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Roland Corporation
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Roland Corporation

is a Japanese manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, electronic equipment and software. It was founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka on April 18, 1972, with 33 million in capital. In 2005, Roland's headquarters relocated to Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture. Today it has factories in Italy, Taiwan, Japan, and the USA. As of March 31, 2010, it employed 2,699 employees.[1] It has existed in different forms since 1960, making it relatively old among still-operating manufacturers of musical electronics. Known for hundreds of popular synthesizers, drum machines, and other instruments, Roland gained a name as one of the top names in professional music equipment in the late 1970s and early 1980s.


Origin of the Roland name

Kakehashi founded Ace Electronic Industries in 1960, a manufacturer of numerous combo organs, guitar amplifiers, and effects pedals. He was also contracted by Hammond to produce rhythm machines for the company's line of home organs. In 1973, Kakehashi cut ties with both companies to found Roland.

As with many Japanese start-ups of the period, the name Roland was selected for export purposes as Kakehashi was interested in a name that was easy to pronounce for his worldwide target markets. Rumour has long circulated that he named his company after the French epic poem La Chanson de Roland. In reality, the name Roland was found in a telephone directory. Kakehashi opted for it as he was satisfied with the simple two-syllable word and its soft consonants. The letter "R" was chosen because it was not used by many other music equipment companies, therefore it would stand out in trade show directories and industry listings. Kakehashi did not learn of "The Song Of Roland" until later.[2]


Roland markets products under a number of brand names, each of which are used on products geared toward a different niche.

  • The Roland brand is used on a wide range of products including synthesizers, digital pianos, electronic drum systems, dance/DJ gear, guitar synthesizers, amplifiers, and recording products.
  • BOSS is a brand used for products geared toward guitar players and is used for guitar pedals, effects units, rhythm and accompaniment machines, and portable recording equipment.
  • Edirol is a line of professional video-editing and video-presentation systems, as well as portable digital audio recorders. Edirol also has Desktop Media (DTM) products, more production-oriented, and include computer audio interfaces, mixers, and speakers. Following Roland's purchase of a controlling interest in Cakewalk Software, most of the division's products were re-branded as Cakewalk products.
  • RSS is a line of commercial audio products including the V-Mixing System.
  • Rodgers was founded in 1958 as an organ company and survives today as a subsidiary of Roland, still manufacturing high-quality electric, electronic, and pipe organs.
  • Cakewalk music software company is a long-term partner of Roland s. In January 2008, Roland announced the purchase of controlling interest in the company.
  • Roland DG produces computerized plotters, vinyl cutters, and printers for the production of commercial signwork and point-of-sale materials.

At one point, Roland acquired the then-defunct Rhodes name, and released a number of digital keyboards bearing the Rhodes brand, but it no longer owns the name. The late Harold Rhodes regained the right to the name in 2000. Rhodes was dissatisfied with Roland's treatment of the marque, and had plans to re-introduce his iconic electric piano, but died before he was able to bring it to market.

Timeline of noteworthy products

  • 1972 Roland TR-77/TR-55/TR-33: Roland's first products. TR-77 is known as an updated version of Ace Tone Rhythm Ace FR-7L.[3]
  • 1973 Roland SH-1000: Japan's first commercial keyboard synthesizer.
  • 1974 Roland EP-30: The world's first touch-sensitive electronic piano.
  • 1974 Roland RE-201: The renowned space echo machine, one of the most popular tape delay-based echo machines ever produced.
  • 1974 Roland SH-3A: Monophonic synthesizer.
  • 1975 Roland System-100: Roland's first attempt at a modular synthesizer.
  • 1975 Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus Guitar Amplifier: A two channel, 120 watt amplifier equipped with two 12-inch (30 cm) speakers, built-in chorus and vibrato effects and a 3-band EQ per channel, renowned for its super-clean sound and durability, it has remained in production for over 35 years.
  • 1976 Roland System-700: Roland's first professional-quality modular synthesizer.
  • 1976 Roland DC-50 Digital Chorus: An analog chorus ensemble similar to Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble|Boss CE-1.[3] Some collectors assume that it was also supplied as OEM product, Multivox CB-50.[4]
  • 1977 Roland MC-8 Microcomposer: A groundbreaking digital sequencer. Roland's first product to utilize a microprocessor.[5]
  • 1977 Roland GR-500: Roland's first commercial guitar synthesizer.[6]
  • 1978 Roland CR-78: A user-programmable drum machine.
  • 1978 Roland Jupiter-4: Roland's first self-contained polyphonic synthesizer.
  • 1980 Roland CR-8000
  • 1980 Roland VK-1: Roland's first attempt to clone the Hammond B3.
  • 1980 Roland TR-808: One of the most popular programmable analog drum machines; its distinctive analog sounds, such as its cowbell sound and its kick drum, have become pop-music clich s, heard on countless recordings.
  • 1981 Roland MC-4 Microcomposer: A popular digital sequencer and the successor to the MC-8.
  • 1981 Roland TB-303 The Bass Line is a synthesizer with built-in sequencer manufactured from late 1981 to 1984. It had a defining role in the development of contemporary electronic music, particularly in acid house.
  • 1981 Roland System-100M: Semiprofessional modular synthesizer, successor of System-100.
  • 1981 Roland Jupiter-8: Roland claims this synthesizer put Roland in the forefront of professional synthesizers. A successful 8-voice programmable analog synthesizer after the hugely successful Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 and Oberheim's products.
  • 1982 Roland Juno-6: Roland's first synthesizer with digitally controlled oscillators. (Released later in the same year was the Juno-60, a similar model but with the addition of patch memory for storing sounds.)
  • 1982 Roland G505 G202: The 3rd generation of Roland electric guitar synthesizer controllers. These Strat-style guitars came with the matching GR-700 and PG-200 pedal boards, which also work as a regular guitar effector as well as a MIDI synthesizer bank.
  • 1982 Roland SH-101: Monophonic synthesizer designed to be worn hung around the neck with a strap, with an optional modulation attachment that protruded like the neck of a guitar.
  • 1983 Roland JX-3P: First Roland synthesizer to support MIDI.
  • 1983 Roland Jupiter-6: Second Roland synthesizer to support MIDI.
  • 1983 Roland MC-202: (MicroComposer) is a monophonic analog synthesizer/sequencer. It is similar to the TB-303 and SH-101 synthesizers, featuring 1 voltage-controlled oscillator with simultaneous saw and square/pulse-width waveforms.
  • 1983 Roland MSQ-700: The world's first MIDI-compatible sequencer.
  • 1983 Roland TR-909: An extremely popular drum machine during the early 1990s, the sounds of which (particularly the kick drum and open hi-hat) are still essential components of modern electronic dance music. The world's first MIDI-equipped drum machine and Roland's first to use digital sample playback combined with analog sound synthesis.
  • 1983 Roland CMU-800: Compu Music controlled by Apple II or C64.
  • 1984 Roland MKB-1000 and MKB-300: The world's first dedicated MIDI controller keyboards.
  • 1984 Roland MPU-401: Interface for connecting MIDI-equipped devices to a computer.
  • 1984 Roland MKS-80: Rack-mounted 8-voice analog synthesizer, commonly used with the MPG-80 programmer unit.
  • 1984 Roland Juno-106: Very popular programmable (128 patch memory locations), digitally controlled 6-voice analog synthesizer, with MIDI and the ability to transmit button and slider information through SysEx.
  • 1984 Roland TR-707 and Roland TR-727: A pair of popular drum machines, the TR-727 was essentially the same as the TR-707, except it had Latin-style sounds. The TR-707 was used extensively in the early days of house music and is still used in non-Western pop music around the world. The TR-727 is still used extensively in polyrhythmic non-Western pop music.
  • 1985 Roland Alpha Juno: Two analog polyphonic synthesizers, the Alpha Juno 1 (JU-1) and the Alpha Juno 2 (JU-2), notable for their 'Alpha Dial' that simplified the user interface.
  • 1985 Roland Octapad: A set of visually distinctive electronic drum triggers.
  • 1986 Roland JX-10: One of Roland's last true analog synths.
  • 1986 Roland RD-1000: Roland's first digital piano to feature their SA Synthesis technology. One notable user of this is Elton John from 1988 to 1994.
  • 1986 Roland HS-80: Same as the Roland Alpha Juno 2 (JU-2), but with built-in speakers. Branded as "Synth Plus 80."[7][8]
  • 1986 Roland S-10: Basic 12-bit sampler and keyboard combo. Sounds were stored on QuickDisks and it was capable of sampling up to 6 seconds of sound. It also had rudimentary analog filtering and ADSR.
  • 1986 Roland MKS-100: Rack Mounted version of the Roland-S10 sampler.
  • 1986 Roland MC-500: stand-alone sequencer and midi recorders. There's 4-track recording in real or step time and 16 midi channel multitimbrality, a dedicated rhythm track, a built-in 3 -inch DS/DD Floppy disk drive with 100,000 note capacity and a large LCD screen.
  • 1987 Roland D-50: One of the popular digital synthesizers in late 1980s; Roland's first all-digital synthesizer implementing its Linear Arithmetic synthesis (a form of sample-based synthesis combined with subtractive synthesis). The D-50's descendants include the D-5, D-10, D-110 (rack unit), and D-20 synthesizers.
  • 1987 Roland MT-32: Also using Linear Arithmetic synthesis, it was supported by many PC games in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a high-quality music option until support shifted to General MIDI sound cards.
  • 1988 Roland U-110: Roland's first "rompler", the U-110 was a rack module based on Roland's large sample library and contained good representations of acoustic instruments. Designed to compete with E-mu's Proteus line, the U-110's successor U-220 found its way into many professional studio racks of the day.
  • 1988 Roland E-20: Roland's first entry into the auto-accompaniment keyboard market, going head to head with Yamaha and Casio. The E-20's descendants include the E-70, E-86, G-800, G-1000, G-70 and the current E-80.
  • 1988 Roland MC-500mkII: Successor to the Roland MC-500, with Turbo software. Now with 8 tracks of recording, 100,000 note capacity, real-time track muting and more. Storages on 3 -inch DS/DD Floppy disk drive.
  • 1989 Roland R-8: A drum machine with velocity-sensitive pads.
  • 1989 Roland W-30: A sampling workstation keyboard (DAW).
  • 1989 Roland D-70: 76-key synth. Successor to the U-20. This synth combines the U-20 ROM with advanced D-50-like filters.
  • 1990 Roland HP-3700: Roland digital piano.
  • 1990 Roland MC-50: is dedicated sequencer similar to the popular Roland MC-500 series. It featured 40,000 note capacity, up to 8 songs, 8 phrase tracks, a 3 -inch DS/DD Floppy disk drive, separate rhythm track and temp tracks, 32 channel MIDI and FSK sync.
  • 1991 Roland SC-55 Sound Canvas: The world's first General MIDI synthesizer.
  • 1991 Roland JD-800: Digital synthesizer with analog style interface.
  • 1992 Roland JV-80: A sort of simplified and more user-friendly D-70; spawned a whole family of synthesizers based on its architecture and sample set.
  • 1992 Roland DJ-70: A DJ sampling music workstation and synthesizer keyboard that featured the first scratch wheel pad. Storages on 3 -inch DS/DD Floppy disk drive.
  • 1993 Roland MC-50mkII: Successor to the Roland MC-50. Equipped with slightly advanced features for editing and general use. 40,000-note internal capacity, with the built-in disk drive, you can store approximately 150,000 events on a 3 -inch DS/DD Floppy disk drive.
  • 1993 Roland JV-90: A JV-80 with 76-note keyboard, expandable to 56 voices.
  • 1993 Roland JV-1000: A JV-90 with a built in MC-50mkII so as to be a fully-fledged workstation.
  • 1994 Roland RD-500: The RD-500 is a professional digital piano with 88 weighted keys, 121 high quality sounds and built-in digital effects.
  • 1994 Roland MS-1: 16 bit AD/DA conversion, First portable digital stereo phrase sampler, with R-DAC (Roland Digital Audio Coding).
  • 1994 Roland S-760: 16 bits Digital sampler with resonant filters.
  • 1994 Roland JV-1080: Roland's 64-voice Super JV synthesizer module, it used the JV sample set with the JD series filters and a fast RISC processor for very smooth envelopes. Used on more recordings than any other module in history, the JV-1080 boasts a full range of acclaimed Roland sounds, as well as four expansion slots.
  • 1994 Roland AT-70: The first Roland's home organ, "Music Atelier" and its little brother AT-50.
  • 1995 Roland XP-50: Based on the JV-1080, it was Roland's first music workstation that featured their MRC-Pro sequencer.
  • 1995 Roland VG-8: The world's first guitar modeling system.
  • 1996 Roland VS-880: Roland's first digital studio workstation providing recording, mixing and CD-mastering.
  • 1996 Roland MC-303 Roland's first non-keyboard drum machine, sample-based synthesizer, and sequencer combination bearing the now-generic term Groovebox. Featuring a full 8-track sequencer.
  • 1996 Roland XP-80: 64-voice music workstation.
  • 1996 Roland AT-90: The highest model of Roland's home organ "Music Atelier" and smallest brother AT-30.
  • 1997 Roland VK-7: Groundbreaking Hammond organ clone, which introduced the "Virtual ToneWheel" physical modeling technology.
  • 1997 Roland JP-8000: Roland's first virtual analog synthesizer. It's technology was more similar to conventional PCM synthesis, such as in a JD-800, rather than the virtual analog synths of today that digitally model the behavior of analog oscillators.
  • 1997 Roland V-Drums: Digital drums incorporating silent mesh drum heads that realistically reproduce both the natural feel and sound of acoustic drums.
  • 1997 Roland JV-2080: Updated Super JV module. 64-voice, 3-effects-processor, 8-expansion-slot synthesizer module.
  • 1997 Roland AT-80: Top-class home organ in Roland's home organ.
  • 1998 SP-808: Table-top sampler, multi-track recorder, and effects processor.
  • 1998 Roland MC-505: Successor to the MC-303 with a more powerful synthesizer and sequencer.
  • 1998 Roland JX-305: Similar to the MC-505, but with 61 keys.
  • 1999 Roland AT-90R: Successor models. AT-60R, AT-80R, and AT-30R.
  • 2000 - Roland XV-3080: Essentially a Super JV module updated to 128-voices, and taking SRX expansion boards.
  • 2000 - Roland XV-5080: True next generation synthesizer module and basis for the Fantom series of workstations. New high bit-depth samples, 128-voices, takes SRX expansion boards, and capable of loading sampler data.
  • 2000 Handsonic HPD-15: First electronic percussion pressure sensitive multi-pad. Playable with hands and/or fingers (without sticks). Divided in 15 zones, with 2 ribbons controllers, 1 internal sequencer and 1 infra-red sensor named D-Beam.
  • 2001 Roland AX-7: Successor to the AX-1. A keytar noted for its aesthetics and design.
  • 2001 Roland AT-90S: Successor models. AT-80S, AT-60S, AT-20S and AT-10S.
  • 2002 Roland MC-909: Successor to the MC Groovebox series and also the flagship to all MC Groovebox series machines, featuring a full 16-track sequencer, SRX board upgrading, Built-in larger LCD Display Screen and built-in sampling. Supports 1 SRX Expansion card.
  • 2002 Roland AT-15: Baby of the "Music Atelier" home organ product range. And AT-5.
  • 2003 Roland V-Synth: 24-voice analog modeling synthesizer.
  • 2004 Roland Fantom-X: Music workstation and professional synthesizer expandable to 1 gigabyte of sounds.
  • 2004 Roland AT-90SL Atelier: Successor models. AT-80SL, and AT-60SL.
  • 2005 Roland Micro Cube: Roland's first portable amplifier. Allowed for AC adapter or battery use. Seven input effects, delay, and reverb options.
  • 2005 Roland Fantom-Xa: Entry-level Fantom-X. The A stands for access.
  • 2006 Roland MC-808: The latest MC-series, featuring a full 16-track sequencer and 512 MB more memory, and double the polyphony of the MC-909. First MC Groovebox series with motorized faders and built-in sampling, no Velocity sensitive pads, no SRX board as an add-on as seen on MC-909.
  • 2006 Roland SH-201: Roland's first affordable analog modeling synthesizer.
  • 2006 Roland Juno-G: Entry-level workstation based on the Fantom-X.
  • 2007 Roland MV-8800: Successor to the MV-8000. Production station with 24-bit sampling capabilities. Has new built-in color LCD display.
  • 2008 Roland Fantom-G: Music workstation with onboard graphical MIDI sequencer.
  • 2009 Roland AX-Synth: A keytar, successor for the AX-7. The most notable change is the addition of an internal synthesizer.
  • 2009 Roland AT-900: Roland introduces the AT-900 and AT-900C, the next generation of Atelier organ consoles, successors to the AT-90S and AT-90SL.
  • 2009 Roland V-Piano: the first digital piano to rely solely on physical modeling technology.
  • 2011 Roland Jupiter-80: Flagship performance synthesizer, combining Roland's SuperNatural acoustic modeling technology with a virtual analog engine.
  • 2011 Roland AT-350c: A Combo version of the "Music Atelier" home organ product range. Can be coupled with any of Roland's MIDI pedal keyboards to make it a complete organ.
  • 2012 - Roland Jupiter-50: A reduced JP-80 with three parts instead of four and a smaller non-touch screen.


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