This unit already has the S1 upgrade. I never upgraded it to EX, because the experts at vg-8 told me the EX patches were old, and sucked and not to bother. I do have the S1 card which you would need to upgrade it. If you want to do it, you could swing by here if you had the time.
The way all of these things work is via hexaphonic pickups - IOW, a separate output for each string. This is necessary for technical reasons to distinguish the individual notes of chords and such.
The GM70 is a pitch to MIDI convertor. All it does is try and figure out the note you played and give it a number between 0 and 127 which is the corresponding MIDI note number. The GM70 is an older unit which uses a different style pickup from the current 13-pin GK stuff out today. There are a bunch of other similar units: Roland GI-10 and GI-20, Axon, and Yamaha. Then there are units like Roland's GR-1/9/30/33 that also have synth built in. These units stil can output MIDI but they also can trigger their internal synthesizers. The theory is that the internal triggering can be faster because they don't actually convert to MIDI to talk to the internal synth - in practice it doesn't seem to matter that much. The problem with pitch detection is this: to determine the pitch you measure the frequency. The lower the note, the slower the pitch frequency. You need at least one or two ups and a downs of the frequency to get it right. So low notes just take more time.
The VG-8/88 don't do any conversion of your guitars pitch to MIDI. They do support MIDI control of patches and stuff just like a POD or other multi-effects unit. The VG uses the output of the hex pickup to do interesting things like model particular guitars, pickups, transpose individual strings, harmonize on individual strings, etc. This is how the Variax works as well - there are individual outputs for each string fed into the signal processor in the guitar.
Roland did an interesting thing with the VG-88. It doesn't require a GK input for effects and amplifier modeling - it is similar to one of the Boss GT units in that mode. They also enable you to blend the modeled guitar with the magnetic pickups. This really opens up some posibilities!
This one does have the S-1 upgrade. The Lukather solo patch that is in the expansion card is incredible. It quite possibly could be the best lead sound I have ever had. I am going to record some samples this weekend and I will post them. The synth sounds are great and the VH-I and VH-II
patch is dead accurate. The player patches are all studio perfect. If any of you have been in the recording studio you will know what I am talking about. In the studio, a great recording guitar tone is very different from your live tone most of the time. This is studio quality stuff. It smokes any modeler that I have ever played used.
This is why the unit hasnt become more popular than it is. Too many people dont realize that its not made to take over your main rig. Its made to supplement it, like another guitar would. It is indisposable for anyone doing studio work, and its live applications are great as well. You just have to look at it in the right light as a missing piece of your rig, rather than what most people do, and shrug it off as another hightech wonder that has invaded the guitar world to take over regular guitars.............
Hmm, well, it could be midi interfaced with a roland GM70? I'm pretty sure it could and they're pretty affordable as opposed to getting a GK2H, which would be preferable pickup, but still more money/work.. eventually tho.
I'm thinking the Roland 13 pin stuff is well out of production and discontined stock by Roland.
Altho, I'm not sure.. I haven't taken this stuff out more than a time or two in the last year. (which is why I would like to upgrade to a system that can utilize it)
The only thing I would be concerned about with running it midi patched thru a GM70 is increased lag.
You really have to be a tweaker and have the proper setup to get the full benefit of the VG-8. I simply don't have the time or patience to tweak and didn't have the proper setup. That is why I traded mine to JGCable. Funny thing is that on my setup, all of his favorite patches sounded like ass. It really needs to be tweaked for a setup. For instance, I had some cool patches set to go straight into my Rivera. They sounded great, but then sounded like ass with headphones. If you like to tweak and create and want to dedicate the right equipment to it, I HIGHLY recommed one of these. Many people in the know prefer the VG-8 to the VG-88, because the 8 has the ability to use the sound card, and store patches on a memory card. Plus although the VG-88 comes with a built in expression pedal, it apparently had some problems. The guy that got me into this uses a VG-88 and he smokes. Amazing tone...and he uses it direct live. That was my introduction into it. I saw him play live and was admiring his tone. When I looked on stage, I saw a Marshall JCM800 half stack and smiled at the Marshall tone, but wondered how he was getting such a variety of great contrasting tones...then I noticed that the Marshall wasn't on and almost passed out. [img]images/icons/shocked.gif[/img]
Accept2 and BigDaddy sum it up really well... I've always admired these machines and look forward to one day acquiring one myself - I think that when you use a full midi-ized rack rig like I do - that is, I use midi to control everything, and I can control everything from my foot controllers - then the VG-8 probably isn't such a leap... You have to be an inveterate tweaker to get and remain deeply in the rack realm - there are so many more variables to deal with than when you're working with heads and pedals - so I'm well on my way to being a VG-8-head already... Whether you want to incorporate it into your particular rig or not, you have to admit that they are very, very cool tools - way ahead of the Variax, imho...
You guys are dead on accurate. The coolest thing is that I can use my favorite guitar that plays the best and has the best action and make it sound like just about any guitar ever made or any of my other guitars for that matter because I can build my own virtual guitar from scratch. It also would be a fantastic tool for a guitar player who wants to play bass. The bass patches are perfect and it is pretty cool playing a 6 string bass that is actually your Soloist and ripping sweeps and pedal tones. Heck, I think I might be better than Billy Sheehan on bass!! [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]