Roland TR-606 Vintage Drum Machine

Roland TR-606
Roland TR-606

UNBELIEVABLE! Today I snagged a vintage Roland TR-606 from the local used music shop here in Nagano city, JAPAN for only one dollar (thats $1.00)! The unit was really dirty and there was a note that said it didn’t make any sound. I bought it anyway because I couldn’t take their word for it. I’ve bought things in the past from this same shop with notes that said “Not working” when it only was because they didn’t understand or know how to use the music device. I got home and found a working adapter. It turned on right away, but indeed it didn’t make any sound. The reason is that you must know how to operate the unit!

I looked up the manual online as I was guilty as well not understanding how to properly use or test the Roland TR-606. I found some instructions on how to access the patterns. To my amazement the TR-606 performed beautifully. In addition, I noticed on the back there were five custom outputs which meant there must have been some sort of custom MOD installed in the TR-606. I spent about an hour cleaning up the drum machine and it looked fairly nice after that. I still can’t believe I found this for only a buck!

I also noticed that when I went through some of the patterns that the previous owner had programmed in the TR-606, they were quite erratic. If I had to guess, the owner before me was either into speed metal or didn’t know what they were doing with respect to programming the TR-606. Perhaps that also might explain the type of person that would drop this off at a used music shop and allow it to be sold for one dollar. Obviously, the store owner didn’t pay more than a dollar so he must have gotten the TR-606 practically for free. The beauty of this used music shop I frequent is that the music gear must be working 100% so that they can provide their standard 3 month warranty policy. Otherwise it’s classified as junk and the price is set to simply get rid of it as fast as possible. This is why the store employees usually seem me in the shop 3-4 times a week. I’m pretty sure that Roland TR-606 would not be in the junk box for very much longer.

One of the main reasons I am really excited to find the Roland TR-606 is that it has an output trigger ability to send sync signals to my Roland Juno 6 and Juno 106 synthesizers. The Roland TR-606 is really small and by the looks of the controls is probably quite easy to program once I read the manual once or twice. It should work awesome along with the Juno 6 both as a drum machine and a trigger to start the arpeggiator on the Juno 6. Fantastic!

Here is a video that someone uploaded to Youtube with the Roland TR-606 Drum machine triggering and in sync with the Roland Juno 6. It’s not a great video but it gives you the idea of both working together.


3 thoughts on “Roland TR-606 Vintage Drum Machine

  1. After a few days of playing the Roland TR-606 I can say it is performing beautifully. The drum machine cleaned up real nicely and there isn’t single problem at all with it. It’s amazing the store threw this into the junk bin.

  2. Jim, now you are making me real jealous… I would’ve buy it for a buck (or even more), even if it really doesn’t work! That drum machine is a classic! I must move to Nagano, LOL! (I’m from Japan, now I live in states, and I miss those local music stores in Japan! Every little towns in Japan has at least one decent “Gakki-ya” It is amazing.)

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