Roland GR-500 Guitar Synthesizer "Each string is an orchestra" full page colour advertisement from page 99 in the January (UK)/February (US) 1978 issue of International Musician and Recording World Magazine.
Gah! How silly of me.
Here I thought that the first full-page advertisement for the GR-500 in IM was this "Play me a rainbow" ad.
I actually thought that the ad scanned above was only a half-pager because that was how I originally recorded it into my database.
What? A database? You thought I knew all these synth ad stats off the top of my head?!?! That's crazy talk. :D
Anyways, point being, I was delaying the posting this "half pager" so I could do my cute little "you thought this other ad was the first ad for this [insert instrument here]..." bloggy thing I do. Yah, I know. Cheesy. .
So, then the other day as I'm lining up my next few ads, I actually pay a bit closer attention to this one and figure out it's actually a full pager. Go figure.
Then it got me wondering - I wonder if readers at the time had the same problem - only seeing half of this ad. To me, the top half of this advertisement just doesn't fit in with the bottom half. The top is totally black and white, and the bottom is colour. My eye is immediately drawn to the colourful image of the GR500, and then that thick black-lined box around the top half of the ad acts like a barrier and my brain doesn't want my eye to cross back up to the top half. Even with the large guitar neck imagery, the font used with it is so tiny and different looking that it too makes brain want to separate it from the bottom half.
Luckily for Roland, even if some readers only "got" half of this advertisement, this issue of International Musician also included a FULL PAGE promo of the GR500 only a page or two away. The GR500 promo was at the end of an 18-page Chase Musicians supplement (aka the London Synthesizer Centre Report) - a large advertising sectional promoting the new London Synthesizer Centre that opened on Chalton Street just a short six months previously in June 1977. I've blogged a bit about this supplement before - can't find the post at the moment though. Chase must have spent a ton of cash on promoting pages upon pages on ARP, Octave, Korg, Yamaha, Elka, and of course, Roland.
The GR-500 promo page is written almost like a review of the instrument with good sized paragraphs explaining every feature of the GR-500. and, boy, is it ballsy. Just read this introduction:
"FOR YEARS, guitarists have dreamed of new sounds. Now there's a whole Galaxy of new sounds waiting to be discovered. Roland have built a guitar synthesizer!Ballsy or what? And you know this statement must be true, because that last word was in capitals AND bolded. :)
In the last ten years millions of pounds have been spent developing effects pedals and special pick-ups to improve guitar sounds. Now they are all OBSOLETE!"
US readers of International Musician would get another lucky break with even more GR-500 goodness through the appearance of an actual "balanced" review of the GR500 the following month in the February (UK)/March (International) issue of International Musician and Recording World.
US readers only? Confused? So was I for a bit. It seems that before IMRW split into what looks like totally separate magazines for their UK and US audiences, US readers got the exact same magazine as the UK - UK advertisements and all. But, apparently this Feb/March IM magazine was the "first ever US issue" running at a measly 86 pages. This US issue has no price label or month-of-issue date on the outside cover, so I'm thinking in these early days it may just have been packaged in with the full 202 page UK issue for the US peeps - maybe as an early way for local US advertisers to hit the US readers. An experiment of sorts.
Anyways, before I got sidetracked, I wanted to mention the two-page GR-500 review that appeared in this first US issue. Written by Dave Simmons, it is almost as glowing as the Chase advertisement that appeared the month before - with detailed info on the guitar itself, as well as on the four main sections of the synth unit - Polyensemble, Bass, Solo melody, External synth. A good read.
The UK really had a monopoly on the GR500 advertising circuit. There is very little to be found on this side of the pond. Shame that is.
End note: Another interesting thing about the January/February issue of IM - there is ANOTHER Roland advertisement by a different synthesizer store in London - Macari's - that uses the exact same photo as this scanned ad - except in black and white. This Macari's ad is letting readers know that from January 14-21 they can view a special exhibition and demonstration of Roland instruments staged by Macari's and Brodr-Jorgensen at their London store.
Makes me wonder if BJ's strategy was to play stores against each other. And it also makes me wonder if BJ pitched in on advertising costs for these dealer ads.