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Re: need info on GR300 Help!

Hi there

An update to Mark's post about the GR300 - his points are with >> 
marks, mine follow. If you want further info, I'll look out the original 
Roland 1980 brochure (I've got it somewhere !)

>> I had a GR300 and a GR808 controller (neck through the body, 
maple and walnut body and neck, gold hardware) in the early 1980s.
I've got a GR300 & a G202 (Strat style body, maple neck/fb & 2 
humbuckers) in front of me here.

>>  Here are the important things to understand about the GR300:

>> 1.  It is not programmable.  You can't jump from a flute patch to a 
cello patch with the press of a button.
Yep. Mind you, arguably you can't make the thing sound much like 
either anyway.

>> 2.  There is only one oscillator per string.  However, you can get 
the effect of two oscillators per string by mixing the sound of the 
string with the sound of the synth.
Well, there's a "Duet" mode. With the master pitch shift control, you 
can shift the base pitch around to get to concert tuning. You then 
have two sub-oscillators, A and B, which you can set to offsets from 
the master pitch. These can be latched or unlatched. You can also 
set a time for the pitch to move between the base pitch and the 
offset. So, you could have the master pitch at concert, then A as a 
lower fifth and B as a higher fifth and switch. Or, in Duet mode, you 
can have both the master pitch and one of A or B as well. 
Unfortunately, you can't control the levels between master and 
offset. Why would you want a master pitch shift ? So you can tune 
the guitar as high as possible for accurate tracking, then use this 
control to drop the pitch back to concert, of course !

>> 3.  You cannot select different waveforms for the oscillators.  Also, 
it only has an Attack control--not an ASDR.
Yep. The closest to envelope control you have is with the envelope 
modulator. The env mod sounds pretty much like a severe, but not 
hugely controllable auto-wah. Quite handy, but you never seem to be 
able to get the Rise/Fall time *just* right.

>> 4.  No MIDI.
Well, it *was* 1980...

>> 5.  The hex fuzz sounds cheesy--at least to my ears.
I didn't think it was cheesy - fizzy as hell, perhaps.

>> 6.  The knobs are large enough so that you can adjust them with 
your feet.
Although I wouldn't try it in the dark on a stage ! I saw someone 
(Mike Rutherford,  I think) with the blue box on a stand at waist 

>> 7.  Before I bought the GR300, I had an ARP 2600.  The 2600 
had an infinite amount of patching possibilities, while the GR300 was 
very limited.  It was easy to get strange sounds out of the 2600, but 
difficult to get anything strange out of the GR300. <snip>
The difference between a patchable synth and a preset synth, 
although the GR300 is more limited than most in that it doesn't have 
selectable waveforms (so, no switching between Sin & Sawtooth 
waves, for example). But if you are playing a GR300, you'll get used 
to having to stuff the output through loads of effects to get weird 

>> 8.  There is a slight amount of delay between plucking the string 
and hearing the GR300.  
I can honestly say I've never noticed any real delay between playing 
a string and the GR300 responding. I didn't think there was any, 
because the 300 isn't tracking as such - it's performing some 
analogue processing of the sounds fed to it by the guitar controller. 
Arguably, you could almost say it's an analogue VG8 (that'll get some 
posts in !) 

>> 9.  It's ruggedly housed in a thick metal box.  However, be careful 
of the bottom edges, they're sharp.  I sliced four of my fingertips on 
my left hand (only hours away from a gig) when I picked up the 
GR300 by the bottom edge of the box.
That's probably why it's got two nice big chrome handles on the top 
:-) !

>> 10.  Here's an example of how responsive the GR300 was: 
And therein lies the rub. The guitars weren't that great. Because the 
GR300 is processing whatever the controller is feeding it, the guitar 
needs to be pretty good. If the guitar's got a weakness then the 300 
will just amplify it. The G202 is pretty lightweight so you don't get 
enough sustain from it. 

>> 11.  My GR808 was neck heavy.  I did not like this.  It made me 
use my left hand to "lift" the neck to my prefered playing angle.
Andy Summers said back in 1982 that he preferred the G303 (the 
"cheaper" one) to the G808 (the "expensive" one)

>> 12.  The patch cord that goes between the GR300 and the 
GR808 may or may not still be available.  If possible, buy as many as 
you can find.
Good idea - I'm always worrying that my patch lead will go (indeed, 
it's got a dry joint on the line for the lower E string, which leads to it 
cutting out intermittently).

>> 13.  The GR300 produced slightly less gain than the average 

>> 14.  For additional sonic possibilities, Roland made a box that let 
you control two GR300s from one guitar.  Pat Metheny used this 
setup.  Again, this box may no longer be available.
This was called the US-2 (as opposed the US-20 Roland currently 
sells for the VG8 / GI10 etc. type lead). The adverts in the early '80's 
showed one of the guitarists from Wishbone Ash with a G505 
controlling a GR300 (the blue box) and a GR100 (a yellow box 
cut-down version of the 300) with the US-2 between them.

>> Bottom line:  I thought the GR300 was a one-trick pony that did its 
trick very well considering the limitations of technology in the early 
My bottom line; the GR300 is a good bit of fun, but don't expect 
sonic miracles from it. Expect to use loads of effects with it. Use a 
foot volume pedal in the VCF pedal socket. Try it, and if you like the 
sounds (there really are only two with variations on the themes)  bear 
in mind that nothing else quite makes the same noise. If you can't get 
to try before you buy, listen to "The Sheltering Sky" on Discipline by 
King Crimson for the lead, "trumpet" sound, and "Don't Stand So 
Close to Me" (original version) by The Police for the chordal  "wash" 
sound (it's in the background of the instrumental break).

Phew, I'm all out of puff now...

Hope this lot helps, 

Tony Douglas

PS. Oh, and don't pay too much for it. As a guide, a GR100 and 
G33B bass guitar controller are going for a combined price of 200 UK 
pounds in this month's Sound on Sound. I paid 300 UK pounds for 
my GR300 & G202 controller three years ago.