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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106 Visitor comments
Daz King
February 7, 2013 @ 7:43 pm
Can I just correct you on 2 of the details posted? The SH-101 had a 100 note 'Step-time' sequencer not 'Real-time' as specified. And the 'rare' white version is fokelore, I'm afraid there has been many photographs of this 'white' version, but alas these have been modified (re-painted) versions.
It always seems some what unfair to label the 101 as a 'Bass Synth' as it's capabilities go far beyond this. An all time great with some 'build quality' issues (esp the power button which would fail and would totally upset the oscillator's tuning when you could get it to work!). Love this site btw :-)
December 22, 2012 @ 7:30 am
Nostalgia alert! My first synth back in the early eighties, and I had the hand grip too. Loved the PWM control and the sequencer. Set it up with a Casio CZ1000 on a Black & Decker Workmate alongside a TR505, and learned the ancient art of playing bass lines live and in time, a skill I lost when I discovered MIDI software and quantizing. Sometimes wish I'd kept the SH; sold it in the early 90s for $150. Yes, I know. I KNOW.
November 27, 2012 @ 10:25 am
oops. meant to post the link to part 1 of the tutorial in my previous post.

All 4 parts of the tutorial cover every aspect of the SH-101's front panel.
November 27, 2012 @ 10:24 am
This was the first synth I ever bought.

It is the easiest of synth's to program, has a great (and stable) sound and can be used for bass and lead lines with or without effects (IMHO).

I finally got around to explaining how to program the SH-101. For anyone thinking of buying the instrument, this guide might be of help.
Peter Kadar
July 7, 2012 @ 3:51 pm
For the record, the Bass Station is analog.

Whatever gets you the sound you like and need is what is correct, whether a DX7, SH-101, Minimoog, or a plug in. It's all good.

Lots of people are controlling their oscillators with voltage these days. All the Moog stuff is voltage controlled, and both my Phatty, Minitaur, and Voyager OS all sound pretty good I'd say. The technology is still improving, though not at the rate of DSP. The new Minibrute looks to turn the monosynth world on its ear!
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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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