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.

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2 thoughts on “Roland SH-1 and Roland CSQ-100 Sequencer Connections

  1. Ronny

    Hi there.

    I’m thinking about getting a CSQ for my SH1 as well and I stumbled upon your blog post. I have a question about the SH1’s voltage requirements. The manual says it only needs +7.5V to trigger the gate. While this is certainly a mistake, how do you know it’s +15V?

  2. Hey Jim, I also have a CSQ-100. I’ve found the cheapest / easiest solution to sync it up is using a Korg SQ-1 ($99). You can use GATE A or B to send clock to the CSQ-100 step input, the SQ-1 gets its MIDI clock from USB from almost any source your computer can send (DAW, etc). One thing that is cool is you can change the clock division and ‘patterns’ by using the step on/off buttons on the fly!

    NOTE: Sync Out jack only works if the SQ-1 is the master clock. I’ve heard the Volca series echo its MIDI in clock to the SYNC Out jack, but cannot confirm this.

    Also note the SQ-1 will also act as a MIDI to CV interface (will send MIDI note information from USB to the CV & GATE ports – works with a SH-2 anyway getting MIDI note info from my MIDI controller or DAW). The new JD-XA also acts as a great CV controller.

    Cheers,
    Jamie

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