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Taking Guitar Tone to the VG-99th Power

Published: Mon October 13, 2008  News Feed
As one of the first guitarists to embrace guitar synthesis in the early ’80s with Roland’s GR-300, Adrian Belew has taken guitar tone to the moon and back. His unique ability to create other-worldly guitar sounds first led to tours and album credits with Frank Zappa, David Bowie, and the Talking Heads.
Adrian Belew (Photo)

By Tiffany Schirz- “I’ve written music because of the VG-99. If I get a piece of gear that does something I can’t otherwise do, I’m going to write some music for it. And that’s priceless,” says master guitar-tone innovator, Adrian Belew.

Belew found success in what is perhaps his best-known role: as front-man of the landmark prog rock group, King Crimson. Belew also has a long list of session credits, from Paul Simon’s 1986 epic Graceland to albums by Nine Inch Nails, Porcupine Tree, Tori Amos and many more. He has consistently released solo albums over the years, and in 2005 he received a Grammy nomination in the Best Rock Instrumental Performance category for his single, “Beat Box Guitar.”

But even with all his success, Belew is still pushing the limits and doing things he’s never done before — like playing multiple virtual guitars at once using the Roland VG-99 V-Guitar System. Belew says, “I realized I could actually create a second ‘guitar player’ with a different sound and different tunings. It’s like [having] a fourth member of the band!”

Belew is also now able to play some of his compositions live for the first time ever, thanks to the VG-99’s onboard guitar models and ability to create and store alternate tunings.

“I wrote a lot of material at one point on a dobro with DADDAD tuning, but I was never able to play it live because of the complications of having to mic it up, having an odd tuning and all of those things. I can now do that.

The VG-99 has a really good dobro that’s completely controllable — no microphone, nothing added, and I don’t have to carry more gear around — listen to that!” Belew raves as he begins to play, filling the room with a full, harmonic sound that propels listeners into yet another new tonal universe.

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