November 8, 2013

Reunited with Old Friends

I lent my Juno-6 to a friend a few years ago, and I just got it back a couple days ago (I also caught up with the friend I lent it to, so, reuniting with old friends that way too!). The Juno-6 was technically my first "synthesizer" I ever owned. I did have the RS-09 before the Juno-6, but that's not really a traditional synthesizer with that standard Oscillator, Filter, LFO, Envelop Generator set up. And to a twelve year old, an RS-09 is hardly a synthesizer, I didn't come to fully appreciate the true beauty of the Roland RS-09 until much later in life. But back to the subject at hand! I plugged in the Juno-6 last night for the first time in about four or five years. I was instantly transported to the basement of my parent's old house in Salem Ohio. I used to have a little room in the basement where I kept all my music equipment. The room was right under the porch of the house and all the walls were made out of rock and I called it "The Synthe Cave".  Sort of like how Batman had The Bat Cave. It was like that only for a lame little kid playing with synthesizers. 

The Juno 6 really is a great instrument. I love the way it's laid out, very intuitive!  And the arpeggiator is great. I think it's a really good keyboard for writing songs on because it's polyphonic and it has that arpeggiator, you can turn that thing on and crank up the release and have these really lush, full chords going. 

One thing that struck me as odd though, since I've been using so much vintage Roland gear for so long, is that there is no range selector for the oscillator. There is a transpose switch by the pitch bend wheel that can change the octave three ways, and the keyboard is so long that I guess you really don't need a range selector for the oscillator. It's just so standard on most synthesizers that it almost makes the oscillator seem a little naked or something. 

I also got this little guy back from the repair shop yesterday. The filter has never worked since I got it so I finally got that fixed. Now it is it's own unit. Fully formed. I like it so much more than I thought I did now that it's whole. It's like a little modular SH-09. Roland really did a good job making these things. Even when they went modular they still thought very practically, very musically! Both LFOs have delays built into them, and the output of the LFOs can be attenuated by half, which is so much more sensible of a signal to be applying to anything, let's be real! I think I'm about to have a real musical adventure with this mini System 100m!

It's funny, when I started this blog I thought the System 100m was the holy grail of synthesizers (as you can see from the top banner and background). I never thought I would own one. And here I am! I guess the lesson is to always follow your dreams. But on a side note, I'll also say, these are all just things and appreciating them for what they are is fine but people are infinitely more important! It's nice when things (common interests) bring people together. For example, I've met so many great people and had so many wonderful interactions through this blog. 

I have more to tell you about the repairs but I'll save that for a later post. WINK!


  1. Glad to see you've gotten one of your dream synths! Agreed about people... hobbies are great to bring people together.

  2. I use a Juno 60 at home, and i've found that the resonance is quite unique to this instrument. I use/used other Roland synthesizers such as the 100m and the 101 and found that the Juno's resonance and filter is very individual! It's nice to have the on board chorus too, it's a very recognisable sound, especially when both chorus's are on together!

  3. The Juno 60 was actually my first "proper" synthesizer as well. I learned a lot from it, but wasn't too impressed with its tone...and I actually thought the interface was a little too complex for my taste. Granted, I was just learning the basics of synthesis, but after switching to a Voyager for a while, I came back to the Juno and still wasn't impressed....

    Also, I just found that I like knobs so much better than sliders. Much more of a gratifying interface. I also found that I'm not too fond of analog polysynths in my opinion, most interesting tones are derived from complex monosynth patching and layering if you want an illusion of polyphony.

    Still, I like Roland. I've turned to their digital products and like them. Although nothing beats analog, I just acquired a D50 and really like it.

    Any thoughts?