July 2021
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Guitar Greats and the Roland GR-700

Roland Currents

Andy Summers, Jimmy Page, Robert Fripp Jeff Baxter, Lee Ritenour

Roland Users Group, Volume 2, Number 3

Roland GR-700 System, GR-700 and G-707 Guitar

The development of the electric guitar took the instrument out of the rhythm section and thrust it to center stage. Eventually, an entire music genre, rock and roll, evolved with the electric guitar its prime ingredient. Landmark developments like this rarely happen in the musical instrument industry, but the guitar world is about to be shaken up again.

The GR-700 Polyphonic Guitar Synthesizer is an instrument that is having a profound impact on today's most creative guitarists and their music.

Andy Summers, GRist for the Police, is currently recording an album using the GR-700 with fellow GRist and King Crimson member Robert Fripp. When asked his opinion Summers said, "It's fabulous, isn't it! I'll finally be able to use the guitar to achieve the sounds that I've had to use keyboard synths to get in the past." Tam Fairgrieve, Summer's technician, added, "We're going to find so many wonderful applications for interfacing the GR-700 to the new sequencer (MSQ-700) and the drum machine (TR-909). It will be very exciting for me to see this happen live, on stage."

Fellow British GRist Jimmy Page spoke to us after the Appeal for ARMS Concert in Los Angeles recently expressing similar feelings, "It's fabulous, I heard it in England just before we came over to do these shows. I'm anxious to get a hold of one. I have several movie score projects just waiting. I'd really like to use the 700 on them. Some of the keyboard-type patches are great, the B-3 sound is marvelous." Tim Martin, Page's technician said, "It will take out so many time consuming steps for Jimmy. As it is now, he realizes his compositions relative to the guitar, but hears sound not possible on the guitar, so they then must be played by Jimmy on a keyboard synth or a keyboardist must be hired. Now, he can just play write and record on the GR-700."

Jazz and studio GRist Lee Ritenour was also emphatic about the system's potential. "Finally, this is the breakthrough system for guitarists! The G-707 guitar plays great and some of the sounds I've heard and programmed into the system are terrific. For me, the fact that the module has MIDI out allows me to interface with sequencers and other synths. This is most important to me in terms of composition."

The impact this system has in store for working musicians was capsulized by Pat Hicks, co-founder and director of the Musicians Institute, and intensive study vocational school for aspiring musicians. The school got its start as the Guitar Institute of Technology and has been successfully preparing guitarists for the professional world for years. Hicks called the GR-700 "Astounding, this system of guitar synthesis will indeed revolutionize guitar playing. It's a whole new ball game. It seems that with the GR-700 the guitarist can utilize the complex sounds of keyboard synthesizers while retaining the intricacies and nuances of guitar technique. This will prove to be invaluable in the studio, where keyboard synths have been dominant. I'm sure we'll soon see guitarists achieve these sounds and possibly become even more creative in these applications than their keyboard counterparts. Consequently, those who use and master this system will be able to obtain a greater variety of work."

Jeff Baxter - Roland Currents - Guitar Synth Demonstration
Jeff Baxter

"Finally! This is the breakthrough system for guitarists" - Lee Ritenour

Hicks' sentiments were echoed by studio great Tommy Tedesco and rock standard bearer John Kay of Steppenwolf. Tedesco pronounced judgement saying, "Good system! I haven't had much experience with synthesizers in the past, but I think that this system will become a good tool in the studio. As you know, I heard it at the last trade show and I really liked the sounds." Kay gave his own testimonial saying, "Ever since poly synths became popular, I've wanted to access those sounds from a guitar. This guitar synth will allow me to get those sounds without having to haul around keyboard instruments. The fact that it has the MIDI output really excites me."

Jeff Baxter, GRist, composer, producer, Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers alumnus may have said it best, "I've been involved in GR projects since 1975 and all I can say is that in the GR-700, guitarists can finally be on the cutting edge of music technology. I truely believe that it will change music as we know it."

Andy Summers, Jimmy Page, Roland GR-700
Andy Summers and Jimmy Page