The new Roland and Fender Virtual Guitar range sees the two companies strategic alliance take a more guitar shaped form.
The new Roland G-5 Virtual Guitar, takes the body of a Mexican Fender Stratocaster (with a US specification neck), add some Roland COSM circuitry to create something which can emulate a number of other guitars. You get Stratocaster, Telecaster, Humbucker and Acoustic models, as well as a selection of alternative tunings.
It's not the finest example of the luthiers art, and as it came, could have done with a little tweaking to the setup. The components are okay, though the bridge did seem like it was pressed out of thin plate. It plays and sounds like a regular Fender Stratocaster though - including that single coil buzz. The neck is a 22 fret C shape American style with jumbo frets.
The COSM brains are where it get interesting, with the additional custom pickup placed at the bridge - which is NOT a MIDI pickup BTW, but a custom pickup used to drive the COSM brains.
As well as modelling a regular Strat - though minus the single coil hum, it does a passable Telecaster and a Humbucker type guitar, we’re thinking Les Paul (ish) though there’s not much extra output to drive the amp with. In the case of the Tele and LP the five-way switch does the usual bridge, bridge/neck, neck duty, but with an extra sound at each end. The Acoustic bank gives you five models on the five-way: Acoustic Steel, Acoustic Nylon, Semi-acoustic 335 style, National Steel (dobro) and a Sitar, which is actually pretty good.
All of these have their uses, but do require a bit of careful EQ and post processing to sound at their most convincing, when combined with a multi-fx it can get you in a good enough place for live work, though perhaps not for the scrutiny of studio recording.
The T knob gives you access to the tuning presets and allows you to switch between drop D, open G, D Modal (Keith Richards), Baritone (B) and 12- string, at the twist of a knob , though only when using the modelled sounds - you can’t of course apply it to the native Strat sound. This is perhaps one of the most useful features, given that you don’t have to change guitar to access a bunch of tunings that would be very useful if you are in a covers band, or have a large and varied repertoire you play live.
The flexibility of the electronics makes this a pretty useful tool for those who need that authentic Fender Stratocaster sound and a selection of other sounds though the Roland COSM modelling. Having said that, the guitar itself is not the finest quality, given the overall price tag. But it is a true Fender and with the additional Roland wizardry, you get a pretty wide set of sounds.
Also comes in Sunburst finish
£1295/ $1299 street price
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