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.

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12 Visitor comments
November 6, 2009 @ 12:38 pm
i just sold mine... i tried to make it interesting by adding patchjacks but it didnt help much.. it still has a boring basic sound.
back to the modularwall........
July 14, 2009 @ 1:03 pm
Also used by Steve Roach (x2), The Enid, Carlos Perón/Yello, Chris Carter/Throbbing Gristle and Swedish pop/New wave band Secret Service.

According to Maryn Ware of the original Human League, they only used the SH-3A on their second album.
February 28, 2009 @ 4:19 pm
I nearly bought one of these off a neighbour in the 80s to go with my CS80. I thought it was boring and had very little synthesis. Really i wanted a SH5 or SH7. Must say it was limited with one osc. That was disappointing about it and why i didn't buy it in the end.
February 1, 2009 @ 1:50 pm
I have my Dad's SH-3 here (no A). We just got it back from repairs after it spent 10 years in a damp basement. The sound isn't what I expented; The "Chorus" (which is really PWM on the 8' octave) has little audible effect when the other octaves are in, and since there's only one osc and no actual unison generator (they hadn't invented solid-state delays yet) the sound is very dry. It's also very cold and sharp due to the Moog filter. LFO 1 acts a bit funny since it's so old (it sometimes resets when a new key is pressed and sometimes doesn't); I want to just disconnect it from the gate.
My only complaint about the actual design is that the S&H can't be routed to anything but the pitch, and if it is the keyboard CV has no effect.
December 3, 2008 @ 5:09 am
Yeah this was my first synth in '74, better than the pianola I was jamming on LOL. Funky and fat analogue are my memories, but the monophonic just drove me away.. Cool arpeggiator and so many sliders and knobs for the price back then.. went on to a Rhodes 88 Stage piano to get back to the pounding I needed to get out of my system.. great buy now if you could find one.. used to wander out of tune a bit though if I remember correctly.
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  • 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
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