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.

Lookup Roland GR-500 Prices

The link above will take you to an eBay 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


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.

22 Visitor comments
December 2, 2012 @ 5:53 pm
This was the bass for 'Its Gonna Get Better' by Genesis
May 30, 2012 @ 1:45 pm
Hey take a look at a complete set of videos from Wayne Joness!
April 20, 2012 @ 10:37 am
Pretty sure I remember seeing Jeff Baxter with one of these. Also Andy Summers used one.
January 2, 2012 @ 4:25 pm
Hi i have one of these units in working order with guitar. any idea what to do with it. email me. thanks. charlotte
Pete, Dance of the Druids
November 17, 2011 @ 5:42 am
So far my GR-500 and GS-500 are worry free. I believe there is some rule regarding not using which controller with which guitar synth ... can't use the GS-500 on a GR-300 or can't use G-808 on a GR-500?

Keith, I've used the following:

1. Wayne Joness

2. Bruce Forat

3. Dave at

4. Wes Taggert at

5. Dain Beamish, Beamish Electronics 4560 State Rd # A, Cleveland, OH 44109-4714 (216) 351-9599 ‎

Post Comment!
VSE Rating

It’s Good

User Rating

Rated 3.3 (148 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay 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.