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Boss SY-1000 Guitar Synthesize

Boss SY-1000 Guitar Synthesizer

Features and Specifications:

  • Guitar Mode: Guitar synthesizer: 3 types (DYNAMIC SYNTH, OSC SYNTH, GR-300), Electric guitar + Amp modeling: (Guitar = 13 types, Amp = 31 types), Acoustic + Amp modeling: (Acoustic = 10 types, Amp = 31 types). Bass + Amp modeling: (Bass = 3 types, Amp = 31 types), Vio guitar modeling: 13 types, Poly FX: 5 types
  • Bass mode: Bass synthesizer: 3 types (DYNAMIC SYNTH, OSC SYNTH, ANALOG GR), Bass + Amp modeling: (Bass = 11 types, Amp = 31 types), AC bass + Amp modeling: (AC bass = 1 type, Amp = 31 types). Electric guitar + Amp modeling: (Guitar = 3 types, Amp = 31 types), Poly FX: 5 types
  • Alternate Tuning: Guitar mode: OPEN (D, E, G, A), DROP (D to A), D-MODAL, NASHVILLE, SHIFT (-12 to +12), USER, 12-string guitar function, Bass mode: SHIFT (-12 to +12), USER, 12-string bass function
  • Effects: 150+ types
  • Patch Memory: Guitar mode: 200 (Preset) + 200 (User), Bass mode: 200 (Preset) + 200 (User)
  • Connectors: GK IN connector: 13-pin DIN type, • GUITAR INPUT jack, SEND jack, RETURN jack, MAIN OUTPUT (L/PHONES, R/MONO) jacks, SUB OUTPUT (L, R/MONO) jacks: 1/4-inch phone type, CTL3, 4/EXP1 jack, CTL5, 6/EXP2 jack: 1/4-inch TRS phone type • USB COMPUTER port: USB B type (supports High-Speed USB, USB Audio, and USB MIDI), MIDI (IN, OUT/THRU) connectors, DC IN jack
  • Dimensions: 345 mm (W) 67 mm (H) 245 mm (D)
  • Weight: 2.5 kg 5 lbs. 9 oz.

Introduction to the Boss SY-1000:

In early December of 2019, Roland showed that it remains committed to pushing the boundaries guitar synthesis with the announcement of the Boss SY-1000 guitar synthesizer.

The Boss SY-1000 guitar synthesizer offers up to three simultaneous guitar synth tones, along with updated effects and higher resolution AD/DA converters and processing power.

The architecture of the SY-1000 calls to mind the Roland JD-XA, with several different sound generating technologies layered together. The analog modeling part of the SY-1000 goes all the way back to the original Roland VG-8. The modeled vintage Roland GR-300 technology was introduced in 2007 when the ground breaking VG-99 premiered. And finally the latest technology from the Boss SY-300 is included, which uses an entirely new synth algorithm which does not require a divided hex GK pickup.

However, the SY-1000 does not stop there. A new Dynamic Synth has been included, which tracks the envelope of the incoming guitar signal, and which also incorporates two 16-part step sequencers. In addition to the Dynamic Synth is the VIO Guitar, which suggests creating violin type tones from the guitar.

Any one of these elements would justify an entire stand alone guitar synthesizer. It is hard to image given all the parameters and variations of configurations that it would be possible to explore everything the SY-1000 is capable off. Ironically, the most famous guitar synthesizer Roland ever made, the GR-300, succeeded because it did one thing, and did that one thing really, really well.

After having spent sometime with the SY-1000, it is more than clear that this is the current definition of what a guitar synthesizer can be. It is nearly impossible to compare the possibilities of the SY-1000 with the venerated Roland GR-300. The SY-1000 has the power to emulate three, yes three, Roland GR-300s. With additional effects and up to 16 different modulations/controllers options. If you are looking to expand the boundaries of the guitar, the SY-1000 gives you more than enough to work on for a decade or more.

Links to more information:

Boss SY-1000: Resynthesis

What is Resynthesis?

One of the breakthrough features of the Boss SY-1000 is access to the individual string inputs and outputs in the USB audio stream. With this feature you can record a guitar performance into your DAW then freely experiment with using different SY-1000 patches on the recorded track. Boss calls this resynthesis.

This is similar to the process of reamping, where a guitar signal is recorded dry then played back, or 'reamped' through different amplifiers. But resynthesis takes this to a whole new level, since you can not only change the amplifier, but the kind of guitar used on a track, switching from a Strat to a Les Paul, or Acoustic, or even a Roland GR-300 Guitar Synthesizer. With each string recorded individually there is also a whole new level of editing and creativity available as well. You can literally correct the performance of one note without having to punch in on the entire performance.

Create Your Own Polyphonic Guitar Synthesizer with Plug Ins

With access to individual string outputs you can also easily create your own guitar synthesizer. There are untold numbers of plug-ins and effects available now that can be applied to each string individually. You are not limited to what is available in the SY-1000. Plug-ins like advanced signal processing and emulations of analog synthesizers.

The signal sent in the USB stream is after the initial GK Settings, like string level. This normalizes the guitar tracks when using different guitars. It is quite possible that people will buy the SY-1000 primarily as an interface, with the built-in guitar synthesis and effects as a secondary use.

Advantages of Boss SY-1000 Resynthesis:

  • Record a track when inspiration is fresh without having to find the 'perfect patch'.
  • Edit performances of individual strings.
  • Individual string outputs are after the GK Settings so the character of the signal is not dependent on the guitar used.
  • Creation of new kinds of guitar synthesis, either in a DAW environment like MOTU Performer, or using a stand alone processor like Native Instruments Reaktor.
Boss SY-1000 Resynthesis diagram
RE-SYNTH2 Diagram from the Boss SY-1000 Reference Manual.

Resynthesis Step-By-Step

  1. Install Boss Tone Studio for SY-1000. A functioning Tone Studio indicates the proper drivers have been installed and are working.
  2. Configure DAW or Software to use SY-1000 Inputs and Outputs - Set Sample Rate to 48 kHz


    1. USB - Left
    2. USB - Right
    3. E - High
    4. B
    5. G
    6. D
    7. A
    8. E - Low
  3. Select Audio Routing:

    If you are not playing back individual strings through the SY-1000 (Resynthesis) or are using a stand alone processor like Reaktor, any Audio Routing will work! This is because the individual string outputs are always available.

    For Resynthesis (as described above) I recommened RE-SYNTH2. RE-SYNTH1 and RE-SYNTH2 are almost identical, RE-SYNTH1 allows for more routing options with the USB IN audio, processing the USB IN with effects, etc. I use the USB IN for playback, so I opt for the simplier audio routing.

    • STANDARD: Use this setting if you want to play your guitar while playing back a backing song from your computer. The sound of the SY-1000 and the backing from your computer are mixed and output from the SY-1000’s OUTPUT. The sound of only the SY-1000 is output from the SY-1000’s USB port.
    • MIX: Use this setting if you’re playing guitar while playing back a song from your computer. The sound of the SY-1000 and the backing are mixed and output from the SY-1000’s OUTPUT and from the USB port.
    • RE-SYNTH1: Use this setting if the sound unprocessed by an INST and effects is being played back from the computer and input to the SY-1000 for resynthesis.
    • RE-SYNTH2: Use this setting if the sound unprocessed by an INST and effects is being resynthesized while the computer plays a backing song.

MIDI Bank Change and Program Change

The SY-1000 has four banks with 100 patches in each bank. That is a total of 400 patches, 200 preset patches and 200 user patches. Using MIDI commands you can select any of these 400 patches. There are two ways to do this, either with Bank Change commands or by editing the MIDI Program Map.

Using Bank Changes

By default the four banks are mapped:

  1. Bank 1 Change Contoller #0 Value #0 U01-01
  2. Bank 2 Change Contoller #0 Value #1 U26-01
  3. Bank 3 Change Contoller #0 Value #2 P01-01
  4. Bank 4 Change Contoller #0 Value #3 P26-01
Roland Guitar Synthesizer Pickup Height Adjustment
Boss SY-1000 MIDI Implementation for Bank Changes

A look in the Boss SY-1000 MIDI Implementation Manual shows that MIDI controller #0 is used for bank changes. As the text notes "After this unit starts up, it operates with 00H as the bank number until a bank select message is received". This means the SY-1000 powers up with Bank 1 selected by default.

The implementation actually specifieds two commands, controller #0 and controller #32, but does not require a value for controller #32. This is not an unusal use of the MIDI bank command, I recall first encountering this back in the early nineties with the Korg Wavestation, which was the first synth I used that implemented bank program changes.

Below is a screen snap shot from the Boss SY-1000 Editor showing how to select Preset Patch 3-1:

Boss SY-1000 MIDI Program Screen Snap Shot

The bank command, #0 is sent first with a value of 2, followed by the program change program change with a value of 9, then the resulting patch is P03-1.

You can see this patch is highlighted in the image above, the is the cross section of PC#9 and BANK3.

Keep in mind the first bank change is not bank change '1' but is bank change '0'.

Using MIDI Program MAP to Access Patches From All Banks

Roland Guitar Synthesizer Pickup Height Adjustment
Boss SY-1000 MIDI Program Map

If all this seems a bit complicated, or if you do not have a MIDI controller that sends bank change commands, you can still get access to a large selection of the SY-1000 patches.

You can used the same MIDI Program Map shown above to arbitrarily map program changes to select any of the 200 Preset and 200 User Patches.

To make this happen you must first enable the MIDI program map in the system settings. To quote from the SY-1000 Reference Manual:

When switching patches using Program Change messages transmitted by an external MIDI device, you can freely set the correspondence between Program Change messages received by the SY-1000 and the patches to be switched to.

In the System MIDI Program Map you will change the 'RX PC MAP' from 'FIX' to 'PROG'. This is the last entry (bottom) in the Boss Tone Studo for SY-1000 screen snap.

For example, you can match program change 2 to load preset P03-1, the same patch we just loaded using the bank command. Just use the MIDI Program Map to remap the command as shown in the image below:

Boss SY-1000 Remap MIDI Program Change

You can also mix and match these methods, making extensive changes to the MIDI Program Map while also using Bank Changes to select different banks.

SY-1000 Interior Photos:

Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000
Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000
Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000
Click on any image for larger view.

NAMM 2020 Photos:

Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000
Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000
Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000
Click on any image for larger view.


Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000
Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000 Roland SY-1000
Click on any image for larger view.