Roland and Fender have joined forces to create a guitar called the G-5, that fuses a traditional Stratocaster body shape with cutting edge digital music technology. Set to hit the shelves a few months before either of the Auto-Tune guitars from Peavey and Parker, the VG Strat G-5 offers similar alternate tuning at the turn of a knob, a host of onboard digital guitar emulations and the chance to dial in different pickup and signature guitar sounds, too.

The March 2012 release of the G-5 represents the second outing for the Fender/Roland partnership, the first being 2007's VG Strat guitar, although the latter company has been at the forefront of guitar/synth technology since launching the GR-500 way back in 1977. The new guitar is to all intents a supercharged Stratocaster - it has the familiar Alder body housing three American Strat single-coil pickups, a 22-fret neck, chrome inline tuners and a synchronized tremolo bridge. The G-5, though, also features Roland's VG engine.

Inside the guitar's body sits the Composite Object Sound Modeling (COSM) engine , the same feature-rich tone technology found in the GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer we featured last March. In order for all the digital sound manipulation magic to happen on the G-5, there's a Roland GK-3 Divided Pickup mounted between the bridge and a "normal" pickup, which sends the captured signal from each string to the COSM engine for digital processing.

As you might expect, the dial layout is a little different from a standard Strat, which has a five-way pickup selector, a volume knob and two tone dials below the pickups. The G-5 features one overall volume and one global tone for both Fender pickups mounted on the three-ply scratch plate/pickguard. Joining them is a Mode control that selects between five modeling modes, and a Tuning control that can instantly change the instrument's tuning, without getting anywhere near the tuning heads. There are five alternate tunings available from this dial, including open G, drop D and baritone.

The G-5 also offers different pickup and signature model sounds, including a Telecaster, an acoustic and a 12-string emulation. When an acoustic model is selected, the guitar also offers a digital reverb effect via the global tone knob.

The VG Stratocaster G-5 will be exclusively distributed by Roland and is offered with either a rosewood fingerboard for the classic sunburst finish or maple for the black edition.

While you're waiting for the first instruments to appear in a store near you, watch virtuoso Alex Hutchings take the G-5 through its paces in the following video from Roland:

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