Thursday, March 21, 2013

Roland BLUE SH-101 "Takes you where you want to go" ad, Keyboard 1984

Roland BLUE SH-101 synthesizer "Takes you where you want to go" full page colour advertisement from page 7 in the March 1984 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Okay...lets recap.

The first blog post in this series of SH-101 ads included that guy on the scooter who looked a little uncomfortable. And, I think we also all generally agreed that 80s contemporary dancing was an all-around bad idea.

Then, in the second ad of the series, the hottie blonde skateboarder playing the SH-101 was, if not a bit more practical, at least a little more natural looking.

But in this third and final ad in the series... Skis?  Really...? SKIS!?!?! This dude is cruisin' for a bruisin' traveling at high speeds down a hill while trying to play his SH-101.

I just can't believe that the the marketing geniuses behind the "mobility" concept running throughout this ad campaign couldn't come up with something better than skis?!?! It's a good thing I'm not a genius, or someone may ask me to come up with a substitute. :)

Like the previous silver SH-101 ad, this blue advertisement only appears to have ran once, in the March 1984 issue.

Red in January. Silver in February. Blue in March. And then red again in April. And Roland was lucky enough to land that blue ad back on page 7 after the dismal page 91 showing of the silver ad.

This Q1 1984 campaign wasn't the first showing for the SH-101. If you go through the SH-101 label on the blog, you will see that it was beginning to appear in print as early as November 1982 when it popped up on the back page of the now-classic Roland Rhythm Machines brochure, that was highlighting the TR808, TR606 and TB303. Sure, it has a small foot print on the back page, but it is sitting there right next to other Roland big guns like the Jupiter 8, Juno-60 and Juno-6. I dare say it's holding its own.

The next month in December 1982, the SH-101 was also featured in its own "We Design the Future" brochure, sitting there on a futuristic chair and drinking Jack Daniels (no kidding!). But it's the inside pages of that brochure, with its large photo of the SH-101 and all those juicy specs that steal the show. Gah! I can't stop thinking about it.

I so want to go on eBay right now and just buy the first one I see. The only thing stopping me is the $1000.00 price tag for a good condition synth with mod grip. 

As you might expect, if the SH-101 started popping up in brochures as far back as Q4 1982, it must have made its advertising debut earlier than these Q1 1984 "Takes you where you want to go" ads. Sure enough, it looks like it first made it into a Roland ad in a supporting role for Roland's "Product line of 1987" - a cheeky-titled 1983 ad campaign promoting Roland's family of products as so futuristic that users would be able to sync them up together for years to come (remember, MIDI was just launching and syncing all the pre- and post-MIDI gear was a real mind-bender at the time). The SH-101 gets listed first in the ad, so maybe Roland already had it destined for greatness in some solo ads.

It also received some more face time with readers in Keyboard a month after that Roland "Product Line of 1987" ad started appearing when it appeared in the August 1983 issue of Keyboard report.

This one-page review, written by the always informative Dominic Milano, goes through the synth's features in quite the detail, including sections on the keyboard itself, left-hand controls, panel controls, LFO, VCO, Source mixer, filter, ADSR, VCA, sequencer and arpeggiator, outputs & inputs, and miscellaneous (modulation grip and batteries). After reviewing all that... his conclusion?
"The SH101 is small and surprisingly inexpensive. It would make a great instrument for beginners as well as for experienced players who want something portable to play onstage. It has a great punchy sound and some surprising features , including a choice of keyboard triggering modes, adjustable modulation amounts, and a versatile, transposable sequencer and arpeggiator.  The body is made of gray molded plastic that feels fairly strong and impact-resistant".
And that "surprisingly inexpensive price"? $495.00. OR $595.00 with optional hand-grip. Not too shabby.

The SH-101 definitely got a good ride from 1982-1984.  It probably would have even had a longer shelf life if MIDI hadn't come along and punch all those cv-gate synths in the face.

But, there is always hope for a re-run. Just like Korg brought back the MS-20, I think the SH-101 would be the pefect synth for Roland to resurrect in 2013 - with MIDI of course.

And, just to show they have a sense of humor, Roland should add army-green to the colour pallet. :)

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