Roland GI-20 GK-MIDI Guitar Interface

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Roland GI-20

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The roland GI-20 is the latest gear to my arsenal of effects, it allows you to play synthesizers that you would normally use for keyboard but on a guitar. This unit is very easy to use and i was playing bass, violin, drums etc on my guitar as soon as plugged everything in and opnened up NI bandstand.

The best thing about this unit is the amount of parameters you can change here are just a few examples:

  • Play/feel i.e. Tapping
  • Guitar sensitivity
  • Bend range
  • Transpose You can set the TRANSPOSE settings value in a range from -36 (down three octaves) to 24 (up two octaves).

To actually get this unit to be suitable to use with guitar the guitar sensitivity option is great on this unit, if the radius of the neck of your guitar is flat the sensitivty of each seperate string can be altered to suit! and also with the GK-3 pickup there is a pickup height adjustment screw to enable physical alteration for string sensitivty (not available on the GK-2A and lower) Image:GK-3-screw_copy.jpg

How good is this unit at tracking the strings?

Surprisingly good actually! this unit runs simalar to the axon series of guitar/midi devices and is considerably better than the Roland GR-20 when taking into account latency and other factors...

Here is a latency guide on units that have been tested: GM-70: 40.39 milliseconds.

MC-1: 33.62 milliseconds.

GR-700: 29.87 milliseconds.

MKS-30 with GI-20 (GR-700) : 27.24 milliseconds.

Korg Z3: 20.15 milliseconds.

GI-10: 21.99 milliseconds.

GI-20: 19.77 milliseconds.

VG-88 (Polyphonic Pitch Transpose): 7.34 milliseconds.

VG-88 (GR-300 Simulator): 5.38 milliseconds.

GR-300: 3.32 milliseconds. As you can 19.77 milliseconds will hardly be noticeable and from user experience it has seamless tracking.

Could this be used live? how easy would it be?

If you are using a roland midi pickup this is very easy to use since it has patch selectors on the pickup itself, you could however (imo the best option) use a midi foot controller and enable PC masking so that the messages from the foot controller doesnt trigger sounds thus ruining a live performance.

All in all the unit requires initial setup for each patches which is sometimes hard and time consuming because you have to use the parameter knob and keep turning that to select each paramteter then use the patch/value buttons on either the pickup control or the unit itself which can get quite tiring after making so many patches.

Will my guitar affect how good the tracking is?

No it shouldnt but the setup of your guitar will definately change how accurate tracking is, factors such as intonation, string height, fretboard length etc will all effect how good or bad the tracking will be.

How can i make tracking better?

Have the midi pickup very close to the strings as per the pickup instructions say the optimum height is about 1.0 mm when the highest notes on the neck are fingered. You can very easily alter the height with the supplied spacers that come with the pickup itself. (the spaces come in various sizes)


This unit is VERY easy to use and i would reccomend this unit over the GR-20 for factors such as latency and adaptability i.e. built in USB the only down sides to this unit is that editing patches is a real pain since you have to turn a knob to get to each parameter rather than a button, i dont know if roland did this to make the unit smaller but if so i guess the good outweighs the bad and overall a really good contender againts the axon midi interfaces which are slightly more advanced because of the editing softwares that come with them.

--VictorUK 16:52, 13 September 2009 (CEST) Image:RolandGK-2A.jpgRoland GK-2A (for guitar) Image:rolandGK-3.jpgRoland GK-3 (for guitar) Image:Roland_GK-3B.jpgRoland GK-3B(for bass)