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.

Lookup Roland SH-101 Prices

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106 Visitor comments
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.
June 12, 2011 @ 5:11 am
Yes; unfortunately there are simple economics at work. Demand does outstrip supply for this synth. And, unfortunately, despite the success of Korg's recent forays back into the analogue world, it seems that Roland's R&D department are committed to the 'let's build workstations with D-Beam controllers' route, so we can't expect another SH-101. When I said, 'Don't pay more than £400 for one', I was thinking not so much of the initial outlay, but more on the amount that one will inevitably have to spend repairing broken key contacts, crackly pots etc. This synth is nearly thirty years old.
April 23, 2011 @ 11:24 am
Everyone's saying not to pay more than X dollars/pounds for one, but there are pretty simple economics at work here. Roland isn't making them anymore (supply) but people continue to want them (demand). So if you want a very portable, very squelchy, and aesthetically-pleasing little monosynth, and you have the money, just go for it. Analogs are only going to increase in value over time anyway. You could have found the SH-101 (and virtually anything else) in a pawn shop ten years ago for $100. Nobody wanted them then, but now analog is back. So if you can find one that works, just buy it already
April 19, 2011 @ 7:05 pm
funny you should mention the colour thing as I actually had blue one! Suppose that's why I mentioned the "fashion" thing as sold mine on for silly money to a Shoreditch W@nker!:)
Agreed 101's are nice little synths but after owning virtually every budget analog synth known to man I've settled on a SH-09 which is more my thing and much cheaper than a 101 these days.
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  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay 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
  • Resources & Credits
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