Roland SH-101 – Wikipedia



Roland SH-101 grey model

Manufacturer Roland
Dates November 1982-1986
  • US$495
  • GB£249
  • JP¥59,800 (1980s)
Polyphony Monophonic
Timbrality Monotimbral
Oscillator 1 VCO with 3 simultaneously mixable
waveforms : Pulse with PWM, Saw and
Sub wave (selectable -1 Oct. Square,
-2 Oct. Square or -2 Oct Pulse)
The Pulse wave can be modulated by
LFO, by Envelope or manually
Noise is also available at the oscillator
mixing stage
LFO 1 LFO: triangle, square, random
and noise waveforms
Synthesis type Analog subtractive
Filter 1 resonant VCF, modulated with
ADSR, LFO, keyboard tracking
and/or bender controller
Attenuator ADSR envelope, triggered by
gate or LFO
Aftertouch expression No
Velocity expression No
Storage memory 100 step sequencer
Effects Arpeggiator (up, down, up/down)
Keyboard 32-note
Left-hand control Bender assignable to VCF frequency
and/or pitch as well as pitch bend and
mod wheels on attachable handle
External control CV/Gate

The Roland SH-101 is an analog synthesizer manufactured by the Roland Corporation between 1982 and 1986. Though it was something of a commercial failure during the time of its manufacture, it later became a staple of electronic music in the 1990s, particularly house music.

Sound and features[edit]

The SH-101 is monophonic, meaning it can only play one note at a time. It has a single oscillator and a sub-oscillator, a low-pass filter, a mixer allowing users to blend different waveforms plus a noise generator, and an arpeggiator and sequencer.[1] An ADSR envelope generator controls the filter and VCA, and the filter, VCA, pitch and pulse width can be controlled with an LFO. Users can attach an optional handgrip with modulation controls and shoulder strap to play the SH-101 as a keytar, and it could also be powered via battery.[1] According to MusicRadar, the SH-101 has “snappy and razor-sharp” bass, “squelchy and expressive” leads, and a “piercing yet smooth” filter.[1]


The SH-101 launched in the US at $495 and in UK at £249,[2] making it much more affordable than the popular digital synthesisers of the time.[1] Roland marketed the SH-101 to the emerging keytar market, with magazine slogans such as “freedom for expression” and “[the 101] takes you where you want to go”.[2] However, it was outsold by the digital Yamaha DX7 and was discontinued in 1986.[2]

During the 1990s resurgence of analogue synthesisers, the 101 became a staple in dance music studios.[1] It was used by many famous electronic musicians.[2]

In 2014, MusicRadar wrote: “Some inexpensive synths were brilliant ‘for the price’. The Roland SH-101 was brilliant, period. Never a rock star’s instrument like the Minimoog or Prophet-5, the 101 was a synthesiser for the rest of us, and a damned fine one, too.”[1] In 2016, Fact named the SH-101 one of the 14 most important synthesisers in history.[3]

Famous users[edit]

Famous musicians that have used the SH-101 include:

Nitzer Ebb,[4]Aphex Twin[5][6]Vince Clarke of Erasure,[7] Paul Frick from Tangerine Dream, Future Sound of London, Orbital, Überzone, The Prodigy,[8]808 State,[9]The Grid, Cirrus, Eat Static, Jimmy Edgar, Apollo 440, Devo, Union Jack, Luke Vibert, Dirty Vegas, Skinny Puppy, Pig, MSTRKRFT, Josh Wink, The Crystal Method, Astral Projection,[10]Les Rythmes Digitales, Sense Datum, Squarepusher, KMFDM, Freddy Fresh, Lab-4, The Chemical Brothers, Boards of Canada, The Knife and many others.[2][11][12]

Hardware re-issues and recreations[edit]

In 2018, Roland introduced the Boutique SH-01A, a virtual analog synth, based on their Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) technology. It is available with or without a keyboard.[13][14][15]

In 2019, Behringer started producing a clone of SH-101 called MS-101, since the Roland patent had expired.[16][17] The layout and sound is very close to the original, with the addition of enhancements such as MIDI and USB.[18][19]

In 2019, Superlative Instruments launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce the SB-1 Space Bee,[20] very similar in layout to the SH-101 with a unique keyboard design and all keys and keyboard in dark gray.[16][21][22]

Software emulations[edit]

In June 2020, Roland released Zenology plugins for Roland synths, which includes an SH-101 emulator.[23][24] Roland claims it is an ultra-detailed replica.[25]

Other software emulators include Togu Audio Line TAL-Bassline-101, D16 Group LuSH-101, and Togu Audio Line TAL-Bassline (a free limited version of the other Togu app).[26]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Tech, Computer Music2014-04-17T13:55:00 106Z. “Blast from the past: Roland SH-101”. MusicRadar. Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  2. ^ a b c d e “Red Bull Music Academy Daily”. Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  3. ^ “The 14 most important synths in electronic music history – and the musicians who use them”. FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music. 2016-09-15. Retrieved 2019-08-17.
  4. ^ Rosenschein, Ari (2020-07-28). “Synthesizing Belief: A Conversation with Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb”. Roland Articles. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  5. ^ “Aphex Twin’s Roland SH-101 Synthesizer | Equipboard®”. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  6. ^ “7 pieces of gear that helped define Aphex Twin’s pioneering sound”. Fact Magazine. 2017-04-14. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  7. ^ “Erasure: ‘We’re still trying to work on the perfect pop song’. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  8. ^ “Roland SH-101 monosynth – The Prodigy equipment – The Prodigy .info”. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  9. ^ “808 State Article: TBD”. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  10. ^ Dummy. “Terekke interview: “Astral projection.”. DummyMag. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  11. ^ “Roland SH-101 | Vintage Synth Explorer”. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  12. ^ “Roland’s brand-new SH-101 Boutique synth has allegedly been leaked via Instagram”. 2017-07-23. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  13. ^ Corporation, Roland. “Roland – SH-01A | Synthesizer”. Roland. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  14. ^ Kane. “Review: Roland SH-01A”. Magnetic Magazine. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  15. ^ February 2018, Bruce Aisher 19. “Roland Boutique SH-01A review”. MusicRadar. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  16. ^ a b “Everybody needs a 101”. Mixmag. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  17. ^ “Behringer’s synth clone train keeps rolling with modular System 100”. Engadget. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  18. ^ “Behringer’s Roland SH-101 clone goes into production”. 2018-12-19. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  19. ^ “Behringer MS-101 Review”. MusicTech. 2019-10-17. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  20. ^ “Superlative Space Bee SB01 opens for preorders on Kickstarter”. 2019-10-22. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  21. ^ April 2019, Simon Arblaster 11. “Superbooth 2019: Superlative Instruments teases rechargeable SH-101 synth clone with unique keyboard”. MusicRadar. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  22. ^ October 2019, Ben Rogerson23. “Superlative’s SB01 synth looks like a Roland SH-101 from the future”. MusicRadar. Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  23. ^ July 2020, Ben Rogerson01. “4 classic Roland ’80s synths are coming to the Zenology plugin: the JX-8P, SH-101, Juno-106, and Jupiter-8”. MusicRadar. Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  24. ^ Abrons, Sara. “Roland Intros ZENOLOGY Software Synthesizer Plug-in – rAVe [PUBS]”. Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  25. ^ Corporation, Roland. “Roland – SH-101 | Software Synthesizer”. Roland. Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  26. ^ April 2014, Computer Music17. “Blast from the past: Roland SH-101”. MusicRadar. Retrieved 2021-02-25.

External links[edit]