Monday, March 18, 2013

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

Roland SILVER SH-101 synthesizer "Takes you where you want to go" full page colour advertisement from page 91 in the February 1984 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Ah, yes. And so Roland's "Takes you where you want to go" 1984 campaign for their SH-101 continues to rock the Miami Vice among us with this second ad in the series.

The previous month, Roland's Red SH-101 promo (right) appeared on page seven of Keyboard, but this February advertisement got pushed almost to the very back of the magazine on page 91. A shame because it's just as powerful as that first advertisement.

No, there are no bright splashes of red (or any other bright crayola colour for that matter), but the silver colour is still such a contrast to the black background that it would catch the eye just as easily. Plus, let's not lie to ourselves, the mostly male-readership's eyes of Keyboard would be instantly drawn to the low-cut t-shirt of the young 80s blonde hottie riding the skateboard. And I'm not convinced the pattern on her shirt isn't a deliberate attempt to pull the eye downward toward the SH-101 itself either. But I'm a full-on conspirator when it comes to ad design. In a good ad, *everything* is done for a reason.

Unlike the previous ad, where *everything* down to the socks and shoes were also red in colour, the photographer decided that white socks and shoes were acceptable, not to mention the black skateboard. The reason I point this out is that it makes this image almost believable. She is standing the way a person would be standing on a skateboard, and she is playing an SH-101 the way a person would be playing a synthesizer strapped around her neck. The photo becomes more natural, and to me anyways, easier to look at. Now compare that to the red SH-101 advertisement, with it's uncomfortable contemporary-dancer-like positioning, and this silver ad becomes even easier on the eyes.

The theme remains the same as the original - it's all about mobility (compact design, lightweight) and battery-poweredness (so too is a word!).

The ad-copy remains the same between the two ads as well, but its still interesting to look at because it's a good exercise in how design can dictate how lines and paragraphs are broken up. In the red SH-101 advertisement, the column of text slowly gets thinner, and it actually becomes more readable to split the ad-copy into more paragraphs - in particular the break between the third and four paragraphs at "With the Source Mixer...". But in the silver SH-101 ad, the width of the ad gets slowly wider, and those two paragraphs are merged even though there is easily enough room to keep the two separate. Part of it is probably that the final line of the third paragraph would have left the word "ways" hanging by itself. But for me, the decision to merge the two paragraphs would have been made just because it "looks better" from a design point of view.

There are a lot of things that annoy me in the world besides 80s contemporary dancers, and one of my little synth pet peeves is when the silver SH-101 is referred to as "gray". Or "grey" for that matter. Many sites and auctions use the "G" word when describing the colour. I know... a piddly thing to get ruffled over, but that's why they call them "pet peeves". It's not like I loose sleep over it.

Wikipedia's page is guilty of this (as of the date of this blog post):
"The SH-101 was produced in three colors: gray, blue, and red." 
As is Vintage Synth Explorer's SH-101 page:
"They come in three different flavors - gray, blue or red..."
The VSE page also mentions that the synthesizer also came in a "very rare white version". This was news to me, and a quick Google search brought up a few pages of white SH-101s. One on includes a photo (including white mod grip), but it was customized - not factory-original. Same with one I found on Analogue-Addict's site.

Looking through the comments section, back in back in April 2010 "Skunk3" also mentions a rare green version:
"It should also be noted that there are white SH-101s in existence, as well as SUPER rare green ones, which were released in Japan only. (As well as many versions of sunbleached red and blue 101's that range from pink to light blue)"
 White and green?!?!

That made me recall a very recent forum post on Vintage Synth Explorer around an army green SH-101.

Back on Wednesday, March 6, "cre8tor" posted in the forum that he/she had an army green SH-101, noting that it was not painted or discoloured - "clearly army-green" - and wondering if collectors would pay a premium for it.

Reading through the comments, which include a few photos of the apparently army green SH-101s, some suspected that maybe it was a bad batch of the gray (SILVER!) plastic pigmentation in the factory. Others theorized that the gray (ahem - SILVER  :) plastic naturally turns green over time, possibly due to exposure to UV or sunlight, noting that the inside of the battery compartment, or optional modulation grips, did not turn green.

One of the best pieces of evidence is presented by "Cumulus" - a close-up photo of blue switches on a Minimoog that have partially turned turned green over time. You can clearly see the blue-to-green discolouring depending on what position the switches were in during the discolouration process.

That photo was pretty much the slam dunk for me - definitely discolouration and not factory green.

Myths about synthesizers, like white and green SH-101s - are like any other Internet meme, recycling over and over again. I've seen this happen ever since I came across back in the early days of the Internet.

Poster Stab Frenzy probably said it best in the forum:

"I love that this topic comes up like clockwork every year or so."

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