Roland GR-500 Guitar Synth and GS-500 Guitar Controller

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Roland GR-500 Guitar Synth and GS-500 Guitar Controller - Synth Palace
Roland GR-500 Guitar Synth and GS-500 Guitar Controller - Synth Palace

Roland GR-500 Guitar Synth and GS-500 Guitar Controller

In Stock -
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  • SKU: gui-016
  • Brand: Roland
  • Type: Guitar
  • Availability: In Stock



The Roland GS-500 is the dedicated guitar controller for the Roland GR-500 analog guitar synthesizer. Even with substantial parts of its body cut away for the installation of support electronics, the GS-500 weighs in at more than 11 pounds. The GS-500 has been described as having a honey burst finish, and it is a uniquely beautiful instrument.

The GS-500 marked the beginning of the partnership of the Roland Corporation with Fujigen, the Japanese builders of Ibanez, Greco, and ultimately Fender guitars in the land of the rising sun. Products built by Fujigen for the vintage Roland synthesizers would take the name of "Fuji Roland," a marking found on both guitars and synthesizers.

The retail price on the GS-500 was around $1,000 in 1977, which converted into today's dollars equates to an astonishing $4,300. So think of the GS-500 as being the equivalent of a high-end Paul Reed Smith guitar, or the Moog Guitar. Of course, there are as many styles of guitars as there are guitar players, but if you are a fan of vintage, weighty Les Paul guitars, you will enjoy playing the elegant GS-500. The neck is around 42 - 43 mm, with a pleasing modern shape. The neck is somewhat between the slimmer G-303/808 guitars and the chunkier G-505 guitar.

When I first picked up the GS-500, I wondered why Roland included the little three-way EQ toggle switch on the guitar. The owner's manual explains the switch has three sounds: "1", normal, full-range sound. "2" hard, low-cut sound, and "3", acoustic, slightly attenuated lows and highs. You can watch the video clips below and evaluate for yourself the sound of these three modes.

In any case, I did come to appreciate the value of this three-way toggle switch. The GS-500 has only one humbucking pickup, so there is no way to quickly switch guitar tones by changing pickups. But the three-way equalizer toggle switch adds a quick way to access a variety of sounds. This is helpful since the GS-500 has only one pickup. The second pickup position has been replaced by a very strong set of magnets, needed for the infinite sustain system.

In addition to the traditional volume and tone controls, you will notice the GS-500 has additional knobs to control the levels of the various synthesizer sections in the GR-500, plus a master volume control. The red LEDs in each section work with the volume controls on the guitar, indicating whether a section is on or off, with the brightness being an approximate indication of the output level.


Body: Mahogany

Finish: Acrylic sunburst

Neck: Set maple neck

Fingerboard: Rosewood

Frets: 22

Bridge: Adjustable, Roland

Nut: Polycarbonate

Tuning machines: Gotoh

Pickups: Roland U-4000L Humbucker

Scale: 24 3/4"

Truss Rod: Single, Adjustable

Neck Width: 1 11/16"

Body Width: 13 1/4"

Body Depth: 2"

Overall Length: 40"

Weight: 11 lbs 3 oz

Guitar Section: Equalizer ON/OFF, Equalizer Frequency

Polyensemble Section: Voicing volume, wood, soft reed, brass, strings. Envelope generator: attack, decay, and sustain

Bass Section: Voicing volume, percussion, soft, hard, decay (long/short), string selective switch 1-6/4,5,6/5,6, Envelope generator: attack, decay, and sustain

Solo Melody Section: Pulse width modulation (LFO/Manual/Env), mixer (square 16' 8', saw 8', polyensemble) VCF frequency, resonance, LFO frequency, Envelope generator: attack, decay, and sustain. Modulation: envelope, LFO, pitch follower, pitch follower or pedal control. VCA: initial gain, envelope, touch sense (2/1/off)

Ext Synth Section: transpose, portamento time

Dimensions: 603 (W) x 154 (H) x 309 (D) mm

Power Requirements: 19 watts

Response Time: Polyensemble 1.14 ms, Bass 3.89 ms, Solo Synth 3.65 ms


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