Hands On: BOSS SY-3000 Guitar Synthesizer

SY300 Featured Image

It’s no secret that I love guitar tone — after all, I wrote a book on it! But I also love synthesizers and all the textures and sounds that they can create. So it will come as no surprise that I’ve always wanted a hassle-free, natural way to access synth sounds using my guitar. Don’t get me wrong — I use and enjoy several different guitar synth systems. But they all require special pickups and controls. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could just plug in your guitar and hear synth sounds come out when you play?

Now you can with the amazing, new SY-300 from BOSS. The SY-300 requires no special pickup or electronics; you just plug in your regular guitar cable, like with an effects pedal, and start picking. The amazing thing is that it tracks perfectly and lets you play chords! I admit that when I first heard about this new BOSS technology, I was skeptical. But now, having played through it, I’m convinced — it works perfectly. The SY-300 follows your articulations exactly: palm muting, bends, vibrato; every technique translates to the synth sound. The sound is created using three oscillator paths with all the standard synth engine technology — filters, envelopes, etc. Then, you have four effects processors, and you can add in the dry guitar tone or route the guitar tone out to an external effects processor and bring it back into the mix. All of this can be routed in series or parallel, and mixed and mashed, resulting in a complex raw sonic resource that’s very easy to control, edit, and use. You get three onboard footswitches for control, and you can add two more footswitches or an expression pedal.

The result is that you play guitar, but synth sounds come out. Monster basses, fat resonant leads, lush pads, rhythmic textures, sonic washes… there are 70 factory presets and 99 user presets for storing your sounds, and there’s even a cool Blender function for quickly creating new sounds. And, for even more power, you can connect a computer via USB and either graphically edit patches, download new patches, or even record directly from the SY-300 to your DAW.

I’m blown away by the SY-300. The term “game changer” gets thrown around a lot, but in this case, I think it’s apropos. If you’re a guitar player who lusts after synth sounds, this is the box for you!