Category: Products / synth / old analog mono
Added: 19-Dec-98 | Author: admin
New price: | S/H price: ......600-700 (uk)...and up in all territories
Roland TB303Ok......we all had one... and maybe also a TR-606 blasting through guitar amps, in our squat's, back in the early 80's when we were all pratting around with guitars and odd bits of old techno-tat no-one wanted.. Just to start the ball rolling.... I got so fucked off with mine (bored), that i swapped it in 1992 (after the first acid wave died out) for ....wait for it..... 6 packs of guitar strings, and a BOSS Turbo-Distortion pedal !!....... Ok everyones got a story.... and actually in the end, i don't care any more.... but it'd be nice maybe to still have it.
The Roland Tb-303 has gained an almost mythical reputation over the last few years and is still, despite a semi-backlash against the sound, one of the most sought after bits of old analog kit around... weighing in at about a pound with batteries installed, and being about the size of a paperback book, it basically incorporates an analog TR style sequencer with step time or realtime (tap) programming, along with an 18bd filtered analog monosynth.
Released about 1982, the TB was accompanied by the TR-606 a very primative analog drum box with identical styling... together, they were supposed to provide a computerised backing of bass & drums to play along to... hmmmmmmm... well, it didn't really hit it, and the next year came the 909 with a few real samples, and not long after that pcm sample based TR-707 and others like the RX machines from yamaha etc were released... this sounded the death knell for these early transistor units, and they were quickly consigned to the music-shop bargain bin as users rushed to get 'Real' drum & bass sounds from early sample-based units... several years later, people started using them in a few dance tracks... and off it went, as a sought-after 'cooool' bit of kit.
I'd say actually that the cryptic programming interface of the TB was responsible for the whole 'Acid' thing... not just the sound... I find acid makes me alot more relaxed and stable actually, and certainly wouldn't make me programme something randomly if i was trying to do otherwise !!.... but it was so bloody impossible to come to terms with the TB programming interface as a newcomer to the unit, that the resulting 'chaotic' random patterns that emerged as opposed to the pattern the user was actually trying to programme, were the birth of the 'acid' pattern and sound... and it has to be said... (well, I say it).... that to really truly understand the 303 you must be bread-and-dripping your tits off !!... then... all is revealed !!
I'm not going to go into any detail, cos the excellent DJ Terrorist's TB-303 site has more infiormation for you 303 freaks than you can shake a stick at !!... so I'll add a few bitz, and then you can link up with his site below to get all the full in-depth stuff... it's an awesome 303 site believe me.
Ok..... basically the unit is devided into 2 sections.... sequencer, and synth.
Ok..... you get a 16 step sequence per pattern.... the unit has 'Song' mode (Play & Write), and 'Pattern' mode (Play & Write)..... You go into pattern write...., and the small led disply gives you the beat division... starting with beat-1... you press a key, and that set's the note, which can be transposed up or down from it's root position using the UP/DOWN buttons.... Once you've inputted a note, the unit steps to the next beat.... etc etc..... you can insert rest or notes... and add accents or slides as well... accents obviously make the sound louder, but also effect the cut-off frequency too making the note harsher or more trebly at an accented step....
You've also got a 'SLIDE' button... slides can be inserted into beats within a bar, with or without notes to accompany them... and if for example you insert slides between two notes that are 4 beats apart, then kinda like portamento, it holds the last played note, and slides it into the next inserted note... BUT... you can add slide's over any amount of beats in a bar, and also you can pitch the slides up or down an octave from the original notes as well as adding accent to slide steps... Anyhow... you get your pattern in that way... in STEP time... or in real time, where you tap in the pattern as the machine chugs around it's 16 beat bar....... various time signatures and shuffles are there too, and the total combination of the slides, notes and accents makes for a unique pattern sound that cannot really be completely imitated on any clone 100%... Probably the Rebirth s/w 303 comes the closest....
Once all the patterns are written, you sling them together in a SONG... after which they playback in a pre-arranged order
The 303 has a single note poly analog monosynth with an 18bd filter, and selectable SAW or Square wave oscillator... Controls are Tune, Filter Cut-off Frequency, Filter Resonance level, Envelope Modulation, Decay, and a master Accent control.... pretty basic... but combined with the sequencer nad the 18bd filter it really is unique... That and the limited production run of about 20,000 units worldwide acounts for the massive secondhand prices you see being asked for the originals.
Actually no two 303's sound exactly the same, some are better than others (in a subjective way)... some are just plain fucked... Also, there are various midi retro's that can be fitted to the unit to allow you to play it via midi, but these can alster the units sound and feel, and alot of purists will tell you that a midi 303 just does not sound right... (although alot of that may be due to midi's inability to immitate the 303 sequencer... But I have heard many times that getting a 303 midi'd can change it's sound... Hey, you can even get them rack-mounted by various modification places.
Lastly... if you want to sync it up to your midi set-up, you'll need a midi to DIN sync unit... The 303 clocked to the 606 via DIN sync, and when addding real 303 to a midi track you have to start at the top... the 303 plays along...... and you switch patterns as the track progresses, and fade it in and out, and tweak the synth in realtime to get the builds etc that you want....... or just run it in song mode.... with patterns strung together playing back as the midi song progresses.....
Well... that's all I'm gonna add..... You can post your comments, and/or get onto the TB-303 Forum area, which is linked up with DJ Terrorists 303 pages.
Get over to The Terrorist's site, for the real total in depth stuff. l8ers
There are a lot of videos with TB-303's in 'em on YouTube, but none that shows how you actually prog...
TB-303 Documentary - Bassline Baseline, 2005 narrated by Nate Harrison (creator of then Amen Break d...
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