Roland SH-101

Roland SH-101 Image

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 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.

Roland SH-101 Blue Image

Unfortunately 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 - gray, blue or red (there was a VERY rare white version too)! It can also be strapped on like a guitar for live performance using the optional Hand Grip.

Red SH-101

It is used by Orbital, Future Sound of London, Überzone, The Prodigy, 808 State, The Grid, Cirrus, Eat Static, Jimmy Edgar, Apollo 440, Devo, Union Jack, Luke Vibert, Dirty Vegas, Josh Wink, the Crystal Method, Aphex Twin, Astral Projection, Les Rythmes Digitales, Sense Datum, Squarepusher, Sascha Konietzko of KMFDM/MDFMK, Freddy Fresh, Lab-4, Nitzer Ebb, the Chemical Brothers, Boards of Canada and many more.

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104 Visitor comments
January 18, 2012 @ 2:28 pm
Folks complain about the price these are fetching for, but if you look at who is making analog mono synths these days the price matches the market value. A Mopho or a SH-101? Not an easy decision. Same goes for the MS-10. Going vintage comes with risks that you don't get with buying new, but then again DSI had all those encoder issues on the P'08. I bought one of these new for $900 and looking at what I got compared to the new synth market, I've never looked back. The interface is just awesome and the random LFO generator syncs to trigger pulses, giving a nice bounce to the VCF. Worth it.
November 30, 2011 @ 6:02 pm
Indeed I sold two SH-101’s for £50 each back in the nineties, because I was taking a break from music. Wish I had bagged them up and put them in the loft for later. Not because now they fetch silly money, but because the SH-101 is an incredibly easy to use and inspiring synth to use. I loved mine from the word go and they paid back my initial investment a hundred fold in fun, fun, fun.

I would definitely buy one again, but not at current prices.
October 29, 2011 @ 8:04 am
People certainly DID want SH-101's 10 years ago! The first wave of analog revival was in the early-mid 90's. The last time I remember they weren't really sort after was probably before 1993 when the standard 2nd hand price would 've been £50.

As soon as the techno/electronic thing kicked off 101's were the semi-decent analog mono's to go for. I remember the USA being a bit slower to go after the analog craze , prices didnt go nuts until the start of the millenium.
June 23, 2011 @ 6:42 am
For being a single-oscillator synth this is really really good. I especially like blending in some of the noise generator to complete the sound picture, then maybe add some vibrato and play a nice lead. However, I felt that the synth was way too limited for it's price, and the sound wasn't quite what I was looking for. However, I later saw a demonstration on youtube and got blown away by how much better it sounded than when I tried it out. It's easy to forget that an instrument requires practice and understanding when you just read through lists of synth features all day ^^
June 15, 2011 @ 4:36 pm
I bought mine in the mid 1980's new and I think I paid about £350 for it (Red was a bit more expensive than Grey as I recall). 25 years later with more or less regular use and it's still as good as new. Currently making use of the extremely useful cv and gate outputs and little sequencer to control my synthesizers dot com modular. In other words the build quality as well as the sound is fantastic, especially when compared to Roland's more recent plasticy offerings. Only disappointment is the pitch bend and modulation doesn't translate to the cv output.
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Demos & Media
  • YouTube Thumbnail
    Roland SH-101
    by stretta

    Manual - Roland has made manuals for most of their products available as free PDF downloads.

    Patch File - This is a text document describing how to set up the SH-101 for a nice Orbital style synth lead sound.

  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Monophonic
  • Oscillators - 1 VCO (independent levels for saw, square/pulse/pwm and sub-oscillator)
  • LFO - triangle, square, random and noise waveforms
  • Filter - resonant, self-oscillating LPF, mod by EG, lfo and kybd tracking
  • VCA - ADSR, mod by EG or gate
  • Arpeg/Seq - Digital sequencer up to 100 steps record/playback; Arpeggiator patterns: up, down, up/down
  • Keyboard - 32 keys
  • Control - CV / Gate
  • Date Produced - 1983

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