VG-99 Guitar Synth Shootout
How will the Splawn Nitro Compare?

Roland VG-99 Guitar Synthesiser
      Click HERE for Pictures
      Click HERE for Pictures
VG-99 Guitar Synth Sounds - all in mp3  Nitro Sounds - all in mp3
Clean Sound
Rhythm Sound
Heavy Rhythm Sound
Heavy Rhythm Sound (Recto-Strat-Les Paul)
Lead Sound (Marshall/Les Paul)
Lead Sound (Strat Sound)
Clean Sound
Rhythm Sound
Heavy Rhythm Sound
Lead Sound
 Specifications  Specifications
AD Conversion 24 bits + AF method
DA Conversion 24 bits
Sampling Frequency 44.1 kHz
Program Memories 400: 200 (User) + 200 (Preset)
Nominal Input Level GUITAR INPUT: -10 dBu
Input Impedance GUITAR INPUT: 2.2 M ohm
Nominal Output Level MAIN OUT: -10 dBu
SUB OUT (XLR): +4 dBu GUITAR OUT: -10 dBu
Output Impedance MAIN OUT: 1 k ohm
SUB OUT (XLR): 600 ohms
Dynamic Range 100 dB or greater (IHF-A)
Digital Output Coaxial type (conforms to IEC60958)


Controls OUTPUT LEVEL knob, Function knobs (F1--F6), BALANCE knob, PATCH LEVEL knob, V-LINK button, DIRECT PATCH buttons (1--5), CONTROL buttons (1, 2), COSM GUITAR MODELLING TYPE buttons (A, B), COSM GUITAR ALTERNATE TUNING button, POLY FX A/B buttons (A, B), FX buttons (A, B), COSM AMP buttons (A, B), MIXER buttons (A, B), DELAY/REVERB button, DYNAMIC button, CHAIN button, CONTROL ASSIGN button, NAME/KEY/BPM button, Function buttons (F1--F6), EXIT button, WRITE button, PAGE buttons x 2 (Left, Right), GUITAR TO MIDI button, SYSTEM button, GLOBAL button, TUNER button, CATEGORY button, PATCH/VALUE dial, Power switch
D Beam Controller PITCH button, FILTER button, ASSIGNABLE button
Display 240 x 64 dots graphic LCD (backlit LCD)


Top Panel GK IN connector
Rear Panel GUITAR INPUT jack, GUITAR OUTPUT jack, SUB OUT jacks (XLR)(L, R)
MAIN OUT jacks x 2 (L/MONO, R)PHONES jack, DIGITAL OUT jack, EXP PEDAL jack, CTL 3,4 jack, USB connector, RRC2 connector, MIDI connectors x 2 (IN, OUT), DC IN jack, Ground Lift switch (SUB OUT)
Power Supply AC Adaptor (PSB-1U)
Current Draw 1.3 A

Accessories Owner's Manual, GK cable (3 m), USB cable, RRC2 cable, VG-99 Software CD-ROM, AC adaptor (PSB-1U), Roland Service (information sheet)

Options Divided Pickup: GK-3, MIDI Foot Controller: FC-300, Footswitch: BOSS FS-5U/6, Expression Pedal: EV-5, BOSS FV-500L/500H, GK Cable: GKC-10/5/3, Unit Selector: US-20, GK Parallel Box: GKP-4, Rack Mount Adaptor: RAD-99, Pad Stand: PDS-10, Footswitch Cable: PCS-31

Size and Weight ( Dimensions )
Width 384 mm 15-1/8 inches
Depth 218 mm 8-5/8 inches
Height 94 mm 3-11/16 inches
Weight 2.1 kg 4 lbs. 11 oz.
New Splawn Nitro 100 watt Head
Splawn tone with more saturation
Voiced for bigger low end and lower midrange
Clean w/ Independent EQ, Rhy and Lead channel
Solo boost and Resonance control
Overdrive channel has an OD1/OD2
footswitch function (which gives you a gain setting for rhythm and lead sounds)
Effects loop
Half power switch
Three button footswitch w/ LED's
F/S functions
#1 Clean & Overdrive
#2 OD1 & OD2
#3 Solo Boost
Heyboer Transformers
with choice of Mullard EL34's, Tung Sol EL34B  or Sovtek KT88's
 Our Views  Our Views
From time to time there comes along a product that is set to change the way we think about music.

The Roland VG-99 is that product.

As a guitarist you will no doubt have seen historically the midi controllers used on guitars in a half assed fashion that could not track its way along a railway line, how awful that technology really was and just how bad that end result was if you have ever used a guitar synth.

The VG-99 is NOT a guitar synth - read it again - it is NOT a guitar synth - it's a Guitar Simulator of the highest order.

This piece of kit does use a special pickup that is fitted to the guitar - just like the old midi controllers used to be, but that's where the resemblance ends. In fact, on this pickup there are SIX tiny pickups - one for each string, which are fed in to the VG-99 and it allows the main unit to do some wondrous things.

The main thrust with the VG-99 is that you can sound like almost any amp/cab combination, almost any stringed instrument, synthesisers and keyboards, sitars, acoustics, Strats, Gibson's... well the list goes on and on almost forever.

Some of these simulations are so real if you shut your eyes you cannot tell the difference!

The VG-99 even lets you play in different guitar tunings (thanks to that pickup) without retuning your guitar - it really is an awesome product using the highest level technology available today anywhere within the music industry. You may disagree....

However, nice as this box is - it still needs an amp! AND speakers!

There is basically every conceivable thing available to you as a guitarist if you use the VG-99 and the FC300 foot pedal which was developed especially for the VG-99 and is the only way to get really in to this technology - you WILL be surprised at the result.

Also the new GT-10 uses this exact same technology and has improved dramatically over the previous GT products - you might take the time to listen to that also.

Warranty on this item is one year - but is extremely reliable, but the pickup is a little flimsy.

There are no tubes of any kind and there is no Bias feature.

Listen at the examples on this page - something in one of them will surely get you thinking about this technology...

The acoustic guitars are absolutely real....

Negatives: Simulations are sometimes junk, no REAL Tube distortion, silicon only (now you know how your girl friend feels)




This device (its not an amp) is an awesome piece of kit. It can sound completely real (although some of the sounds above are not really that representational of what it CAN achieve. It can sound like a Nitro - just (especially if you're drunk :-) ) but it can really do things the Nitro never will... some of it's sounds really are unbelievable...

So in this 'shootout' they both win - 100% for both.

Now that IS a surprising comment from a guy who lives tube amps!

The Nitro packs a punch - of that there is no doubt in my mind. This amp was developed for the guitarist that needed that extra drive and more importantly that bottom end that this amp just loves to deliver.

Each and every one of these amps is custom made for the user by Splawn based in Dallas, North Carolina, USA and there is a waiting list - always a good sign of a hot product.

The one on this site was bought towards the end of 2008 and was delivered a few months later in awesome condition which oozed quality right out of the box. There were absolutely no issues whatsoever with this amps pedigree and build quality.

The options when buying enable you to buy an amp customised for you and a unique product. Fortunately, most guitarists have never heard of Splawn amps - and that's a good thing if you are in the market - firstly because the wait time is kept reasonable (and quality will matter at production) but secondly that you will be buying one of the worlds premier manufactured and designed products for what is really an awesome price and extremely hard to beat.

The Nitro is a 100 Watt head which utilises a few tubes (which you can specify at order time) such as EL34, KT88 etc and likely there are more options if you contact Splawn directly.

Basically it's a two channel amp with extra 'solo' options residing on a foot pedal. It does not have all the bells and whistles of some amps on this site, but it does have a effects loop which is switchable, it does have a mains voltage switch for different countries and it does have an awesome tone.

There's also a handy half power switch if you want to be half soaked ( :-) ).

The amp features a great resonance control that can change this fire breathing monster in to somewhat of a pussy (in the nicest sense of the word) so that it is quite tame - for other styles of music than just modern heavy rock.

This amp comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty to the original owner of the amp, but tubes and transformers are just 90 days... it seems every manufacturer wants to semi warranty those parts...  yet in law they would be liable for failure (at least here in the UK they would).

In any case - it is very unlikely you will need the warranty - or indeed the manual - this amp is as easy to play though as you can get.

This amp is one of the best kept secrets and the best priced top end gear amps available anywhere in the world today.

Negatives: None.

Price:$1549 Retail £1195 (Retail) Price:$1950 ($2250 Export)
 Commercial Track with VG-99 HERE - in mp3
 This track does not feature even one real guitar
 throughout - an awesome achievement.
The VG-99 is one amazing piece of kit. Trust me, you COULD buy this with the FC-300 controller, a stereo Power amp and never buy another amp for a very long time to come - and with the FC-300 control is easy for gigging or studio.

Don't buy a VG-99 to emulate a Splawn Nitro - you will spend a long time developing that Nitro sound.

But if you want acoustics, great sounding Marshall, Soldano and other simulations with some fantastic effects including Guitar Simulations there would be no competition. If you want one of the best sounding tube amps get the Nitro!

These sounds are also in the GT-10 Engine
The VG-99 out guns the Splawn Nitro in near enough every respect, most sounds (but not the Splawn Nitro Sounds), price, features etc.

BUT  - unless you spend a very long time honing your sound to emulate the Splawn Nitro - the VG-99 will never be a Nitro - probably not even then.

The choice is a simple one, but actually very complex and extends much further than a simple comparison here. They are BOTH awesome in entirely differing respects.

By the way, I HATE Roland - they are arrogant in the tech support in the UK, but Roland do have a good product in the VG-99 - so do Splawn in the Nitro :-)