What is the best floor unit for alternate tunings?

Started by gabrielsrc, February 04, 2023, 06:40:28 PM

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Hello to y'all. This is my first post. Sorry for debuting with a question, but I haven't been able to find the answer yet.

I've been thinking about buying a virtual guitar unit (or a similar product) for quite a long time. I like the idea of guitar synths and modeling, but what I am really after is the ability of exploring nonconventional tunings without torturing my guitars (and not giving up on Floyd Rose). 12-string simulation is a close second, TBH. I'm not excited about buying a new guitar because of space issues and the nuisance of having to maintain another instrument. Plus the Fenders are quite expensive, the Peavey AT-200 doesn't seem very trustworthy to me (I could be wrong, though) and I've read so many negative comments about Variax here that I decided to rule them out.

I live in Brazil, so options are a little limited. The SY-300 and SY-1000 are not available yet. I couldn't find the Antares ATG-1, used or new. I've only found Roland products, almost all of them used. I've made a list with the respective prices in BRL. They're all used and look good, unless noted.

GPs (are they even capable of doing what I'm asking?)
GP-8 rack - R$ 1,600 (+ FC100 foot controller - price is suspicious and doesn't look great)
GP-10 - R$ 2,800 (+GK3)
GP-100 rack - R$ 1,150

GR-1 - R$ 2,800
GR-20 - R$ 1,800
GR-20 - R$ 2,300 (+GK3)
GR-30 - R$ 2,500 (R$ 980 in another site, but seems suspicious)
GR-33 - R$ 2,500 (+GK2a)
GR-50 rack - R$ 1,050
GR-55 (blue) - R$ 3,500 (+GK3)
GR-55 (black) - R$ 4,000
GR-55 (black) - R$ 7,410 (new, plus GK3; that's half the price of a good used car)

VG-8 - R$ 700 (price looks suspicious to me)
EDIT: VG-88: R$ 1,400 - seems the best deal so far
VG-99 - R$ 4,500

Racks are a feasible option, since I own a MIDI footswitch (Behringer FCB1010).

I almost bought the GP-10, but Brak(E)man's comments about warbling made me cautious (https://www.vguitarforums.com/smf/index.php?topic=19730.msg141677#msg141677). The VG-8 seems to cheap to pass and I'm almost buying it on impulse.

tl;dr: given only the options listed above, which one you'd recommend if using alt tunings is the main goal, with 12-string modeling being the tiebreaker?

I would appreciate any more info and comments if you feel inclined to do so. Thanks in advance.

P.S.: is there any unit with a preset for viola caipira (Brazilian folk instrument)?


GK-13 Guitar Modeling / DSP ALT TUNING /B-Bender /Pedal Steel with ultra low latency processors.and Normal Mag pickup tones

Roland VG-8, VG-88, VG-99,

Boss GP10. GR-55, SY-1000

Antares ATG-1
Line-6 Guitar Modeling / DSP ALT TUNING with ultra low latency.

Variax 300/500/600/700/Variax Acoustic 700

and Normal Mag pickup tones

Tyler Variax JTV-59, JTV-69, JTV-89, SHURUKEN, Variax Standard


throw in the Boss SY-1000 to the center ring too.
Free "GR-55 FloorBoard" editor software from https://sourceforge.net/projects/grfloorboard/


I have struggled with getting alternative tuninings digitally for years.  I have a Variax Standard, Variax JTV69, 2 guitars with GK3, an Emerald Virtuo with GraphTech Ghost 13 pin built-in, a Roland GR-55, and Boss SY-1000. I use alternative tunings for slide in Open G, Open E, and Open D.  I also use alternative tunings for fretted playing in 2 variations of Open G, Open E, and Open D.  I was always very reluctant to set aside 7 guitars permanently set-up and tuned, and I initially thought Variax would be the answer.
However, I always found that the digitally tuned strings sounded different to the strings that were unaltered.  For instance the 1st string tuned from E down to D always sounded odd and synthy against the unaltered 2nd B string.  It also lost a little volume which can be corrected in the software, but differently for each tuning. It can sound OK when strumming chords, but very noticeable on single note lines, particularly in slide. With 12 string emulations it was again OK with strumming jangly chords, but quite nasty on single notes.  I tinkered endlessly with the Workbench software, and even experimented with leaving the guitar in Open D and altering the emulated tuning variations for Open G and Open E. This allowed for the most noticeable 1st string to stay unaltered, or to get tuned with most strings.  Having all the strings digitally tuned reduces the contrast between digitally tuned and unaltered strings, but it still doesn't sound great.  I have seen many people praising the Variax tunings but, when you see them, they are all banging out chords or power chords with a lot of distortion. It may sound OK for that, but so will almost anything!
When I got the Virtuo with built in 13-pin connector, I got a GR-55 and then an SY-1000.  The instrument emulations are excellent in both, and I found that the alternative tuning sounds were better than Variax.  I then added GK3 pickups to a slide guitar and one to a cheapish old Epiphone SG. The instruments in the GR-55 are great, and the alternative tunings are better than Variax.  The SY-1000 has an additional emulated pickup variation which is slightly better again.
The modellers like Helix and Axe-FX have pitch shifters which will do straight 1 or 2 steps down (like E standard to E Flat standard) acceptably, but they struggle with bigger intervals and can only shift all 6 strings at the same time (so no open tunings).
I have spent 5 years, lots of money, and endless amounts of time tinkering with digital tunings, but I never got to anything I found acceptable. I find it rather ridiculous that electronics can make an E played on the open 1st string of an electric guitar sound very convincingly like an E played on a pipe organ or a myriad other instruments, but it can't make it sound like a D played on the same string of the same guitar!
I have given up, and bought 3 very cheap Telecaster copies (£90/$110 each!) that I can leave in alternative tunings for fretted playing.  I already have 3 guitars set up for slide, and others than can fill the gaps, so I have no more need for digital solutions. The Tele's play fairly well and sound pretty good, and are fantastic for the money.  More importantly, they sound miles better than any alternative tuning I have ever achieved with digital gear.


Thanks for your input.

Unfortunately the SY-1000 was not possible, since it's not available in Brazil yet and importing it would cost a fortune.

I've bought the GP-10 and it's working fine for me. It's really not 100% perfect, but I think you need to have a pretty good ear and still be actively looking for minor inconsistencies to figure out something's wrong.

I'm very happy with my purchase so far, and I'm very prone to buyer's remorse  ;D


So the question is: what type of alternate tunings?  Do you want the sound of an electric guitar doing alternate tunings or do you want a modeled acoustic guitar sound or do you want synth sounds?  Each device has its own particular strength.

My music projects online at http://www.aliensporebomb.com/

GK Devices:  Roland VG-99, Boss GP-10, Boss SY-1000.