Roland SH-3a

Roland SH-3a Image

The SH-3a is a funky little analog synth and was among Roland's first programmable additive synths. Like the SH-1 and SH-09, the SH-3a has a single oscillator for a simple monophonic sound. Not nearly as good as the two or three VCO's found in other monophonic synths. It could perform additive synthesis by mixing in up to five different waveforms. All of its editing controls which are just shy of the SH-5's features have been crammed together all the way to the left of the keyboard. This was an attempt to accommodate organ and piano players who would typically put their synths on top of their piano. This makes space for sheet music, there's even a stand for sheet music. As for its construction, the wood casing is covered with fake leather, and protected by metal corners. It has been used by Kitaro, Human League and Vangelis.

Lookup Roland SH-3a Prices

The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

Related forum topics


Are you looking to buy or sell a Roland SH-3a? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

12 Visitor comments
July 9, 2014 @ 10:42 am
Having sold synths in London's 'West End' during the 1970s, the SH3A was by far the most popular synth going.

Somewhere in the world (last seen in SE London, mid 1980's) is a 'left-handed' Roland SH3A, insofar as the control-panel has been moved to the right-hand side of the case and the keyboard slid over to the left-hand side.

It took me most of 1 day to convert it, but I still couldn't play it any better, but then again a freshly smashed elbow didn't help much either....
December 12, 2012 @ 1:37 am
Just bought one of these for $70 on Craigslist and it sounds great compared to most modern synths despite not having extensive tweakability. Missing the lid but otherwise in fairly good shape. SN 302001. Previous owner was a smoker, so it smells like an ashtray but it still sounds like an angel!

By far the best $70 I've ever spent.
June 27, 2011 @ 5:42 pm
The SH-3(a) is one of the most interesting synths ever made. An unusual (frankly weird) set of controls and of course the unfathomable SAMPLER section. Pure analog, no ICs... STEVE the SH-3 (not a) is a much rarer early model. ROLAND was sued by MOOG for infringement of their LADDER FILTER design. The 3a version has a much less interesting LPF and is for sure the weak link in an otherwise unique, if not beguiling, bit of kit.
January 29, 2010 @ 5:01 pm
Have had one of these for years and years - model SH3 (no a). LOVE IT! Have also owned moogs and korgs and various other analog and digital boards... hate to disagree with others, but I really love the warmth and personality of this synth, I use it all the time for sessions and live. The one oscillator can be fattened a lot with the additive synthesis, and the filter (at least on the SH3) is fantastic. I do however agree with a previous post about the limitations of the sample and hold.
Rose Specs
December 3, 2009 @ 11:01 am
This synth has got character and fatness, definitely not 'cold' in my opinion... it is very much alive and often dawdles through melancholic cat moans before exploding into perky space zings. Actually the first synth I ever used so i could be nostalgically biased... did use it for an undisputably good wobble bass recently though....thanks scozbor!
Post Comment!
VSE Rating

It’s Good

User Rating

Rated 3.91 (226 Votes)

  • 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.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Monophonic (low note takes priority)
  • Oscillators - 1 VCO plus Pink/White Noise generator and Portamento
  • Memory - None
  • LFO - LFO1 has sawtooth waveform, LFO2 sine or square and delay slider, Sample-and-Hold with level and sample time sliders. LFO's can be assigned to VCF, VCA, VCO.
  • VCF - Resonant self-oscillating lowpass filter w/ frequency and resonance controls
  • VCA - VCA is basic ADSR type
  • Arpeg/Seq - None
  • Keyboard - 44 keys
  • Control - None
  • Date Produced - 1974 - 1976
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from

Errors or Corrections? Send them here.