Roland SH-2

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The Roland Icon Series is a collection of articles looking back at the most popular and recognised Roland instruments. In over four decades, Roland has designed many world-first instruments like the first touch-sensitive keyboard and first guitar synthesizer. This article looks at the classic SH-2 Synthesizer.

Roland has also made many instruments that have influenced countless musicians, bands and artists, and defined a number of musical genres.

This first article in the Roland Icon Series looked back on the classic Roland SH-101 synthesizer. Let’s head back to 1979 and the launch of the SH-2 Monophonic Synthesizer.

In the late 1970s, synthesizers were undergoing a significant transition with the development of polyphony and tone memory. As the world’s synthesizer manufacturers raced to develop these new technologies, Roland launched a seemingly basic monophonic synthesizer – the now classic SH-2.

Although it was released around the same time as Roland’s JUPITER-4, a pioneer of polyphonic synthesizers, the SH-2’s functionality was rather conservative compared to that of the JUPITER-4. But its uniquely designed configuration – which consisted of two voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs) and a sub-oscillator that essentially gave it three VCOs – was capable of extremely fat and warm analog synth tones. To this day, many synth aficionados feel it produces the most earth-shaking, bone-rattling synth bass sounds of all time.