’01 Roland-ready ‘Strat

One of the problems of the early guitar synths was mounting the synth pickup driver accurately so the tracking worked. When Roland launched the user-friendly GR-33 floorboard guitar synth (the black one in the pic below, now sold and superseded by the much improved GR55 unit), Fender launched their Roland-ready Mexican Strat in parallel,  It made a great plug-and-play outfit, especially when bought secondhand off ebay for a fraction of the original £1200+ asking price.

It’s a perfectly good gigging Strat in its own right – considering the difference in value, comparison to my ‘61/2 slab board is quite favourable – and the synth forces good pick and fingering techniques, so it helps clean up your playing. The control on board the guitar enables patch changes and switching and mixing between guitar and synth. A really useful tool in certain band situations, like when the keyboard player fails to show, or a single real horn player needs doubling.

My good friend Cliff Brown of 633 Engineering kindly modded it so it can accept regular guitar inputs too.  They obviously don’t trigger the synth but the onboard effects all work as normal, so it’s a really quick, cheap and useful mod.

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