Hi everyone,

I thought I’d share my quick install of the Roland GK-3B divided BASS pickup on my Ibanez 5-string bass.

I have been using the Roland GR-55 for several years with my guitars.  I am also a bass player, but I just never felt the need up to now to add synth access to the bass.  However I am playing bass on Michael Jackson’s Thriller for Evergreen Community Orchestra’s fall pops concert and I was trying to find some way to emulate the bass sound in Jackson’s recording.  After doing a bit of research it seemed to me that the bass, at least in the studio recording of Thriller, was played through a Moog MiniMoog.  So at first I searched around to see if there is some kind of electric bass effects pedal that could emulate that Moog synth sound and there are.  For example, this or this or this.  But, I stopped in my tracks when the old light bulb turned on in my head when I realized for about the same price as the Boss SYB-5 I could add the GK-3B and have way more flexibility using the GR-55.  The GR-55 includes a HUGE number of synth PCM tones including one named “BigMoog” that I thought might come close to the MiniMoog.  (more on that later!)

Here is a video and a summary of the GK-3B Installation:

About the Roland GK-3B Divided Pickup

The Roland GK-3B Divided Pickup is what you need to add to your bass in order to play through a Roland guitar synth, such as the GR-55.

The GK-3B is easier to install than you would think from first glance at the owner’s manual.  The GK-3 includes an adjustable curve design to keep an even distance between the strings for better response. The shims, pads and double-sided tape lets the GK pickup mount right in front of the bridge. The guitar connection is 1/4 in. to 1/4 in., and the GK pick-up wire retracts for a neat installation.  The Roland GK-3B Divided Pickup sends individual signals from each bass string to GK compatible devices. It is carefully designed for guitar performance by having a large GK knob, and a Select Switch to change from synth, to normal guitar tone, or both of them mixed.

The nice thing is by following Roland’s instructions you can attach the GK-3B without any drilling or modification of your instrument.

Roland GK-3B Divided Pickup Specifications

Controls

  • GK Volume
  • DOWN/S1 Switch
  • UP/S2 Switch
  • Select Switch
  • Indicator
  • Power Indicator
  • Connectors
  • GK Connector
  • Normal Pickup Input Jack

Roland GK-3B divided pickup installation

The following diagram of the GK3B appears in the owners manual.

This is the process described in the GK-3B owner’s manual and it should work for other basses.

Make sure you have a clean, cushioned place to work on your guitar. It would be a shame to scratch up your baby.

If you need new strings, this would be a good time to install them!

Adjust the pickup string spacing. As distances between strings vary with the model of the bass, the spacing between each of the coils in the pickup must be   adjusted to match the particular bass.  Unless this adjustment is made accurately, the GK-compatible device will not function at its full potential, or may not operate correctly. Please make this adjustment with care.  See page 8 of the owner’s manual for details on how to measure and adjust the spacing.

Attaching the Pickup with Double-Sided Tape: You decide on the location in which to install the pickup.  For a 5-string bass:Attach the divided pickup so that the center marker is between strings 2 (D) and 3 the 2nd string marker is directly below 1 (G), and the 5th string marker is directly below string 4 (E).

The divided pickup must be installed in the correct orientation. Make sure that the cable from the divided pickup is extending from the bridge side.

 

 

Tune each string to its normal tuning.

Adjust the height of the pickup. Use the supplied spacers as needed to achieve a clearance of 1.5 mm between each string and the top of the pickup.  Use the supplied 1.5 mm gauge to check the clearance when the top and bottom strings are depressed at the highest fret.

Remove the strings from the bass.

Attach with double sided tape: Remove the backing from the tapes for the pickup cushion, the pickup spacers, and the pickup, and carefully attach the pickup to the bass.  Be sure to clean the surface of the bass carefully to remove any dust or film before attaching the tape.  Press the assembly firmly to ensure a good bond with the tape.

Restring and tune the bass, then carefully check the height of the divided pickup once more.Adjust if needed.

Attaching the Controller: To maintain a bass-modification-free installation, I installed the GK controller using the supplied bracket.  Due to the shape and configuration of my bass there was not an ideal location, from a usability standpoint, to install the unit.  Ideally, I would like it to be located close to the other controls, but there simply is not room.  Initially, I mounted the controller on the back side of my bass and from an aesthetics standpoint this is a good location because the only thing visible from the front was a small part of the bracket.  However, from a usability standpoint, this location had some problems.  The primary problem with it being rear mounted is that during playing the controller can bump into your body and change the GK volume knob position or the S1/S2 switches.  This is not good!  The volume know turns very easily.  So at first, I wrapped the controller with 3M painters tape to ensure no controls would accidentally get changed.  I control the volume and patch and bank changes outside the controller, so I don’t really need them.  My second placement option is on the front side above the bridge.  This location will be prone to bumping the volume knob and switches too.  So, I am going to try it out here for a while and decide where to go from there after some real life experience.

 

Finally, be sure to attach the 1/4″short cable to the GK-3B and bass 1/4 inch output jack.

Completed Installation

This is the Roland GK-3B divided bass pickup on my Ibanez SR405EQM 5 string bass.

I hope this is helpful to you and that you thoroughly enjoy your Roland GK-3B Divided Bass Pickup.

CC BY-NC 4.0 How to Install the Roland GK-3B Bass Pickup for Synth Access by Christopher J Music is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.