The Roland TR-808, 909 And 303 Are Resurrected

The Roland TR-808, 909 And 303 Are Resurrected

Roland are bringing back the instruments that moulded a generation of music.

Over the weekend I was fulfilling my fatherly duties. Drop the eldest off at a birthday party, mill around for an hour or two, return and collect. I know the drill, I’ve done it time and time again. On this occasion it was time to pick up from the bowling alley, but I felt good and the unexpected warm weather had cheered the day allowing for short sleeves.

As I made my way through the bowling alley to the party room a robust chap blocked my way, pointed a finger at my chest and asked, “have you go one of those?”. It took me a second to realise what he was on about but the penny soon dropped. I was sporting my Roland TR-808 shirt. The guy was enthused explaining that his friend has an 808, 909 and a 303. The friend it seems is something of a collector and a keen music producer.  We chatted for a while and I explained that I don’t posses the machine but I’m a fan of music and the 808 played a significant role in the creation of much of the eighties dance and hip-hop.

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It’s weird how these things happen but later on I was checking my facebook feed when hip-hop producer (for Weird Science) Dirty Ern linked to an article on the Guardian website recounting the history of the ill fated instruments. It’s an interesting read, check it out.

What also caught my eye was a further link from that piece announcing that the TR-808, 909 and 303 are being revamped and re-issued this month. A new model titled the Roland Aira TR-8 will combine the 808 and 909 into one all encompassing drum machine, whilst the 303 becoms the TB-3, a bass synth. The new models will replicate the functions and sounds from their analogue predecessors by transposing them into digital formats.

Be prepared to shell out though, The TR-8 is priced at £419 and the TB-3 at £249.

The Guardian: The Roland TR-808: the drum machine that revolutionised music

The Guardian: Roland launch new versions of the iconic 808, 909 and 303 instruments

Will Harrison

About the author | Will Harrison

Founder of The Unheard Nerd. A husband and father of two girls, Will is a fan of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, a comics fiend, a podcast host and champion of independent nerd culture. | Follow will on twitter: @TheUnheardNerd

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