I love the new GR-55. It’s got a solid sound engine, plenty of sounds to choose from, decent internal effects, and of course the COSM modeling of several typical guitars. I picked up my GR-55 about a week ago, and have been trying to get a handle on its strengths and limitations. I have been using a GR-20 for some years (a GR-50 before that, and a GR-700 even before that) so I’m a long time user of Roland guitar synths. I bought this new unit to replace my GR-55, and it is for me primarily a guitar synthesizer. I have plenty of other effects and guitars to get a range of the basic sounds I need for various styles, so the guitar modeling is not as big of an issue for me. However, it’s a great convenience to be able to call up a Strat or Tele sound on the gig when you only have one guitar with you, and now that I have this capability I’m sure I’ll use it more and more. Only problem: How do I use these great modeling tones with my favorite preamps and pedals?

We Need an Effects Loop!

If you’ve used the GR-55 at all, you know it certainly has its limitations, not the least of which is the lack of an effects loop. You may have read on the v-guitar forums and elsewhere that you can create a mock-loop on the normal guitar pickup by sending your guitar signal to the effect, then sending a line back up to your guitar, after which the signal goes through the GK pickup and down through the 13-pin cable. That works fine for your own guitar’s tone. For the synth sounds, it’s not such a big deal not to have a loop. But for the internal modeling sounds it is a big disappointment. The internal distortion sounds are passable, but most of us have our preamps or pedals that we absolutely need to get the sound we like.

Typically, the distortion comes before the time-based effects, and there’s no obvious way to do this on the GR-55 modeling sounds without some tricky routing. Below I’ll tell you how to do it. First, full disclosure: using this method will mean that you will need to send your normal pickup guitar sound–if you are going to use it in combination with the GR-55 modeling or synth sounds–directly out of the guitar, and into a separate bank of effects if you need them, since my effect loop method will eliminate the ability to use the guitar pickup routing to the internal GR-55 effects. Also, your final output of the guitar signal will have to be routed through the regular mono/stereo mix outputs.

Master Settings

First you’ll want to go to System Settings-Other and assign the Guitar Out Source to Modeling. This will send the dry Modeling signal to the Guitar Out jack at all times. It is recommended that you do this first, since the effects loop wiring can create a feedback loop if this jack is set to receive the Normal Pickup signal. You can also change this setting on a patch by patch basis in the Master-Guitar Out settings, just don’t forget to undo the wiring setup described below before you change to any patch using the normal guitar through the guitar out jack.

The Cabling

The next step is to run a cable from the Guitar Out jack to any external effects you want to use, and then run a cable from the last effect up to your GK pickup, and plug it into the guitar pickup input on the GK. Essentially you’re tricking the GR-55 into thinking that its own modeling signal is coming from your regular guitar pickups. Keep in mind that any effects you have patched in here will be heard in the signal chain before the rest of the internal GR-55 effects. Your special wiring is done.

Set Up Your Patch Volumes

The final step is done in the main Tone edit page. You’ll want to turn your modeling signal on and set it to about 100 or whatever setting you think sounds best for your setup. This will be the volume that is sent to the Guitar Out jack. You also need to turn off the little Patch Switch virtual button on the left side of the model tone name. This mutes the modeling signal to the main mono/stereo mix outputs. Finally, you need to turn on the Normal Pickup signal and set it to whatever volume you like. Remember that the GR-55 thinks you’re sending it your regular guitar pickup to the Normal Guitar input, but in fact the signal it’s hearing has been rerouted from the modeling tone and all of your external effects. It’s up to you whether or not to include any PCM sounds in addition, since these will still function as usual.

Turn the Loop On and Off

So that’s it. Turn on your effects and try it out. For added flexibility, you can create a switch on the GR-55 to engage or disengage the loop. Here’s how: assign the Control switch or Expression Pedal switch to turn the modeling tone on and off (use a toggle setting so that when the switch goes on, the Modeling signal goes off), then use a different assign on the same switch to turn the Normal Pickup sound from 0 to whatever maximum volume you like (this is the reverse, where the assign “minimum” is set to 0 and the assign “maximum” is set to your playing volume).

Try this out, and if you have any questions, leave me a comment!