Roland Rhythm 77

1972, analogue rhythm machine

Roland TR-77

I have to have a page on this classic drum box which was actually Rolands first product, yet one of my favourite Roland products. It is actually an updated and relabelled Rhythm Ace FR-8L (below), if you take a close look at the pictures you will see the differences are very small, but the sounds are entirely different. Ikutaro Kakehashi who founded Roland had previously created the Ace Tone product line but was forced to leave his own company due to financial problems.

Click here to read the Sound on Sound article on the history of Roland.

This unit was primarily designed as an organ top box and a very good one it is. To an organist it would give you plenty flexibility with volume faders for each group of sounds and a clever chrome touch bar on the top left that starts and stops the rhythms (like it uses some static in your finger or something?). There is an UpTempo switch, 2 beat, 4 beat and a fade out button plus you can hold down multiple rhythm’s to layer them!

It’s sounds are unique warm vintage latin style with really nice hats, the bass and snare are quality plus its got great percussion including bongos and a guiro. The rhythms are good and inspiring to play over. I would always sample it to use it in a tune so that I can pitch it into the right bpm, it has no strict time format and not even a metronome input.

Rhythm Ace FR-8L

Rhythm Ace FR-8L

The functionality of the two units are essentially identical but the drum sounds are completely different, and again among the best vintage latin drum sounds you can get. I will gather a little more info and put samples up asap…

4 Comments

  • Henry Lerche Rasmussen says:

    I had one of these Roland Rhythm 77 back in 1980’s i used it with my Farfisa VIP-400 organ. Great to see it again….

  • Dave says:

    Just got one of those today. I also own a TR-55, which is simpler and kind of like its little brother.

    In comparison, the 77 is more complete and is fuller. There are a lot of different patterns and beats that you can achieve, and the faders are really useful to mix the sound (mine tends to be hissy a little, but then again, haven’t recapped it yet).

    Great warm vintage analogue tone.

  • Rafayel says:

    Is it the first product of Roland? I thought its the TR-33?

    • Chris says:

      Dunno, I got that from the SOS article which isn’t there anymore. Wikipedia puts them both in 1972 with 4 other items but doesn’t say what order, but the TR-77 has links to Acetone where maybe the 33 and 55 don’t, also there’s a Hammond Rhythm box that’s virtually the same. I don’t know? Open to any info anybody can provide?

      Wikipedia ‘drum machines’ page says: “Ace Tone commercialised its preset rhythm machine, called the FR-1 Rhythm Ace, in 1967.”

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