputs, compatible with the Roland GK-2, GK-2a and GK-3 pickups.Roland UK Blog

GK-2, GK-2A and GK-3 pick-up

The Roland GK-2, Courtesy of [1]

The GK-2 pick-up is the same pickup as the Roland GK-1 pickup, offered as part of the Roland GK-1 kit which included the GK-1 pickup, GK Driver and special 24-pin cable. The GK-1 was the last of the original Roland 24-pin hardware. Unlike previous Roland guitar synthesizer pickups, the GK-1 was designed to be easily added to the top of any guitar, without requiring any special routing. The GK-2 was released in 1989 with the Roland GR-50. Shortly after the original GK-2 shipped, Roland released the more familiar GK-2A pickup. The GK-2A pickup was more versatile than the GK-1 (or GK-2) pickup, and could be installed either on top of the guitar, or internally installed. The GK-1 (or GK-2) did not lend itself to internal installation. The GK-2A was used as the factory hardware on the Roland-Ready Stratocaster. The GK-2A was replaced by the GK-3 in 2005. The GK-3 pickup is the factory installation kit for the Roland GC-1, GK-Ready Stratocaster. All Roland pickups are actually made up of six, small, individual humbucking pickups to allow the output of each string to be processed separately.


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