If you’re interested in the Fishman TriplePlay vs Roland GR-55 and which is a better guitar synth, you’ve come to the right post!
Although I don’t (yet) own either of these synths, I’ve been researching them to possibly buy one, one day.
So how do these synths differ?
I’ll unpack more of their similarities and differences in the following sections.
Understanding Guitar Synths
Guitar synths have been a thing since the 1980s. Although the technology behind it is the same as with keyboards, it’s a bit more complicated. In short, you can use a guitar as a MIDI controller. However, it took a lot of trial-and-error and perfecting to make it work.
To those not familiar with the concept, MIDI is just a fancy acronym for a technical standard. In short, MIDI carries information about notes that you’re playing. This includes pitch, volume, panning, duration, and even vibrato.
In order for this whole thing to work, you need a controller and a module. Although the controller is usually a piano or keyboard, a guitar, or a guitar-like instrument, can serve as a controller. Meanwhile, a module is where all processing happens.
So the controller picks up what you’re playing and translates it into digital information. The module does all the sound-shaping magic. To make it work, you’ll also need a specialized MIDI pickup.
MIDI has a lot of uses. You can convert the MIDI information you play on a guitar into almost any instrument sound.
When we’re talking about guitar synths, there are a few things to clarify. A guitar synth can refer to:
- Guitar-like MIDI controller
- Guitar-like controller and a module in one device
- An external processing unit (module) that works with a MIDI pickup
The most common variant these days includes a MIDI pickup and a processing unit. It’s also pretty common to have a MIDI pickup on a guitar and do all the processing through your personal computer.
There are also synth pedals that do regular audio signal processing. However, these aren’t regular synths as they don’t use MIDI technology. One such example is Boss’ SY-1.
Fishman TriplePlay Vs Roland GR-55
I wanted to clarify this before elaborating on the specific differences between the Fishman TriplePlay and Roland GR-55. They serve the same purpose but aren’t exactly the same. Let’s get into it.
Fishman’s TriplePlay actually encompasses three different products. First, there is the Wireless TriplePlay model. This model has a MIDI pickup and an additional unit that goes on your guitar. Using a wireless USB dongle, you connect directly to your computer. From there, you do all the processing and everything else.
Then there is the TriplePlay Connect. It works the same way, only it’s a wired version. You just need a USB-C cable to connect to your computer.
And finally, there is the TriplePlay FC-1 foot controller. It’s designed to work with either of these two. It’s not a processing module itself, it’s just an advanced controller. This means that it doesn’t create any sounds on its own. It just allows you to work with different processing modules or a computer. Additionally, you also have expression pedal connectivity.
Combining TriplePlay Wireless and TriplePlay FC-1 is pretty common. However, you’d also need another processing unit to work with it. Fishman also provides easy-to-use software for this. You can use it as standalone software or a DAW plugin.
This piece of software makes it super flexible. Nonetheless, you can also use any other VST or MIDI-supported software. You can also record MIDI tracks and then process them at your will.
Here’s a more detailed look into the FC-1 and how it works with the Wireless pickup unit.
What is cool about TriplePlay is that it gives you a lot of freedom. It’s suitable for either a beginner or an advanced player. But it shows its full potential with a more complex rig with one or more modules. So I’d generally classify it as a pro-oriented product.
Roland’s GR-55, on the other hand, is a bit of a different deal. This is a processing unit that works with a MIDI pickup. Most commonly, guitar players use Roland’s GK-3 with it.
At a first glance, it’s very similar to your average Boss multi-effects unit. However, it’s more than just that. What’s interesting is that it has MIDI processing capability, as well as Roland’s COSM modeling technology.
In a way, it’s a fusion of your conventional guitar signal processing and MIDI technology. Roland’s GK units come with an output that blends the signal of your regular and MIDI pickups. You can use both or one of these at the same time.
This demo below shows how you can use GR-55 with a regular magnetic pickup. Just bear in mind that this makes it way less versatile.
Of course, GR-55 has different outputs. You can connect it to your computer through USB, guitar amp, headphones, or a PA system.
In short, it’s a fully capable processing unit that works with MIDI technology. It can even blend your guitar pickup and MIDI signal and put both through its output.
It’s an all-in-one device that, in most cases, bypasses the need for computers or modules. Just plug your MIDI-equipped guitar in it and you’re good to go.
Here’s a detailed overview of GR-55 by Alex Hutchings:
Fishman TriplePlay Vs Roland GR-55: How Do They Compare?
Fishman’s TriplePlay and Rolan GR-55 are two completely different systems. Both rely on MIDI technology and both can do so much.
However, TriplePlay pickup and FC-1 foot controller do nothing on their own. They require a module or a computer. TriplePlay also includes specialized software that can help you get all the sound presets that you need. You can also use them as controllers for other modules or software plugins.
Meanwhile, GR-55 is a standalone device. You can just simply plug it directly into a PA system and you’re good to go. It even comes with presets that sound like guitar amps. So it’s a more practical all-around solution for those who need a gig-ready option.
Fishman’s TriplePlay systems are awesome for more complex rigs. They enable you to fully customize your setup. However, bear in mind that this is a more expensive option. You’ll need a computer or modules to make it all work.
Fishman TriplePlay Vs Roland GR-55: Conclusion
I hope this article has clarified some of the differences between these devices.
And if you want to read more about Fishman products and other similar devices on the blog, check out:
And as usual, feel free to message me in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!