Submitted April 5, 2017 by Hugh Thao in Bay Area, CA
"Synth Sound is Nice; Other functions for guitar NEEDS work!!"
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Well, I've officially owned this unit for a year now and have had many many hours with this thing and wanted to provide a better and probably more realistic review. My first impression, when only having to have owned it for a week or two was awesome, but now that I've really had a chance to really really use it, I'm finding out that, while its synthesizer/keyboard sounds are equally nice as the real keyboards, it does lack many functionalities a guitarist need during live shows (as well as studio sessions).
First, the good things:
As mentioned, the synthesizer sounds are great; piano sounds as good as any real keyboards out there; string sounds are state-of-the-art; acoustic guitars sound nice and can work really well on live gigs - but for recording, I would not recommend it because while it does sound nice, it lacks any real sound, feel, and response of a real acoustic guitar. The slapp'n and sound of the picks striking the strings are not there.
The ability to use the expression pedal for "moment/toggle" switch works as it should; the ability to ease off on the pedal to set to clean and pressing the pedal down to increase the level of gain is a really nice feature, which I use ALOT. This function allows me to set up the level of Delay, Reverb, Chorus, to either the Clean (when pedal is backed off) or to Gain (when the pedal is pressed down) to my desire and is a great feature that I cannot live without. (Disclosure: NOT ALL effects can be used in the "moment" function - as you cannot adjust the level you need (ie., Phaser), whether in CLEAN or GAIN as you press or depress the expression pedal)...so this means, you'll have to assign the "phaser" to the control switch...but this will limit your other desirable effects.
When using the sound cards in the synthesizer mode (doing piano, flutes, synth, or any other percussions), there are significant delays in the response time of the keys that makes you wish for a regular keyboardist. Even when you play basic guitar chords and you move from chord to chord, you have tons of delay, such that, that the chords rarely come through...and it always sound like you are messing up really bad (have tried to adjust the sensitivities, etc in the system...and it does not work). You can play like 5 single notes in a smooth motion and you'll get like 2 notes that actual come out. Roland really NEEDS to work on this!!! It works best if you only need to pick a single note or a chord here and there - but give it plenty of time, because a faster change in notes will only result in the GR55 not picking up anything you just played.
The GR55 is really designed to function as a single unit. For instance, you can't really link it with your GT10 or GT100, etc. I've found that, while using the 13 pin cable and playing through the GR55, you can use the regular guitar output as a clean signal to your amp...but with this method you'll need to get a switch pedal to switch between your GR55 and your actual amp. But this only works well if you need to totally switch from the unit to your amp to do specific songs. In other words, don't expect to do, say, 12 string guitar sound from the GR55 and then switch it to the amp for the Gain sound you'd prefer. Actually, it works fine if you're guitarist in a full band where people won't really hear you switching in and out...but if you're like me, and you play in a 3 piece band, the switching is very noticeable.
The GR55's COSM guitar engine does not sound like its design of the GT10 or GT100. If you set it to, say, one type of amp (hahahaha) in the GR55 don't expect to sound like the same amp as the one in the GT10, etc. THEY WILL NOT sound the same. It's as if they are different amps. I have been doing nothing but setting and fine tuning my GAIN sounds from this unit. There is just something about it that I just cannot get it to sound even close to my GT100. for my GT10 and GT100, at least I can adjust them enough to sound good for live gigs and will still blow people's mind that all the great rock tones are coming from my GT10 or 100. So yes, the GR55's guitar amps need work. If you buy this thing for the COSM guitar modeling sound, you'll be quite disappointed - especially you rock/metal guys, because this thing just will not produce the ideal rock amp sound you seek. After a year of playing around with it, I've managed to find an amp setting that is starting to sound decent and somewhat similar to my GT10, and it now can be used on stage or practice without me needing to grind my teeth all the time. BUT, it definitely still needs WORK!!
If this unit is designed more of a stand-alone item (which it is), then Roland should have added at least TWO control functions and not just one. Realistically, most guitarist need to switch on/off and have instant access to turning on/off the Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, or Delay....but with only a single Control switch...I can't play a classic tune from Van Halen, etc., where I need to instantly turn on the Flanger and then the Phaser, etc. However, the "moment" function is capable of adjusting the Chorus and Delay, via, expression pedal as mentioned above...but this does have its own limitation. AND....why isn't there a "Harmony" effect??? I use alot of harmonies in my live tunes...especially if I'm doing "The Trooper" from Maiden or "Mr Crowley" from Ozzy. What the heck, man!!! So, I'm kinda left with the GT10 and/or GT100 for gigging. So then, why do I even need the GR55? Well, for now, I mainly use it as practice and recording simple keyboard sounds, I guess.
In conclusion, the unit has more limitations then advantage, if you ask me. Truthfully, for my purpose, I'd probably find more use out of my GT10 and GT100. Knowing what I know now, I think I'll save up to buy the Line 6 Helix (or its LT version). BUT, in the end, you decide. Because for my use and my purpose, I don't find the GR55 to work too well for me. For now, I use the GR55 for nothing more than just recording simple keyboard effects, strings, etc. I suppose this is better than having to learn the keyboard, for which I'll definitely never use for any situation other than recording. lol.
Gigging and recording professional
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