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Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer Black With GK-3 Divided Pickup

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Roland's GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer is a revolutionary new product combining PCM synthesis with digital instrument modeling derived from the respected ...Click To Read More About This Product

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OVERVIEW

The seamless fusion of PCM synthesis and COSM modeling.

Roland's GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer is a revolutionary new product combining PCM synthesis with digital instrument modeling derived from the respected VG-99 V-Guitar System. The GR-55 represents Roland's latest breakthrough advances in guitar synthesis, offering playability, features, and sound quality that far surpasses the capabilities of previous generations of guitar synthesizers.

Driven by Roland's newest proprietary digital processing technology, the GR-55 delivers lightning-fast tracking performance and previously impossible sound-making capabilities. It features two independent synthesizer sound engines, each loaded with over 900 of Roland's latest sounds, including pianos, organs, strings, vintage and modern synths, percussion, and many more. A third sound engine is driven by Composite Object Sound Modeling (COSM), the guitar modeling technology behind Roland's famous VG-99 V-Guitar System. With COSM, the GR-55 can emulate electric and acoustic guitars, basses, and other instruments, as well as guitar and bass amplifiers.

The GR-55 allows players to combine all three sound engines, plus their guitar's normal input, to create any sound from the familiar to the original. An independent multi-effects processor is available for a huge array of tone-shaping options, plus global reverb, chorus, delay effects and EQ to add final sweetening to any sound.

The GR-55 puts guitarists instantly in touch with a huge library of amazing sounds, with no editing required. The onboard lineup of ready-to-use presets takes the pain out of the process, from pop to rock and beyond, with quick-access category buttons. Creating and editing sounds is a breeze for guitarists as well, thanks to a large LCD display, simple front panel, and the intuitive EZ Edit and Sound Style features. Also, onboard is a phrase looper that lets players capture on-the-fly recordings with unlimited sound-on-sound style overdubs.

The GR-55 also features a USB song player that lets users play WAV files stored on USB flash memory, and song playback can be controlled with the onboard pedals. The GR-55 also functions as an audio/MIDI interface for computers, with a rear-panel USB 2.0 port for a quick and easy connection. Users can easily integrate with their favorite digital audio workstation software, recording GR-55 sounds as audio in the DAW and using the GR-55's super-fast pitch-to-MIDI capabilities to trigger MIDI sounds such as virtual synths and samplers with their guitar.

The GR-55 is equipped with Roland's industry-standard 13-pin GK interface. To access the GR-55's enormous palette of sounds, guitarists must use an instrument equipped with a GK-compatible pickup such as Roland's GK-3 Divided Pickup, which is available with the GR-55 (see dropdown menu to the right and select the "With Pickup" option). The GK-3 can be easily installed on most steel string guitars with no modification to the instrument. In addition, many different GK-ready instruments are commercially available from various top guitar manufacturers.

FEATURES
Combines PCM synthesis with COSM modeling
Lightning-fast tracking performance
2 independent synth engines each with over 900 sounds including pianos, organs, strings, vintage and modern synths, percussion, and more
Third sound engine driven by COSM modeling can emulate electric and acoustic guitars, basses, other instruments, and amplifiers
All three sound engines can be combined with dry signal
Independent multi-effects processor adds a huge array of tone-shaping options
Ready-to-use presets and easy editing/saving of your own creations
USB flash drive input with song player for playing back WAV files
Functions as an audio/MIDI interface with USB 2.0 connection
Equipped with 13-pin GK interface for GK-compatible pickups
Large LCD display
Simple front panel and intuitive EZ Edit and Sound Style features
Onboard phrase looper

The pinnacle of Roland's advancements in guitar synthesis over the last 35 years. Order it now!

Reviews
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Review Snapshot

by PowerReviews
RolandGR-55 Guitar Synthesizer
 
4.4

(based on 48 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (29)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (13)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (2)

97%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality (27)
  • Good selection of effects (26)
  • Versatile (26)
  • Responsive (22)
  • Compact (14)

Cons

  • Difficult to use (3)

Best Uses

  • Performances (22)
  • Home studio (20)
  • Professional recording (19)
  • Amateur recording (14)
  • Outdoor events / games (10)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Experienced (19), Professional musician (15)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Astounding....beyond belief

Six months ago I started with a used GR-20 and a used Fender Squire to see if I liked the guitar synthesizer. I love it. Eventually, my cheap, used GR-20 stopped...Read complete review

Six months ago I started with a used GR-20 and a used Fender Squire to see if I liked the guitar synthesizer. I love it. Eventually, my cheap, used GR-20 stopped working. The problem is in the box. Immediately, I got my money together and ordered the GR-55. It's response is faster and the whole unit is well designed. You can tell they strive to improve and overcome any problem and just make it better.
It's still new, I have spent about 3 hours on trying out the sounds and I'm only through the "lead" and the "rhythm" sounds/instruments. I've still got the "other" section to try. Sheer fun. There is still so much about the GR-55 that I still don't know how to do, yet. I photocopied the 2&1/2 pages of instruments/sounds and I highlight the ones I like as I go through. I'll make a list of just what I like later. And, after a while go back through them all again. I suggest you note what you like for fast reference. There's just so many sounds/instruments.
I am a home musician and do home recording and beginning to pitch background music for use in film and on TV. To give you an idea of the level of playing you need to be at to use the GR-55. Here is my level: I am an extremely skilled amateur musician that hasn't played at all in a decade because I quit everything. (I probably, pulled out the guitar or keyboard and played a total of 10 hours in 10 years.) I started with the GR-20 for 6 months.
For playing some instruments, you should "think" like the instrument. A Grand Piano does not stretch strings/notes. So, think like it's a real piano. Playing may need to be more precise/exacting without being sloppy, and this is on some instruments. But, I adapted fast. It's utterly amazing. I suggest, on some instruments, to get rid of the pick and fingerpick. It works great on the piano. And, some lead orchestra instruments, I move my vibrato/whammy bar just slightly to sound like a real bow or other. And, to my surprise, on some instruments, you can "mute" strings with your palm that sounds like the hit song you are playing. I did not expect "mute" to translate to digital.
Guitar pickup: I have a "Brubaker" guitar, handmade in Maryland. It's neither a Les Paul or Strat setup. But, it works just fine. The hardest thing was to come up with a way that to protect the finish on the guitar. My GK-3 (the pickup) has to sit on top the chrome pickup cover on this guitar. I cut a piece of clear, thick plastic that products come in to fit over the chrome pickup cover. I used the pickup screws. Then used the sticky strip to attach the GK-3. I want to set up other guitars, too and they will be different. Roland has every combination you can imagine to help you attach the GK-3.
I love the GR-55. It's just shear fun. I did get the full warranty because I WANT to keep it working without worry and that the used GR-20 did quit working and I bought a new GK-3, then a new cable and they were not the problem. I went into the box to try to fix it and you might as well forget it, it's circuit boards and not even a good way to test the cable connection internally. I closed it up, got my money together, and ordered a new GR-55. I'm happy. The GR-55 is fun and blows the top off my musical ability.
Also, I almost forgot, using MIDI. I have not done much MIDI in a decade, but I experimented with the GR-20 and it's as astounding as the playing the GR-55 live. You can assign any instrument you want. You can even add or subtract notes, copy and paste. That is also astounding beyond belief. If play a wrong note, just drag it to where it should be. In fact, you can create music on the screen that plays through the GR-55 and record.
There's more than I am even getting to. But, if you're just a guitar player and you just want "Guitar" effects, this does it, but it may be something else that you want without needing the GK-3 pickup. Actually, I found several guitar sounds on the GR-55 that I can play lightning fast, powerful, full energy leads covering the whole neck of the guitar. It seems I can exceed my fastest speeds because of the GR-55. I can play lead faster than my brain can keep up and just hang on. And, with MIDI, I can edit it.
The sounds (patches) are very realistic. I can play piano, trumpet, organ, sax, and on. Listening to my home recording, you can't tell it's not a real instrument. But, again, I think like the instrument is played and how it really sounds and I concentrate enough not to be sloppy. So here's your test, if you can't play a clean sounding "Barr F" chord, it's probably too much for you at this time. If you cannot fingerpick just a little (think with your fingers alternating) versus straight strumming or note picking, you are limited only a little. Think of a beautiful piano solo part, rarely ever would it be strummed chords. A little fingerpicking goes a long way. And, actually, you don't need a guitar pick with the GR-55. I'm playing leads and chords sometimes with and sometimes without a pick, even lightning fast leads with or without a pick. I did set my GK-3 extremely close to my strings. I mean extremely close. And, I don't know if that matters.
I emailed Roland a technical question and they answered it promptly and with expertise.
I hope I have helped.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

it plays you

Rating the GR-55 at two stars (below average) hardly seems fair considering that there just isn't much out there for comparison, but this seems to be the very reason Roland dropped the...Read complete review

Rating the GR-55 at two stars (below average) hardly seems fair considering that there just isn't much out there for comparison, but this seems to be the very reason Roland dropped the ball in so many places - they can afford to because they don't have any competition. The reason I bought this was because I wanted a multi-effects unit with good amp modeling and I figured that, while I was at it, I should get the crazy midi-guitar-synth-monster. I wanted a one-unit solution for my guitar rig to run into FRFR speaker setups (and headphones) so that transitioning from playing live to practicing to recording would be filled with less tonal guesswork - don't get me wrong, the GR-55 can do this if you're willing to play by its rules.

It just isn't as flexible as I thought it would be, mainly due to the way Roland botched utilizing all the pedals - you can't assign the three left-most pedals to do anything - they just switch patches. This wouldn't actually be a problem if it weren't for the giant silent gaps that occur when changing patches (not just banks, patches). There are ways to get around this by working with the "assigns" that you do have, but they don't offer you a full-featured type of "manual-mode" or "stomp-mode" without buying an external controller - and what's more, you're still a bit too constrained by the signal flow options (there are essentially two). Another problem with switching patches is that your delay and reverb tails don't spill-over, they get cut-off (the same problem apparently exists on Boss's new GT-100).

The dual(ing?) synth engines have a million different keyboard tones that just aren't very good. I'm used to the keyboard tones that come with one of the Ableton Live Suites and Roland's just don't compare (which is really sad in my reckoning - doesn't Roland actually make keyboards!?!?!). You can trigger external midi stuff with your GR-55, but you can't use it as a sound module (but who would want to?). The responsiveness of the individual keyboard noises varies and you'll be wanting to tweak them on a per patch basis because the global settings that manage how the midi stuff works are not one-size-fits-all. I wouldn't rely on any of the keyboard noises that require a short attack (piano = no) in a live situation because bunk triggering does happen even if your have amazing technique and a great setup.

Speaking of a great setup - it can be a achieved without being a Roland certified synth-guitar luthier. The GK-3 pickup goes on easy when the instructions are followed and the process of getting it talking to the GR-55 is fairly simple - I think it took me about an hour and half after opening the box before I was playing. The problem is that you have just ruined any good looking guitar by allowing the Borg to assimilate it - that black hex-pickup is just plain ugly (especially when you run a patch cable from your regular guitar jack into it) and it adds weight that you will notice when playing with a strap.

But don't worry, you won't be using your strap much after buying the GR-55, because you'll be sitting down surrounded by a computer, the GR55 and a mess of wires (including that extra long 13-pin cable) so that you can tweak it with the software that a generous man named "gumtown" made - look up the GR-55 Floorbaord Editor, it's fantastic. But wait, didn't Roland make some software for it? Ya, but...well...it sucks - don't bother. Gumtown's software makes the unit much more usable in that it becomes very straight forward to change things and the GUI is arranged in a visually and functionally intuitive manner. There is nothing bad to say about Gumtown and his Floorboard editor - it's free and Boss-Roland should hire him for a number of reasons beyond his software abilities, but I digress. The real issue is that it is likely you'll spend more time tweaking than playing. I'm someone that likes tweaking, but I like playing more which is why after almost a year of dealing with my dysfunctional relationship with the GR-55 I am now selling it having already moved on to greener, simpler pastures.

...and that why you always leave a note.

Reviewed by 48 customers

Displaying reviews 1-20

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(35 of 48 customers found this review helpful)

 
3.0

A Glaring Omition

By Mark Cline

from Tennessee

Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

asdfsaf
I just want to save those of you that are interested in using the GR-55 as a sound module the surprise I just had in finding out that it WILL NOT PLAY INCOMING MIDI. It has a midi input, but it only works for patch or program changes. This means that if you want to use it with your DAW or any other sequencer you are able to record your performance data but you'll have to play it back through something else.

I contacted Roland and there is no plan to fix this. If you ask me, they have really dropped the ball on this feature. As a performance device the GR-55 is great, but how short sighted is this ridiculous limitation?!

(26 of 32 customers found this review helpful)

 
3.0

Some patches very noisy, too sensitive to moving the guitar or cable around

By Spanky

from Orlando, FL

See all my reviews

Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

If you just want a synth, it's pretty good.
I had a problem with the patches that featured guitar and amp modeling (not the pcm synth sounds-they are OK): there was noise, especially if I moved my guitar or the GK's cable around-very bad noise, like a popping or scraping sound (really terrible with high gain patches, like the "Legato Solo" patch). I had owned a VG99 (which I actually sold, to be able to afford the GR55), and it was very quiet. I actually thought something was wrong with my guitar, till I tried the GR55 with a different guitar (as well as a different cable), and the noise was still there. So I returned it, thinking it was defective.
A Roland tech called, and told me there was nothing wrong with my unit. I pressed him about it, and had him recheck the unit (with the "Legato Solo" patch, which exhibited the noise problem the most). He WAS able to recreate the problem this time. He tried the same patch with a NEW GR55 from their warehouse, and says it's doing it as well! So, he says, there's nothing wrong with mine.

I posted my experience on the V-guitar forum, and the moderator said this: "Its not a perfect world. And remember the GR-55 is an extremely stripped down cost sensitive product, and NOT using the fastest DSPs available. As many have tried to inform here - in the COSM processing department, the GR-55 will not perform at the same level as the VG-99 which costs twice as much as a GR-55. There is no free lunch, and many many performance compromises were made on the GR-55, to maintain a profit margin and deliver a multi-function unit at a specific target price, and not a penny more! To tame the noise, Roland has two separate user assignable "NS" Noise Suppressors ( one in the GK PU area, and another in the final Output stage ) in the GR-55 for a reason.”

I find this upsetting, as I was under the assumption the GR55 would have about the same QUALITY of sounds. I knew going in it didn’t have all the effects, number of models, or dual paths of the VG99, but didn't expect a noisy machine. I wish I had kept my VG99 at this point (since the GR55 cost me about as much as I sold my VG99 for). Once I get it back from Roland, I'll try the noise suppressors. But this noise is so bad, I don't expect a noise gate to solve the problem.
For the synth sounds, it's very good. (Roland could stand to put some cutting edge synth tones in their guitar synths, though, they're kinda generic).

(21 of 27 customers found this review helpful)

 
2.0

it plays you

By superawesomegreat

from Pittsburgh, PA

About Me Experienced

Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

Rating the GR-55 at two stars (below average) hardly seems fair considering that there just isn't much out there for comparison, but this seems to be the very reason Roland dropped the ball in so many places - they can afford to because they don't have any competition. The reason I bought this was because I wanted a multi-effects unit with good amp modeling and I figured that, while I was at it, I should get the crazy midi-guitar-synth-monster. I wanted a one-unit solution for my guitar rig to run into FRFR speaker setups (and headphones) so that transitioning from playing live to practicing to recording would be filled with less tonal guesswork - don't get me wrong, the GR-55 can do this if you're willing to play by its rules.

It just isn't as flexible as I thought it would be, mainly due to the way Roland botched utilizing all the pedals - you can't assign the three left-most pedals to do anything - they just switch patches. This wouldn't actually be a problem if it weren't for the giant silent gaps that occur when changing patches (not just banks, patches). There are ways to get around this by working with the "assigns" that you do have, but they don't offer you a full-featured type of "manual-mode" or "stomp-mode" without buying an external controller - and what's more, you're still a bit too constrained by the signal flow options (there are essentially two). Another problem with switching patches is that your delay and reverb tails don't spill-over, they get cut-off (the same problem apparently exists on Boss's new GT-100).

The dual(ing?) synth engines have a million different keyboard tones that just aren't very good. I'm used to the keyboard tones that come with one of the Ableton Live Suites and Roland's just don't compare (which is really sad in my reckoning - doesn't Roland actually make keyboards!?!?!). You can trigger external midi stuff with your GR-55, but you can't use it as a sound module (but who would want to?). The responsiveness of the individual keyboard noises varies and you'll be wanting to tweak them on a per patch basis because the global settings that manage how the midi stuff works are not one-size-fits-all. I wouldn't rely on any of the keyboard noises that require a short attack (piano = no) in a live situation because bunk triggering does happen even if your have amazing technique and a great setup.

Speaking of a great setup - it can be a achieved without being a Roland certified synth-guitar luthier. The GK-3 pickup goes on easy when the instructions are followed and the process of getting it talking to the GR-55 is fairly simple - I think it took me about an hour and half after opening the box before I was playing. The problem is that you have just ruined any good looking guitar by allowing the Borg to assimilate it - that black hex-pickup is just plain ugly (especially when you run a patch cable from your regular guitar jack into it) and it adds weight that you will notice when playing with a strap.

But don't worry, you won't be using your strap much after buying the GR-55, because you'll be sitting down surrounded by a computer, the GR55 and a mess of wires (including that extra long 13-pin cable) so that you can tweak it with the software that a generous man named "gumtown" made - look up the GR-55 Floorbaord Editor, it's fantastic. But wait, didn't Roland make some software for it? Ya, but...well...it sucks - don't bother. Gumtown's software makes the unit much more usable in that it becomes very straight forward to change things and the GUI is arranged in a visually and functionally intuitive manner. There is nothing bad to say about Gumtown and his Floorboard editor - it's free and Boss-Roland should hire him for a number of reasons beyond his software abilities, but I digress. The real issue is that it is likely you'll spend more time tweaking than playing. I'm someone that likes tweaking, but I like playing more which is why after almost a year of dealing with my dysfunctional relationship with the GR-55 I am now selling it having already moved on to greener, simpler pastures.

...and that why you always leave a note.

(19 of 23 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

The Guitarist's Dream Toolbox

By Mr. Vapor

from Northern New England

See all my reviews

Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

In these 'Do less with more' days, pro musicians need to find ways to bolster a flagging live music marketplace. Club and restaurant owners are loathe to spend money on live acts if they can't justify the expense with greater food and liquor sales. Using gear that allows a musician to be more things to more listeners is one proven way to help the club owner justify that expense. Roland seems to be aware that the bar keeps being raised for the little guys (like me), just as much as for the A-list touriing/recording stars. And to that end, Roland continues to work hard to develop products that aid the musician in making that next leap. With a broad, useable feature set, and quality construction, the GR-55 is the natural evolution of the guitar synth from a quirky occasional-use tool to an all-in-one synth/effects pallet for the pro player. Please don't buy one if you live in northern New England. I have enough competition as it is.
I would be remiss in not confessing that I'm still learning the interface on this monster. But consider: A floor pedal that loops, stores and plays backing tracks, provides a large number of useable synth patches, offers COSM modeling for all manner of guitar and amp types, includes an expression pedal, and a large 20-character LCD display, that can be easily read while standing above it, even in broad daylight. Did I mention onboard tuner? Did I mention your choice of mono- or stereo-outs? Did I mention separate pickups-only out? Did I mention USB 2.0 capability? And... it will prepare Belgian waffles, give you a back rub, and patch up relationship issues with your spouse? (OK... sorry... couldn't resist...).

Really... Enough onboard features to serve as my 'go-to' box for recording and live work. I'm just grateful that Japan's recent calamities didn't prevent my being able to get one of these units. Utterly amazing...
So far - so good. Rugged, reliable Roland hardware. Steel casing. I would be surprised to have any issues with the build quality. Software/firmware appears bug-free. Tremendous attention to detail. The ONLY area in which I've ever faulted Roland is their user documentation. For whatever reason, the management at Roland seem convinced that because their products are so well conceived and built, that they can ignore the 3rd rate useability of their product manuals. The more feature-packed the product, the more work it takes to pry the critical 'how to' info from their manuals. Complex interfaces are, by definition, rarely intuitive. A good manual makes the task much easier, improving how well and how quickly a user can leverage the features provided by the product. Eventually Roland will have to figure this out. Trust me. I document complex tech products for a living...
The GR-55 is not an inexpensive product. Few Roland products are. However, unlike Bose, who chooses to ride the wave of inflated self-opinion, Roland works hard to earn its continuing reputation as a top-shelf manufacturer of pro gear for the working musician. At the moment, I own several pieces of Roland gear, and have owned many more over the years. I make it a point to try to keep up with their new product releases. The GR-55 is typical of the reason why I do. It improves my chances of capturing regional work as a gigging musician.

(13 of 13 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Roland GR-55

By Jesse Dagel

from Sibley IA

See all my reviews

Ask me a question

Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

I am very impressed with the GR-55. Tracking, effects, modeling are all outstanding. I've played the other Roland guitar synths before, for me the downfall was the lack of editing that could be done. With the GR-55, the possibilities are endless, which is what I really needed in a synth. One of the features that I use a lot is the acoustic guitar modeling, very organic sound and feel. I am primarly a worship leader, so this comes in very useful to add synth/wave type sounds that pop in and out, you can get great celtic type sounds- flutes, violin, accordian, etc., strings, pads, the works.

Keep in mind it will take some time to get the hang of, there's a lot of stuff packed into this unit. I use the Graph Tech Ghost system for my midi pickup, they work very well. The Roland GK-2 pickups work great too, especially if you don't want to modify your guitar, I just prefer having everything internal.

Highly recomended.

(12 of 12 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Final stop for effects and synth

By GuitarGuy-arPs-

from Virginia

Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

The gr-55 is definitely an all in one device. I was using the Gt-10b for effects and amp modeling, and Gr-20 for synth sounds. It was a very large and complex setup. Then came the Gr-55 to do the job of both devices and be a fraction of the footprint. The synth sounds on the Gr-55 are awesome. Every time I use the acoustic instruments, like oboe, flute, or cello, I always get comments about how real they sound. I love being able to switch between guitar or bass on the same device. Effects editing is pretty standard Roland stuff. The unit allows you to control signal flow, so you can add effects after the synth sound, modeled sound, or the instrument sound, or you can apply it to all sources. The guitar modeling is fantastic for the respective instruments. Meaning the modeled guitars sound great when using the GR with a guitar. Not so great when trying to cross instruments. The bass models just don't sound legit wihen I access them while playing my midi strat and the guitar models sound strange when played from my bass. The modeled acoustic guitars are great and the 12 string feature is very authentic and can be called up dynamically with the control pedal or footswitch. The display on the GR is huge and easy to read, the navigation is a bit arduous. Lots of menus, lots of scrolling. I recommend getting a copy of the open source computer editor if you really want to tweak the patch settings. Overall this was a great buy, and I recommend it for any serious musician. It consolidated multiple effects units for me into one, easy to transport device. Price is reasonable and appropriate for this capability.

(12 of 14 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

1st day review

By Matthew Orifice

from Pa

Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

got it today, and had to perform with it today, if you;re familiar with Roland gr's it really won't help much ... read the manual. i was able to create the three patches io needed in about 2 hrs with little to no effort ( took time because of so many choices). Coming off using a Digitech RP and a Gr-33, to just this box and honestly i am thrilled. some of my fav features from the gr-33 are gone i liked the harmonizer, but i'll take the improved tracking even with a haphazard Gk set up.

it feels solid and the display is easy to see, i even like the bank /patch set up
brilliant sounds, great flexibility, the looper could be longer, and i wish we had seperate effects for each PCM sound
for two synth sounds , reasonable instrument modeling, and amp models there is no reason to complain

(11 of 12 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Astounding....beyond belief

By TalentEast

from Salisbury, Maryland

About Me Experienced

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Designed To Be The Best
  • Excellant Sounds
  • Excellent Sound Quality
  • Good Selection Of Effects
  • Responsive
  • Versatile

Cons

  • None so far

Best Uses

  • Expand Your Musical World
  • Home Studio

Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

Six months ago I started with a used GR-20 and a used Fender Squire to see if I liked the guitar synthesizer. I love it. Eventually, my cheap, used GR-20 stopped working. The problem is in the box. Immediately, I got my money together and ordered the GR-55. It's response is faster and the whole unit is well designed. You can tell they strive to improve and overcome any problem and just make it better.
It's still new, I have spent about 3 hours on trying out the sounds and I'm only through the "lead" and the "rhythm" sounds/instruments. I've still got the "other" section to try. Sheer fun. There is still so much about the GR-55 that I still don't know how to do, yet. I photocopied the 2&1/2 pages of instruments/sounds and I highlight the ones I like as I go through. I'll make a list of just what I like later. And, after a while go back through them all again. I suggest you note what you like for fast reference. There's just so many sounds/instruments.
I am a home musician and do home recording and beginning to pitch background music for use in film and on TV. To give you an idea of the level of playing you need to be at to use the GR-55. Here is my level: I am an extremely skilled amateur musician that hasn't played at all in a decade because I quit everything. (I probably, pulled out the guitar or keyboard and played a total of 10 hours in 10 years.) I started with the GR-20 for 6 months.
For playing some instruments, you should "think" like the instrument. A Grand Piano does not stretch strings/notes. So, think like it's a real piano. Playing may need to be more precise/exacting without being sloppy, and this is on some instruments. But, I adapted fast. It's utterly amazing. I suggest, on some instruments, to get rid of the pick and fingerpick. It works great on the piano. And, some lead orchestra instruments, I move my vibrato/whammy bar just slightly to sound like a real bow or other. And, to my surprise, on some instruments, you can "mute" strings with your palm that sounds like the hit song you are playing. I did not expect "mute" to translate to digital.
Guitar pickup: I have a "Brubaker" guitar, handmade in Maryland. It's neither a Les Paul or Strat setup. But, it works just fine. The hardest thing was to come up with a way that to protect the finish on the guitar. My GK-3 (the pickup) has to sit on top the chrome pickup cover on this guitar. I cut a piece of clear, thick plastic that products come in to fit over the chrome pickup cover. I used the pickup screws. Then used the sticky strip to attach the GK-3. I want to set up other guitars, too and they will be different. Roland has every combination you can imagine to help you attach the GK-3.
I love the GR-55. It's just shear fun. I did get the full warranty because I WANT to keep it working without worry and that the used GR-20 did quit working and I bought a new GK-3, then a new cable and they were not the problem. I went into the box to try to fix it and you might as well forget it, it's circuit boards and not even a good way to test the cable connection internally. I closed it up, got my money together, and ordered a new GR-55. I'm happy. The GR-55 is fun and blows the top off my musical ability.
Also, I almost forgot, using MIDI. I have not done much MIDI in a decade, but I experimented with the GR-20 and it's as astounding as the playing the GR-55 live. You can assign any instrument you want. You can even add or subtract notes, copy and paste. That is also astounding beyond belief. If play a wrong note, just drag it to where it should be. In fact, you can create music on the screen that plays through the GR-55 and record.
There's more than I am even getting to. But, if you're just a guitar player and you just want "Guitar" effects, this does it, but it may be something else that you want without needing the GK-3 pickup. Actually, I found several guitar sounds on the GR-55 that I can play lightning fast, powerful, full energy leads covering the whole neck of the guitar. It seems I can exceed my fastest speeds because of the GR-55. I can play lead faster than my brain can keep up and just hang on. And, with MIDI, I can edit it.
The sounds (patches) are very realistic. I can play piano, trumpet, organ, sax, and on. Listening to my home recording, you can't tell it's not a real instrument. But, again, I think like the instrument is played and how it really sounds and I concentrate enough not to be sloppy. So here's your test, if you can't play a clean sounding "Barr F" chord, it's probably too much for you at this time. If you cannot fingerpick just a little (think with your fingers alternating) versus straight strumming or note picking, you are limited only a little. Think of a beautiful piano solo part, rarely ever would it be strummed chords. A little fingerpicking goes a long way. And, actually, you don't need a guitar pick with the GR-55. I'm playing leads and chords sometimes with and sometimes without a pick, even lightning fast leads with or without a pick. I did set my GK-3 extremely close to my strings. I mean extremely close. And, I don't know if that matters.
I emailed Roland a technical question and they answered it promptly and with expertise.
I hope I have helped.

(11 of 11 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Great addition to my Studio.

By Cheap_Guitar

from Baton Rouge, Louisiana

About Me Experienced

Pros

  • Advanced Features
  • Compact Design
  • Excellent Sound Quality
  • Good Selection Of Effects
  • Lives Up To It's Billing
  • Responsive
  • Versatile

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Guitar Collection Expande
    • Home Studio
    • Performances
    • Professional Recording
    • Recording

    Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

    To begin, I've been playing guitars for over 30 years. I've been recording since the 80s. In that time, if there's one thing I've learned, it's to do my research before buying something new. In this case, I read all of the reviews, both positive and negative. I watched all of the applicable Youtube videos. I even downloaded the manual before buying. I came to the conclusion that this was a worthy piece for my studio.

    Having said that, and after having a couple of days to play around with the GR-55, I can tell you that I've not been disappointed. This unit is exactly what I was looking for.

    Install
    I installed the GK3 pickup on my Epiphone Les Paul after reviewing the mounting instructions and choosing the proper hardware from the kit. It went smoothly, but if there's one point of advice I can give, it's "read the instructions!" Don't get in a hurry, don't shortcut, and if the measurements don't look right, take it off and do it again! A quality installation of the pickup will determine how the rest of your experience goes.

    Once the pickup is installed, there is a small amount of setup work to be done in the unit's software. It's not hard. Again, just read the manual. I took all of the required measurements and entered them as needed, and within 15 minutes I was up and running. No weird results, no issues.

    Sounds
    I've got to be honest, a lot of the sounds included with the unit are things you'd probably not use in your music. The thing is, there's so many samples and simulations included, that you're going to be making your own in no time.

    Editing
    I'd read that editing on the unit was a Bear. Having been a Synthesizer user for many years, I found the GR-55 pretty tame by comparison. If you've never owned a Synth, there's going to be a learning curve. Give me an example of where something worth having doesn't require a little work...

    I found that there is a good FREE patch editor available online, and downloaded it. I used the USB cable to hook it up to my DAW computer, Boom... problem solved. Sound creation is a breeze.

    Impressions
    The COSM sounds are absolutely great. I've been listening through headphones, and with a little adjustment on the EQ, I have to say their awesome. A replacement for your Gibson Hummingbird? Probably not. A substitute for dragging the old Hummingbird out to record tracks and take out on stage? Maybe so.

    Build
    The unit is solid. It's actually built quite well. The panel is relatively easy to read and understand. It's compact (actually a little smaller than I expected). It does what I bought it for. I'm going to call this one a win.

    I hope this helps anyone considering the GR-55.

    (9 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Best Guitar Synth Yet

    By Nokie

    from Northridge, CA

    See all my reviews

    Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

    The design and features on this latest Roland Guitar synth go way beyond what one could expect in any price range. I was up and running within 20 minutes of opening the box. But that is not to say I had any clue as to the wealth of features the GR-55 had in store. Among the features are the inclusion of modeling tones, not just modeling amps, but virtual instruments as found on the VG-99. It's an abbreviated list of VG-99 modeling tones but much more than what is found on a VG-Strat. And the tones are fantastic! My favorites are the Gibson 335, L4, and Les Paul sounds. They are very convincing and something I would never expect to achieve on my Tele or and other 25.5" scale Fender. The acoustics sounds are also fantastic. There is no tracking issue whatsoever with the modeling sounds. They seem to work just as if you were engaging a footpedal effect. The ability to set alternate tunings is absolultely priceless! I can now have my Johnny Winter open A slide tuning, my Jerry Reed C7 tunning, Drop D, Open G, all at the push of a footpedal. Tracking on the synth sounds is nearly as perfect. Ultimate Synth tracking does require carefull mounting of the pick-up and string sensitivity settings. Once I dialed those in, I was amazed at how perfectly the synth responded with no decernable lag from picking to sound, even on the low strings. It's tracking that blows away the old GR-50 tracking in both speed and accuracy. The library of synth tones is gynormous!! Many great classic sounds from early moog, Juno, and Roland GR-300 series sounds are among my favorites. And each are fully adjustable. Sampled sounds of Saxes, Trumpets, Strings sound better than ever. There also many amp modeling abilities and generous selection of standard effects.I mounted the GK-3 pickup to a late model Fender Tele. It has the perfect bridge plate for the GK pickup such that I won't be gumming up the guitar's finish. The pickup sticks to the Tele's chrome bridge plate, and the control unit sits on an included plate that is easily secured by the rear strap peg. The controls on the GR-55 floor unit are refreshingly intuative. The sound setting and saving procedure is very easy with on-screen notes that guide you to what you need. There is no necessity for a huge manual such as we got with the GR-50 in the 80's. The manual here is half the size and covers the feature details very well. This unit sells for a good 500 clams less than what I paid for the GR-50 in the 80's. It's even less expensive if I figure it in 1980's dollars. It far exceeds my expectations.

    (7 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    GR-55: will you marry me?

    By replicand

    from Tokyo

    About Me Experienced

    See all my reviews

    Ask me a question

    Pros

    • Mind-boggling
    • Possibilities
    • Responsive
    • Uber-fast Tracking

    Cons

    • Too Much Ambience

    Best Uses

    • Performances
    • Professional Recording

    Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

    Whenever music technology advances, so does creativity - think about it: the first drum 10,000 years ago; the first pipe 6000 years ago; the first string 4000 years ago; the first violin 400 years ago, the first piano 300 years ago and most recently, the first synthesizer 50 years ago. So, if guitar synthesizers became as common as guitars are today, tomorrow's music will sound radically different than today. Enter the GR-55.

    Effectively, the GR-55 is two layered synths and a multi-effects unit, controlled by your guitar. This description doesn't really give justice to the crazy sounds that come out of this box.

    Let's start with the bad news: the user's manual setup is not as in-depth as it should be - merely by happenstance someone explained to me the baseline parameter settings which made the unit respond with significantly fewer ghost notes / trigger errors; sounds programmed with FAR too much ambience, rendering some of the sounds unplayable - unless you play ambient soundscapes; I have zero interest in triggering piano / chromatic percussion-type sounds with a guitar; most preset "guitar" sounds (from the amp modeler) have a certain...je ne sais quoi. I will explain all these points in further detail.

    Otherwise, your guitar will produce a ridiculous amount of sound. There's quite a bit of new territory to discover, though it's also quite nice when you find a sound that perfectly fits a song you've already written. Yeah, that happened.

    One of my strats had a GK-2A on it but I didn't like the way it looked, so I ordered a Godin xtSA specifically for use with the GR-55. If you aren't using a GK-ready guitar, stick the included GK-3 PU on it, set the base parameters and go! Within five minutes of plugging in, I'm accurately tracking 32nd notes. Pitch detection is nearly flawless.

    The presets are somewhat inspiring, but overkill. Too thick and too much ambience. I once read somewhere that synth presets are designed for the floor of a musical instrument store, where several other sounds (sources) are competing for your attention. And that's exactly what these presets sound like. This unit is actually begging for you to dive in to discover what it can do.

    As mentioned there are two layered synths, an effects processor plus your normal guitar sound. All programming is menu-based, so lots of pages, arrows and dials to get that sound you hear in your head. Though the synth is COSM, the menu paradigm is "subtractive": oscillator, filter, envelopes, modulation - so keeping this in mind will speed your workflow.

    The effects / amp modeler section is *supremely* comprehensive. So if you decided to add one of the 30-odd distortion pedals (or 11 guitar simulations or 30 amplifier simulations or....), you have complete control over pickup configuration, gain, power amp volume, EQ, modulation depth, on and on, which I have not even scratched the surface of (the unit arrived yesterday).

    So I decided to create a patch from scratch, just to see what I could come up with. The Godin xtSA outputs electric and "acoustic" guitar, so I added a COSM 12-string acoustic, a strings patch and a modeled Les Paul through a Marshall with an overdrive pedal - in essence, one guy playing five guitars at the same time (you can independently mix the levels of all of these). The possibilities are mind-boggling.

    Preliminary observations suggest that at least with the amp models, ambience is tied to whatever cabinet you're using. Even turning off the synth multi-effects, I have not yet been able to produce a completely, 100% dry signal, which is unfortunate. Thus, the four-star rating. Otherwise, I will be discovering all sorts of fun things the GR-55 can do for years to come.

    (7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Very versatile device!

    By Allen-gn_-B

    from Florida

    About Me Professional Musician

    See all my reviews

    Verified Buyer

    Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

    This is my 3rd Roland guitar synth (after GR-20 and GR-33). This is by far the most versatile and should replace the other two in my solo gig. Yah, lots more room on the floor! I create string split patches with bass on the two low strings. The COSM modeled bass sounds track much better than the synth bass tone I'd been using with the GR-33 (I still use synth bass on some songs though). I'd say the tracking is similar to the other two Roland synths... maybe slightly better... it's really in how clean you play and how you set up the patches. I play almost entirely finger style picking and use a pick ocassionaly for solos.

    The amount of flexiblity that you have with this device is great. I've been tweaking my patches for a few weeks, and so far I'm really happy. I use it with a Godin ACS Slim guitar. I can get good electric guitar sounds with the modeling, and OK acoustic guitar sounds... but typically just prefer the straight through sound of the Godin blended with a warm pad or electric piano (or both). Having 2 PCM tones, 1 COSM modeled tone, and the straight through guitar (to which effects can be added) is an incredible combo of possiblities. I don't use any of the factory supplied patches, but I'm not sure I'm the typical GR-55 user.

    The only thing I wish was a little different is the way that all of the sounds of a patch are routed through the Chorus, Delay, Reverb, and EQ at the final stage. Obviously with my setup, I don't want Delay and Reverb on my bass sound, but might like it on my guitar and the piano. Fortunately there is also a Multi_effect and Mod Effect which each contain an assortment of chorus, reverbs and delays. These two can be mapped to independent sounds using the structure settings. Anyway, I doubt Roland imagined most people using the device like me... but it still has the flexibility to work for me.

    (7 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Poor synth sounds

    By Al Baez

    from PR

    See all my reviews

    Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

    I sold my gr 33 and my vg 88 v.2 to buy this thing and now I'm in depression because the sounds of the gr 33 and the vg 88 v.2 are far better and realistic than those in the gr 55. Roland sacrificed the quality of the sounds to put a bunch of features that in normal playing you are not going to use. I recomend that if you have the gr 33 and the vg 88 don't sell it if you care about your sound if you want the convenience of having all the pedals in one box then the gr 55 is for you. Now I'm spending a lot of hours programing this thing to make the sound a little closer to my previous pedals.

    (7 of 11 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    The greatest thing since slice bread!!

    By john rowe

    from Alabama

    Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

    Easy to edit, multi-variables, take the conventional key board work station to the lever guitar players can appreciate. With the visual tutorals on-line, makes a 50+years of playing guitar artist go where "no one has gone before" into the 21st century and beyound!!!

    (7 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    FUN !!!

    By Guitarman

    from Upper Michigan

    See all my reviews

    Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

    Test drove it with pickup duct taped to the guitar to see if I liked it enough to drill holes in my Stratocaster. After a couple hours of fun I decided I had to risk it. Did not feel the stick-on method would be trustworthy for gigging, plus it is not adjustable once stuck on. Got some shorter screws and it mounted quite easily.

    Running two Fender amps. One with the GR-55, other with my Boss ME-70 run out of the guitar out on the GR-55. Fantastic mix. Playing 3 piece it really adds a new dimension. Can be used to fill in behind your guitar, also adds a number of new sounds so you can do more than just guitar rock.

    The rest of the band was impressed and thrilled with the musical doors it opened.

    Can't wait for the Casino gig tomorrow night to publicly debut it.
    Tons of settings, some great default sounds, lots of throw aways.
    As all Roland/Boss equipment, no problem taking it on the road.
    Spendy, but a great deal.

    (5 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

     
    1.0

    Lightning-fast tracking – NOT.

    By Electronman

    from Santa Cruz California

    About Me Professional Musician

    See all my reviews

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Versatile

    Cons

    • Difficult To Use
    • Not Responsive
    • Poor Sound Quality

    Best Uses

    • Performances

    Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

    My one star rating is mostly in response to Roland's grossly exaggerated claim of "lightning-fast tracking." As regards the synth triggering, this is patently false. The GR55's synth latency is about as bad as my '80s Ibanez guitar-to-midi unit. The problem is that a guitar-to-midi converter needs to track at least one half of the string's cycle to determine what note is being played, and the lower the note, the longer this takes. So at the very high range, triggering latency is tolerable, but as you move down the scale it gets progressively worse, till at the bottom notes you're hearing delays that qualify as slapback echo. With all Roland's hype, I thought they'd found a way around this, but nope.

    Further, I thought the modeled sounds in this unit would be an upgrade to my 20-year-old VG8, but, amazingly, they're mostly worse. I've read several reviews now with this complaint, so can accept that it's not my imagination. For some reason the Roland engineers didn't incorporate the same attention to detail in the GR55's models as in the VG line. Given the vastly more powerful CPUs now available, and the fact that they could have just COPIED the VG algorithms, this is utterly mysterious.

    To be clear, my hope was to use this in the studio – for live use the GR55's convenience and flexibility may outweigh these failings. If you just want to trigger a string pad behind your guitar part, the latency won't be noticeable – it will be masked by the guitar (which has virtually no latency). And if you want to play a quick and dirty marimba solo in your dance band, you can learn to play ahead of the beat to compensate for the latency. But trying to play any synth part with reasonably tight timing and accurate dynamics will be an exercise in frustration.

    With my old VG8, I was able to create a mandolin so spot-on that I could record solo parts with it. I'm finding nothing even close to that in the GR55...

    (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Awesome

    By Hutch

    from Eastern KY

    About Me Professional Musician

    See all my reviews

    Ask me a question

    Pros

    • Compact Design
    • Excellent Sound Quality
    • Good Selection Of Effects
    • It's All Pro Sounds
    • Responsive
    • Versatile

    Cons

    • None really
    • Two Stereo Amps Reguired

    Best Uses

    • Events
    • Home Studio
    • Performances
    • Professional Recording

    Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

    I talked to Matt (Musician's Friend Sales Tech) when I ordered this product, I hope he reads this.
    This unit is more than I expected. All the high quality synth sounds from Roland that you would expect. 297 user patches will certainly keep me busy. The guitar sound module is great, I was thinking about the Line 6 Variax but this GR-55 is so much more. I surfed the patches when I came to a Tele, it was hard to here any difference between the emulated and my real Tele. You will need two stereo amps to get the most out of the sound, but there are other ways, right now I am using two guitar amps with a 4 channel stereo mixer in the front of the line. Two outputs from Synth out, and guitar out to my Boss stereo effects unit then to the mixer. One other way is to have a two channel amp with a 2-10 or 2-12 or even 2-15 stereo speaker cabinet. The GK-3 pickup tracks perfect, just follow the directions when mounting it. It can be a little noisey. There is nothing really difficult about programming patches, it just takes a little time. The libiran software that you can download is good for storing patches but won't do the editing. The crtl and expression pedal are a plus. So many ways to set them up with each patch. I think I have covered most everything that would encourage you to buy this product. You can go to Roland web site and listen to some of the patches. I would advise buying the kit it contains everything you need.

    (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Amazing

    By Tolgor

    from Woodbridge, VA

    About Me Experienced

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Excellent Sound Quality
    • Good Selection Of Effects
    • Responsive
    • Versatile

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Amateur Recording
      • Home Studio
      • Performances
      • Professional Recording

      Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

      This thing is the most amazing piece of guitar equipment you will ever own. I pucking love this thing!

      I have an original GR-1 and was pretty impressed with that when it came out in the early nineties but, as you know, the tracking was so-so and pretty latent. But I found a way to get the sounds I wanted, especially when my keyboardist left the band.

      I recently decided to get back into making some tracks at home for fun - it's nice form of meditation for me as I recently quit smoking. I've also been listening to a lot of downtempo/chillout/lounge music lately and I thought this would be a nice way to get back into it. I went to my local guitar center and gave it a try. Man! The tracking was/is amazing now and the sounds have really been developed since the old days of the GR-1. I was really floored, I had to to have it.

      So, I've had it for a couple of weeks now and I've barely scratched the surface on the different and unique sounds that you can make. Not to mention the guitar modeling that really makes me not need my rack of 80s signal processors anymore.

      Not sure what else to say about this except that I'm having a blast with it, there's always something new.

      BTW it worked great right out of the box with my Jackson that had a GK-2A installed - no tracking issues whatsoever. I still have the GK-3 that came with it - I'm thinking of putting it on my Martin acoustic to see what that sounds like.

      (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Make your guitar sound like anything

      By Petepop

      from Boca Raton, FL

      About Me Experienced

      Pros

      • Excellent Sound Quality
      • Good Selection Of Effects
      • Versatile

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Home Studio

        Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

        I do a lot of creative multitrack recording and as a guitarist I wanted to get more sounds out of my guitar. Some patches sound better than others and some track better than others but overall it's a great unit. Hear how I used it on my latest YouTube song/video- Go to channel PetepopGTR1 and check out my song "Transformation". The synth comes in around the 1:30 mark. You can hear the cello, piano and string sounds. They sound awesome. I'd give it 5 stars but I'm a pretty fast player and sometimes certain patches can't keep up with me. The sounds are great right out of the box but if you have a lot of time on your hands you can edit the patches in almost ever way imaginable.

        (4 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

         
        1.0

        Short-sighted again!

        Comments about Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer:

        With a guitar input, I could have (and would have) gotten rid of my POD HD500. With the MIDI in able to control the synth engine, I could have exclusively used the GR-55 at church to supplement the keyboard I currently use.

        I own a Roland U-20 (plus all the cards), XV-5080 (plus several SR-JV and SRX cards), A-70, VariOS, MBD1, Cube 80X, UM-880, UA-1000, Cakewalk X1, etc. I've spent A LOT of money on Roland and I've been a fan but in the GR-55, I'm VERY dissapointed.
        For a guitar equipped with the GK p/u, it's great - you get guitar modeling," amp modeling and synth access. Why the Rating of 3 for ""Features""??? Simply because the world does not revolve around the GK divided pickups. I can plug in my Carvin SH-575 but I can not use my mag pickups to benefit from the amp models and effect. Further more", I can not plug in my keyboards and use the synth engine because you can not externally control the synth engine via the midi in! Useless!!!!!!
        Overall, great amp modeling and effex and great synth engine, however the guitar modeling is very inferior to the Variax modeling. Roland builds great quality gear from the perspective of sturdyness and longevity, however," feature ""quality"" also applies and particularly on the guitar modeling", this product falls VERY short (as does it's big brother the VG-99).
        This is my beef, all you can use (to get the full potential) is the GK divided p/u. Like I stated before, the world is bigger than the GK pickup therefore it's a terrible value for the money!

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