In the history of guitar modeling, no manufacturer has devoted more time, resources and passion into this market segment than Roland -- from the world's first guitar modeling processor, the legendary VG-8, to its popular V-Guitar predecessors. Today, Roland proudly announces another milestone in guitar modeling and performance technology: the VG-99. With 3 powerful new processors at its core, plus expressive performance controls such as Ribbon Controller and D BEAM, this remarkable instrument raises the bar in guitar modeling and performance technology.
- Dual modeling engines allow guitar and amp models to be dynamically switched, layered and combined
- New COSM(r) electric, acoustic and even bass guitar models, and new synth waves such as the famous GR-300
- Guitar to MIDI converter for direct connection to keyboards, sound modules, soft synths, computers, and other MIDI-compatible devices
- Supports USB audio and MIDI for easy digital recording and sequencing
- Dual GT-Pro-class effects processor enables unequalled flexible tone creation
- Advanced performance controls, including D BEAM, V-LINK and Ribbon Controller take guitar performance to a whole new level
- Simple and intuitive knob-based interface and new design support live performance
- Graphical Editor software included to support sophisticated sound making
- Versatile I/O, including USB, S/PDIF and XLR provide pro connections for virtually every type of music production and performance on stage to professional studio recording
The VG-99 contains an incredible range of COSM-modeled guitars and amplifiers including new electric, acoustic and bass guitar models, a new GR-300 synth wave and much more. It even models 2 signal paths at once. Complete dual processing of guitar modeling on the VG-99 allows you to play 2 different guitar sounds simultaneously. For example, one virtual guitar could be a Telecaster(r) in a vintage Tweed amp with full effects and the other a nylon-string guitar with just a hint of reverb.
Awesome Dynamic Control
Both modeled guitar and amp paths can be active at the same time, or they can be dynamically switched or blended. You can control the switching behavior between virtual guitars and/or amps by foot controllers, buttons/knobs on the unit, or according to your picking dynamics. Imagine playing softly for an acoustic-guitar sound, then transitioning to a full metal blast simply by picking more aggressively. Furthermore, each modeled guitar can be separately assigned to individual guitar strings. For example, you could have a 12-string guitar on 1st to 4th string and Synth-bass for 5th and 6th.
Handle Alternate Tunings With Ease
The VG-99 can produce custom tunings -- anything the player desires on any virtual guitar. A virtual Les Paul(r), for example, could be tuned down 4 or 5 steps for a heavy sound, while a nylon string could be tuned as a 12-string, and also tuned down 4 or 5 steps at the same time. Open and drop tunings are also supported as well as user-defined custom tunings and can be applied to any COSM guitar, so the player can switch instantly between tuning setups without physically switching guitars or having to manually retune.
Guitar Performance in a Higher Dimension
With its new performance-based design, the VG-99 can be placed within a player's easy reach on stage by using an optional PDS-10 stand. This new style setup allows various new performance possibilities such as D BEAM, Ribbon Controller and more. In combination with the versatile new foot controller FC-300, the VG-99 takes your guitar performance on stage to a whole new dimension.
You asked for it, now Roland delivers the most-requested new features in the VG-99, including an onboard guitar-to-MIDI converter for direct connection to keyboards, sound modules, soft synths, etc. Audio output via USB or S/PDIF digital out, and optional RAD-99 rack mount adaptor further enhance your music production environment. Built-in stereo XLR and 1/4 in. outputs are ideal for live stage performances and touring. The striking new on-screen editor makes programming the VG-99 super easy and fun.
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zZounds Expert Review
There are a ton of stompbox effects, multieffects, and amp modelers on the market today, but it's hard to imagine any of them pushing the guitar-processing envelope to the same extreme as Roland's VG-99. This desktop unit does the work of all of the above, and a whole lot more.
Using the VG-99's standard 1/4-inch input, it functions similar to a high-end floorboard multieffects box such as the Boss GT series. You get access to hundreds of effect and amp model combinations built on Roland's famous COSM technology, and a nearly infinite amount of tweakability to customize your sounds (more on that in a bit). The VG-99 also has a 13-pin GK input, which opens up an even greater level of creative experimentation. While you certainly can get nice results from your guitar's existing pickups, it seems silly to use this V-Guitar system if you aren't going to pair it with a 13-pin pickup. The Roland GK-3 is a great match, but you can also use pickups from other manufacturers such as Yamaha, Graph Tech, and RMC if you have one of those already.
Twice As Nice
One of the coolest features about the VG-99 is its dual processing engines. You can build two completely independent signal paths, each with its own modeling, effects, level, etc., and then toggle, blend or layer them to build some really complex textures. Roland loaded 200 preset patches into the VG-99, and provides space for another 200 of your own custom creations.
As you would expect with this kind of sophisticated digital processing, there are plenty of parameters to adjust for virtually every aspect of your signal chain. Roland makes it easy to configure the VG-99 to your own personal workflow, with a good number of assignable controls. You can earmark any of the six function buttons, for example, to map to your go-to tweaks, and assign your favorite patches to the five quick-access slots for instant recall. The D-Beam and ribbon controllers were especially sweet, with the same type of assignment flexibility. You can change the delay time or reverb depth on the fly, for example, just by interacting with these two controls during your performance. I was even able to simulate a whammy bar on my stoptail guitar by assigning a pitch bend to the D-Beam. I grabbed and held a note, then waved the headstock through the beam. No going out of tune with that method!
Roland also includes (Mac and Windows compatible) editing software to dig as deep as you want to go into each patch. I found the software interface to be very representative of what's going on in each signal chain, making it much easier to make adjustments than with the onboard controls. This is especially true with the more advanced control associated with the 13-pin input. Setting up a virtual guitar with custom pickups and an alternate tuning was much faster outside the box. I spent a fair amount of time coming up with presets in the software, then mapping my most common tweaks to the assignable controls for quick access during performance. The software includes a convenient librarian function to store and organize your creations.
If you plan to interact with the VG-99 up on stage, I recommend you pick up a few helpful accessories (besides the GK-3 pickup, of course). First, the PDS10 mounting stand will put those controls within easy reach, especially the D-Beam and ribbon controller. Second, Roland's FC300 foot controller has a familiar stompbox feel up on stage, plus a pair of expression pedals for blending the signal chains, wah effects, volume swells, and pretty much whatever else you can think of using them for.
Create Virtual Instruments
With the 13-pin pickup installed, you can use the VG-99 to create virtually (or is it "virtually create"?) any guitar you can think of. Roland has models of different body types, pickup configurations, and more that you can use to build your dream axe. You can also use Roland's HRM technology (Harmonic Resynthesis Modeling) to turn your guitar into a keyboard, synthesizer, organ, banjo, sitar, bass guitar, and much more. You can store up to ten of these custom creations onboard the VG-99, and call them up at will.
As you can imagine, this takes some pretty serious processing power, and the more input you can provide, the more the processor has to work with. The 13-pin GK-3 pickup is essentially six tiny little humbuckers, one under each string, allowing each string to be processed individually. This lets you create alternate tunings without having to touch your tuning pegs, or even assign different modeling elements to each string. How about a bass guitar on the low E and A strings, with a Tele on the upper four strings? Very cool for self-accompaniment. The Roland and Yamaha pickups are magnetic, while the RMC and Graph Tech pickups use piezo transducers. I had an RMC pickup on hand, so was able to get a good comparison between that and the GK-3 supplied with my demo VG-99. Both the magnetic and piezo versions are sending actual audio to the VG-99 and not converting it beforehand, so there are no tracking issues commonly associated with older guitar synth technology. To my ears, the piezo pickup really shone on the acoustic guitar modeling, while the GK-3 was better for the electric guitar models.
Strattier Than a Strat?
In general, the guitar modeling did a good job of emulating the character of the modeled instrument, if not the exact tone. I compared one of the Strat models, for example, to the sound of an actual Strat, and while it definitely sounded "Stratty", it was clearly not a carbon copy of the real deal. Of course, there are many different types of Strats and setups, so who's to say whether one is more Stratolicious than another. Winner for most references to "Strat" in a single paragraph? Me. And my Strat. Strat.
Compared to a standard multieffects processor, even a super high-end model, the VG-99 hardly looks like a value option. But, if you keep in mind this thing is a whole lot more than a standard multieffects processor, and compare it to what you would have to spend to get all the effects, amps, guitars (all set to different tunings), and real-time parameter tweaking the VG-99 can do, the economics make a lot more sense. If you're looking for new trails to blaze with your guitar, the VG-99 is a pioneer's dream. Especially when used with a 13-pin pickup.