Issues with a Roland GR-50

Recently, my Roland GR-50 guitar synthesizer has started to complain about it’s battery getting tired, the famous “Check Internal Battery” message.

I thought : “Well ! Easy ! Let’s open up the beast and change the CR2032 battery which is quite a common issue on vintage synth !”.

The task was very easy, it took me less then 15 minutes to remove the 10 screws, swap the battery which is luckily located in a battery holder and put everything back.

After the unit was powered on, I discovered that the patch names were really weird. I look on the Internet and discovered in the service manual (page 7 in “Roland GR-50 Guitar Synthesizer Service Manual.pdf”) that it is necessary to proceed to factory data recovery. This is done by holding down “Number UP”, “EXT” and “WRITE/COPY” simultaneously and to power on the unit (finger gymnastics !).

Roland was providing impressive service manual !

After using this procedure, the weird characters were not appearing anymore but I was not able to find the presets… Next problem ! With another unit or a card containing them, it would have been easy to recover them but without… that’s another story ! You have to find called “FACTORY PATCHES (D-SERIES, JUNO-1&2, MKS-SERIES, U-SERIES, GP-8, GR-50) on Roland website (at the time of writing, it’s located here) and to download a file called In this file, there’s a folder “GR50” and inside this folder a file named GR50ORIG.MID.

Then you have to follow the procedure here. As this url might change in the future, you have to :

  • Confirm that the switch on the back panel of the GR-50 is set to “MIDI.”
  • Connect a MIDI cable from the MIDI Out of the Sequencer or MIDI interface, to the MIDI In on the GR-50.
  • Press the SYSTEM button – “System / Mem Protect = On” shows in the display.
  • Press the VALUE + or – button until Memory Protect is set to “Off.”
  • Press the PARAM A UP [GROUP] button until “System / Exclu Unit # = 17” shows in the display. If the display shows a number other than 17, press the VALUE +/- button until it does.
  • Play the data from the Sequencer / MIDI player. Note: The display will not indicate that the GR-50 is receiving system exclusive data.
  • Once all the files have been sent, the GR-50 will return the the play menu. Note : I haven’t seen that.

It seems to be easy ! Well… no ! I have tried several times with different sequencers or midi players without success. As I’m using Linux, I decided to have a try with the simplest midi player as possible “pmidi” and that was the solution ! Please note that I’m using the best USB to midi interface that I know : the Roland UM-ONE MK2. If you have a cheap Chinese interface, you might get into trouble.

And voilà ! The synthesizer has a new battery and it’s default factory configuration ! What a mess 🙂

I have read that some people were letting the unit on while changing the battery so they are not getting into trouble like me ! This is maybe something dangerous but that can considered 🙂


  1. Felix
    February 13, 2024

    Hi, congrats on your job.
    I’m facing a problem with my two GR50 that I’m bringing back to life (sound libraries cards 1 & 2 inserted).
    Changed the batteries and applied the procedure to install factory patches.
    Everything looks ok but when changing patch (and each name appears properly on the display) the sound doesn’t change: I keep hearing just the pedal steel, and even when selecting external cards patches the result doesn’t change.
    Any idea on what is wrong?
    Thanks a lot, Felix

    • erwan
      May 12, 2024

      Dear Felix, Sorry but I forgot to answer to this question. Did you find a solution in the meantime ?

    May 11, 2024

    Hello ThanksFor information of Changing, Batterie, for me , It’s the Beginning With. This Machine and I d like to progresse …can you Give, me an answer? , For the moment,with m’y Godin multiac I havé only the sound of the gr 50,I thought it was possible to make a level for guitare and for synthétiseur…. Is it normal.
    Thanks a lot

    • erwan
      May 12, 2024

      Dear Antolin, not sure about that. In the meantime, I have sold the unit and I was using with a Roland GK-3 but only to drive the GR-50. I presume that it’s only a question of midi not audio (and that you have to plug the guitar audio out somewhere else).

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