64 Voice Synthesizer Module

Roland SC-880 

The SC-880 is one of the last and best GM modules offered by Roland.  It offered full compatibility with General MIDI (GM), while at the same time elevating the sonic capabilities of this machine to new heights - drawing from samples and sound from Roland's own JV/XP series.  It is also compatible with the General Standard (GS) format.

The SC-880 is a 32-part, 64-voice multitimbral sound module, and thanks to this, "it can produce the sounds of a large ensemble.  It is the ideal sound module to use with sequencers or personal computers".

The SC-880 contains 1,117 high quality tones and 42 types of Rhythm sound sets (including 3 sound effect sets).  These include the same sounds as the SC-55 / 55mkII and SC-88 / 88 Pro, allowing SC-55 / 55mkII and SC-88 / 88 Pro song data to be played back correctly.

A wide variety of effects are provided:  64 types of multi-effects, eight types each of reverb and chorus effects, 10 types of delay, and a 2-band equalizer.  In addition, the values of relevant parameters can be set for each effect, allowing professional-level manipulation of sound.

There are 256 user tones and 16 user Rhythm sets, allowing the user to create their own tones and Rhythm sets.  The parameter list is not as exhaustive as - say - Roland's own JV-1080 or 2080, but there are enough to provide satisfying customization of sounds, like vibrato, filter, and envelope.

A very cool feature of the SC-880 is "Patch mode", which lets you layer up to 6 parts to create complex sounds.  This mode is the most powerful feature of the machine, and where the best sounds are created.  There are 256 on-board preset patches (hear examples from all these patches below), and you can create 128 user patches.

The SC-880 also provides a "Performance mode", which stores settings for all 32 parts.  There are 8 preset Performances suitable for the following styles of music:

  • Pop Set
  • Orchestra Set
  • Rock Set
  • Jazz Set
  • Hip Hop Set
  • Techno Set
  • Ethnic Set
  • SEQ Template

and of course you can create eight of your own Performances. 

The on-board Multi-FX is phenomenal, and allows to create very interesting patches, and give them that full-sounding "sparkle".  There are many effects to choose from, ranging from the more common reverb, delay, eq and compression, to the more esoteric like phaser, flanger, enhancer, humanizer, overdrive, distortion, auto-wah, hexa-chorus, rotary, pitch-shifter, rotary and many more, and also combinations of effects.

This is really a good alternative to the JV-series - if you don't need all the parameter manipulation, but fast access to great sounds, it's a very valid machine - and you also get many samples that are not on the stock JV series, and thanks to the Multi-FX, many new pro-effects also.



Roland SC-880 audio demos

The three on-board demo songs:

1. Walkin' on the Sun  - Typical Fusion-style 1990s demo

2. Toughparade - Dance demo, typically '90s (House, Trance, D 'n' B),  that shows well the sonic capabilities of the SC-880

3. Turnabout - Classical demo, showcasing the realism of many of the patches on board


Stream all mp3 examples below


Patch name with audio demo My comments
000 SC-880 Beautiful grand piano patch.
001 RB STRAT Excellent overdriven Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, suitable for Rhythm 'n' Blues
002 MILD OD Guitar through mild overdrive
003 WAH! PEDAL Fantastic, very well-programmed patch that reproduces the effect of a wah-wah pedal on an electric guitar
004 WARM OD Warm overdrive pedal / or amp
005 EC STRAT Warm overdrive
006 BLUES OD Very cool, typical Blues guitar overdrive sound
007 HEAVY & WILD Perfect for Hard-Rock or Metal
008 FLANGER GTR Super-powerful flanger effect
009 SLOW GEAR A noted Roland/Boss effect
010 MID-BOOST Typical Rock guitar sound
011 POWER RHYTHM Fantastic, groovy and bouncy electric guitar sound, perfect for many genres and of course, Rock 'n Roll 
012 HEAVY RHYTHM Metal stuff 
013 NOISY RHYTHM Sounds like the British invasion of the 1960s 
014 CLEAN RHYTHM Sublime Fender Stratocaster of the 1980s 
015 WAH RHYTHM 1970s cop movie 
016 T-WAH GUITAR Cool auto-wah / filter effect 
017 FUNK PHASE Very cool electric guitar through phaser, very in vogue in the late '70s / early '80s for Funk 
018 MELLOW&CLEAN The end of the night at the Vegas casino 
019 COOL ARP. Beautiful clean guitar sound 
020 SURF GUITAR Typical 1960s Surf Rock guitar, with mega-classic slapback echo/delay. 
022 NYLON BOSSA Amazing acoustic guitar with nylon strings mounted.  Perfect for Bossa Nova and other Latin-American genres 
023 ENH. NYLON Classical guitar 
024 ENH. STEEL The quintessential acoustic guitar sound. 
025 COMP PK PASS Nice picked bass through compressor. 
026 DRIVE PK BS. Picked bass through overdrive. 
027 JP FRETLESS "John Patitucci" style fretless bass, very good. 
028 HYPER BASS Cool... 
029 303 SAW BASS The classic silver box. 
030 FAT S.BASS Gluey synth bass
031 SYNC BAS Powerful synth bass
032 HUMAN BASS Nice synth bass with guttural texture introduced by moving the mod. control
033 PH RHODES Classy Rhodes electric piano through phaser
034 TREM RHODES Nice Rhodes through tremolo
035 TREM WURLY Classic Wurlitzer electric piano
036 TREM FM EP Beautiful 1980s style Yamaha DX7 / FM electric piano
037 SC RHODES Splendid Rhodes piano, very expressive
038 SOFT E.PIANO Gentle electric piano
039 COMP PIANO Nice piano through compressor - perfect for '90s House and other genres
040 COMP CLAV. Typical Hohner Clavinet, through compressor
041 THE E.ORGAN Standard electric organ, good for many genres (Progressive, Sacred) - Mod switches the Leslie speed
042 TREM ORGAN Delightful organ suitable for lighter styles... and Reggae!
043 5TH ORGAN Yep
044 PERC. ORGAN Classic Hammond B-3 with Jazz settings
045 OD-ROT ORGAN Screaming overdriven organ, perfect for 1970s Hard-Rock.  Mod wheel changes the Leslie speed
046 THEATER ORG Swanky theater organ, like the huge Wurlitzers seen in movies
047 DIGI ORGAN Typical D-50 style digital organ
048 ORGAN BELL New Age style beauty
049 CHO STRINGS Nice classical string ensemble through stereo chorus
050 WIDE STRINGS Yep, and with nice vibrato
051 WIDE SYN STR Gorgeous synth strings, perfect for many genres.
052 WARM STRINGS Huge string ensemble, very 1980s
053 FAT STRINGS Full string ensemble
054 SPIC WALTZ Cool string played in spiccato
055 WIDE CHOIR Seminarists singing in a secluded church
056 DUAL CHOIR Men & Women
057 NYMAN BRASS A nod to the famous composer
058 SAX LIVE Realistic saxophones
059 SFORZANDO Classic brass played sforzando
060 TS WIND Brass ensemble (Tenor Saxes?)
061 ANALOG BRS Classic analog brass, very 1980s
062 OCT BRASS Big brass
063 M. TROMBONE Funny trombone with mute
064 DRIVE TENOR Tenor sax in overdrive
065 PM SYN LEAD Nice synthesizer lead with Portamento
066 MAD CHO LEAD Chorused synth lead
067 MG SAW LEAD Nice Moog Minimoog style synth lead
068 OB SAW LEAD Oberheim OB-style synth lead
069 SINE LEAD Gentler sine-based synth lead
071 SUPER SAW Quite different from Roland's soon-to-be-coming JP-8000 SuperSaw
072 SILKY LEAD Digital goodness
073 STEP SYNC Lots of movement
074 PHASER HPF Phenomenal synth strings with generous amounts of the classic Roland/Boss phaser
075 PHASER STR Gentler version of the above
076 PROLOGUE Classic Roland preset found in other of their synths
077 MOD SWEEP Gorgeous synth pad, with lots of modulation delay fx
078 MOD HEAVEN Nice patch inspired by the mega-classic "Staccato Heaven" on the D-50
079 RAVE SHIFT Cool Techno-Rave lead
080 FB FAR OUT! A lot of feedback
081 STEP BELL Nice and melancholy glassy bell through step phaser fx
082 STEP STRINGS Strings through the step phaser
083 SEQ HORN PAD Moving horns
084 THE SOFT PAD Divine synthesizer pad, perfect for being "the glue" of the song in many genres
086 WARM VOX PAD Synthy vox pad
087 JP8 SQR PAD Splendid square waveform synth pad, inspired by the Jupiter-8
088 OB SOFT PAD Huge soft synthesizer pad, inspired by the Oberheim line
089 PAN SEQUENCE Jumpy pad
090 ASIAN DREAM Perfect for New Age
091 ER HU LEAD The classic Chinese violin
092 ZITHER Gorgeous, cinematic sound
093 PSY. TABLA Different
094 SITAR DANCE Indian atmospheres
095 SPIN BIWA The Japanese Biwa, played with tremolo technique
096 ARABIC LEAD Phenomenal reed-based Arabic sound
097 3D BUBBLE :-)
098 3D ROTARY Wide organ
099 3D DIDGERIDO The classic Australian Aboriginal instrument
100 3D BAG SWEEP Huge bagpipes
101 3D UFO...... Mission Earth
102 3D CHURCH Bells
103 3D IMPCT HIT Very nice sound effect
104 3D EXCITE !! They like the show
105 LO-FI AUH Classic Techno sound
106 LO-FI TECHNO Typical JV-1080 style sound
107 LO-FI ORGAN "Dirty" organ
108 LO-FI SQUARE Low bit-rate flute
109 LO-FI VOX Cool Techno vox
110 LO-FI JAZZ Showcasing the excellent on-board Multi-FX processor's capacity
111 LO-FI DUO Bass and piano from the gramophone
112 LO-FI GND NZ The dreaded 60Hz ground loop noise
113 LEAD & SEQ Cool Moroder style split
114 PIANO & BASS Yes
115 GTR & ORGAN Soulful organ and sublime 1960's fuzz guitar split... perfect for James Bond scores
116 VIOLIN&CELLO Nice duo
117 BRS. & FLUTE Unusual split
118 SYNTH SPLIT Early 1980s vibe
119 PIANO & VIBE Perfect for 1960s Jazz.. piano and vibraphone split
120 JAZZ RHYTHM The two staples of Jazz - drums and contrabass
121 ACID PANNER Moving synth
122 LFO RAVE More JV-1080 style sounds
123 FLANGER NZ Huge flanger effect, in stereo
124 1 KEY STROKE Strumming
125 INET LIVE Tennis match
126 DOUBLE HIT Who wants to be a millionaire?
127 SCRAPE SHIFT Nice sound fx
128 EPILOGUE Early vocoder



Stream all mp3 examples below



Patch name with audio demo My comments

001 Power 880

Huge patch

002 Alternative 880

Another patch inspired by the ground-breaking JV-1080

003 Strings Stack 1

Ravishing string ensemble patch... gorgeous.

004 LA Stack

Typical MIDI-stack combo of the early/mid 1980s

005 Dist Gtr for GR

Solo guitar

006 Dance Saws

Lots of sawtooth waves

007 Sci-Fi Pad

Whoosh sound

008 Gamelan Split

Classy Gamelan orchestra

009 New Age Split 1

Magnificent split that uses an SH-101 sample for the bass, and an amalgam of synth sounds for the synth pad

010 Lo-Fi VP330

The classic Roland vocoder

011 Bass-Brass Sect.

Happy Pop

012 Ac.Piano 880

The very nice grand piano on board

013 Phase Pad

Sublime soft pad through phaser

014 Lo-Fi Rave

Quintessential Rave sound

015 JC Guitar

Beautiful emulation of electric guitar through Roland's famous JC-120 Jazz Chorus amp

016 Prologue 880

Another famous Roland patch, found in other synths

017 Techno Saw


018 Bass/Lead

Nice split

019 Fantasia 880

Again a nod to the D-50

020 Distortion Pad


021 Euro Piano

Beautiful, sorrowful grand piano patch, typical of the European Romantic sounds and moods

022 SC Piano

Another great European style piano

023 Church Piano

Awesome patch - a piano mixed with a gorgeous chapel organ

024 Tremolo Rhodes

Very nice Fender-Rhodes electric piano, with auto pan effect

025 Nylon Rhodes


026 Guitar Rhodes

Another variant

027 SA Rhodes

Really good patch inspired by Roland's RD-1000 and its S.A. synthesis

028 Gamelan Rhodes

One more variant

029 123EP&456BSforGR

Far out Fusion

030 Heaven Piano

One more inspiration from the classic D-50

031 Heaven EP

and one more

032 Heaven Key 1

Moody keys

033 Heaven Key 2

Wavy clouds

034 Air Heaven

Pop sounds

035 Pls Phaser Pad

Nce pulse-waveform style pad, through phaser

036 Bell Pad 880

Fantastic bell pad, very inspired by the JV and JD line of Roland synths

037 Holy Night


038 Air Bell Pad 1

Beautiful fairy tale

039 Air Bell Pad 2

Gorgeous cinema

040 Bass-Bell Pad

Nice split

041 Pad-Bell

Gorgeous, somber split

042 Air Bell

Nice Asian feel

043 3D Carillon

Lots of bells

044 Dist.Organ Split

Jon Lord style

045 Church Organ 880

Big sound

046 Church Org-Choir

Very, very cool patch that mixes great-sounding pipe organ and choir

047 Compressor Clav.

The classic Clavinet sound of the 1970s

048 Marimba 880

Nice marimba

049 Accordion 1


050 Accordion 2


051 Ac.Gtr&Harmonica

Somber acoustic guitar and harmonica split

052 Ac.Gtr w-Chorus

Jumbo-style guitar sound

053 3D Ac. Guitar


054 Ac.Steel Guitar

Perfect guitar sound for many music genres

055 Steel Ensemble

Guitars playing together... or 12-string

056 Feedback JC

Nice New Age ambience

057 Broken Guitar


058 Bass-Jazz Gtr

Classic jazz split

059 Bass-Dist.Gtr

R o c k

060 EthnicEnsemble 1


061 EthnicEnsemble 2


062 Afro Split

Very cool wooden ambiences

063 Strings Sect. 1


064 Strings Sect. 2


065 Strings Stack 2

Beautiful string ensemble, good for soundtracks

066 JP Strings

The inimitable soft strings of the Jupiter-8

067 OB Strings

More Oberheim inspiration

068 Strings Machine

The surrogates of the real thing

069 Phase Strings 1


070 Phase Strings 2

Even nicer

071 Lo-Fi Strings 1

Somebody remove that blanket from the speaker, please!

072 Lo-Fi Strings 2

8-bit beauty

073 Lo-Fi Rain Str

Ferry boat departure scene in a melancholic black & white movie

074 Techno Pizz

Typical JD-990 pizzicato strings Insomnia, Encore Une Fois style

075 Syn Vox 880

Nice 1960s style happy vocals

076 Choir 880 1

Great-sounding choir

077 Choir 880 2

More pop version

078 Dah Vox


079 Brass Sect 880 1

Enter the Queen

080 Brass Sect 880 2

Pop brass

081 FrHrn Sect 880

Serious French horns

082 Syn Brass 880 1


083 Syn Brass 880 2


084 OB Stack

More Obie

085 Poly Synth 880 1

Retro mid-1980s Italo-Dance sounds

086 Poly Synth 880 2

More 1980s

087 Dance Saw 2

1990s block chords

088 Dance Saw 3


089 Lo-Fi Rave 2


090 Techno Split

A bit tame but it works

091 Lo-Fi Saw

Funky synth

092 Phase Saw


093 Sync Lead 880

Expressive Fusion lead

094 Uni Saw Lead

Another one

095 FM Split

Aggressive FM sounds

096 Bass-Lead 2

Typical '80s sounds

097 Bass-Lead 3

More Italo 1980s

098 Flute 880

Gorgeous, realistic traverse flute

099 3D Pipe

Nice flute

100 New Age Pipe

Calm & peaceful ensemble

101 Soprano Sax 880


102 Bass-Tenor Sax

Nice split

103 Trumpet 880

Quite realistic

104 Bag Pipe 880


105 Square Pad

Beautiful pad

106 Slow Phase Pad

Expressive, moving sound

107 Rotary Pad


108 D-50 Pad

Again, the D-50 influence

109 Slow Glass Pad

Gorgeous pad

110 5th Str Pad

From here to Saturn

111 Syn Hrn Pad

Sublime soft pad

112 Ancestral 880

H u g e  pad

113 New Age Split 2


114 Space Pulse


115 Step Pad 880

Moving pad

116 Metal Sweep

Digital & good

117 Metal 7th Pad

Charming pad

118 Lo-Fi AuhAuh


119 Lo-Fi Rattle Pad

Vaguely '80s

120 Low Sweep

Very low.

121 Explosion


122 IMPACT !

We now return to the show

123 Techno Hit 880 1

Very cool Techno sounds

124 Techno Hit 880 2

Very cool Techno sounds

125 Techno Hit 880 3

Very cool Techno sounds

126 Techno Hit 880 4

Very cool Techno sounds

127 Techno Hit 880 5

Very cool Techno sounds

128 For Manual

Honest guitar


Stream all mp3 examples below


Drum Set name with audio demo My comments
001 STANDARD 1 Solid, realistic all-purpose studio drums and percussion
002 STANDARD 2 Tighter snares
003 STANDARD 3 Fat, gluey drum kit, good for R 'n B
009 ROOM With room ambience
010 HIP HOP Powerful and mixed
011 JUNGLE Classic very tight samples, for Drum 'n Bass / Jungle
012 TECHNO Typical Techno drum sounds
017 POWER For Metal
025 ELECTRONIC S i m m o n s   80s   :-)
026 TR-808 The one and only classic drum machine
027 DANCE nice samples
028 CR-78 Early Roland drum machine
029 TR-606 Mr. Oizo style
030 TR-707 So totally mid-1980s
031 TR-909 The other one and only classic drum machine
033 JAZZ Realistic
041 BRUSH Nice but needs longer samples
050 ETHNIC Lots of great samples
051 KICK & SNARE Yep
053 ASIA Very, very intriguing
054 CYMBAL&CLAPS oh yes.
057 SFX The classic, Roland General MIDI sound FX
058 RHYTHM FX cool
059 RHYTHM FX 2 cool

TONES (GM and extended)

Stream all mp3 examples below

Tone name with audio demo My comments
1-000-101 Brightness Typical GM soundset bright pad
1-008-031 Feedback Gt GM electric distorted guitar
1-126-027 Picked Bass GM bass
1-127-035 Chorale Digi vox
1-127-040 Funny Vox Early monophonic synth
1-127-042 Ice Rain One of the classic GM sounds
2-000-030 OverdriveGt Nice guitar
2-000-054 Voice Oohs The very famous Roland "Doo" patch
2-016-017 60's Organ 1 Doors vox
2-016-040 Rubber Bas I've always liked this bass, since when I had my SC-50 Sound Canvas
2-065-025 Nylon Gt. Honest guitar
2-065-064 Syn.Brass 2 Analog
3-000-016 Santur Nice
3-016-013 Barafon Woody and cool
3-024-001 Piano + Str. Staples of piano-bar players
3-064-004 Honky-tonk Yep
3-064-010 Glocknspiel Lovely.
3-065-005 E.Piano 1 Sparkly
A-1-1-001 STANDARD The typical GM drum set

Roland SC-880 specifications


Year of release: 1998
Sound generation method:  
Preset memories  
MIDI: yes
Sound expansion capabilities: no
Sequencer ni
Arpeggiator no
Effects yes


Roland SC-880 pictures (click on thumbnails to enlarge)


Roland SC-880 manual

available at



SITE Type of resource DESCRIPTION

Roland SC-880 review with audio demo - July 4, 2009