Roland G5 V-Guitar Review: Fender Stratocaster with Built-In Modeling
Two giants of music have teamed up to create what could be one of the most innovative electric guitar creations: the G-5 V-Guitar. In one hand, Roland takes its legendary COSM guitar modeling technology and integrates it into a traditional Fender Stratocaster. Signaling the on-board VG engine through a separate pickup, the the G-5 can instantly go from a sounding like a 12-string electric guitar to an exotic sitar or even a Telecaster all with the flip or turn of a knob. Nonetheless, two good things combined don’t always yield an equally good or greater result and it is this logic that often leaves consumers wondering whether the mash-up is worth the trouble or the price. In an attempt to clarify some of the questions and skepticism surrounding the Roland G5 V-Guitar, we will review and evaluate its various features and characteristics.
What Makes it Different?
Conceptually, the idea is alluring: What could be better for a modern musician than stuffing an array of effects directly into a guitar all while making toggling through various options simple and even intuitive. While the idea for an effects laden guitar has surely been a fantasy of many musicians for years, it takes an advanced degree of technical sophistication to successfully materialize such a dream. Although the Fender/Roland mash up hasn’t been the first attempt at integrating a variety of effects into a single guitar, it is one of the best executed.
The greatest distinction between the G5 and other electric guitars with on-board effects, is the superior build quality of the instrument itself and the approach of the on-board processors. The G5 is a comfortable, full quality Fender Stratocaster and gives players everything they have come to expect from the manufacturer. Moreover, the technology behind the G-5 is impressively well developed and features Roland’s revered COSM technology. The divided pickup individually signals each string to the VG engine while allowing the 3 single-coil pickups to work their magic.
Unlike other guitars with on-board processors that attempt to give musicians an array of effects such as various distortions, reverbs, and phasing. Instead of focusing on effects, the G-5 gives users different instruments making this particular guitar far more musical. The G-5 won’t give you all of the flashy effects, but it will give you what essentially amounts to at least 6 different guitars including a Standard Stratocaster, a Modeled Stratocaster, a Telecaster, Humbucking Pickups, Steel String Acoustic, Twelve-String Guitar, Nylon String Guitar and a Sitar (an anachronism I’m still trying to make sense of).
The benefit of modeling different guitars and instruments is that the tones can then be run through individual effects pedals or boards than individuals can tailor to their own liking. This option allows musicians to explore different tones rather than being stuck with a single guitar that may not sound great but has a ton of preset effects. Essentially, the G-5 is like buying a house with multiple rooms, each of which can be used and decorated differently, over buying a single bedroom apartment decorated with different wallpapers chosen by your landlord.
Are Two Heads Really Better than One?
The V-Guitar G-5is an instrument that will spark the desire of some and ignite repugnance in others. Those predisposed to feel the latter sentiment are likely to be guitar purists. Their argument will often claim that no amount of modeling will ever capture the true sound of a Telecaster or a 12-string. To their credit, it is true that modeling can only hope to approximate the sound of a dedicated Telecaster or 12-string but to compare an
approximation to the real thing is an unfair comparison at the onset. Viewed on its own terms and compared to other on-board modeling devices, the Roland COSM engine does (for the most part) convincingly well. Overall I could imagine the Roland G-5 V-Guitar as the ideal studio guitarist on a budget. With its broad range of tones and instant tuning options, this will prove to be a versatile, useful, and entertaining instrument.