Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
Naive Teen Idol
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 196
Joined: Sun Apr 27, 2008 5:14 am
Gear: Roland Jupiter 6, Studio Electronics MIDIMini, DSI Evolver, Linn LM-2 Linndrum, Roland TR-77, Roland GR-300, Novation Remote SL 25

Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by Naive Teen Idol » Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:35 am

Image

Made famous in the early-80s by the likes of Pat Metheny and Robert Fripp, the GR-300 had:

* 6-voice polyphony
* 2 oscillators per voice
* VCOs are directly harmonically locked to each string, but can be tuned separately
* VCF with variable length sweep up and down
* Low Frequency Oscillator, for Vibrato Effects
* Built-in foot switch controls the VCO mode (single/dual)
* Built-in foot switches control the VCO harmonize pitch (detuning of the VCO's)
* Built-in foot switch controls the VCF mode (on, bypass, or inverted)
* Pedal control input for the VCF
* The GR-300 can output either the guitar, the synth, or a mix of the two
* Synchronized, flashing LED status indicators
* Heavy-Duty Construction with Quality Components
* All-Analog Construction

(thx to http://www.joness.com for the info)

The GR-300 specialized in trumpet-y analog tones and only featured a kind of mutant saw wave for an oscillator that allowed it to track brilliantly (I've had one of these since I was 16). Sure, it wasn't the most flexible instrument in the world, but the -24db filter was outstanding and had envelope features that allowed you do create some pretty distinctive sounds. Andy Summers, for one, did some great filter sweep work with the GR-300 on Ghost in the Machine.

Plus, you could do this with the CV input on the back:
[youtube]eu64tLEbn4I[/youtube]

Certainly, lesser synths have entries on VSE, yet...the GR-300 is not even mentioned here.

WHERE IS THE LOVE FOR THE ROLAND GR-300?

User avatar
Clavier
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 547
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2007 7:22 am
Gear: A distraction.
Band: Rhode Out West
Location: California

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by Clavier » Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:08 am

Shhh!
Hammond RT-2, Hammond M3, Hammond L-102, Rhodes mk1 suitcase 88, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Yamaha TX-802, Fender Twin Reverb, Leslie 45

User avatar
Joey
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 1885
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 10:13 pm
Gear: 18u Eurorack, Octatrack, Pro2
Band: BLUSH_RESPONSE
Location: Berlin
Contact:

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by Joey » Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:10 am

I'm a big fan of the GR700... or more specifically the G707 guitar controller it was made with
No one cares, no one sympathizes,
so you just stay home and play synthesizers.

http://wearereplicants.com

User avatar
killedaway
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1030
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 2:22 am
Gear: Electribes x 6
Revolution
Monomachine MKII
microKORG
CS01
& more!
Band: killedaway/allyourblood
Location: California, US

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by killedaway » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:29 am

Joey wrote:I'm a big fan of the GR700... or more specifically the G707 guitar controller it was made with
i've never played one, but i absolutely love the look. i admit, i'd buy it for that alone.
1.5.9.13
1.5.9.13

User avatar
Electroluver
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 265
Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2008 4:54 pm
Gear: MS-20, M-500, Polysix, PAiA 4700, ROL309, C64 MSSIAH, JX8P, K2000J, SY-1010.
Band: DJ NAMELESS
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Contact:

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by Electroluver » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:42 am

That`s pretty cool. Definitely a nice lead synth.

User avatar
Jack Spider
Retired Moderator
Retired Moderator
Posts: 902
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:42 pm
Gear: -
Bit One
Boss DR-220
Boss DR-660
DSI Mono Evolver Keyboard
Korg LP-10
Roland XP-50
Yamaha QX21
Location: Old Blighty

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by Jack Spider » Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:53 am

I wouldn't mind a blast on the GR-300. I've wanted its counterpart, the GR-33B synth & G-88 bass for years now. I know Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott used the G-88 bass in later years, but don't know if he employed the synth half of it
(difficult to tell, as they had Darren Wharton on synths back then).

http://www.joness.com/gr300/GR-33B.htm

Image

Image
I didn't get where I am today by posting on internet forums.
http://www.myspace.com/thegreenalsatian
http://www.soundclick.com/greenalsatian

User avatar
hyphen nation
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 877
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 10:43 am
Gear: boxes that make noises
Location: sunny northwest

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by hyphen nation » Tue Jan 06, 2009 5:01 pm

I have plenty of love for one, and hope that one crosses my path...that is a dream instrument for me...I just haven't found one yet...

User avatar
pricklyrobot
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 1742
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2006 6:37 am
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by pricklyrobot » Tue Jan 06, 2009 5:36 pm

There's one (sans guitar) on Ebay now for $1500! If that's indicative of the going rate, it may account for the lack of popularity. It is a nice sounding synth though.
Arturia MiniBrute -- bits o' Euro -- Sammich SID -- E-mu MP-7 -- Korg ER-1 -- Thingamagoop

Naive Teen Idol
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 196
Joined: Sun Apr 27, 2008 5:14 am
Gear: Roland Jupiter 6, Studio Electronics MIDIMini, DSI Evolver, Linn LM-2 Linndrum, Roland TR-77, Roland GR-300, Novation Remote SL 25

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by Naive Teen Idol » Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:01 pm

I feel like I bought mine in '90--guitar controller and synth--for $300 at either Wurlizter's Music or Daddy's Junky Music Store in Boston. So, given how depressed I am about prices for vintage gear now, I'm feeling pretty good about this one, then, ha ha.

User avatar
cornutt
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2117
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:03 am
Gear: 6th
Location: Rocket City USA
Contact:

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by cornutt » Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:33 am

pricklyrobot wrote:There's one (sans guitar) on Ebay now for $1500! If that's indicative of the going rate, it may account for the lack of popularity. It is a nice sounding synth though.
I've seen them selling recently for around $500.
Switches, knobs, buttons, LEDs, LCD screens, monitors, keys, mice, jacks, sockets. Now two joysticks!

User avatar
cornutt
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2117
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:03 am
Gear: 6th
Location: Rocket City USA
Contact:

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by cornutt » Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:12 am

So reading this thread inspired me to go look at the schematic. I've always heard that the GR300 is among the best-tracking guitar synths, and I was curious about how it did it.

Very interesting! The pitch detection circuitry is based on a clever waveshaper. It's actually kind of similar to a circuit that I cooked up back when I lived in Florida, that you could plug a guitar into and it would output (monophonic) notes as variable-width pulse waves. It's very closely coupled to the VCO, which is one reason it tracks well.

Another reason is that there's a bandpass filter in the pitch detector that has some means of knowing whether the string is being fretted above or below the 7th fret (I haven't figured out how it knows that; it doesn't get it directly from the guitar). Based on that, it sets a bandpass filter in the pitch detector that helps prevent it from locking onto the 2nd harmonic instead of the fundemental. (Which I know, from the circuit I built, is one of the big problems you face with a guitar synth.) And, that part of the circuit appears to rely a lot on the guitar being in standard tuning, or close to it. (Anyone ever try a severe alternate tuning on a GR300, and if you did, did it act funny?)

The "Duet" switch does something interesting: it routes the "raw" square wave output from the pitch detector to the VCF input mix, along with the VCO outputs. This signal closely tracks the vibration of the string and is not effected by the VCO tuning or rate controls.

One other thing: it looks like it would be possible to add per string CV/gate outs to it. It would take some additional circuitry, but it could be done.
Switches, knobs, buttons, LEDs, LCD screens, monitors, keys, mice, jacks, sockets. Now two joysticks!

User avatar
tim gueguen
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 795
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 2:31 am
Location: the Canadian Prairies
Contact:

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by tim gueguen » Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:01 am

Fripp continued to use his GR300 after adopting his New Standard Tuning CGDAEG, so it seems that it may work with alternate tunings as well. For that matter Adrian Belew would sometimes tune his G string to A while he was still using the '300.
Keys: Realistic Concertmate 500, Korg K25, Korg Micro X

Guits: '86 Fender Japan '50s Reissue Strat, '80 Aria Pro II TS-300 Thor Sound

Naive Teen Idol
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 196
Joined: Sun Apr 27, 2008 5:14 am
Gear: Roland Jupiter 6, Studio Electronics MIDIMini, DSI Evolver, Linn LM-2 Linndrum, Roland TR-77, Roland GR-300, Novation Remote SL 25

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by Naive Teen Idol » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:01 pm

I never had any problem with alternate tunings either -- and given that I bought it in the throes of love for Robert Fripp, I'm sure I tried his at one point or another.

User avatar
code green
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 535
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 6:58 am
Gear: prophet 600/evolver/juno 6/alpha juno 2/bassst'n/crumar performer/jv1010/suitcase rhodes 73/ '78 gibson l6-s/'73 guild mahogany/'69 fender princeton
Band: thermite zapruder
Location: brooklyn

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by code green » Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:22 pm

Naive Teen Idol wrote:Image
beautiful guitar--is that an alembic...or some kind of ibanez/korean job from the "lawsuit" era?

User avatar
pricklyrobot
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 1742
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2006 6:37 am
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Where Is the Love for the Roland GR-300 Guitar Synth?

Post by pricklyrobot » Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:25 pm

code green wrote:beautiful guitar--is that an alembic...or some kind of ibanez/korean job from the "lawsuit" era?
Nope, looks like Roland made the guitar themselves: http://www.joness.com/gr300/brochure00.htm
Arturia MiniBrute -- bits o' Euro -- Sammich SID -- E-mu MP-7 -- Korg ER-1 -- Thingamagoop

Post Reply