4 Roland Machines That Shaped Music

by Audio Gems

Throughout the years Roland has brought us so many amazing instruments, however we feel that these 4 are their most influential instruments ever, so influential that they truly shaped music.

Even though the analog world has a lot to offer these days for very reasonable prices, these four legends are still very sought after, and their prices today are pretty crazy. It’s no wonder that more than 30 years after these were released, Roland recreated them in the form of the Roland Boutique series.


Released in 1981, this was Roland’s flagship polyphonic synthesizer. 8-voices of analog bliss. This was the first of its kind, producing the fattest sounds and textures ever made with a synth. With newly introduces keyboard capabilities (could be split and layered), easy programming, an amazing arpeggiator, powerful oscillators and filters — this was a cross-genre favorite who truly shaped the sound of the 80’s.

Roland Jupiter-8

A fully working-condition Jupiter-8 will cost you about $6,500 — $8,000 USD.

Just listen to Michael Jackson’s Thriller (Intro synths) to hear what I am talking about -


Released in 1980, it was one of the first programmable drum machines. This beautiful, pure analog drum machine, was considered “unreal” at the time and was criticized much by those who wanted the machines to mimic real drums, but like many other products, it was picked up by the more “underground” producers who fell in love with its unique drum sounds and the straight-forward ease of use. The 808 eventually became the signature drum sound used in most R&B and hip-hop.

Roland TR-808

A fully working-condition TR-808 will cost you about $3,000 — $4,000 USD.

Listen to the beautiful 808 beat on Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye -


Released in 1982, the 303 was created as a “bass machine” aimed to accompany guitarists, keyboardists and other musicians while practicing. We can say that it pretty much failed its original purpose, however, it was later picked up by DJs and electronic music producers who started experimenting with it. Eventually, its unique sound became one of the pillars of house and techno music.

It is a monophonic synth with a built-in sequencer which is pretty difficult to program, but that’s exactly where the magic happens, the patterns come out very quirky and with its amazing lowpass resonant filter that is exactly what you were aiming for.

Roland TB-303

A fully working-condition TB-303 will cost you about $2,200 — $3,000 USD.

Listen to the classic “Acid Tracks” by Phuture to hear the 303 in all its glory -


Released in 1984, it was initially created to provide “drums solution” for those who couldn’t afford more “faithful” drum machines, and like the 808, it didn’t do the job for those looking for the real drum sound. The 909 owes its glory to techno pioneers from Detroit who were using it for rhythm, a repetitive, hypnotizing rhythm later to be known as techno music. This machine really defined the sound of techno and house music, basically just play any dance tune from the 90’s or the early 00’s and you’ll hear a 909 kick drum.

The 909 has a very powerful and versatile analog kick, snare and clap sounds, together with very iconic cymbal sounds, add a crazy powerful sequencer, MIDI control and you got yourself a true beast.

Roland TR-909

A fully working-condition TR-909 will cost you about $3,500 — $4,500 USD.

Listen to Daft Punk — Revolution 909

To stay updated with the best stories from the audio world and much more, use our free chrome extension at audiogems.io