Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Acid Sounds Of The Roland TB-303, TS-404, Rebirth And A Fruity Loops Project File

The Roland TB-303 was a analog bass synthesizer made between 1982-1984 originally used to accompany guitarists and initially it was a commercial failure and only 10,000 were made. Roland has stated that it was made using inferior parts and some of them aren't made anymore (a few reasons why they wont remake it, even though there is a HUGE market for it). In the late 80s producers and Djs picked them up for next to nothing and they discovered with its distortion, filter+resonance and accent they could create a new unique sound. Acid house from the early 90s emerged from this and the 303 has been heard and is still loved over 20 years later. Also you will find them on Ebay for over $1500 and its sound has been emulated over and over again.

I'm a fan of classic monophonic bass lines and I think they should be enjoyed by everyone, its almost a spiritual experience to have a loop open and move the filter about. And a there are a few ways that this can be done.
Rebirth is about as close as you can get without going back in time, its an older program (that doesnt work on vista/windows7 without modification) that has been discontinued by Propellerheads (however freely available) but is now available on the iPhone, iTouch and iPad. It offers two 303's, an 808 and a 909 and they all sound insanely accurate. Its confusingly pattern based but its fun to jam with. Imagine yourself in front of this in a rack and a DAT recorder like they had to do back in the day.

I used to create these jamming sessions on my dads laptop in Fruity Loops 3 a long time ago. Its quite simple really. A single saw wave with a bit of an attack and a long release. Followed by a LP (lowpass) filter with the setting a little like what you see to the left. Using the distortion section is easy, just max out everything and there you have it!

Download project file here

Kick, hats and the TS-404 should be all there, here you can really play around with the 3 knobs in the filter section. It may sound familiar. The combination of the resonance and distortion makes the acid sound what it is, to add a bit more try to add some values to the LFO section.

Using these techniques can be applied to modern basses, the theory of it all hasn't changed much even though VSTi's have become far more advanced since then


  1. thats sick bro i play a microkorg synth pretty basic compared to that equipment

  2. I'm likin' this blog! Followed and stuff!

  3. ive messed around with fruity loops but eventually just get tired of it. Got any fun tips?

  4. DUDE
    this is sick
    I make electronic music with Logic and the ES2 synth that comes with it

  5. I used Ts404 in FL, but i wanna try these!