Updates: July 2016

Roland G-88 Bass Guitar Synthesizer Controller

Features and Specifications:

Body: Ash and Walnut
Finish: Acrylic, natural
Neck: Maple and Mahogany, thru neck
Fingerboard: Select Ebony
Frets: 21
Bridge: Adjustable
Nut: Polycarbonate
Tuning machines: Gotoh
Pickups: One Roland PU-144S single-coil
Scale: 34"
Truss Rod: Single, Adjustable
Neck Width: 1 11/16"
Body Width: 13"
Body Depth: 1 3/4"
Overall Length: 45 1/2"

Bass legend Nathan Watts with his G-88

Introduction to the Roland G-88:

The GR-33B was packaged with the G-33 or G-88 bass guitar controller. Like the G-303 and G-808, the basic design of the bass guitar is the same for the G-33 and G-88. The G-33 and G-88 have the same electronics. The G-88 has an ebony fingerboard and through-neck construction. And, like the G-808 pair, the G-88 has gold/brass hardware. The 1982 Roland guitar synthesizer brochure notes that the G-88 has a Roland PU-144S single-coil pickup.

Roland G-88 and DAC 15B
G-88 with Roland DAC-15B
Click to enlarge.

I can report that the G-88 is a really wonderful bass guitar. This is no surprise to people who remember how popular 1980’s Ibanez bass guitars were. The G-33/G-88 bass guitar, like all the vintage Roland guitars, was built by the Fuji Roland corporation, a joint venture by Roland and the Fujigen Gakki. Fujigen Gakki (now known as FGN guitars) also made the Ibanez guitars, and the G-88 seems to be a variation on the Ibanez MC-800 bass. Like the high-end Ibanez basses, the G-33/G-88 has active electronics. The G-33/G-88 has two bands of active equalization, bass and treble. The electronics are powered by two 9 volt batteries or by power provided by the guitar synthesizer. There is an access door on the back of the G-33/G-88 for the battery compartment.

Gauge of original Roland G-33/G-88 strings:

1st string (G) - 44
2nd string (D) - 62
3rd string (A) - 85
4th string (E) - 106

Links to more information:

Sound-On-Sound Magazine article detailed the history of Roland Corporation during the 1980s.

More information on the origins of Roland guitars.

1982 Roland Product Brochure - Japanese - Featuring the G-303 and G-808.

More information on dating early Roland guitar synthesizer controllers.

Download the G-88 Owner's Manual

Download the G-88 Schematic.

Versions - Electronics:

There are two versions of electronics cards for the Roland G-33 and G-88 basses. The most distinctive difference in the two cards is the placement of the string level trim controls. On the early basses, the trimmers are placed in a verticle alignment.

On the later cards, the string trimmers are placed in a horizontal alignment. Otherwise, the actual circuit designs appear to be the same. The Roland Service Manual Schematics notes that basses with serials numbers 040500 and later have the horizontal trimmers, and serial numbers 030499 and lower have the verticle. Basses in the range from 030400 - 040599 could possibly have either electronics card.

Early Card Serial Number 030499 and lower
Early Card Serial Number 030499 and lower
Later Card Serial Number 040500 and higher
Later Card Serial Number 040500 and higher

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