is a Japanese
manufacturer of electronic musical instruments
, electronic equipment and software
. It was founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi
on April 18
, with ¥33 million in capital. In 2005 Roland's headquarters relocated to Hamamatsu
in Shizuoka Prefecture
. Today it has factories in Japan
, the United States
, and Taiwan
. As of March 31
, it employed 2,233 employees. a rise of over 200% from 729 employees in 2003. It has existed in different forms since 1960, making it one of the oldest still-operating manufacturers of musical electronics, and has survived changes in technology to become one of the most noteworthy and widely-used brands in electronic music and production today.
Roland markets products under a number of brand names, each of which are used on products geared toward a different niche. Roland
brand is used on a wide range of products including synthesizers, digital pianos, electronic drum systems, dance/DJ gear, guitar synthesizers, amplifiers, and recording products. Boss
is a brand used for products geared toward guitar players and musicians and is used for guitar pedals, effects units, rhythm and accompaniment machines, and portable recording equipment. EDIROL
Desktop Media "DTM" products are more production-oriented, and include computer audio interfaces, mixers, and speakers. EDIROL also has a line of professional video-editing and -presentation systems, and Roland DG
produces computerized plotters, vinyl cutters, and printers for the production of commercial signwork and point-of-sale materials.
Rodgers was founded in 1958 as an organ company and survives today as a subsidiary of Roland, still manufacturing high-quality electric, electronic, and pipe organs. RSS brand offers audio products designed for commercial or installation. At one point, Roland acquired the then-defunct Rhodes name, and released a number of digital keyboards bearing the Rhodes brand, but it no longer owns the brand.
Roland company slogans include Inspire the enjoyment of creativity, Be the best rather than the biggest, and We design the future.
It may seem strange for a Japanese company to have a Western name, but Roland was founded with export in mind. Ikutaro Kakehashi heard that the name of his previous company, Ace Electronic Industries Inc.
, was often mangled in pronunciation, sometimes unpleasantly; so he looked for a good-sounding name that would be pronounced roughly the same in all of his major export markets. He found the name Roland in a telephone directory, browsing for an American-sounding name among the Rs because no other electronic instrument manufacturer's name started with this letter.
Ironically, the name is difficult to pronounce correctly in Kakehashi's native Japanese, which does not distinguish the L and R sounds as in English.
Roland was not, as is often claimed, named after the French epic poem La Chanson de Roland (The Song of Roland).
Timeline of noteworthy products
- 1973 - Roland SH-1000: Claimed by Roland to be Japan's first commercial keyboard synthesizer.
- 1973 - Roland RE-201: The renowned space echo machine, one of the most popular tape delay-based echo machines ever produced.
- 1973 - Roland SH-3A: Monophonic synthesizer.
- 1975 - Roland System-100: Roland's first attempt at a modular synthesizer.
- 1975 - Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus Guitar Amplifier: A two channel, 120 watt amplifier equipped with two 12-inch (30 cm) speakers, built-in chorus and vibrato effects and a 3-band EQ per channel, renowned for its super-clean sound and durability, it has remained in production for over 30 years.
- 1976 - Roland System-700: Roland's first professional-quality modular synthesizer.
- 1977 - Roland MC-8 Microcomposer: A groundbreaking digital sequencer. The first product in the musical-instrument industry to utilize a microprocessor.
- 1977 - Roland GR-500: The world's first commercial guitar synthesizer.
- 1978 - Roland CR-78: One of the world's first user-programmable drum machines.
- 1978 - Roland Jupiter-4: Roland's first self-contained polyphonic synthesizer.
- 1980 - Roland CR-8000
- 1981 - Roland Jupiter-8: This synthesizer put Roland in the forefront of professional synthesizers. A hugely successful 8-voice programmable analog synthesizer.
- 1981 - Roland TR-808: Among the first and most popular programmable drum machines; its distinctive analog sounds, such as its cowbell sound and its kick drum, have become pop-music clichés, heard on countless recordings.
- 1982 - Roland Juno-6: Roland's first synthesizer with digitally controlled oscillators. (Later released was the Juno-60, a similar model but with the addition of patch memory for storing sounds).
- 1982 - Roland GR-505 - GR-202: Two of Roland's first electric guitar synthesizer controllers, popularized by Eric Clapton, Yannis Spathas, Jeff Baxter and Andy Summers. Both are modeled after a Fender Stratocaster guitar, featuring a 21-fret maple neck with rosewood or maple fingerboard and a matching headstock on certain models. Available with three single-coil pickups, 5-way switching and tremolo bridge or dual humbuckers with a 3-way toggle selector and hardtail bridge, equipped with a GK-1 synth pickup and a 24-pin cable socket. By 1984, these Strat-style guitars came with the matching GR-700 and PG-200 pedalboards, which also work as a regular guitar effector as well as a MIDI synthesizer bank.
- 1982 - Roland TB-303: Defined the acid sound of house music.
- 1983 - Roland JX-3P: First Roland synthesizer to support MIDI.
- 1983 - Roland Jupiter-6: Second Roland synthesizer to support MIDI.
- 1983 - Roland SH-101: Monophonic synthesizer designed to be worn hung around the neck with a strap, with an optional modulation attachment that protruded like the neck of a guitar.
- 1984 - Roland TR-909: An extremely popular drum machine during the early 1990s, the sounds of which (particularly the kick drum and open hi-hat) are still essential components of modern electronic dance music. The first Roland drum machine to use analog sound synthesis combined with digital sample playback.
- 1984 - Roland TR-707 and Roland TR-727: A pair of popular drum machines, the TR-727 was essentially the same as the TR-707, except it had Latin-style sounds. The TR-707 was used extensively in the early days of house music and is still used in non-Western pop music around the world. The TR-727 is still used extensively in polyrhythmic non-Western pop music.
- 1984 - Roland Juno-106: A widely used synthesizer with digitally controlled oscillators. Same synth engine as the Roland Juno-60 but with the addition of MIDI and the ability to transmit button and slider information through SysEx. Still, no MIDI control of volume in real time.
- 1985 - Roland Alpha Juno: Two analog polyphonic synthesizers, the Alpha Juno 1 (JU-1) and the Alpha Juno 2 (JU-2), notable for their 'Alpha Dial' that simplified the user interface.
- 1986 - Roland JX-10: One of Roland's last true analog synths.
- 1986 - Roland RD-1000: Roland's first digital piano to feature Roland SA Synthesis technology.
- 1987 - Roland D-50: One of the most popular digital synthesizers; Roland's first all-digital synthesizer implementing its Linear Arithmetic synthesis (a form of sample-based synthesis combined with subtractive synthesis). The D-50's descendants include the D-5, D-10, D-110 (rack unit), and D-20 synthesizers.
- 1987 - Roland MT-32: Also using Linear Arithmetic synthesis, it was supported by many PC games in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a high-quality music option until support shifted to General MIDI sound cards.
- 1988 - Roland E-20: Roland's first entry into the auto-accompaniment keyboard market, going head to head with Yamaha and Casio. The E-20's descendants include the E-70, E-86, G-800, G-1000, G-70 and the current E-80.
- 1989 - Roland Octapad: A set of visually distinctive electronic drum triggers.
- 1989 - Roland W-30: A sampling workstation keyboard (DAW).
- 1989 - Roland D-70: 76-key synth. Successor to the D-50.
- 1990 - Roland HP-3700: Roland digital piano.
- 1991 - Roland SC-55 Sound Canvas: The world's first General MIDI synthesizer.
- 1991 - Roland JD-800: Digital synthesizer with analog style knobs and switches.
- 1992 - Roland DJ-70: A DJ sampling music workstation and synthesizer keyboard that featured the first scratch wheel pad.
- 1993 - Roland JV-1000: Sort of a combination of the MC-50 II and the JV-80.
- 1994 - Roland MS-1: 16 bit AD/DA conversion, First portable digital stereo phrase sampler, with R-DAC (Roland Digital Audio Coding).
- 1994 - Roland S-760: 16 bits Digital sampler with resonant filters.
- 1994 - Roland JV-1080: aka Super JV-1080, a 64-voice synthesizer module. Used on more recordings than any other module in history, the JV-1080 boasts a full range of acclaimed Roland sounds, as well as four expansion slots.
- 1994 - Roland JV-90: 76-note expandable synthesizer.
- 1995 - Roland XP-50: The first music workstation that featured Roland's MRC-Pro sequencer.
- 1996 - Roland DJ-70mkII: Successor to the DJ-70, with more powerful features, including a DJ sampling music workstation, which featured a scratch wheel pad. It is essentially an S-760 sampler with a keyboard.
- 1996 - Roland MC-303 The first non-keyboard drum machine, sample-based synthesizer, and sequencer combination bearing the now-generic term Groovebox. Featuring a full 8-track sequencer.
- 1996 - Roland XP-80: 64-voice music workstation.
- 1997 - Roland JP-8000: Roland's first virtual analog synthesizer.
- 1997 - Roland V-Drums: Digital drums incorporating silent mesh drum heads that realistically reproduce both the natural feel and sound of acoustic drums.
- 1997 - Roland JV-2080: 64-voice, 3-effects-processor, 8-expansion-slot synthesizer module.
- 1998 - Roland JP-8080: Rack-mountable version of the JP-8000, lacking a keyboard, but featuring 10-voice polyphony, where the JP-8000 had 8. The JP-8080 also has a vocoder and SmartMedia support.
- 1998 - Roland MC-505: Successor to the MC-303 with a more powerful synthesizer and sequencer.
- 1998 - Roland JX-305: Similar to the MC-505, but with 61 keys.
- 1999 - Roland MC-09: A Roland TB-303 emulator featuring an effects processor and a phrase sampler.
- 2001 - Roland AX-7: Successor to the AX-1. A keytar noted for its aesthetics and design.
- 2002 - Roland MC-909: Successor to the MC Groovebox series and also the flagship to all MC Groovebox series machines, featuring a full 16-track sequencer, SRX board upgrading, Built-in larger LCD Display Screen and built-in sampling. Supports 1 SRX Expansion card.
- 2003 - Roland V-Synth : Elastic Audio Synthesizer
- 2003 - Roland MV-8000 : Production Station with 24-bit sampling capabilities. Designed to rival Akai's legendary MPC series, specifically, the MPC-4000.
- 2004 - Roland Fantom-X: Music workstation and professional synthesizer expandable to 1 gigabyte of sounds.
- 2004 - Roland Juno-D: Popular entry-level synthesizer.
- 2004 - Roland V-Accordion FR-7: World's first completely digital accordion.
- 2005 - Roland Micro Cube: First portable amplifier made by Roland. Allowed for AC adapter or battery use. Seven input effects, delay, and reverb options.
- 2005 - Roland Fantom-Xa: Entry-level Fantom-X. The A stands for access.
- 2006 - Roland MC-808 : A cut-down version of the MC-909, featuring a full 16-track sequencer and 512 MB more memory than the MC-909. First motorized faders on the MC Groovebox series and built-in sampling, no SRX board as an add-on.
- 2006 - Roland SH-201 : Roland's first affordable analog modeling synthesizer.
- 2006 - Roland Juno-G: Entry-level workstation based on the Fantom-X.
- 2007 - Roland MV-8800 : Successor to the MV-8000. Production station with 24-bit sampling capabilities. Has new built-in color LCD display.
- 2007 - Roland V-Synth GT: An updated V-Synth.
- 2008 - Roland RD-300700GX: A new series of digital pianos for performers on stage.
- SRX expansion board
- Cakewalk (company)
- CM-32L, 8 parts + drums sound module, 32 notes polyphony, 128 patches, 30 rhythm sounds and 33 sound effects
- E-20, Arranger Keyboard
- Juno-G, Synthesizer
- Jupiter 4
- Jupiter 6
- Jupiter 8
- MC-808, Groove Box
- MC-909, Groove Box
- MT-32, 8 parts + drums sound module, 32 notes polyphony, 128 patches and 30 rhythm sounds
- RD-700, Digital Piano
- SH-201, Synthesizer
- SP-404, Sampler
- SP-808, Groove Sampler
- System 100m
- VariOS, VariOS Open-ended system module
- XP-30, 61-key keyboard, 64 notes polyphony, more than 2500 patches included