Roland RS-09


October 26, 2012 by tonetribune


There is nothing quite like walking in your local used music shop (in this case the wonderful Knight Music in Scarborough) and finding a near mint condition vintage Roland synth. Especially one that is inexpensive, analog and polyphonic.

The Roland RS-09 is a string/organ machine that has a beautiful stereo output and that built-in, smokey modulation they call “ensemble” that seems to be equal parts chorus, flange, phase and vibrato. Play a chord and you with be rewarded with a percolating massage of sound that is akin to the purr of a big electric cat. I can’t help but be reminded of the excellent early Juno 6 that pretty much pioneered polyphony although this model might have predated the Juno series. The Cure utilized this simple but amazing machine on 17 Seconds, Faith and Pornography. This synth also gives you instant Blade Runner with a little delay.

Here comes the hidden fun factor. There is an external audio in jack in the back, so naturally, I whacked a guitar in there and what do I get? The most tantalizing, rich modulation known to man!! Think Andy Summers I can’t help but to speculate that the early Roland CE-1 units might be based on this sound or even the same circuit. Forget about any mod pedal you have ever heard for guitar. Nothing touches this. Why stop there? I add a Malekko Assmaster, Boss TR-2 Tremolo (the best trem pedal ever) and a Strymon El Capistan.

Listen to my link below and bath in a stereo sonic brew too tasty for me and you.

3 thoughts on “Roland RS-09

  1. Ryan Crenshaw says:

    smokey sub-realm of sound indeed!


  2. Nikl says:

    Very nice soundclip.. 🙂

    i have just bought the Roland RS-09 my self, and as a guitarist with very little knowledge in synth’s, i’m a bit lost in how to connect pedal effects to the RS-09 like a phaser or some delay/reverb..

    If i may ask..

    do you take a cable from the output gate and into the input of the phaser pedal and from the output on the phaser and into the ext. input on the rs-09 ??

    i would like to make a effectsboard for the RS09.. so as you can imagne it would be very nice to know how to connect it correctly, so that i don’t brake it or fry it in some way..

    i would be very grateful if you could help me with this 🙂

    • tonetribune says:

      Thanks Nikl,

      To hook up effects to your synth you would simply go from the output of the Rs-09 to the input of whatever effect you want and then from the output of the effect to your amp, mixer or computer. There is a handy output level switch on your synth and I would keep it in the middle position when using effects so as not to overload the input of the effect. You won’t fry anything, so don’t worry about that. The ext input on your RS-09 is for running another instrument through the modulation section of your synth. In this clip I played guitar through the RS-09 to get that phaser-chorus-flange type sound that is built in. Hope you enjoy your classic string machine. Vintage Roland stuff is ace!!

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