Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Roland Bass Plus 30 "Roland has seen the future..." organ bass pedal replacement synthesizer advertisement, Choir and Organ Magazine, 1984

Roland Bass Plus 30 "Roland has seen the future and it doesn't involve... feet" organ bass pedal replacement synthesizer advertisement from page 32 in the March 1984 issue of Choir and Organ Magazine.

Hey - hope everyone is doing well out there during these uncertain times. While practicing self-isolation, I know a lot of you are playing with your organ a lot, so I decided to dig through my archives and post something that hasn't received a lot of attention until of late.

Roland used to love to repackage gear. A great example is the Synth Plus 60 - basically a Juno 106 with integrated speakers that looked more at home in the living room or church than in the studio. The Synth Plus 10 and 80 had the innards of the Alpha Juno 1/2. All three machines are coveted by collectors and musicians almost as much as the originals.

Another example is found in this advertisement - the Bass Plus 30. It too is a re-packaged product.

Let me give you a hint... from the ad-copy:
"The remarkably stable bass synthesizer section features full voice flexibility with dual wave forms and control for Tuning, VCF-cutoff, Resonance, Envelope Modulation and Decay."
Sound familiar? How about this:
"The programmable Accent and Slide functions bring true bass technique capabilities to the Bass Plus 30."
Whaaat? Ooooh yeah - a stripped down 303! Not to replace your band's bass player, but to replace your organ's bass pedals.

Roland wrapped the Bass Plus 30 in the same lovely wood/wood-print material you'd find covering your favourite Roland's Piano Plus-series keyboards such as the Piano Plus 30, 60 and 70 - or most any other organs for that matter. And why not? Even if you didn't have an organ with pedals, the Bass Plus would match nicely while sitting on top of your living room's electric piano.

Advertising for the Bass Plus didn't make a lot of appearances in the wild - this ad only appeared in the top nine organ-based magazines and weeklies within a relatively short four-month period in 1984. But it's not surprising that it also joined it's TB and TR brethren in the well-loved Roland "Rhythm Machines" brochure where it shared space on the back page with the Piano Plus series as well as some of Roland's ultra-greats like the Jupiter 8, Juno-60 and SH-101.

The Bass Plus didn't sell well due to the mostly-false rumors that it didn't sound like real organ bass pedals. Some geographic exceptions included the Southern United States, Belgium and the Canadian city of Regina. In all, only around 300 units were produced.

According to Organ Weekly Digest, the Bass Plus was discontinued only six months after production began, and many soon after ended up in pawn shops. But unlike it's sibling the TB-303, most Bass Plus 30's continued to sit unused on shelves and in closets until 2018 as word finally began to slowly spread of its abilities. What was once one of the most unknown pieces of Roland gear, it turns out, had been in use by well-known electronic musicians for decades.

A great March 2019 thread started on the Organ Heaven listserv by member OrganLover4Ever lists famous users, which include Jean-Michel Jarre's brother, Billy-Bob Jarre, who owned five until they were sold as a package for over three figures in an exclusive 2019 Christie's auction.  Since that time, he went on record in World of Organs magazine that he had used them mostly for his live performances. Their small size, durability and wide range of sound were great replacements for his five much heavier Jupiter 8s.

Other notable users include Borgore, who used a Robin Whittle-modified Bass Plus on his banger, "Bass Plus Bass", as well as Hardwell's "Plus Bassing" and DJ Guv's "Thirty Plus Bass". During an extended VJ session on the popular OTV (Organ Television), Richie Hawtin announced that his Plus 8 record label was named after the fact he owned eight Bass Plus 30's while living for six months in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Edna Boil, editor
Organ Emporium Magazine
Digging through my archives, I found a great review by Editor Edna Boil in the "New and Blessed" section of the June 1984 issue of Organ Emporium Magazine. Along with the other specs of the machine, she highlighted its key change feature.
"The unit contains sufficient memory to hold many patterns and also has a key-change feature that can raise the key of a programmed pattern. This feature is useful to add variation during long consecrations at mass or during those extended snake-worshiping dance sessions."
 Edna Boil knows here organs. Make sure you take the time to play with yours.


popman said...

Nice try on 1st April :D

P M X said...

Edna Boil has certainly got my attention! Captivating foxy organ lady meeeow!!

RetroSynthAds said...

PMX - ha!

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