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Michael McBroom

SOLVED: Trying to get my old Roland GR-33 to work with Cakewalk

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Posted (edited)

Back when I used Pro Audio, I was able to get my GR-33 to work fine. Yes, it's been just a few years, and I've forgotten just about everything I had going on back then, but I have an occasion where I'd really like to use it again. So, time to dust it off and see if I can get it going.

Back then I was able to interface my MIDI gear to my DAW directly with the round MIDI plugs. Now I have to use an adapter that converts the MIDI plugs to USB. At the advice of another GR-33 user, I bought a Roland UM-ONE MIDI to USB interface. Prior, I'd been trying to get it to work using a Midiman MidiSport 2x2 USB interface. Didn't have any luck with it. Too bad. I have two of them, and it would be nice if I could use them for some of my other old MIDI gear.

Anyway, the problem I'm having is I'm not getting any MIDI data coming through. I installed the UM-ONE driver,  which happened when I plugged it into my computer. No issues. I already have an instrument definition file for the GR-33, so I assigned it to the UM-ONE in Cakewalk's "Assign Instrument Definitions" screen. In the MIDI channel I set up for the GR-33, I've indicated the UM-ONE in both the In and Out sections at the bottom of the track, I selected a channel, and so with the instruments, I'm able to select whatever I want from the available GR-33 instruments. The pickup mounted to my guitar has a volume control and a selector switch. I have the switch selected to Synth and I turned the volume all the way up. But when I click on the track's record button, what I expect to find is some activity with the track's VU lights, but there's nothing. If I click on Record to get Cakewalk rolling, there are still no VU lights and the track is not laying down anything.

The GR-33 has a headphones jack. So I plugged my 'phones into the jack and, yep, I'm getting synth sounds sounding just the way I expect them to sound. So there's something screwy with the output of the Synth or the input of Cakewalk. 

One thing I'm wondering about is -- do I need to have the GR-33 showing up in the Synth Rack? Because I don't have anything there and I don't even recall any sort of dll for it, although I can look, I suppose. Or even look at Roland.com. I've only used the Synth Rack for plug-ins.

So any GR-33 users out there? What have I missed?

Edited by Michael McBroom

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This bugged me too. I use a gr20.

Check you controllers list in preferences. Make sure your midi isn't routed to a controller. Delete the controller if you find one.

Hth

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Posted (edited)

The GR is treated the same way you treat any midi controller. They are all the same in that they transmit midi data.

I have a GR 50 looking at the specs for the GR 33 they are similar as far as using a GK PU and using DIN midi as output. 

Firstly I had always used Atari computers with built in DIN jacks. That always worked. :) 

Now I use an audio interface with DIN midi jacks. A MIDI sport should also work. Make sure you have the latest drivers for your OS installed,,, don't let Windows do this, download them from the manufacturers website. 

Go to the MIDI devices in preferences and make sure the midi sport is checked as an INPUT DEVICE. . 

Insert a MIDI track to your project and select the Midi sport as the input device OMNI. 

Now insert a VST instrument and assign the output of the MIDI track to that instrument. 

You may experience a bit of latency due to your systems capabilities. This is why Roland chose to hard wire the synth into to GR systems. to prevent latency.  There is actually no midi involved. The GK drives the synth directly. 

What I do is use the GR 50 synth sounds for monitoring as I record. The recorded midi data will be in perfect snyc,,, it's just that using a VST to monitor you might have too much latency and it will throw your playing off. It's the same with digital drum kits on some systems.  

The synth sounds in the GR 33 can be recorded with audio cables via your audio interface.. They do not transfer through midi. midi is just data, not sound. But you know that.. I'm just repeating this as you'd be surprised how many folk don't know this. 

 

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Edited by John Vere

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Thanks for the responses, guys. You know, that's one thing I didn't think of trying -- the MIDI ports on my audio interface. I might as well give them a try and see if I might have any better luck. I'll try the rest of your advice as well, see if it makes a difference. And I'll report back.

 

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Okay, well I don't know why that Roland interface wouldn't work, but plugging the GR-33 into my audio interface DID work. Yay!

I'm running a Line Out cable from the GR-33 to my audio interface so that the audio can be recorded. The only problem I'm running into now is my audio interface is showing the GR-33 clipping even at low to moderate volumes, plus its audio is distorting in the playback. This might be because I have both the GR-33 and the pickup's volume turned up to maximum. But if I turn these levels down, it becomes very quiet. Okay, so anyway, that's an audio problem, not a MIDI one. I'll get it figured out -- soon I hope.

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Does you audio interface have line inputs or combo jacks?  There might be either a hardware or software toggle to change impedance for hi or low. Often noted as mike or instrument. 

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, the UMC404HD has a choice of Line or Inst. I selected Line. Now that I'm thinking about it, though . . . Just looking at it, I see the GR-33 labels its outs as Mix Out. I've always assumed these outs were Line, but who knows, maybe Instruments?  I guess I'll check the next time I fire up my rig.  There is also a (mono) Guitar Out, but I'm pretty sure that's just a clean guitar signal, without the synth. As I dimly recall, I ran the Guitar Out to my guitar amp.

 

Edited by Michael McBroom

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Got another troubleshooting question for you guys. After a few days absence, I decide to fire up the GR-33 again and try to lay down a track or two. Nothing's changed on the GR-33 and nothing's changed with the piece of music in which I've already set up a track for the GR-33. I switch it on and I'm getting GR-33 audio through my speakers and headphones -- this because I'm running the GR-33's audio outs into the audio interface. Then I set it to record and hit the big record button in the transport area --- and nothin. I hear the audio fine, but it isn't laying down any MIDI. I've got the track record button set and I'm clicking on the main transport's record button. Last time I did this a few days ago, it was recording MIDI just fine. The audio interface's channel volumes are set to 12 o'clock and Line is selected (Inst distorts way too much). Mains out are also set to 12 o'clock.

Something I just noticed. My UMC404HD audio interface has two LEDs associated with MIDI -- one sez "IN" the other sez "OUT." The "IN" LED blinks just about constantly, even when I'm not playing. The "OUT" LED isn't blinking at all, even when I am playing and trying to record. So, now I'm wondering if this might be a problem internal to the GR-33. What do you think?

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Folks, I'd like to revisit this thread -- mostly because I've finally gotten my Roland GR-33 Guitar Synthesizer to work with Cakewalk. It records fine, but that's it. Now, for whatever reason, I can't get any playback sound from the GR-33.  Just to check that it was recording correctly, I copied a passage of the track I'd recorded onto a neighboring MIDI track, and then played back that track. It sounded fine -- even captured some nuances, like my finger vibrato and string bending. Given that this track was for a Hammond B3, I was quite surprised.

But that's where the happiness ends. I've gone back through the GR-33's difficult to understand documentation, seeing if I can puzzle out why it isn't playing back any audio. Might it be because I have only the MIDI OUT from my audio interface running to the GR-33's MIDI IN, and I have the other cable unplugged? I tried plugging it back in, but it didn't help. I found I had to keep the OUT from the audio interface to the IN to the GR-33 unplugged, or else I got a bunch of hash in the track where the recorded signal is supposed to appear, and no recorded information was left. Just a bunch of alphanumeric hash. I don't remember having to do this -- unplug the cable that is -- years ago when I was using Cakewalk's Pro Audio  and the GR-33.

I also found that, after finishing the recording, when I played my guitar, the B3 track would sound along with the GR-33 track. And I found further that if I clicked on any other track, its MIDI instrument would play along as well. These are all TTS-1 instruments. So I have no idea why that's happening. But I can't help but wonder if all this mess is tied up with my not getting any playback from the GR-33.

In Cakewalk, I have the GR-33's track in/out associated with the audio interface. Actually, I eventually left the input to Midi Omni, since it still worked, and was non-specific enough to avoid any conflicts, or so I'd hoped. For the Group/Bank/Intrument, I have the instrument definition file loaded for the audio interface, such that it reads "Roland GR-33," and it's sitting with its own, non-shared channel number. The bank is User, which is the correct one, and the instrument is selected from the User bank. Everything perfectly normal there. In Preferences, I don't have anything out of the ordinary selected there.

So, I'm just wondering what I might have missed. I suspect the problem doesn't lie with CW, but with the GR-33. I probably have a parameter set incorrectly. Problem is, the manual is a difficult read and it's left out even minimally comprehensive explanations for a lot of the synth's settings. Much of what I've been able to glean out from it has been through trial and error. Unfun.

 

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 Might it be because I have only the MIDI OUT from my audio interface running to the GR-33's MIDI IN, and I have the other cable unplugged? I tried plugging it back in, but it didn't help. I found I had to keep the OUT from the audio interface to the IN to the GR-33 unplugged, or else I got a bunch of hash in the track where the recorded signal is supposed to appear, and no recorded information was left. Just a bunch of alphanumeric hash. I don't remember having to do this -- unplug the cable that is -- years ago when I was using Cakewalk's Pro Audio  and the GR-33.

 

I'm a little confused, if you only have the MIDI out of the interface to the midi in of the GR 33 hooked up, how could you record midi? You need the Midi out of the GR 33 patched through to your computer to record midi.  Any how one way or the other you need both in and out connected to record and playback using midi. You may need to disable MIDI through put to stop the system from looping back.  there are 2 ways I know of

1- I keep my midi output unchecked in preferences and only turn it back on if I'm using a hardware synth or my drum machine for something weird.

2 - Most every VST has a "enable midi output"   in its options or preferences menu. Disable the output to stop the loopback. 

So to record midi you need the midi out of the GR 33 to your midi in of the interface. You then arm a midi track and record. 

I found the midi recording does not play back exactly what I was hearing when I originally recorded the part anyways. There's always a small difference. I think that's because the GR systems play the synth directly , there is no midi involved in that part of the system. That is how they got around the midi latency. 

I basically gave up on trying to use the GR 50 as a midi input device. It worked best for me to just record the audio output and live with the built in LA synth sounds.  

The midi data was just to garbled to try and edit into a usable part. I just had to get better at playing a keyboard which in the end was not that hard for what I wanted. 

And the main reason I wanted the midi was to play bass parts, now this is easy with a real bass and drag and drop the audio track to a midi track and it is converted automatically.  I've not tried it with a guitar lead but I guess it would work. 

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Posted (edited)

I have a gr-20.

Mine works fine. Not perfect but i use it a lot. It is the only pedal i never put away.

The gr-20 synth does a better job than the midi for hammer ons and pull offs. I think it sends the midi with pitch bend data. It is likely possible to match the pitch bend to the guitar bend but i haven't gotten that straight yet.

The midi tracks well when i pick each note.

I usually plug my guitar in directly to my amp, bypassing the gr-20 for the guitar pickups. I only send the gk3 pickup to the gr20 and i use 2 cables in the guitar.

Sometimes the switch on the guitar gets pushed to guitar only and this takes me a moment to understand why midi stops.

I've thought the bend range on notes in cakewalk could be changed to better match guitars. You can bend a whole note or more spending on your guitar, strings and position on the neck. The gr20 knows this. Knows also the real pitch. So it does a great job. I'm not sure the midi sent to the daw is as good.

There is a tool called syntorial you can buy to learn about synthesizers. Synthesizers are complicated but understandable. It it's to much for a manual to understand synthesizers and all their settings.

 

This one shows the midi tracking the part.

 

 

Edited by Gswitz

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10 hours ago, John Vere said:

 Might it be because I have only the MIDI OUT from my audio interface running to the GR-33's MIDI IN, and I have the other cable unplugged? I tried plugging it back in, but it didn't help. I found I had to keep the OUT from the audio interface to the IN to the GR-33 unplugged, or else I got a bunch of hash in the track where the recorded signal is supposed to appear, and no recorded information was left. Just a bunch of alphanumeric hash. I don't remember having to do this -- unplug the cable that is -- years ago when I was using Cakewalk's Pro Audio  and the GR-33.

 

I'm a little confused, if you only have the MIDI out of the interface to the midi in of the GR 33 hooked up, how could you record midi? You need the Midi out of the GR 33 patched through to your computer to record midi.  Any how one way or the other you need both in and out connected to record and playback using midi. You may need to disable MIDI through put to stop the system from looping back.  there are 2 ways I know of

1- I keep my midi output unchecked in preferences and only turn it back on if I'm using a hardware synth or my drum machine for something weird.

2 - Most every VST has a "enable midi output"   in its options or preferences menu. Disable the output to stop the loopback. 

So to record midi you need the midi out of the GR 33 to your midi in of the interface. You then arm a midi track and record. 

John, thanks for your response. I mis-wrote. As you can see in your above quote of what I wrote, on the second line, I wrote the true condition of the audio interface, opposite of what I wrote in the first line. So, to reiterate, I do have the MIDI out from the GR-33 running to the audio interface's MIDI in. But as I mentioned above, if I run the cable from the audio interface to the GR-33, I get alphanumeric hash appearing in the track and no recorded signal. I don't know why this is occurring.

It seems to me that, if I try your technique of leaving the MIDI Out unchecked in Preferences, this is the same as unplugging the MIDI Out cable from the audio interface, yes? I'll give your technique a try, though, with the cable both plugged in and unplugged. 

The GR-33 came with no software, thus it is not seen as a VST by Cakewalk. But your mention of this got me to thinking, so I visited Roland's website and found that they have updated OS files for the GR-33. So I downloaded and installed them. Maybe they'll fix the problems I'm having. I'll find out momentarily -- and I'll report back.

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Posted (edited)

Gswitz, My GR-33 works much like your GR-20, I suspect. I've never had an issue with hammers and pull-offs with mine, and string bending and finger vibrato -- it's always tracked this perfectly. I find that most of the errors I get come when I try to play really fast scale passages. The GR-33 demands ultra-precise technique when playing at high speed, and I guess my technique can be a bit too sloppy at times, although it doesn't sound like it to me when I'm playing the guitar straight -- that is, not using the synth. However, the great thing about having a MIDI guitar is I can go into Cakewalk's Staff Mode and correct any errors, even supplement the guitar part in areas where I feel it needs it. It ends up being a very powerful tool. Yeah, it's true that the synth can pick up a lot of garbage, but, while it may be a bit time consuming, it is ultimately possible to clean up the part and get it configured the way I want it.

Edited by Michael McBroom

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OK, I have more to report. First of all, I updated the GR-33's BIOS or OS or whatever you want to call it. Then, I tried unchecking the MIDI out in Preferences and left the cable plugged in, as John recommended. Didn't make a difference. What I have been describing as alphanumeric hash still appears.

I took a closer look at this "hash" just now. I greatly expanded the length of this piece's measures in the Tracks window and made an interesting discovery. The track carries a label, identifying the GR-33's patch -- in this case, A11 Jazz scat. And that is in dark gray text. But in bright white text there is a successions of, well they look like boxes, spaced evenly apart, each one occupying the equivalent of a 32nd note's space. And inside each one is the label "p0." Inside some of these boxes are broken bits of line -- indicating some sort of musical signal ordinarily. And for the first time, I heard some audio coming from this fragment. All it sounded like was a single honk from a harmonica. 

But then I made another interesting discovery. The audio for the GR-33 track is now working, and I can select different patches if I want. However, I also discovered that I can no longer record MIDI. I didn't do anything, other than just muck about with the playback some. So now I get to retrace my steps and see if I can figure out what I've done this time. Grrrr . . . . .  Feels like one step forward, two steps back, but I'll get there eventually.

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On my gr20, i have buttons on the pickup contraption that change the function of the pedals. Is it possible you don't know about this? You can only change patches in certain states. Midi only sends in certain states. Depends on the on guitar controls.

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Posted (edited)

Folks, I thought I should come back to this thread and let y'all know that I found the solution. You know, I'd tried so many things with my GR-33 that I had probably gotten things crossed up pretty good internally. So a few days ago, I decided to reset the device to bring it back to factory default spec. Of course when I did this I lost a few presets that I'd saved, but I can recover them without too much difficulty.

As I was going back over some items I'd covered before, I came across the Local Control discussion on P94 of the GR-33's manual. In the discussion a couple of things were mentioned that I had been running into, specifically collisions between the DAW and the GR, and not recognizing switches on my guitar's MIDI pickup. I had tried setting Local Control to Off before, and it hadn't made a difference, but since I'd reset the device, I decided to try it again. And guess what. It worked. I'm now reliably getting my GR-33 to lay down MIDI tracks, and I can hear what's being recorded from the GR-33's onboard patches. 

This is yet another example of me realizing that I have indeed forgotten more about MIDI than I know now, cuz I didn't used to make this sort of mistake way back in my Pro Audio days.

 

Edited by Michael McBroom
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