Roland and BOSS have been at the forefront of drum modelling and guitar effects for years, and it seems strange that they haven’t really expanded into the virtual guitar world before. Roland MIDI pickups and modelling effects have now been on the market for some time, and Line6′s Variax line has been well publicised in recent years – so it’s even more surprising that Roland haven’t launched a competitor until now.
Where the V-Guitar (to give its full name- the G5-VG Stratocaster) drastically differs from the Variax models is that Roland have teamed up with Fender – the fathers of the mass-produced electric guitar – to add their modelling technology to an already-loved icon – namely the Strat.
The 3 standard Stratocaster pickups function as normal, but the addition of Roland’s HEX-divided pickup gives access to the COSM technology. In addition to offering all classic Stratocaster sounds and functionality, the G-5 provides a new world of electric and acoustic guitar tones recreated by COSM — including instantly accessible alternate tunings.
There’s a range of single-coil and humbucking tones, acoustic variations including Resonator, Jumbo, and Nylon, a “Jazz Box” hollow-body sound, and the obligatory sitar. Each individual sound (presumably with the exception of the Sitar) also has a 12-string equivalent, which is a nice option to have in the studio.
The electric tones are much more convincing than the acoustic models (especially the “nylon” string, which sounds like a simple EQ to my ears) – but this is the sort of tool that could prove invaluable in the studio, especially for layering multiple guitars on a limited budget. I’m not sure how well a piece of kit like this would hold up live (at least in a single-guitar setup), but the sounds on offer are high quality and – of course – you always have that classic Strat sound to rely on!