Archives for posts with tag: Drum Machine Repair

I can’t pass up the chance to share this hilarity.  I’ve seen this Roland TR 909 come up on Ebay in the past and now it’s popped up on Craigslist in Denver.  I wanted to  memorialize it in all it’s glory before it’s gone for ever!  Be sure to check out the gallery.  It’s just crazy.  The TR 909 looks like it was brought into a burning house to play a DJ set by the fire department!

TR 909 Fire 1

Direct Quote from Craigslist :

Roland TR-909 Drum Machine – $1500 (Longmont)

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Roland TR-909 Drum Machine… Original owner. Bought it new in late 80’s. First $1500 buys it. Everything works, but tarnished from being stored in a studio that was heated with wood stove.Totally clean in the inside other than very little dust.When I plug in with speaker… all seems to work. All instruments sound perfect and work, including the loud and soft keys. I didn’t notice any scratchy sound on knobs other than when the main volume is turned almost all the way down. I think minor cleaning would solve that.Now… I bought this new in the Mid 80’s… they JUST came out when I bought it. I played around with the programming of it, and I either am not remembering how to clear written programs, or it might have a internal battery that needs replacing. Or, maybe it has issues. My point is that I know everything works, but I don’t know 100% if the programing memory thing works. Probably does, but I don’t have time to re-learn this unit. It’s not supper use friendly.

Any in 100% perfect shape are over $2500
Will sell this as is for $1500. Cash only… no pay pal.
NOTE: I personally think an old item like this is better viewed in person. No returns, sale is final, so you get what you get. Cash and carry, no shipping offered.
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I’ve promised these and so fresh for 2013 here they are!  Extensive photos of the inner life and workings of a Simmons SDS-V with the MFB SEQ-01 sequencer built in.

But first, a little background.

Simmons electronic drums were developed by Richard James Burgess and Dave Simmons.  Burgess’ idea was to make a fully electronic drumset that could be played  by a real drummer or a sequencer.  He pioneered this idea while working on the first Landscape album From the Tea-Rooms of Mars… To the Hell-Holes of Uranus ( a great soundtrack styled listen BTW ).  In 1981 he produced the Spandau Ballet hit, “Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On)”.  It was the first breakthrough hit with a real drummer playing the now famous hexagonal pads and the first production Simmons SDS-V brain.

They offered a Kick drum, Snare drum, Toms, and even High Hats and Cymbal modules although the Cymbal and HH ones are super rare.  Seven of any combination could be housed in one brain and triggered via octagonal pad, sequencer, and even acoustic triggers attached to drums.  There was even an open/closed HH pedal input to trigger 2 different variations from the HH module.  You could program your own sounds via the front panel of each module with full controls for 3 presets on the front and one ‘factory’ set inside that are all adjustable.  The Brain did double duty of allowing trigger inputs while offering basic mixing of the internal sounds via a stereo and mono output ( with individual out as well ).  These brains quickly became cult like in their status and were used in everything from jazz bands by Bill Bruford to rock groups like Def Leppard ( by the one armed Rick Allen ) and of course funk and dance groups like Prince.

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And i never get bored of this song:

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I had picked up an SDS-V brain with a Kick, Snare, and 3 Tom modules.  But there was those two empty slots at the end… hmmmm… Then it occurred to me, What if i turn this Brain into a full DRUM MACHINE!!! Lo an behold, a few Googles later yielded my plan of attack.  I could fit a modern modular sequencer into this old brain and make an instrument of the future past! There’s some technical hurdles to surmount in adding a sequencer to the SDS-V brain.

1, The MFB SEQ-01 is designed to work in a modular synth case.  the SDS-V case is of equivalent hight but the mounting holes are not lined up. So, more accurately, the MFB fits vertically and horizontally but the mounting holes don’t line up.  To avoid damaging the original mounting setup i opted to temporarily put  washers over the adjacent screws to hold the sequencer in.

2, The MFB SEQ-01 needs to be routed to the trigger or sequencer inputs on the SDS-V cards. I had a few options here.  One was to connect the sequencer outs to the Simmons’ native sequencer inputs.  The other was to hook it up to the trigger or pad inputs.  I opted to use the trigger inputs ( counter intuitive, i know! ) because this gave me a gain adjustment on the face plate of the brain for each trigger from the sequencer to the drum module.  The SDS-V drum modules are very dynamic and it’s useful to be able to hit them with sequencer trigger more or less to taste.

3, Lastly, The MFB SEQ-01 needs to be powered and it runs at a different voltage than the SDS-V. I had MFB modify the Seq-01 to run on 15 volts in the SDS.  Then i connected the power from the +/-15 volt rail in the Brain to the power input on the MFB edge connector.  Pretty straight forward!

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Photos by J-poo.

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Future plans for the SDS-V:

1, So, there’s one quirk in the Simmons SDS-V design i’d like to point out.  The audio outs are wired pin 3 hot.  This is the XLR wiring convention used by many old British companies and it’s the opposite of the US convention of pin 2 hot.  Reversing this would be great to more easily interface with other equipment.

2, I’d eventually like to disconnect the back panel sequencer jacks from the SDS-V modules and instead wire them to the MFB SEQ-01 outputs.  This way the sequencer outs  could be used to drive more than just the Simmons modules.  there’s actually 12 sequencer slots and the Simmons SDSV can only hold 5 cards with the sequencer installed. Maybe someday!

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References:

Simmons SDSV with MFB SEQ-01

Simmons SDSV – Wikipedia

Simmons Synth

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The Linndrum we have has a long and illustrious lineage!  It was originally owned by a good friend of mine who is now a great painter ( Alvan Long )!  He is also a drummer and was in several boston bands long before my time!  Here’s a Pure No Wave Gem from one of those bands called  The November Group:

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So, some of the people involved in that band started a studio called New Alliance Audio.  After several years the Linndrum was packed up in it’s road case and put into storage.

And it sat there for almost 15 years.  Those years took a toll too.  The batteries leaked, the capacitors went bad, and the foam from the road case became a rubbery dust that permeated everything!

When we pulled it out of storage i decided to send it to Bruce at FORAT for a refurb. He’s the Linndrum expert!  He fixed the batteries, power supply, sliders and pots, EVERYTHING!

I love this machine and use it all the time.  It’s built like a tank, has the OG JL Cooper Midi interface installed ( so it can sync to anything ), and it sounds great!  The Linndrum also had a great ‘pocket’.  The shuffle is sexy and if you tweak the hi hat decay while it’s playing you can create a great human feel.  It’s a great middle ground between the bright and open Roland 808 / 909 drum machines and the darker Oberheim DX / DMX 8 bit eprom machines.

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Linndrum VSE

Linndrum WIKI

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It’s particularly rainy here for January!  In lieu of snow XBS is stuck inside staying dry, which is fine by ME!

We are still lovin’ synth-funk-electro-crossover longtime and we can take this opportunity to post another ‘XBS of the week’…

This week brought to you by : Atlantic Star, Midnight Star, Calloway, and all the other post Zap purveyors of robo awesomeness

Let’s call it a miami disco tribute to Midnight Star and their song Midas Touch!

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All the usual suspects!  (( Jupiter 8 ( still in the shop ) Simmons SDSV, Oberheim DX Stretch, OB-8, Mirage Sampler ( love the mirage sampler )))

I borrowed the a capella for Midas Touch by Midnight Star and threw it on for fun.  I just used the first few verses and chorus…

The vocal version is here:

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Happy Friday…

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Oberheim DMX Voice Cards and Original Packaging! I’ve been meaning to do this for a while:

The DMX is different than the DX ( and every other drum machine design of the period ) in that it contains individual daughter boards for each drum sound.  Much like the poly synths Oberheim was making at the time the boards were easily removed for servicing and or replacement.  The DMX voice cards came in three varieties.  One basic drum card for drum and percussion sounds and two different cymbal variants.

The two spare cards i received with my DMX came with all the original packaging and Oberheim literature from the original dealer!

One is for “Electric Snare” which is shown.  The other is  “Electric Toms” which is currently installed in the DMX so i included a picture of the “DX Tom” card it replaced…

Side note: The DMX has TWO tom ‘sets’ as opposed to normal machines of the period.

Side note 2: The DX Stretch from the previous posts demo featured the ‘timbale/conga’ sounds on the Stretch portion of the machine.  I didn’t usethe ‘breaking glass, record scratch, and electric snare’ sounds for that demo.

WIKKD!

I.F…