Roland’s GR-55 guitar synth is one powerful accessory for guitarists – maybe a little too powerful. With its various modeling, effects, and synthesis powers hidden in layers of menus, navigating all those sonic capabilities can be a chore. Enter one user from the GR-55’s dedicated community of guitar synthesists. Marc Benigni used TouchOSC control software for the iPad and set up a template that makes all of that functionality touchable, direct, and accessible.

But wait — there’s more! There’s also a dedicated, free and open source editor for Mac, Windows, and Linux. (There’s even a fresh Lion build for Mac users.) So, score one for the Roland user community stepping in and doing more than the actual manufacturer (and I haven’t yet seen any maker do a Linux version, or, for that matter, release their editor as open source). Thanks to Marty Cutler for the tip!

“Yeah, sure,” you say, “it’s open source software. Probably looks totally ugly and primitive.”

Nope. Looks damned slick, actually:

And all this means you’ve got a powerful editor without the need for an iPad.
Project information

If you’ve got an iPad…

Marc writes and describes that project:

I recently developed a TouchOSC layout that serves as a patch editor for Roland’s GR-55. The GR-55 is an impressive guitar synth and guitar preamp, but it’s UI leaves *much* to be desired, and Roland has stated that they will not be releasing a PC-based editor for it. With this layout, an OSC interface, and of course a copy of TouchOSC, the user can easily and intuitively edit patches, or modify GR-55 settings in real-time during performance.

Details concerning development can be found in this thread on the VGuitar forums, with photos of the interface on more recent pages:

The mind still boggles at all those controls, but now it looks far more usable. You can bet that iPad apps may soon be a trend for manufacturers, too, though sometimes – freed from any commercial aspirations – what the users come up with works pretty well on its own. I’m eager to try some layouts out for both iOS and Android touch devices; just because it’s fun as a developer, I’m toying a bit with the latter.

Of course, this tool is a great head start on iOS:

  • Steve Conrad


    Thank you for promoting these VGuitarforums member created tools for the Roland GR-55.

    I should mention that an integral part of Marc Benigni's GR-55 TouchOSC control template (running on TouchOSC) is the Jabrudian Industries "Missing Link" Wireless OSC to MIDI adapter.

    Marc has mounted this internal to the GR-55 for an efficient live rig setup.

    Details here:

  • Keith Handy

    No video?

  • Peter Kirn

    @Keith: Shoot one!

    Seriously, I don't think the editors / layouts need a video. What I'd like to see is some of the music people are making with the GR-55; it's so open-ended.

  • Marc Benigni

    Thank you for posting this, Peter! I feel like I should call out the most significant limitation of my TouchOSC template: it is strictly an "output device", i.e. it will send changes to the GR55, but it will not read or reflect current settings when a new preset is loaded. I still find it vastly superior to the GR55 UI for editing patches, and in real-time it's a whole different animal, essentially a musical instrument in its own right. There are a few other minor issues oustanding, so I recommend at least browsing through the thread on VGuitar before using.

  • Marc Benigni

    P.S. I haven't recorded much in recent years, but this template has been very inspiring. I may well be filming a series of videos of my own, to call out what I consider to be interesting features and applications of this template, and to document whatever music arises as a result. Will let you know if I start a YouTube channel or what-have-you.

  • Brian Tuley

    V guitar can surely benefit from one of these apps.  I don't own one, but I can imagine the menus one has to page through to get from a to b.  Probably a nice tool to use for setting up patches.

  • Jeff Brown

    Hey Marc, will your interface let someone do the thing I've always dreamed of as a guitarist, namely change among dozens of tunings on the fly with no perceptible latency?  

    I bought the VG-99 with the sole intent of using it with MIDI pedals to ret)ne individual strings.  Its algorithms ar capable of doing it, but the interface they offer means your basically stuck with just two tunings.  If you want to change to a third, you've got to switch patches, which can't be done in real time.  (I emailed Roland my disappointment; they didn't care.)

  • K.S. aka MCK

    Hey Jeff,

    Using the same components Marc has used you can do something very similar for VG99.

    You can also switch patches realtime using a dedicated floorboard like the FC300 or any MIDI floorboard that you might like. An FCB-1010 is an often used lower cost option for example. Drop by at and you can explore many options related to VG99 with likeminded people there. Keep well.

  • Alexandre

    Coling has even more projects on more or less codebase. E.g. UIs for controlling Boss's GT series.

  • Alexandre

    Eeek, that would be "Colin" and "more or less same codebase" :) Sorry :)

  • Jeff Brown

    @KS: I currently use an FCB.  Great little thing.  But it won't let me do what I want — changing patches on the VG-99 takes a second, which is way too long to use pitch changing the way I want to — I would use it like an extra finger, letting me play chords I could never reach otherwise.

  • Marc Benigni

    "Hey Marc, will your interface let someone do the thing I’ve always dreamed of as a guitarist, namely change among dozens of tunings on the fly with no perceptible latency?"

    Absolutely. Check out the "Tuning" in the pile of photos on pg 8 of the VGuitar thread. All of those controls can be manipulated in realtime. You can even drag the string detunes (in User mode) around like independent whammy pedals to seriously bizarre effect. :)

  • Marc Benigni

    (cont.) I dialed up an acoustic last night and started experimenting with your idea – changing the tuning string by string as I played in order to alter chords, introduce bass strings, etc. Wow, what an eye opener! Thank you for the idea. I will say that if you intend to use the template for this purpose, you'll probably want to lower the range of the these sliders from -12 to +12 semitones (vs. -24 to 24) and change the labels to suit. Intervals are pretty hard to pinpoint as things stand. If you need help with customizing things, just post on the VGuitar thread.

  • Marc Benigni

    "…the most significant limitation of my TouchOSC template: it is strictly an “output device”, i.e. it will send changes to the GR55, but it will not read or reflect current settings when a new preset is loaded…" Note that the PC/Mac/Linux editor featured above does *not* have this limitation; it will load and save patches, and update all on-screen settings having done the former. I owe the author (Vguitar member "gumtown") my thanks for decoding the GR55 MIDI spec. Most of my template's SysEx was arrived at by reverse-engineering his app.

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  • raymond johnson

    rally nice job

  • Dee_M

    dunno…IMHO, the gr55 is sort of a “mixed Blessing”..I mean, on one
    hand the tracking/ Editing is far superior than any other GR synth Roland has
    made, but the “Sounds”? Eh! I mean, what is the deal with making a
    synthesizer that emulates “Guitar sounds”?? If I’m buying a Synth I want
    “SYNTH SOUNDS” and effects at my disposal, period. The Sounds! That’s why I buy any Instrument ( electronic or Real/Acoustic ) in the First place. THE WAY IT SOUNDS.

    Roland, why don’t you stock a Guitar synth with some more “Commercial”
    patches, like some of the stuff you hear on Dubstep & Electronica
    records, or some of that “Roger Linn/ Adrenalinn” type effects? I don’t
    get that your Marketing VP’s don’t understand that most Working
    Guitarists have invested time & money and countless hrs buying stuff
    for their Pedalboard assemblies, crafting “Their” Sound.. Why would I
    buy a Synth with VG-99 guitar tech built into it? That’s a waste of
    patch/sample algorithm space to me.
    The VG tech is cool for the
    studio, but for live performance, I’d rather just pick up an acoustic
    Guitar & play it!! Plus , it looks cooler to switch instruments,
    anyway ( On a Set).

    Simply put, Roland- you haven’t gone far
    enough. I’m hanging on to my GR-(& GI)20 until y’all put something
    out there an artist can use to “Paint Soundscapes” with. ( #canIgetaJupiter88with that? )