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Welcome to Ryo Kawasaki Guitar Synthesizer Museum!
Ryo's GS setup for Pitt-Inn Live in 1980
Click to magnify..guitar synthesizer signal flow chartClick to magnify..Ryo's original guitarsyntesizer unit
Click to magnify..Photo for Guitar MagazineClick to magnify..Ryo at his home studio on 18th & B'way loft in1981
When Roland presented their newest guitar synthesizer GR-500 synthesizer guitar with GS-500 analog synthesizer module for Ryo Kawasaki to experiment with them in 1979, Ryo immediately started to modify both guitar and module for his needs based on his imagination how they should function by obtaining entire schematics from Roland.

As some of you may already know that Kawasaki was some kind of electronic wizard since his childhood, modifications and implementations of new parts and wiring was his second nature, however he has struggled how to put all the parts together which becomes mobile in his live performances and ready to go by just plugging in/out and power without any extra patching of wires at the arena? Unfortunately none of parts he used was meant to be rack mountable configuration that sizes and shapes of them are completely different from one to another.

After more than half a year of dedication in this development, he finally made his mobile guitar synthesizer system by using iron frames which hold all the parts being screwed to these frames and shelves tightly as to become a single piece of equipment, and he had to saw each iron frame to meet necessary measurements according to his blue print. Also, addition of more than twenty individual parts, it was important that how they should be connected together and how to control them through either switches, knobs on guitar or foot pedals and foot switches while performing on guitar, and most of time, his both hands are occupied playing guitar, and he only had flick of second to make any changes during the performance by his hands. To enable this, he has added several additional toggle switches on guitar as well as foot pedal board, he was also not happy with the guitar sound of original GR-500, so he took off sustain magnetic board at the bottom of the neck and added standard double coiled humbucking pickup.

Further more, his vision for this development was not only limited to improve the sound and performance of guitar synthesizer alone, but he also wanted to have programmable rhythm track and sequencer which enables him to perform in solo concerts by himself and since it was still pre-MIDI era, he has accomplished these tasks using analog sequencers and drum/percussion machines synced together with pulse signal and any of them could be fired at his will by flipping one of switches mounted on this guitar worked as start/stop/pause buttons of those sequencers. For this reason, he added Korg MS-50 module mainly to produce Bass sounds or arpegiating effects fired by Roland CSQ-100 & CSQ-600 sequencers synced with TR-808 and DR-55 drum machines, he also had to employ multiple sequencers at his solo concerts so that there are enough memories to store pre-programmed variety of sequences last long enough for each show to serve as sound backdrop for his improvisations through his guitar synthesizer sounds combined with standard guitar sounds. He has done numerous solo performances at planetariums and museums during early 80's using this system alone.

At the same time Korg also introduced their X-911 monophonic guitar synthesizer and presented it to Kawasaki as well, which he integrated into his system to perform single line solos with itís better tracking along with quite expressive LFO(vibrato and pitch bend) pedal with it, while using polyphonic part of GS-500 to drive additional Oberheim and Emu modules to create rich strings, woodwinds and brass sounding sections being processed through flanger, delay and reverb to orchestrate his performance. The basic signal flow chart of his system is shown above and core parts used in this system is shown in photo album below.

Once the system was made and sturdy enough for traveling and stands for anticipated abuse or accidents in such transport, the next question was how to make the case (container) for this system? Luckily, one of his Japanese friends in NY was a carpenter, and he proposed that he can make sturdy wooden case (about an inch thick woods with metal colligates with screws to bind them together at each coner) with two parts, one part is the bottom tray/base to hold entire system on four wheels while this base is tightly pre-mounted to the bottom of the system, and another part is to cover the system from the top and using ten metal locks to latch the top with the bottom part (three each on longer sides and two each on shorter sides) with two big handles using metal pipe mounted on narrower sides so that up to three person can grab the handle on each side with both hands on it. This covering part also had two holes enough to insert two hands on two narrow sides so that two person can lift this cover up above 5 feet in the air in order to place this covering part from the top, because this top cover part weighed about 30 Kg by itself alone. As a result, the system with its case weighed exactly 500 Lbs (230 Kg); it was liftable with two regular persons about to knee height in order to load and unload to/from the Volkswagen van they were using at that time for their local traveling. Although, for carrying up stairs, it required at least four, or six persons to be easy and safe, probably only the closest contender for this kind of weight in music instruments are original Hammond B3 or Grand Piano!


This guitar synthesizer was extensively used and featured on following four albums until Ryo has drifted out for C64 programming.


Little Tree - 1980
 
Live - 1980
 
RYO/Concierto De Aranjuez - 1981
 
Lucky Lady - 1982