Tag Archives: beatboxes

Demo! (first in a series)

A Roland CR-8000, a piano, a shit-tonne of echo, and Phil Collins circa 1980.  Sounds incredibly modern.   Click here or watch below.  I had a CR-8000 alongside my TR-606  for some years; I had it midi sync’d via my MSQ-700.  I still have the MSQ and the TR, but the CR-8000 was transmuted into ‘RENT’ sometime around 2001.  Miss it.  I paid $25 for it at ALTEL on Main Street in Bridgeport; they are tough to find for under $500 these days.

1981: Battle of the ’55s

1981: Korg and Roland both release prosumer drum machines designated 55.  The KORG KR-55 is a non-programmable drum machine with many preset patterns and individual volume controls for each sound.  Regardless of what this advert claims, trust me, this thing does not remotely sound like an acoustic drum kit.  The sounds are pretty charming tho.  I had one of these for years and now i have somehow ended up with only an empty KR55 box.  The Boss (ROLAND) DR-55 is quite different: despite the very crude prototype-esque appearance, the DR-55 is a programmable drum machine.  We have one of these at Gold Coast Recorders and while it seems to be overlooked in favor of our TR606, it is a worthy unit.  For some odd reason the DR55 seems to command a higher price than the 606 on eBay.  Anyone have an idea why?  Has the DR55 been embraced by a leading contemporary artist?

Univox-branded Synth+Drums

Billy Preston with a Univox Compac-Piano

Univox (brief company history here) was a US company that marketed a huge range of musical products in the late 60s and into the early 80s.    Most famous is their ‘Hi-Flier’ electric guitar, aka, not-an-actual-Mosrite, aka, one of the iconic Kurt Cobain guitars.

They also made tube amplifiers, some of which actually sound pretty great, and distributed several synth instruments and drum machines which are believed to have been built by KORG in Japan.  Their Compac-Piano (no resemblance to the sound of an actual piano) was apparently of Italian origin.  Here’s a few period adverts for these oddballs.  These were all sold in large numbers and are still fairly readily available for a reasonable price.

Edgar Winter with the Compac-Piano

Univox Mini-Korg analog preset synth

Univox Pace Ship Drum Machine

Electronic Drum Trends of the 1980s

Legendary pop/RnB session drummer Bernard Purdie was apparently the distributor (!) of the MPC line of electronic drums.  Purdie is best know for inventing the distinctive shuffle groove that would later appear in hits such as ‘Rosanna’ by the group Toto.  He also replaced Pete Best’s drumming on an early US-market Beatles release.  “But you wanna know something else?”   This man loves life.  Check it…

A few electronic-drumming odds and ends today from various issues of MUSICIAN magazine circa the mid 1980’s  (see here for previous MUSICIAN mag coverage on PS dot com).  Sampling drum machines, electronic drum kits, and live cymbal-effects processing were all new technologies at the time, and like all things 80s, they were delivered in a bright, bold, technology-YES manner.  Put down that snare drum.  Don’t be a square. Come on.

Simmons SDS8 electronic kit.  “Our mission (is) to bring drums into the 80s.”  

The Linn 9000 drum machine.  Linn was the first company to make drum machines that played back ROM (read-only-memory) samples of actual recordings of acoustic drum hits rather than simply triggering analog synthesis circuits that made ‘drum sounds.’  By the 1990s you could not buy a new analog drum machine, and the ‘Rompler’ drum machine was industry standard, but Linn was a true innovator at the time and these things were crazy expensive, making them relatively uncommon today.

Zildjian cymbal miking system circa 1987.  Let’s say you are a family who has been making cymbals for, oh, 400 years.  All of sudden this new technology (sampling, synthesis) comes along which COULD make your product obsolete.  Better get in the game, buddy.  Basically a set of electret-condenser mics that clip to cymbal stands combined with a small mixer with effect loops.  “Flange your ride cymbal at the same time you add a slapback echo on your hi hats.”

And in case you were wondering what Digidesign was doing prior to Changing-The-World with its Pro Tools digital audio recording/editing/mixing/processing software/hardware systems, well, here you have it.  Digidesign presents: Digidrums!  New ROM chips that you can stick inside your drum machine and get news sounds outta them!  Make your drum machine sound more like real drums!   And 18 years later Digidesign gives us…. Beat Detective!  Make the drummer sound like a drum machine!  Man vs Robot, the epic battle unfolds so slowly…

Keyboard accessories circa mid 70s

The ACOUSTIC Model 500 ‘Keyboard Control Center.’ Never seen this piece before.  The original ACOUSTIC amps from the early 70s are really not-terrible solid-state amps.  We used one back in high school for the Rhodes and it was pretty excellent.

The Komplete Kustom lineup from their sadder post-Naugahyde era.  See this link for a detailed discussion of the earlier, more iconic Kustom pieces.

The Powerhouse Rhythm Unit, an infinite-loop tape cartridge playback system designed to do the work of a drum machine.

The WMS Interphaser, a phase-shift pedal from a small maker.

Nothing too exciting today…  just a few odds and ends that caught my eye.