Updates: November 2017
YouTube Logo
Steinberger GL-2T-GR 24-pin vintage guitar synth controller

Steinberger GL-2T/GR Guitar Synthesizer Controller

Features and Specifications:

  • Body: Single-piece neck/body of Steinberger Blend synthetic reinforced fiber
  • Finish: Gel-coat (black or white)
  • Neck: N/A
  • Fingerboard: Phenolic laminated
  • Frets: 24
  • Bridge: Steinberger
  • Nut: Zero fret (no nut)
  • Tuning machines: Knurled knobs on bridge
  • Pickups: Two EMG 81 humbuckers
  • Scale: 25 1/2"
  • Truss Rod: None
  • Neck Width: 1 5/8"
  • Body Width: 7 1/26"
  • Body Depth: 1 3/4"
  • Overall Length: 29 3/4"
  • Weight: 7 lbs
  • Retail Price: $2,500.00 (with TransTrem)
Steinberger GL-2T-GR Guitar Synthesizer Controller

Introduction to the Steinberger GR Roland Guitar Synth Controller Series:

I can not think of any line of guitars that invoke the kind of passion as found in the original Steinberger guitars. Depending on who you talk to, these guitars are considered either the most advanced instruments of their time, or are considered the most advanced instruments...of all time! In their day, these were exceptionally expensive instruments; the GL2T-GR had a retail price of a staggering $2,500, and these prices have continued to climb.

The guitars featured on this page include the familiar Steinberger elements: active EMG pickups, high-tech reinforced fiber bodies, and a headless system requiring special strings with balls on both ends. As well these guitars also have the revolutionary trans-trem system which enabled the bending of strings while retaining perfect tuning between strings.

But what really sets these guitars apart from is the unique Roland vintage 24-pin guitar synthesizer electronics package not found in any other guitars. Due to the unique shape of the guitar, the standard LPK-1 or STK-1 kits would never fit.

The circuit boards were custom fitted for these guitars, and probably would not fit in any other guitar. It is amazing to consider that Roland actually made custom electronics for this very limited, boutique series of guitars. According to the website Headlessusa.com, about 200 GR compatible guitars, and about 100 GR compatible basses were made.

Information on these guitars is difficult to find, but I was lucky enough to work on updating and restoring a GL2T-GR, owned by the talented Micki Kaufman, and a GL4T-GR that Edgar sent me to repair. As a result, I was able to document the circuitry and get lots of high-quality photos to share.

Model Pickup Configuration
GL-2T/GR 2 Humbucking Pickups: EMG 81/81
GL-3T/GR 3 Single Coil Pickups: EMG SA/SA/SA
GL-4T/GR 2 Single Coil, 1 Humbucking Pickup:EMG SA/SA/89

Models: GL-2T, GL-3T, GL-4T

The model names are based on the pickup configuration.

All these guitars feature active EMG pickups, most notably the GL-2T/GR sporting the acclaimed active dual-coil humbucking EMG 81 pickups that almost single-handedly launched the company.

The GL-3T/GR model uses three EMG SA pickups, while the GL-4T/GR uses the SA/SA/89 configuration of EMG SA pickups as single coils with the EMG 89 as the bridge humbucker.

Links

Photos - Steinberger GL-2T/GR Black:

Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Click on any image for larger view.

Photos - Steinberger GL-3T/GR - White:

Steinberger GL-3T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-3T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-3T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-3T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-3T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-3T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-3T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-3T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-3T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-3T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-3T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-3T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Click on any image for larger view.

Photos - Steinberger GL-4T/GR - Black:

Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-4T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Click on any image for larger view.

Photos - GL-2T/GR Compared with Ibanez IMG-2010 and Roland GC-10:

Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller
Click on any image for larger view.

Video

Schematics - Repairs - Service Bulletins - Electronics:

All Roland synthesizer guitar electronics, from the initial GS-500 to the modern GK-3, have been contained on a single circuit board. The Steinberger GL2T-GR uses two circuit boards, one for the controls, and one for the active circuitry. There is not enough room in the body of the guitar for a single card with both the controls and electronics. If you have a look at the interior photos, you can see the nearly every inch of space is used up. This would not be an issue with modern electronics, using much smaller surface mounted components, but in the mid 1980s, the vintage through-hole component design required much more room.

The custom Steinberger Roland Electronics cards are roughly based on the STK-1 circuit, but with some changes. Based on my (incomplete) hand-written notes, I have edited the STK-1/G-707 schematic to represent the circuits in the Steinberger GL/GR series guitars. I did not have a guitar on hand to directly compare my notes when I finished the diagram, so I cannot completely guarantee the accuracy.

The original repair I did was on a GL-2T/GR, and there was a non-functioning string, so I took care to carefully note the parts in the individual string outputs. I reviewed my schematic with the photos from the project, and feel pretty confident about that part of the schematic. Incidentally, the problem turned out to be a shorted .001 uF capacitor.

Based on my notes, and carefully viewing the pictures, I believe the Steinberger GL/GR electronics removes the buffer amp for filter cutoff and resonance. While this buffer is present in the G-707, this buffer was not present in the earlier guitars. This takes out one chip, leaving a total of six chips in the guitar. I was not sure about the actual part identification, so while I know that there are several 22K resistors in the touch pad circuit, I have removed the identifiers, such as "R12" or "R80" as I could not be certain.

Below you will find a link to the Steinberger GL/GR schematic, and also a pdf with scans of my various notes on different parts of the circuit. This may not be as detailed as ideal, but hopefully if someone else has to work on one of these guitars, these notes can be helpful.

Photos - Interior Electronics:

Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Steinberger GL-2T/GR  Roland Guitar Synth Controller Elecronics
Click on any image for larger view.

Versions:

Steinberger GL-2T-GR Interior

With guitars as rare as the Steinberger GL-XX/GR series, there is little documentation, and difficult to know if there are different production versions, or just one-off guitars.

Whenever possible, I have tried to keep track of these rare guitars, and I did notice a guitar listed a few years ago on ebay that was a variation on the usual design.

I did notice the guitar that did not have the traditional Molex connectors, but the cabling was replaced by hard soldered wiring. Check out the photo (click to enlarge).

Mode Switch:

Both of the Steinberger guitars I worked on had problems with the mode switch.

I think this is due to the mechanical stress of the operation of the switch combined with internal forces on the circuit board.

The other Roland guitars flush mount the switch to the circuit board, or completely float the switch.

The original black, bat-handled SPDT switch is one of the parts that Roland used which is just about impossible to find.

It should not be that difficult to find a replacement part that functionally works the same, but looks different.