Roland SR-GR1-01 GR1 Guitar Synth Expansion Kit
Roland's GR1 is, deservedly, a very popular instrument and is arguably the best mass-produced guitar synth to date. With the GK2 pickup, it can be used with most guitars and includes a sequencer, multitimbral synth module and editable synth section that can be set up using real knobs to control the most often used functions.
The expansion kit comprises a new operating ROM and a small expander card with additional voice chip. Installing the kit requires no soldering, but it is recommended that a dealer does the job, as some disassembly of the GR1 is required. Once installed, the SR-GR1-01 expands basic voice memory up to 6MB and provides 200 extra voices to use with the 200 existing ones. A ROM (read-only) voice card is also included, which provides 64 ready-made sound patches to show off the new voices.
The final 43 new voices comprise percussion and special effect sounds, including several latin sounds, some ethnic percussion and Wind Chimes. More off-the-wall offerings include 'Buzzsaw', 'Ghosts' and 'Insects', plus the back-to-nature standbys of 'Thunder', 'Wind' and 'Birds'. But the most useful sound in this section is without doubt 'Applause', which, guarantees a standing ovation every gig!
Of the more musical sounds, there are some new fretless basses, saxes, brass and voices, which are very good, as well as a much improved 12-string guitar and a good selection of new pad sounds, including some truly huge analogue simulations. Inevitably, one or two of the sounds are disappointing; the bagpipes patch is perfectly in tune and therefore sounds quite wrong, while the '60s electric piano simulations suffer from being too accurate — just as drab and dreadful as the originals. On the whole though, the new sounds make a welcome addition to the tone palette of the instrument. Though it can be used with external MIDI modules, the GR1 seems happiest when driving its internal sounds, and being able to double the number of basic tones far more than doubles the creative potential of the machine.
In all, this is a very worthwhile and cost-effective upgrade which no GR1 owner can afford to ignore.
SR-GR1-01 £199 inc VAT.
Roland UK Ltd, (Contact Details).
Review by Paul White
Previous article in this issue:
Next article in this issue:
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!