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Vintage Drum Machines

Updated on June 4, 2014

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Old school drum machines like the Roland TR-808, TR-909, LinnDrum, E-mu Sp-1200 and Sequential Toms provided the beats to a new gernation of electronic music.  Beginning in the 1980s and 1990s drum machines helped provide the foundation for everything from hip-hop to house, electro to techno and even some rock.

I will be expanding this page with more vintage drum machine reviews, samples and photos weekly so bookmark us and come back soon!

Roland TR-909 Rhythm Composer

Perhaps the most versatile and influential of the drum machines that revolutionized music in the 1980s, the Roland TR-909 combined synthetically generated analog sounds with digital samples and an intuitive programming interface. Rows of knobs provide ample tweaking opportunities allowing for a wide range of expression in the drum sounds - none of which approach the sound of acoustic drums but provide ample drive for electronic dance music. The Roland TR-909 has provided the thumping foundation to house, electro, techno and many other forms of dance music since it's release in 1984.

Roland TR-909 Vintage Drum Machine Shirts

Cool 1980s retro drum machine t-shirts and gifts for DJ's, Producers and Beat Freaks. The Roland TR-909 has provided the thumping foundation to house, electro, techno and many other forms of dance music since it's release in 1984.

Roland TR-909 Drum Machine Samples

Download TR-909 Drum Sounds

Roland TR-808 Drum Machine

More Bass for Your Speakers

The Roland TR-808 was released in late 1980 and was one of the first programmable drum machines. Although sounding unlike a traditional drum kit the 808 featured punchy bass, snare, high hat and 13 other percussion sounds with knobs to shape each drum sound for a variety of styles of music. The 808 became the signature beatbox used in most R&B and hip-hop as well as dance and techno tracks. Booming bass kicks, crispy snares and a signature piercing cowbell sound made famous during the 80's are all part of the 808 and its unique analog sound.

Roland TR-808 Drum Machine Samples - 808 high hats, kicks, snares, cymbals

Download TR-808 Drum Sounds

Roland TR-707

Like it predecessors the TR-808 and TR-909 the TR-707 shares the intuitive programming interface with the addition of a handy LCD screen to show all drum sounds at a glance. The 727 also sports separate drum sounds outputs as did its predecessors while utilizing sliders instead of knobs for individual drum volume control. Being sample based this unit is not as tweakable as the 808 or 909 but has a grungy 8-bit charm.

Although the bass drums and the snares are less then kicking, the claps, high hats, rim shots and other sounds are bright and punchy. The Clap, crash, ride, high hats and toms are similar to the 909 and sound great, especially when processed individually. Released in the early days of MIDI the TR-707 also supports DIN control and can in fact be used as a bridge between these two control systems.

Roland TR-727 Latin Drum Machine

The Roland TR-727 was the latin sidekick to the more standard TR-707. As such the 727 lacked traditional drum sounds such as kick, snare and high hat however it possessed a dependable arsenal of electronic latin sounds such as bongos, timbales, shakers and whistles that have added mucho energy to house, tribal and world beat tracks around the globe. As with its predecessors the TR-727 features an easy to use interface and nice LCD display for creating dynamic multi-layered rhythms. Probably not a primary drum machine but assuredly a spicy addition to your beat arsenal.

Roland CR-78 CompuRhythm

The CR-78 was an important early drum machine technology and was used by many influential artists on a number of famous recordings. The CR-78 is a classic analog pattern producing Rhythm Machine, not an individual drum sound machine and was the first to use a microprocessor. It has 34 built in preset rhythm patterns which can be varied at the push of a button. These patterns include Rock, Disco, Waltz, Shuffle, Slow Rock, Swing, Fox Trot, Tango, etc... Some are cool, but the ability to vary them gives the user some creative control.

The CR-78 offers 14 electronic analog drum tones. Sounds include Kick, Snare, Rim, Cow Bell, HiHats, Cymbals, Congas, Bongos, Tambourine and Guiros. With 11 variation effects and the ability to adjust Tempo, accents, and fade in/outs the CR-78 is capable of producing nice rhythms for use in ambient, hip-hop, dub and other electronic music.

Visit VintageSynth.com for more info.


Synth.cc is your source for high quality New and Vintage Synth Gear from the top makers. Consult our free buyers guides or browse the live eBay listings to compare prices and equipment features.

Guestbook - What's Your Favrite Old School Drum Machine?

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    • Timewarp profile image
      Author

      Paul 4 years ago from Montreal

      @anonymous: I think that would be the Roland CompuRhythm CR-78, a very early drum machine, you can check it out on youtube.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Please bro, can anybody tell wich vintage Rhythm box(Drum machine) Timmy Thomas plays in the song: why can't we live together??? I saw in Youtube. Look for fritz 51327, so you can see the video with the drum machine in top of the organ.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @Timewarp: I have Boss 550, but i dream with Cr 64 Auto vari.

    • profile image

      annajolie10 4 years ago

      A friend of mine had a Roland.

    • tobydavis profile image

      tobydavis 5 years ago

      Fantastic collection of vintage drum machines - lots to explore and check out :-)

    • profile image

      Edutopia 5 years ago

      Great lens. A diligent eye and a bit of luck can get you the best vintage gear that can make or break a good sound.

    • Analogik profile image

      Analogik 5 years ago

      808, 909, 707, 727, 606!

    • Timewarp profile image
      Author

      Paul 6 years ago from Montreal

      @aardvarkapparel: Sweet, I just sold mine earlier this year to a kid who could use it more then myself. I loved the clean ride cymbal on that thing.

    • Timewarp profile image
      Author

      Paul 6 years ago from Montreal

      @tvyps: Oh man, that's low, you don't steal a mans vintage Drummatix, bad karma for them!

    • Timewarp profile image
      Author

      Paul 6 years ago from Montreal

      @dannystaple: Can't beat that 808 bass and the cow bell is pretty classic as well!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I personally enjoy my 909. And my 505. Which machine did The Blue Nile use on their albums?

    • profile image

      dannystaple 6 years ago

      808 for sure, although I've not played with the CR-78. I love this kind of gear!

    • finalfantasyxvi profile image

      finalfantasyxvi 6 years ago

      Nice lens.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I had a Drummatix many years ago. I loaned it to someone & they stole it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      808 And R8 And Linn Lm1 !!!!!

    • profile image

      aardvarkapparel 6 years ago

      I still have my Alesis HR-16!

    • profile image

      pacevedo1968 6 years ago

      I don´t now, but i love your lens

    • profile image

      iamhavok 6 years ago

      The 808 of course. This lens brought back some memories of the good old days...before digital.

    • Timewarp profile image
      Author

      Paul 6 years ago from Montreal

      @gerad: Yeah, cant beat that epic bass tone kick drum of the 808!

    • Timewarp profile image
      Author

      Paul 6 years ago from Montreal

      @anonymous: Aw man, I feel for you, that sucks :(

      The slightly better news is that you are not going to die and will no doubt fight this injustice with sick new beats by other means.

      Darren if you stop rocking then the terrorists win!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Im about to die!!! My house was broken into and Sequential Studio 440 was stolen!!! Im sick...

    • profile image

      gerad 6 years ago

      Roland TR-808 is my favorite old school machine. Next would be the Akai MP 60. Dr. Rhythm was were I got my start.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great lens! Now I need to go see if my TR-606 still works...

    • cbessa profile image

      cbessa 6 years ago

      I miss my SR-16.

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 7 years ago from Upstate, NY

      I just love old electronics!

    • Analogik profile image

      Analogik 7 years ago

      I own a couple of old drum machines, my favourite being the TR-707. Classic House machine. :)

      Roland Drum machines are the greatest! Too bad they don't make them much these days. :(

    • dalerogers lm profile image

      dalerogers lm 8 years ago

      also check out the audiotool at hobnox.com to program your own patterns on software replica versions of the 808 and 909!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I use an Alesis sr16 drum machine these days , but really do miss the Roland CR 1000 that I used to have back in the 1980´s...such an uncomplicated user friendly machine...If you're out there somewhere..all is forgiven .come back to Daddy..ps I love you

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Hello,

      I have a CR-78 which I am looking to sell. I have had it for years as it was a present from a well meaning relative. I never really used it though. Anyway, I only found it the other day and just need to ensure that it is still in working order. If so, would anyone be interested?

      Thanks,

      Alex

    • profile image

      nytclubber 9 years ago

      those drum machines really really look old and aged! i'm glad that the modern ones have more style and also do better. nice lens!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 9 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      WOW! I must be slipping. I thought all of those bands had a drummer! I guess now I know - thanks to you.

      5***** for showing "whot's really happenin!" Come see my JUKEBOX - might even be a drummer there. *grin*

    • profile image

      Lily Link 9 years ago

      Once again thanks for joining SquidTune!