Using the Roland GR-55 for MIDI Violin Performance & Recording
We get lots of calls and emails about MIDI violins. MIDI options for violins have been around for decades, but were only compatible with synthesizers that are now obsolete and only available on the used market. Also, latency and slower triggering made these MIDI violin systems less than ideal for most performers.
We are pleased to announce that we now carry two violins that are compatible with a high quality, available and currently produced MIDI synthesizer. The Fourness Fuse, with its newly calibrated 13 pin MIDI jack, and Cantini violins, with their proprietary 8-pin to 13-pin adaptor cable, have passed our in-house testing and are for sale on our site for use with the Roland GR-55 synthesizer.
The Roland GR-55
The Roland GR-55 is the industry standard synthesizer for guitarists, and now for violinists. It is an extremely powerful unit with over 900 tones in its memory. Patches can be built that are a highly controllable blend of up to two tones, a modeled pickup sound, and the natural pickup sound of the instrument, plus amp models and effects. The possibilities are literally endless.
The GR-55 can also be used as a trigger for external MIDI devices, so if you are connected to a computer by a USB connection and want to use your violin to trigger sounds in GarageBand or any other Digital Audio Workstation, it works well for that, too. Using the USB output from the GR-55, you can even use MIDI to notate music in programs like Finale or Logic.
Other MIDI Controllers
Zeta Music Systems formerly manufactured the Synthony and Synthony II MIDI controllers. The Synthony controllers have long been out of production and, while they can occasionally be found on the used market, they do not perform as well as the GR-55 in our opinion.
Up until now, the Fourness Fuse had employed the same 8-pin DIN MIDI output jack as found on Zeta violins, which are compatible with legacy Zeta Synthony and Synthony II MIDI controllers. Older Zetas and Fourness violins with 8-pin output jacks will also drive the Roland GR-20 and GR-33 controllers, which although discontinued are widely available on the used market. They also work with the earliest Zeta controllers, however the VC-220 and 225 do not have instruments on-board. They basically work as an interface, which can be run into another device in order to access that device’s General MIDI sounds or VSTs/VSTis.
**UPDATE** ZETA violins are compatible with all legacy MIDI controllers and Roland GR-20 and GR-33 controllers (using EVS MIDI adapter cables) and are now also compatible with the Roland GR-55 using a ZETA 8-pin to 13-pin adapter cable.
Fourness Fuses use a 13-pin MIDI jack that is compatible with the Roland GR-55. If you would like to order a Fourness Fuse with the 8-pin DIN output option for use with a Zeta Synthony, call us or choose the appropriate MIDI output selection in our Fuse special order form.
Our MIDI Recommendations
The Zeta Synthonys were/are viable MIDI controllers, however, they do not track as well in our opinion as the Roland GR-55. Furthermore, they are out of production and not always easy to find. If you have or are seeking a Synthony, the Zeta Jazz and Strados MIDI violins are wonderfully made, great-sounding instruments that will work with legacy Zeta Synthony units.
The Cantini violin, while not on par with the Fourness Fuse in terms of look, feel, build quality or analog tone, is compatible with the Roland GR-55 and tracks extremely well for MIDI purposes. In other words, if your main focus in buying an electric violin is MIDI, the Cantini is a fine option, and you'll be pleased with its MIDI performance, especially when paired with a GR-55.
If you you want a MIDI-capable electric violin that is also a high-end instrument with exceptional tone and build quality, you want a Fourness Fuse. If ordering a Fuse, be sure to select the 13-pin MIDI output option so that the violin will work with a Roland GR-55 synthesizer. If you are unsure which MIDI output option to get, please don't hesitate to call us or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Likewise, if you own a Fourness Fuse with 8-pin DIN output and would like to upgrade to the new 13-pin option for use with the Roland GR-55, contact us and we can arrange the upgrade with the maker.