Guitar Synth & Modeler Flyover

Started by shawnb, February 15, 2024, 11:01:34 PM

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This is a bit of an ambitious post & chart, but hopefully helps to add some clarity to understanding this gear.

Folks thinking about purchasing new gear ask a lot of questions here along the lines of:
- Can the SY-1000 do sax?
- Why doesn't the GM-800 process guitar sounds?  It says it does modeling...

And you hear comments like, "The SY-1000 is a terrible guitar synth!"  When you drill down on that statement, it turns out they're trying to use the MIDI output of the SY-1000 to drive a vst on their computer.  Or, they cannot figure out how to dial in an acoustic piano sound on it.  The unit excels at a lot of things, just not necessarily those things.

There is no perfect categorization approach, since in most cases, you are comparing apples to radishes.  Hopefully this helps folks understand which units are apples & which are radishes...

It helps to segregate devices that process the input audio directly, vs those that utilize pitch-to-MIDI (P2M) & subsequently trigger an internal midi-based synthesizer or OSCillator.  Especially since any approach driven by P2M adds latency, and requires compromises with regards to expression & dynamics.  OTOH, the P2M+synth approach can drive PCM samples, so they're better at piano, sax, etc.

Most of these devices can produce traditional "synth" sounds, such as sine, square, sawtooth, PWM, noise, etc., but it is very important to understand HOW they get there...  Are they getting there via P2M triggering PCM samples, e.g., the GR-30?  P2M driving an OSC, e.g., the GM-800 Virtual Analog (VA) models?  Or via signal processing, e.g., the SY-1000 Dynamic Synth?

The FX columns make a distinction between normal stereo FX vs hex FX.  This is an important distinction, since hex processing opens up a completely new set of sounds, e.g., poly distortion has a completely different character than normal distortion, and really doesn't exist outside the world of hex processing.

The Guitar-to-MIDI column here is admittedly subjective.  It feels to me like Roland/Boss had a bit of a dark period where they went backwards and G2M was problematic, especially on the low E & A strings.

To keep this compact & doable, individual effects are not contrasted, & the focus is on a subset of hopefully illustrative devices. 

This is not meant to be the be-all-end-all for device capabilities - you know, read the manual or consult the boards for your device here at VGuitarForums.  However, it is intended to help folks understand the different offerings with more clarity.

Also, issues with each unit aren't covered.  Books could be written about the GP-10 OSC Synth or the GR-55's mousie death squeals...  I've whined about those elsewhere.

Of course, I don't own all this gear & don't know everything!  Clarifications & corrections welcome.  Please be kind.  I will revise this info if needed.

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Address the process rather than the outcome.  Then, the outcome becomes more likely.   - Fripp


A great start !!
maybe add how many PCM synth voices are available, and how many HRM modeling instruments are available at one time.
Free "GR-55 FloorBoard" editor software from


Variax Acoustics are variable depending on Firmware installed ,

 many would argue the current JTV firmware has less desirable acoustics vs older firmware , and all are worse than Antares ATG , which is why James Hetfields Variax was modified with its DSP board swapped out for an Antares ATG Luthier kit version


Should SIM1 XT1 be on here as well?



Yeah, the Mooer & SIM1 XT-1 both look pretty interesting; I wasn't really familiar with either.  Trying to get up to speed now.

The sites don't help - they don't really share detailed info.  Kinda hard to get an idea of guitar models & amp models.  You have to wait for someone to scroll thru the app in a video...  You click on a "Learn More" link on the site, to learn it comes in 3 colors...   ::)

The manuals don't help - they're more about setup. 

It wasn't until my 3rd video that I saw that the Mooer did acoustic guitar...
Address the process rather than the outcome.  Then, the outcome becomes more likely.   - Fripp


I hate having to watch videos to learn something so basic about a product...


Added Mooer GTRS, SIM1 XT-1 & Jamstik. 

Feedback welcome - most info based on manuals since I don't own them.


Probably need to add JOMG next...