Roland SH-1 and Roland CSQ-100 Sequencer Connections

Roland SH-1 with Roland CSQ-100
Roland SH-1 with Roland CSQ-100

Today I finally was able to get my Roland SH-1 and Roland CSQ-100 working well together synced with Roland TR-606. I had some initial problems getting everything to connect and work because I found I wasn’t using proper cables and voltage initially. Both the Roland Sh-1 and CSQ-100 require a +15V pulse to trigger the gate. The only box I had that would do this properly was the Roland TR-606. Currently I have the TR-606 connected via DIN SYNC to my Korg KMS-30. This allows me to then connect a Korg ESX-1 via midi. I found my Roland TR-626 would work at all which then made me realize I was probably doing something wrong. It triggers with +5V and not +15V which was my problem.

So basically, the Korg ESX-1 midi out connects to the midi in of the Korg KMS-30. The DIN SYNC out of the KMS-30 connects to the Roland TR-606 DIN SYNC in jack. From there, I connect one of the +15V trigger outs from the TR-606 to the Gate in of the CSQ-100. If I don’t wish to use the CSQ-100, I can connect directly to the Gate input of the Roland SH-1. This setup synchronizes everything perfectly!

From there I then connect the CV/Gate ins and outs accordingly between the Roland SH-1 and CSQ-100. The key here is that you need to make sure you use proper cables so that everything works. Otherwise, either the CV or Gate will not create the appropriate sound. After much digging around through my endless supply of insanely tangled up cables, I finally found four cables that worked well together. I suppose I could have jumped onto Ebay and found the right cables right away, but with all my cables, I felt I should try to use what I had first.

The Roland SH-1 and CSQ-100 were definitely made for each other. Once these are tuned properly and in sync, they work extremely well. Indeed the CV and Gate jacks are very touchy at times so you need to set things and leave it alone. Otherwise tuning or variations in pitch could happen if you are knocking or moving the gear around. Pressing the buttons and flipping the switches is not a problem. You just don’t want to bend or move the cables around much.

It’s super easy to crank out cool sequences and arpeggios with the CSQ-100. It’s definitely an asset with the SH-1 because the Roland SH-1 lacks an internal arp. The Roland CSQ-100 also has two tracks so you can toggle between them for verse and chorus or bridge even. There is no memory in the Roland CSQ-1 sequencer, BUT I found this not to be a problem. It’s so easy to punch in the bass line live, but you’ll have to remember it of course. I find people are kind of fascinated by the analog process as well. There is a DVD out by Howard Jones with footage of him recently doing a live show using his old analog gear. As he is talking to the audience, he is checking all of the analog gear. He comments in the video how much work it is to whip everything into shape. Boy, when he finally kicks off the set it’s absolutely stunning how all that analog gear sounds.

In any event, I’m really having fun working with the old vintage analog gear. The Roland SH-1 and CSQ-100 sequencer is definitely a fun combo that can really get the creative juices flowing even with it’s limitations. Great fun for sure!

On a side note, I’ve been using the analog Boss Octave OC-2 pedal with the SH-1 to fatten it up a tiny bit more for bass. It works fantastic!! I highly recommend it.

Korg Mono/Poly Synthesizer Madness

Korg Mono/Poly Synthesizer
Korg Mono/Poly Synthesizer

A while back I bought a Korg Polysix and have really grown fond of playing that synthesizer. Through my experience with the Korg Polysix, I learned more about it’s companion the Korg Mono/Poly. So it’s without too much surprise that when I finally found a reasonably priced Korg Mono/Poly, I just had to jump on it. Posted below is a video performed by Elmo Sexwhistle and it’s a GREAT example of how versatile and modern the Korg Mono/Poly can be.

The Korg Mono/Poly is quickly becoming an expensive synthesizer these days. After doing quite a bit of research, it was not too long ago that people were snapping these up at pretty low prices. Many were even acquiring them for free or they were found dusty in people’s attics. Certainly I had to pay a little more than I would have liked to, BUT I did acquire mine much much lower than what they are going for on the open market, so I’m quite happy with that. I’m also happy with the fact that the Korg Mono/Poly is simply quite the bomb! I mean this is seriously a beast of a synth that can sound mad if you want it to or a blissful groovin’ synth with that oh so sweet sounding arpeggiator. In fact the Korg Poly/Arp has one of the best arps I have ever heard. Ssh! I shouldn’t say that too loud next to my Roland Juno-60.

What’s beautiful about the Korg Mono/Poly are the four independent oscillators. I mean that is simply brilliant. I can play in Unison mode and have all oscillators stacked cranking out a power sounding arp groove. Then with the press of a button midstream in the song, I can shift the arp into Poly mode where each note is cycled through each of the 4 oscillators. This gives a very unique but incredible sounding variation to the arpeggio and sound. I use this for switching between a Verse and a Chorus, or entering a bridge where I want the arp to exist, but sound different. I don’t know any other synth that can do this just yet.

I also love how the two mod wheels can be allocated to VCO1/Slave VCO, Pitch, or VCF. This opens up to all kinds of modulation possibilities when playing live which I really enjoy. In fact, to me that is what the Korg Mono/Poly is all about. It’s a total live performance synth. On that point, the Korg Mono/Poly does require a bit of practice to understand how all the elements work together. That is fun too experimenting and learning about how all the knobs interact with one another. I would say opening up the manual and running through some of the basic patch setups would be ideal because it would help you understand each knob function. I did this with my Roland SH-1 and it really helped to understand how to program it on the fly more effectively.

To sync the Arp, I use an old discontinued Doepfer M.a.u.s.i sync device. I think I found this for $10 bucks in a used music store here in Japan. I knew it would be valuable some day and that day has finally arrived with the Korg Mono/Poly. You open the lid and remove a jumper that sets the Doepfer to S-Trigger mode. Then plug the Gate Out of the Doepfer into the Arp Trig of the Korg Mono/Poly. I then midi up my Korg ESX-1 with Oberheim DMX samples. The synchronization is super tight! I rocked with this combination all day yesterday and had zero issues with timing. I’ve heard the Kenton Pro Solo mkII is another great choice but an expensive one if all you need is to sync the arp. At the moment, I’m not interested in the other connections just yet but maybe I will later. For now I’m really into the arp and performance side of the Korg Mono/Poly. You can read more about the sync options I use for my old synths in the previous article on this blog.

So far, I’ve been lucky to acquire a Korg Mono/Poly in fantastic shape. Buying it in Japan helps because people here tend to really take care of their stuff. After running through all the parameters, everything seems to work as it should. Even the tuning is near spot on as an analog synth can be. I also noticed that around the back, the synth doesn’t seem to get too hot, although it is warm. Many Mono/Poly owners indicate that their synth can run really hot. Maybe it’s because I’m running mine in Japan off a 100V outlet, not sure. My Korg Polysix runs hotter at the moment which I’m not sure if that’s normal when compared to the Korg Mono/Poly. Altogether though they run warm but not too warm to indicate any potential problems. So far so good!

In conclusion, the Korg Mono/Poly is a wicked synth. I am so glad I found and bought one. No question, it is money well spent and a synth that I likely will never sell. The Korg Mono/Poly in addition to being a unique synth can do so much in a mix. It will be one of my main go to synths for sure and I feel I’ve only just scratched the surface of it’s possibilities. My only concern going forward is to make sure I can keep the synth running in top form. Right alongside the Korg Polysix it’s a formidable match!