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The Legendary Roland TB-303

today17/09/2023 83

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The Legendary Roland TB-303

The Roland TB-303 is a legendary electronic musical instrument that has had a significant impact on the development of electronic music genres, particularly acid house and techno.

In this comprehensive response, we will delve into the history of the Roland TB-303, exploring its origins, features, impact, and legacy.


The Legendary Roland TB-303
The Legendary Roland TB-303

The Roland TB-303 was first introduced in 1981 as part of Roland’s line of bass synthesizers. However, it did not gain much popularity initially as it was marketed as a tool for guitarists to practice basslines.

The TB-303 was equipped with a monophonic synthesizer and a built-in sequencer, allowing users to create repetitive basslines with ease. The TB-303M also includes a built-in sequencer that allows users to program patterns and sequences of notes.

In terms of connectivity, the TB-303M offers MIDI input and output, allowing it to be easily integrated into modern studio setups. It also includes a CV/Gate output, which can be used to control other analogue synthesizers or modular systems. The TB-303M can be powered either by batteries or an external power supply.

The TB-303M retains the classic design of the original TB-303, with its distinctive silver casing and colourful buttons. However, it features some ergonomic improvements, such as a larger LCD display for easier programming and editing.

Overall, the Roland TB-303M is a highly sought-after synthesizer due to its unique sound and historical significance in electronic music. Its combination of powerful bass synthesis capabilities and intuitive sequencing make it a versatile tool for musicians and producers.

Despite its intended purpose, the TB-303 found its way into the hands of electronic musicians who discovered its unique sound capabilities.

The instrument’s distinctive squelchy and resonant sound quickly became synonymous with the emerging acid house genre. Acid house pioneers such as Phuture and DJ Pierre began using the TB-303 in their productions, pushing its sonic boundaries and creating a new wave of electronic music.



The TB-303’s sound was achieved through its analogue synthesis engine, which utilized a single oscillator with selectable waveforms (sawtooth or square), a low-pass filter with resonance control, and envelope modulation for shaping the sound.

Its sequencer allowed users to program up to 16 steps of notes, accentuating certain steps for added emphasis. The combination of these features resulted in the signature “acid” sound that became so iconic.

Despite its popularity among musicians, the Roland TB-303 was discontinued in 1984 due to poor sales. However, its influence continued to grow as more artists discovered its unique capabilities.

As the years went by, the TB-303 became increasingly sought after by collectors and musicians alike, leading to skyrocketing prices on the second-hand market.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, the TB-303 experienced a resurgence in popularity as electronic music genres like techno and trance gained mainstream recognition. Artists such as Aphex Twin, Daft Punk, and The Chemical Brothers incorporated the TB-303’s sound into their productions, further cementing its place in electronic music history.


Want to win The Chemical Brothers' Roland TB-03?
Want to win The Chemical Brothers’ Roland TB-03?

The Roland TB-303’s impact on electronic music cannot be overstated. Its distinctive sound and intuitive interface have inspired countless musicians and shaped entire genres.

The instrument’s limitations, such as its monophonic nature and limited control options, forced musicians to think creatively and find innovative ways to work within its constraints.

In recent years, Roland has released several reissues and emulations of the TB-303, allowing a new generation of musicians to experience its unique sound. These modern iterations often include additional features and enhancements while staying true to the original character of the instrument.

In conclusion, the Roland TB-303 is a legendary electronic musical instrument that has left an indelible mark on the history of electronic music.

Its distinctive sound and intuitive interface have made it a favourite among musicians across various genres. Despite its initial commercial failure, the TB-303’s influence continues to resonate today, ensuring its place as one of the most iconic synthesizers ever created.


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Written by: Richard - DMT FM