Review:Roland GR20 guitar with GK3 pickup

February 5th, 2009 by Andres Gallo

Roland GR20


I love the guitar, however, as a musician; I was always jealous of the possibilities keyboardists have with today’s synths. With that said, I like to use various effects to give myself as many sound possibilities as I can have. One pedal which I don’t use often, but which would be the cure to the problem mentioned above is the Roland GR20. What this technological marvel does is in my opinion a beautiful thing. Through Roland’s special Gk3 pickup it picks up your signal, and sends it to the GR20 and processes it, giving your guitar new sounds. These new sounds are of course the sounds, of virtually any instrument I could think of. Piano, Organ, Nylon Guitar, Drums, Sitar, Vocal pads…are few of the instrument sounds available on this guitar pedal.

The overall design, I have to admit, is absolutely genius. This device does so much, yet is about as intuitive as I could see it get. You can edit, write, and move about with the patches with incredible ease. Unlike many synths it even includes some built in effects that you can add to the synth sound such as chorus, delay, and dynamics controls for the attack notes.
The foot switches and pedals are also customizable and can be used for pitch shifting, and volume swells as well as vibrato, and more impressively can be used to freeze what you are playing into a sustain, while you play on top of it. It works great for improvisations as you can leave a chord ringing as you play a lead on top of it.
The design is great, feature packed but very intuitive. Unlike keyboard synths of course, you can mix the synth sound, with the natural sound of your guitar, in one amp, or even split it with two amps.
My only complaint with the design is the GK3 Pickup. Before the GR20 can be used, the GK3 Pickup must be installed correctly. The installation has to be very precise and can be very annoying or expensive to install. The GK3 pickup is great and seamlessly fast once installed correctly, or painfully slow when installed incorrectly.


Sound-wise the GR20 does a great job. It sounds really good, as is to be expected from Roland when it comes to synthesizer sounds. A lot of the instruments sound very natural, and work well with the playing dynamics of player. Ironically, however, I really wanted to use it for acoustic simulation, but guitar sounds are the weakest sounds in this pedal. The effects like delay and chorus are very good and transparent as well; however, those effects only work on the synth sounds and not on the guitars natural sound.


The pedal is very well built. However, durability aside, its performance may not be the same for all guitars.
Buyers beware, the pickup will not fit in many guitars. I also don’t think it will work well with tremolo bridge guitars, especially Floyd roses, as it requires a consistent distance between itself and the strings. A great product, but definitely not one for everyone.

Customer Support

Their customer support is great. I had problems installing the GK3 pickup, and they helped me, all the way through. I am pleased with their support, and once installed correctly the product is great.

4 Responses to “Review:Roland GR20 guitar with GK3 pickup”

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