Roland SH-101 monosynth

Roland SH-101 monosynth

Release date: 1983
Type: Analogue synthesizer


This piece was one of the essential live synths in 90's in Liam's setup. Later Liam replaced this silver baby to red Clavia Nord Lead in his setup. But you can still sometimes see this machine on top of the first synth rack on live setup.


Polyphony : Monophonic
Oscillators : 1 VCO (Independent levels for Saw, Square / Pulse / PWM and Sub-Oscillator)
LFO : Triangle, Square, Random and Noise Waveforms
VCF : Resonant, Self-Oscillating LPF, Mod by EG, LFO anKYBD 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

Gear info:

The Roland SH-101 is a monophonic bass synthesizer from the early 1980s, manufactured by Roland. It is a small, 32 key, monophonic analog synthesizer in a light, plastic case. It features one oscillator with 3 simultaneous waveforms, an 'octave-divided' square sub-oscillator, triangle and square/pwm waveform. It has a low-pass filter/VCF capable of self oscillation. The self oscillation filter can be used to make bass drum sounds. The controls are simple to use as there is a slider or switch available for every single parameter, and there is an external trigger input to control the speed of the sequencer or the arpeggiator. The LFO is very fast and can be used to make fast arpeggios with decay down to zero volume, without retriggering the ADSR. Another unique feature is being able to select noise as a modulation source for both pitch and the filter, resulting in distortion-like effects. External control is achieved using CV/Gate and not MIDI. The SH-101 was produced in three colors: gray, blue, and red. Contrary to legend, the SH-101 never came in white. A shoulder strap can be connected to it, and a small handgrip can be plugged into the side which contains a pitch bend wheel and a pitch modulation trigger.

It can run on batteries. The SH-101 was pre-MIDI, but it has CV (1 volt/octave cv) and gate inputs in the back. It's 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. The SH-101 also features a very primitive arpeggiator and sequencer as well as portamento.

This synth was released in the era just after analog synths like the Moog, ARP, Sequential Circuits, etc. It's siblings include the SH1, SH2, SH3a, SH5, SH7 and SH09. Probably does not sound as FAT as a Moog or ARP.

Other artists that have been using this: 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 and many more.


Used live in Funky Shit and Poison.
(With this machine Liam usually played the Release Yo' Delf - riff between Poison part1 and part2 in live gigs).

Liam: "We do a totally live bit on stage where we hook up the SH-101 to the 909 using the trigger input and have a little jamming session on stage. That's quite interesting!"


Liam jamming with his SH-101 during Poison.

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Read more at the articles gallery

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