Roland GR-500

Roland GR-500 Image

Thanks to Roland, guitars and synthesizers have had a long working relationship together. The GR-500 is a vintage guitar controlled synthesizer - before there was MIDI too! It was the first synth of this kind that Roland had ever produced, back in 1977. The synthesizer module itself was a simple analog affair with Bass, Solo Synth, and String sounds based on previous Orchestral and analog mono-synths from Roland. There are plenty of sliders to adjust the VCO, VCF, VCA, and LFO sections, but no memory to store your edits.

The synth module is controlled by a "highly modified" guitar. Notice all those knobs on the guitar pictured above. It utilized a special pickup system that connected to the synth module via Roland's own 24-pin interface and controlled it using CV/GATE signals generated by the guitar's pickup system while playing the guitar. In addition to the modified pickup, there were magnets under the face of the guitar that could increase its sustain. Performance accuracy was "iffy" but good for 1977 and pre-MIDI. As a piece of guitar-synth history, the GR-500 makes an excellent collectors item and may come in handy for the occasional growl or a strummed analog sound effect. It has been used by Tangerine Dream, Mike Rutherford of Genesis and Alex Lifeson of Rush.

Check Roland GR-500 Prices on eBay

The link above will take you to a search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

Related forum topics

Comments

Are you looking to buy or sell a Roland GR-500? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

21 Visitor comments
Darryl Ebbatson
July 22, 2010 @ 6:35 pm
I bought one a few years ago - always wanted one after hearing 'The Bells' by Lou Reed! - It tracks really well and sounds totally unique! - The guitar weighs a ton but well worth the effort! - One of those things I will never sell!
Eelco van Vliet
June 23, 2010 @ 8:15 am
You can see it in action on "Its gonna get better" from genesis. Check out the live show from the genesis album, mike is atually using it on stage.
Jenko Nashorn
May 27, 2010 @ 7:47 am
I've seen a Norwegian Roland ad from around 1977 with Terje Rypdal playing one of these, too.
Steven Clements
February 3, 2010 @ 10:40 am
I just bought a GR-500 and GS-500 last night. It took me about 15 minutes to get an understanding of the system but then it was pure bliss, very cool very fun. I'll fire it up again tonight and start listening to the beast with some added effects.

The tracking is quite good almost as good as my GR-300 with the Ibanez XING IMG2010.

fun fun
Derrick Demase
May 7, 2009 @ 8:04 pm
Guitarist Steve Hackett, ex-Genesis, also used a GR-500 in the late 1970's, on solo albums such as "Please Don't Touch" (1978) and "Spectral Mornings" (1979).
 
Post Comment!
VSE Rating

It’s Good

User Rating

Rated 3.28 (144 Votes)

  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Memory - None
  • Filter - Resonant Low pass
  • Effects - None
  • Arpeg/Seq - None
  • Keyboard - None
  • Control - CV/GATE - Roland 24-pin interface to modified guitar/pickup system
  • Date Produced - 1977
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from a Roland brochure.

Errors or Corrections? Send them here.