Should Roland Bring Back The TB-303 Bassline Synth?

tb-303Should Roland bring back the TB-303 Computer Controlled Transistorized Bass synthesizer?

That’s the question raised by a post today at the Roland site. Roland’s Oz Owen writes:

It’s hard to make a definitive statement these days without kicking off an almighty flame war, but we’re going to make one anyway: the TB-303 is the greatest single-oscillator monosynth of all time, bar none. There, we said it. And you know what? We’re right. Argue all you want. Go on, see where it gets you!

What other monosynth, and single oscillator monosynth at that, has carved such a prominent niche for itself throughout the contemporary landscape of electronic music? What other synth could claim to have such a unique and distinctive feel, capable of creating sound like no other? No one could argue that the electronic music scene would be markedly different today without that little silver box.

We’re not going to bite on the “greatest single-oscillator monosynth of all time, bar none” flame-bait, because Roland raises a more immediate question.

Since they clearly think the 303 is the greatest monosynth ever – and since Korg has a hit on their hands with the re-release of the MS-20 Mini monosynth – is Roland considering doing something similar with the TB-303?

Let us know what you think! Should Roland bring back the TB-303?

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114 thoughts on “Should Roland Bring Back The TB-303 Bassline Synth?

  1. I’d rather that they come up with something new and killer than do a Korg and revisit the past.

    Give us a new Roland classic!

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  2. The only reason to make a new Roland TB-303 is to make a buck off of the people that are too cheap to buy a vintage one. What’s the point in that?

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    1. Too cheap?? Yeah, I’d much rather pay 1500 on a tiny plastic box that’s 20 years old than pay my mortgage this month!?

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  3. Roland has a number of devices they could re-issue and make money on, but the key would be to not over-re-design them. Just add modern necessities like USB MIDI, and then sell them at as low a price point as possible. If they go for nostalgia pricing they would fail. And I think it would be a big (internal) challenge for Roland to release something solid and minimal, without butloads of extra unwanted sounds or features in it. People might buy a “new” 303 or 808 for a few hundred bucks, but they would never buy a “303 with super-natural guitarpsichord modeling and 9 million gigatrons of rom samples for $1499”.

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    1. Itd be so ideal if they did the 303 as is. Just some midi added.

      The 606 in the same casing to match, but add 808 and 909 sounds to the palette!

      Both at an affordable price.

      These two units are so good looking, so easy to play with, so portable! Imagine if they released a series of affordable products in those little silver boxes? Perhaps a chip tunes sequencer? Perhaps an effects box (with a d beam, lol)? Chain them all together… You’d have a really fun low end modular series. Like the kaossilators but no menu scrolling!

      God I’d buy everything if they’d put it out in these simple little silver boxes!

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  4. I just realized what the problem is here:



    I think I could die happy knowing that it was from the shock of seeing a TB-303 re-released with D-Beam technology all over it.

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    1. yeah a d-beam, so it can cut my penis in half. oh wait, no so i can practice on my girth, cos that d-beam is nothing more than a sex toy.

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  5. Well, there’s been hundreds, if not thousands, of posts and threads all over the internet about this very same topic… I love the 303 sound and I’m an acid fiend in general. However, there are already so many alternatives to the TB-303 that I don’t really care if Roland makes an official re-release. Some people will argue ad nauseum about how the newer clones don’t sound exactly like the originals, but who really fucking cares? They sound close ENOUGH. Like well over 95% close. Quibbling about the ambiguous 5% is a waste of time, and if people are willing to pay $1,500+ for a vintage 303 when they could buy a brand new, assembled x0xb0x for maybe $450, they have a screw loose IMO! Besides, it is a known fact that even the vintage 303s can sound fairly different from one another due to components that have aged differently. I say that if Roland wants to re-release a product, they should start with the SH-101 (the true acid machine) and add small upgrades like midi, USB, and a more robust sequencer that can still be triggered with CV inputs. There’s tons of monosynths in today’s market but there’s nothing that really covers that Roland sound. They could also do this for the MC-202 as well. They would just have to be really careful to deliver that SOUND, because Roland SH synths are pretty distinctive. I think that the market for analog worldwide is bigger than it has been in many, many years and the 101/202 are capable of delivering a far more diverse variety of sounds than the 303, not to mention the fact that the 303 is largely irrelevant in modern electronic music. If they released the 101/202 the acid heads would be happy, and other people would also have a great synth capable of good tones. While I’m wishing, I’d like for them to actually blend the SH-101 and SH-2 together and also design a really great sounding distortion/overdrive circuit, filter feedback, etc. I don’t really want a re-issued clone… They should take their great ideas from the past and combine them.

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  6. I think they re-release it along with an 808 and a 909 and make it a family of products that work together with modern features. Adding vst versions that exchange well between the software and hardware similar to maschine. I hate that if I want an 808 I have to fork up close to three grand.

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    1. I think roland is planing a re-making.
      sure, those machines sounds great.
      I had or have them all, but they are really out of date.

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  7. Hi guys, I’m responsible for publishing the TB-303 article on Roland’s blog, however the true credit belongs to OZ Owen. Oz wrote this article for our POWERON digital magazine available in the Apple App store which I repurposed for the blog.

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    1. so then, dying to know, did Roland ask you for this article…ie does Roland seem interested in a 303 reissue possibly?

      Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
  8. Elektrons Analog Four in many ways can be called an evolution of the 303 idea. Why buy a 303 or 303 clone when you can have something like an A4 which can do the same and much much more!

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  9. Obvs people are completely enamored with vintage gear right now. Problem with vintage gear is it goes for collector prices, and that is rather problematic for the fledgling musician. Can I afford a vinatage 303 or MS-20 on the money I make? Hell no. Would I love to have one? Of Course! MIDI USB is great, but so many people are moving towards Eurorack and CV controlled systems now anyway. What’s the point other than being able to use cheap USB keyboards? Honestly, I would be stoked if they re-released 303’s (and 808’s, 909’s and the SH-101) for around $350 each. Korg would eat their shirts.

    I don’t think this trend will change what we hear in clubs, on the radio or in what Tiesto “does”, but for the people like me, basement show electroheads, it would be a graciously welcomed return to that sort of punk accessibility; completely live, and able to be improvised on. I think a lot of people want that tactile, “playable” experience. Higher production standards abound in VSTs and Ableton, but you don’t get that “live” feel from programming a computer.

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  10. Zero interest in this. Hated it back then, hate it now. My least favorite synth of all time.

    Bring back the SH101.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 6
    1. LOL, exactly my sentiments. I had a 303, 808, 606, 101, JP4, and got rid of it all 12 years ago. All I regret getting rid of now is JP4, 101, and 808. I always considered 303 and 606 playtoys. They were produced as playtoys, they looked like playtoys, and they sounded like playtoys to me. I’ve never found a real usage for a 303… it always sounded too thin along with 606, and compared to 808, 101, JP4 combination. 😉 Man that Jupiter-4 sounded so fat and juicy! 🙂

      Like this comment?: Thumb up 4
  11. Roland should reissue the 303. And it should look the same, perhaps a metal chassis. And it should have an MSRP of $303.

    The TB-303 is ancient tech, probably less than $50 of componants in there. The ONLY REASONS the little plastic box is such an eBay goldmine is decades of mystique and a limited number of them trading around.

    It’s been cloned to virtual perfection in software and hardware, nevermind that what it does can be replicated on almost any subtractive synth if programmed and sequenced well.

    It does have some distinctive features and textures, and I would buy one for sure. But it should be priced in real money, not in collector fantasy dollars. The market for these things is entirely inflated by consensual price fever.

    We will soon see vintage MS-20s coming down a little.

    Roland could make a lot of people very happy (and make some analog dollars this holiday season) if they pulled out the schematic and started production on a new run.

    I would love to see the celebrated analog synths reborn in reasonably-priced form. The 303 is a no-brainer, Roland would have a huge seller.

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  12. Roland claim it to be the the greatest monosynth of all time and they may be right, but it was not down to their efforts. Roland actually failed with the 303 as their envisaged bass accompaniment machine, but humble musicians on a BUDGET picked up this thrown out device for cheap and made it a success.

    Roland can brag all they want but the truth is they are not responsible for the success. The success is down to pioneering electronic musicians creating a whole new genre of music on a BUDGET. Hats off to Korg!

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  13. Fuck No. I sure dont want to listen to really poor acid everywhere. The fact that its limited is what makes it so freakin good

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 5
  14. uh.. hmm.. well why not.. Roland (and Korg / yamaha actually) have made nothing interesting for a while. Resorting to celebrated re-releases is sensible. but still, kinda sad.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
  15. The 303 isn’t even the best single oscillator mono synth Roland has ever made, never mind all time. That being said, I like the 303, I have a x0xb0x. The thing is, there are so many great 303 clones out that it’s the last thing we need remade.

    I want Roland to remake its classic analog drumboxs. An 808/909/606 combo would be sick, even if it used digital synthesis. As long as it wasn’t sample based and it had a lot of knobs to shape the sounds.

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  16. Agreed they are out of touch with the market. They dont even listen to their customers they disabled all comments on their youtube channels. Hopefully someone new at roland reads stuff on internet so they can learn from everybody here.

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  17. With every conceivable sound a TB or TR can make available in hundreds of libraries and instruments (most of which are far more flexible), this has to be about Vintage Gear Lust. I got to use some early Roland and Korg gear, so I understand the kind of fun you can have. I’m just puzzled at why people want this limited sound set in this ungenerous form. Putting USB on it won’t make it SOUND any better. For the time, effort and expense, you can probably outdo anything a TB has to offer with what you own right now. Nostalgia is fine, but depth, stability and range beat it handily, just IMO. I guess I have a slight attitude over it because I remember playing synths whose pitch would drift in the heat. 😛

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 2
  18. Ok, but there’s already the Bass Bot. I’d rather see the 808 909 come back. Or better yet, all three! There’s no reason for an 808 to cost 3 grand. Lets fix this situation.

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  19. Since Korg just released the Volca Series: synth, bass & drum machine, Roland has missed the boat!!!

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 3
  20. I used to have an SH-101 and it certainly was great but it couldn’t do what the 303 could do as good. The same goes for the other way around.
    Yesterday i downloaded that free Venom VB-303, and it’s actually very fucking good.
    I would however buy a new 303 if it was well under $500 with midi/usb.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
  21. yes yes yes yes!!! YES!!! If only to shut up the number of people who think it will change the course of musical history to have one.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
  22. Novation Bass Station Ii has a TB-303 “ish” filter. Roland would have to beat the value proposition presented by the BSII in a new monosynth, and this will be a challenge for them.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
  23. Roland should defo think about bringing the beast back with a few added extras like usb etc etc it truely is the best sounding synth of all time and lets be honest if roland did bring it back they would make a killing!! 🙂 303 forever 🙂

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  24. bring it back for the people who cannot afford these ridiculous prices that the originals are being sold for.please.

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  25. Sorry, but re-realeasing the 303 is a stupid idea. Very stupid idea. classics can’t be re made. It’s like saying ford should re release the model T.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 1

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