This evening I was completely shocked to find a Roland TR-626 Drum Composer in mint condition at a used music store in Nagano City today for only 10 bucks!! ( Similar to one in the photo ). Amazing! The Roland TR-626 had the original box, manual, plastic wrap, warranty slip, and everything including an adapter and memory card! I later learned that the reason it was so cheap was the sync mode was set up for midi or external. Thus when you tried to play the patterns it wouldn’t start. You could play the pads, but not the sequencer.
I remember this happened before when I bought a couple of Yamaha RY20 drum machines from the very same shop which had the same midi sync setup. If these drum machines are in midi sync mode they do indeed look like they are broken to the untrained sales clerk. Needless to say I grabbed this machine real QUICK!!
There a number of reasons why I’ve had my eye out for a Roland TR-626. I know it’s NOT a TR-808 or TR-909, BUT…
1. The TR-626 has a trigger out jack on the back that allows you to use the rimshot as a trigger pulse for arpeggiators/sequencers on old analog synths. This should work perfectly for triggering my Roland SH-101 and Juno-6 synths.
2. The TR-626 has midi in/out jacks on the back so that in addition to trigger out, I can sync external midi gear. Fantastic!!
3. You can hook up the TR-626 to an external sampler and trigger it with a cool 16 step TR grid sequencer. The TR-626 has 30 drum sounds so you can control 30 samples, and you can assign the midi note number/channel for each sample. You can also set accent levels for each individual sound.
4. The TR-626 sports 12-bit samples which I kind of like. They actually sound pretty good and work great for all sorts of electro beat type music. This particular TR-626 sounds pretty clean, punchy, and quite warm. I am quite surprised.
5. The sequencer also is good and easy to use. It has accent (+/- 3), shuffle, and flam. There is a memory card slot and sysex/midi implementation is great.
6. The TR-626 can be run on batteries or with an adapter which is fantastic. You can bring it along with you in the car as it’s quite portable. It has a headphone jack too of course.
7. The Roland TR-626 also has multiple output jacks so you can route individual sounds through separate mixer channels or effect processors.
Plus there’s probably quite a bit more to learn about this little gem.
All in all, the Roland TR-626 is quite a versatile drum machine. I did not expect to find one this evening in such great shape for such a steal. It’s things like this that keep driving me back to these used music shops here in Nagano each day. Amazing stuff to be found!!
About a year ago I found a used Roland TR-606 that has dual trigger outs, but no midi. It cost me only one dollar!! You can check out my post about it here:
Here is a video I found on Youtube of the Juno-6 arpeggio triggerd by the TR-626.
Also here is a Roland TR-626 demo found on Youtube.