Boss's parent compant Roland was always ahead of the game when it comes to guitar synth; the GR-500 system dates back to 1977. Now, over a decade since its last guitar synth system release, it has at last revealed its next step: the Boss GM-800 pedal and GK Series.
As the recent DM-101 Delay Machine illustrated, Boss can take its time in areas of its expertise but always makes it count. This is its first guitar synth to feature piano sounds since the GR-55 in 2011the GM-800's Advanced ZEN-Core sound engine aims to unlock everything from acoustic instruments to classic and contemporary synths, all played with guitar with the system's digital signal processing helping to ensure reliable tracking.
Available from August, the GM-800 ($749.99) will offer a huge palette of inspiration out of the box with 1200 tones, 70 rhythm sounds and 90 effect types available in each 'Scene' (more on those later). A huge amount of combinations here.
The GM-800 is built around what Boss' expandable ZEN-Core Synthesis System, the sound source like the Jupiter-X, Fantom keyboards and Zenology software synthesizer.
"ZEN-Core combines modern PCM synthesis and advanced modeling to provide an infinite playground for sonic discovery," says Boss. "With over 1200 Tones, GM-800 users can play everything from pianos, organs, and orchestral instruments to classic Roland synth sounds like the Jupiter-8, Juno-106, and many others."
The pedal's workflow is centered around 'Scenes' – each containing four Tone parts, a Rhythm part, and a huge selection of synth parameters, effects, pitch settings, and sensitivity adjustments.
"Users can layer Tones to create combined voices or assign Tones to individual strings, such as a bass sound on the low strings and a piano or sax sound on the high string," Boss explains. "It’s also possible to assign Tones to specific fret ranges, a powerful new feature made possible with the GM-800’s advanced pitch detection."
The streamlined GM-800 pedal offers the connectivity of up to four assignable footswitches, plus two external control jacks that each support up to two footswitches or an expression pedal. MIDI I/O is also included for interfacing with other synths and MIDI equipment.
In addition to the GM-800's expandability options via the Roland Cloud with ZEN-Core Sound Packs and Wave Expansions, and more, the GK guitar and bass pickups, BKG cables and GKC converters (for integrating older GK interfaces) are offered to create a whole guitar synth rig for players.
The GK-5 guitar ($249.99) and GK-5B bass pickups ($299.99) are user-installable pickups designed to drive the Serial GK digital interface in the GM-800 pedal. Boss states that the GK-5 works with most standard six-string guitars with steel strings and the GK-5B pickup supports most bass guitars with four, five, or six strings. The pickup’s internal sensors can be adjusted to accommodate different bridge spacings.
The GKC-AD interface ($199.99) allows players to drive the Serial GK input on the GM-800 from a RolandGK-3/GK-3B Divided Pickup or an instrument equipped with a 13-pin GK output. With the GKC-DA ($199.99), users can drive 13-pin GK products such as the BOSS SY-1000 or GP-10 from a GK-5/GK-5B pickup or the Serial GK output of the GM-800.
More info at Boss.