Ezekiel's Wheel Virtual Club - Roland G808 Guitar
Back Virtual Club MapOutsideInsideBio's and GearListen to musicProductsSound SystemAbout Ezekiel's Wheel Itinerary

Roland G-808 Guitar
This very heavy (>10 lbs.!) guitar is a synthesizer controller as well as an excellent conventional humbucking ax. By synth controller I mean that it can generate MIDI data messages to cause another MIDI synth to play sounds. In other words, I use it to play my synthesizers --- and it is an an excellent conventional electric guitar.

In construction, it is sort of a reverse Les Paul in wood composition: mahogony over maple, but differing with multiple laminations and a neck-through design. The fretboard is ebony. The guitar section has been modified with a DiMarzio Fred pickup at the bridge, and a 5 position chicken-head rotary switch which selects various pickup splits, combinations and phasings. The synth driver electronics are built in (as opposed to modern ones that stick on the guitar). There is a big ol' connector for a cable that leads to the GM-70 pitch to MIDI converter. It has six knobs which function via the GM-70 as: Main volume, Guitar tone, Synth/guitar balance, a MIDI continuous controller, a second MIDI continuous controller, and the level of a third controller. Two touch plates can switch the third continuous controller in or out with a quick finger tap. It also has a 3 position switch for further MIDI control. (What are MIDI Continuous Controllers [you may ask]? They can cause wonderful acoustic events from the musician's fingers such as volume, vibrato, pitch bend, changing sounds, varying effects levels, and whatever other effects your synth may respond to.)

Roland was very forward thinking in their design and MIDI implementation. They stopped production of guitar synth controllers in 1984 concentrating instead on the stick-on synths which can be applied (in theory) to any guitar. Gleobeam the G808 holds it's posture as a true musical instrument in this age of throw-away buy-the-latest products.