Difference between synth pedal vs. multi effects pedal? - pros and cons?

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by boneyguy, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    Someone locally is selling a Roland GR-20 Guitar Synth package so I got wondering about it and looked at a bunch of YT vids.

    The quality of the sounds are amazing!! Im absolutely blown away...I guess I had no idea.

    My initial evaluation is that the quality of sounds I'm hearing from the midi synth is of far better quality then any multi-effects pedal I've heard. Is that a reasonable assessment?

    So I guess what I need to know is what are the pros and cons of each?

    I can see that the midi system is a bit more involved with needing to install and tweak the midi pickup and so forth whereas the mult-effects pedal is just plug and play.....but that's not such a big thing really.

    Another question...my brief experiences with multi-effects pedals in the past have shown that there can be huge volume discrepencies between various effects.....is this a problem with a midi synth pedal as well?


    Mostly I'm blown away with the quality and accuracy of the instruments that I'm hearing with the midi synth pedal that I'm certain I've never experienced with a multi-effects pedal.

    Any experiences and opinions welcome...I'm at the ground floor of the learning curve on this one.


    This is the pedal. It's actually out of production. It's a nice compact size and isn't overwhelming with it's buttons and dials.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Holic

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    two completely different setups and not really comparable in my opinion. You may be enamored by layered sounds and instruments that are not at all possible with an effects unit. The volume discrepancies between patches can be adjusted with either type unit and need to be if that is a goal. It really depends on what you are trying to achieve, I would buy both. There is not a lot of love for multi-effects units but I have been using them for years and I get the sound that I am looking for live and I love being able to store a setup(s) that would be difficult to obtain with multiple pedals.
     
  3. Lowbassnotes

    Lowbassnotes Friend of Leo's

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    I have no experience with that particular model but I have heard the older GR-30 model a lot, the guitarist in my band used one quite a bit. The tracking was halfway decent once he got the hang of it, I'm sure the later generation ones are better.

    We were playing as a 3 piece and he decided to buy one to add some synth instrument sounds in order to have some extra "players" in our band.

    It worked well once he played with it a while, it seemed like each "instrument" required a different technique to sound realistic, for example the sax sounded quite real once we figured out you had to slide your fingers around the fretboard in a particular way.

    An excellent tool for confusing your audience, they were always looking around to see where the Sax, Piano, Steel Drums or Sitar etc were coming from.

    We used the thing more for adding synth instruments to the mix than for using it like a standard multi-effects unit and for that purpose it was a blast.
     
  4. jtees4

    jtees4 Tele-Afflicted

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    I have a GR-20......let's put it this way. If you want your guitar to fill in for a piano, trumpet, flute, strings, orchestra, "fill in whatever you like"......then the GR20 is for you. If you want your guitar to sound like a guitar with a few fx pedals or a bunch then a multi fx is what you want. Totally different animals.
     
  5. brenn

    brenn Tele-Afflicted

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    The synth is a completely different thing from the multieffects. It basically makes your guitar the "keyboard" of a synthesizer. I used to have one - I think it was a Roland Gr-9 or something like that, with a Fender American Standard GR-ready strat. I really enjoyed it and still have soome recordings where I used it to play violin, horns and accordion. It's a cool thing for creating music, beyond what you can do with just a guitar. Lots of fun and worth having, in my opinion. Wish I had never sold mine, but I sold pretty much all of that stuff when I bought my house.
     
  6. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    Thanks for your comments guys.

    Yeah, this is what it boils down to for me....I don't care to stack stomp box effects...I want instrument sounds.

    As far as guitar effects go I have a few boxes of the things I like but from time to time I want to sound like a B-3 or a trumpet or an upright bass....that'd be tres cool and I could really find some musical uses for that.

    I wonder if there's a programmable memory with the GR-20 so that I wouldn't have to scroll through to get to the handful of 'go to' instruments I'd likely want at my fingertips?
     
  7. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

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    As others have mentioned, the guitar synth units are not the same as multi effects units, even though they do have some effects built in.
    I have a newer unit the GR55, it not only does the synth tones but can do modeled guitars, amps and effects, so it can do both.
    You can set up user patches for the tones you like on most of the GR synth units, I am not familiar with the GR20, it was in between the GR33 and the GR55.
    I'd suggest you check out the GR55 it's been out for a few years now, so there are some used units around. It does a LOT more than the GR20, with a GR55 you can have patches with different guitar , amp and effects models in addition to the synth tones, and you can even layer both in one patch and add your own guitars magnetic pickups in for up to 4 tones in one patch, though that may be overkill.


    There is a learning curve with these units, but there are some great tones in them, and they can add a lot to the mix with a band.
     
  8. brenn

    brenn Tele-Afflicted

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    Another good point. Even the old Roland I got in the late 90's or so would do 12-string guitars, basses, including fretless and stand-up, banjo, acoustic guitar, etc. Some of them sounded pretty good. heck, it even did a good piano, once you learned that piano keys don't "bend".
     
  9. teleprompted

    teleprompted Tele-Meister

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    My dad had a roland gr-707 guitar synth system. It was tons of fun. Came with its own spacey looking guitar and a pedalboard giving access to 64 patches iirc. Its tricky to get some of the sounds to track correctly but once you get it you can do some cool stuff. As people have already said a guitar synth is very different from a multi pedal
     

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  10. jtees4

    jtees4 Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't use mine often and never fully learned it, BUT you can definitely save your own pre-sets....that much I'm sure of. It only saves by number, no names....but I saved maybe 10 and just scroll through my 10. Basically I use it for piano, trumpet, strings and a few others.
     
  11. benderb9

    benderb9 Tele-Holic

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    synth vs pedals

    I am currently re-working my synth set up especially the controller.The stereo guitar outs will go to my pedal board into 2 guitar amps. The synth outs on my GR-33 will be hooked into the PA. Best of both worlds. I figure to use a couple of other electronic goodies in there and eventually put a laptop to it. The Purple Organ is cool with Smoke on the Water and House of the Rising Sun...really startles people usually. The synth sounds are very good and tracking is decent. The newer GR-55 is a real step forward. The GR-20 is a good synth with a smaller footprint. If under 150.00 it's a deal, especially if it comes with the hex pup and a good cable. Use a good cable, you'll get what you pay for.
     
  12. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Holic

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    And there lies the beauty of midi, you will be able to store all of your favorite patches/sounds and recall them via an external controller. You can certainly get to the patch you want via the GR 20 but it would be a lot quicker with an external midi controller with a key or button assigned to the patch you want, in my opinion.
     
  13. Lowbassnotes

    Lowbassnotes Friend of Leo's

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    I'll bet that will be an incredible stereo sound with it hooked up like that. Curious what guitar do you have the pickup in? My buddy first had it on a Kramer Barretta which we had lying around for a backup guitar and then he moved it over to his Epi 56' goldtop which sounded even better.
     
  14. MrTwang

    MrTwang Friend of Leo's

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    I'm guessing you know this already but I have come across people that didn't so will point it out - you need a guitar with a Roland GK pickup to use the GR synths (either a "Roland Ready" guitar or an external mounted unit). You can't just plug in any guitar lake you would with a multi FX unit. If you are going for an externally mounted GK pickup it needs to go right next to the bridge (between the bridge pickup and the saddles) so that would rule out Teles with vintage bridges (you'd have to swap it for a modern bridge). Strats seem to work pretty good with them and you can even buy a mounting plate for the pickup that uses the existing screw holes.

    A few years back when I bought one of the earliest GR systems (rackmounted GR-50) I bought a Musicmaster to install the GK pickup on.
     
  15. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

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    re GK pickup

    Yep you HAVE to have a GK pickup or a guitar that has the midi out from the saddles, like some of the Godin SA models, and a few others, Brian Moore used to sell some import models that had midi out.

    FWIW I've seen some of the Roland Ready Strats that have the GK pickup and controls built in the guitar selling pretty cheap on ebay lately, they are not bad stock and great mod platforms if you want to upgrade the magnetic pickups / bridge neck etc...
     
  16. brenn

    brenn Tele-Afflicted

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    I started with a cheap Yamaha, when I got my first GR system, but the guitar sucked, so I ended up getting one of the old American Standard GR-ready strats. That was very nice. I think there are cheaper Mexican GR-ready strats now.
     
  17. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes, MIM Roland Ready Strats ,NOT to be confused with the Fender VG Strat!

    I think they are the only Fender Roland Ready Strats available now, unless you get something that's Custom Shop.
    I am redoing one right now, will post some pics when I get it back from the tech who's setting it up.
    They aren't bad stock but I wanted a maple neck , and I did a bridge and magnetic pickups upgrade too.

    Update, got my RR Strat back today, it plays a lot better after a good set up, sounds great as a std Strat too.
     

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    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
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