March 16, 2009

Roland SH-101 (1981)

Released 1981, the SH-101 monosynth looks like a 1-voice Juno 6. But unlike most of Roland's previous instruments, which were chunky affairs designed for use on tabletops and stands, was constructed from high-density plastic, with the result that it was extremely light. Some players derided this, equating its weight to its sound, but this was foolish.
The SH-101 sounds excellent, and there was a good reason for its construction. It was designed for posing. With the optional MGS1 modulation grip - a stubby handle that provided LFO and pitch-bend controls - became the de facto standard sling-on synth for the electro-pop crowd, and remains one of Roland's enduring successes. The 1981's SH-101was an instant classic, and is still popular today.

The SH-101 is very cool, especially for techno, drum&bass and Acid. It's a monophonic bass synthesizer. Its sound lies somewhere between the Roland TB-303 and a Juno bass sound. It has a lot of simple but cool features. You can control the VCF, pitch, LFO or all from the pitch bender. It has a white noise generator, arpeggiator with up, down and up/down patterns and a simple real-time sequencer. The LFO offers random, sine, square or noise waveforms. And normal or auto portamento effects give you that elastic bass sound. There are external clock inputs for the sequencer and arpeggiator, CV/GATE inputs and outputs and a CV hold pedal.
There is no patch memory storage and although it has no MIDI there are upgrades available for it from many analog service companies that will allow you to incorporate it into any MIDI studio environment. It can also be controlled by MIDI using a CV/MIDI converter. It's great for bass sounds or bubbly analog effects. They come in three different flavors - grey, blue or red and there was a ultra-rare white version too.

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