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aswilliams 08/07/2014

Roland GI-20 : aswilliams's user review

« Must have for Midi Guitarists »

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The GI-20 converts the 13 pin signal from a properly equipped guitar into midi data to be sent to a sound module, computer, or similar midi device.

The inputs/outputs are as follows:

-13 pin input
-Midi In and Out
-Foot SW input
-EXP Pedal Input
-Guitar output (for normal guitar signal)
-USB Midi
-DC In


Everything can be accessed and edited from the front panel with the provided knobs and buttons. I was originally disappointed that there was no software editor from Roland, but after finding a 3rd party editor I realized that I was still using the front panel more because it was so simple.

The drivers are working on my Windows 8 PC no problem. I have also used the GI-20 with a Mac G5, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.

I haven't had to use the manual because there is a chart showing you all of the options printed on top of the unit.


You won't have to put much effort into understanding how the GI-20 works. There is a "Play Mode" for using your settings, and a knob that can turn to different options for programming. You can adjust Guitar Sensitivity, Play Feel, Control Assign, Program Change, Bend Range, Transposition, String Mute, and Midi Channel all from the front of the unit.


This is an amazing little unit, and I am sad that Roland has not continued developing these rack-mount GK/midi converters. I assume it is because there is not a huge market for them.

You can program every little aspect of what the strings of your guitar and the knobs and buttons on your 13 pin pickup will do. The options give you complete control over your setup. There are 50 user slots to store your settings in, and that includes program changes that you can assign to midi programs in your external hardware. This is nice because if you want a certain setup for a violin sound, such as a slow attack and fast release, you can assign that to always show up with that patch. Then you can change programs to have your settings match a piano sound better. (NOTE the GI-20 produces no sounds).

Sadly the limit of user programs is 50, and there are many more sounds I would like to program in this unit.

There is a useful on-board tuner that is one of the most accurate I've used, most likely due to the individual signals it receives from the strings.

The unit also works with GK equipped Bass guitars, though I have not tested this.

There is very low latency when using this, which is rare for midi guitar converters.

I previously owned the GR 20 and GR 55 midi guitar boards, and these don't even come close to the GI 20. If you are a midi guitarist, get one of these used NOW because they will be hard to find the longer you wait.

I am considering picking up 3 or 4 more just to keep around in case mine fails, because Roland will likely never make something like this again.