Rhythm Composer (Analog drum machine)

Roland TR-808


The Roland TR-808 - one of the most famous drum machines ever made.

It has been used for many genres, notably Hip-Hop, and especially for its thundering, extremely deep and analog, booming kick drum.

It offered professional features such as separate outs for all its percussion sounds.

Here are .wav samples I took of the 808's sounds, directly from the output of my unit (Serial number: 209265).  I am tweaking the control knobs (tone, decay, snappy etc) in real time to achieve the usual variance of sounds.  You can download, edit and sample them in your sampler of choice.

Deep programming capabilities, especially for the time of its release.

Could trigger (and be triggered by) numerous devices, like digital sequencers, synthesizers, and similar.

Stores the on-board patterns via three common AA batteries, on the bottom of the unit.

The quintessential Electronic/Rap/Hip-Hop drum machine.  British band "808-State" notoriously took their name from it.

It was interestingly used in a hit pop song, "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye, and it's in innumerable songs of the 1980s.

Mantronix and other early '80 "Electro" groups used the 808 to create their grooves

A mythical, standard drum machine, we can find millions of samples of its unmistakable sounds all over the place, and in hundreds of sample CDs and offering from sample companies.


Factory tutorial rhythms

Rhythm 1  a classic TR-808 rhythm, with the quintessential "boom" kick drum

Rhythm 2  a cool 12 Step measure

Rhythm 3  programming the "A" & "B" version

Rhythm 4  programming the "1st" & "2nd" part  (note the hi-hat part in 32nd)

--- the Factory rhythms on the TR-808 ---

BR-3 ROCK  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

BR-4 BOSSA NOVA  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

BR-5 MAMBO  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

BR-6 SAMBA (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

BR-7  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3) The Rhythm For Rhythm Track Memory

BR-8  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

BR-9  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

BR-10  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

BR-11  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

BR-12  The Rhythm For Checking Sounds

Fill in 1  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

Fill in 2  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

Fill in 3  (4/4=24 steps, pre-scale2)


ROCK-1  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

ROCK-2  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

ROCK-3  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

ROCK-4  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

ROCK-5  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

ROCK-6  (4/4=24 steps, pre-scale2)

ROCK-7  (4/4=24 steps, pre-scale2)

ROCK-8  (4/4=32 steps, pre-scale4)

ROCK-9  (5/4=20 steps, pre-scale3)

Fill in 1  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

Fill in 2  (4/4=32 steps, pre-scale4)

SHUFFLE  (4/4=12 steps, pre-scale1)

BOOGIE  (4/4=12 steps, pre-scale1)

5 BEAT  (5/4=15 steps, pre-scale1)

SAMBA  (4/4=16 steps, pre-scale3)

A few custom rhythms I have made on the TR-808:

808 State  a hint to the classic House rhythms of the late 1980s / early 1990s

Bouncy Beat  hi-hats in a bouncy pattern, boom kick

Electro  typical busy, dense early '80s Electro type

Flower Power  cows

Happy Congas  yep

Marvin  a quick emulation of the mega-classic song "Sexual Healing"

Slow Ride  classic Hip-Hop beat, slow and powerful



Roland TR-808 photographs

TR-808    TR-808    TR-808    TR-808    TR-808  

TR-808    TR-808    TR-808    TR-808    TR-808

TR-808    TR-808    TR-808    TR-808



Roland TR-808
Year of release: 1980
MIDI: no
Sound expansion capabilities: no
Sequencer yes, pattern/song
Arpeggiator N/A