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Gallery: Beat Box: A Drum Machine Obsession

November 2013

R1 Rhythm Ace. Simple but effective, the Rhythm Ace is a small instrument that produces percussive tones through transistorised oscillators that can be easily amplified through standard output connections, allowing the user to create patterns manually from its six different tones. It is primarily used by organists to add percussion fills.

Maestro Rhythm N Sound for Guitar G2. If any machine produces a "colorful" sound, this is the one. Over the years, the machine has developed its own musical legacy; having noticed its prominent placing on the cover of saxophonist Eddie Harris’ album Plug Me In, The Beastie Boys made the Rhythm’n Sound a key element of the production on their 1992 album Check Your Head.

Olson Rhythm Beat XX100. To complement the Rhythm Instrument X-81, Olson returned in 1973 with the XX-100, a beefier version of their previous machine. It features the same nine rhythm patterns, but also has an additional eight triggered pads.

Casio PT7. Casio is best known for its electronic keyboards, but the funky little pre-programmed rhythm section on the PT-7 earns this machine respect. The PT-7 remains a hard-to-find machine to this day.

PNTM. As far as drum machines go, this has to be one of the strangest ever. Straight out of the Soviet Union, it features a large bank of preset rhythms along with five drum pads to play along with the internal drum patterns. You’re unlikely to see anything else quite like it.

Sound Master Memory Rhythm SR88. As with other machines in this book, the SR-88 brings with it a bit of deja vu – in this case, certain similarities to the BOSS Dr Rhythm DR-55. While debates still rage about which came first and who copied whom, what shouldn’t be forgotten is that this is a great machine.

Panasonic Rhythm Machine. Considering that they made nearly every other type of consumer audio product, it’s no surprise that Panasonic tried their hand at producing a drum machine. Released in the early 1980s, this is a rhythm box worthy of its name: it features four preset drum patterns and three pads for adding percussion sounds like Bass Drum, Snare and Cymbal.

Roland Rhythm Arranger TR66. Whether you call it a “drum machine” or “rhythm arranger,” this Roland unit from 1973 gets the job done. If you enjoyed the backing “Cha-Cha” rhythm on Roxy Music’s 1979 song “Dance Away,” then you’re already familiar with the sound of the TR-66.

Gemini Beat Box R-777. New Jersey-based Gemini are better known for their turntables and DJ equipment, but they did briefly produce this preset rhythm machine, which comes loaded with 32 patterns and basic tempo controls.

Kenwood KR6170. Was this a gimmick, or an ingenious piece of equipment that was perhaps ahead of its time? The 1970s KR-6170 is a rare and unusual machine that continues to fuel debate amongst hardware enthusiasts.

Joe Mansfield with his collection.

No 808s, no 909s: lesser known drum machines from Joe Mansfield's personal collection, as documented in his forthcoming book, Beat Box: A Drum Machine Obsession.

Joe Mansfield, Boston-based hip-hop producer and head of the Get On Down label, bought his first brand new drum machine, the Yamaha RX5, in 1986. (He had bought a used TR-808 the year before). In the subsequent years he's gone on to collect over 150 drum machines, 75 of which are featured in Beat Box: A Drum Machine Obsession, published on 3 December by Get On Down. More details here.


that is the G1

I lernerd to read rithm with the roland 505 and the 707 (1986), lovely machine

'bought his first drum machine, the Yamaha RX5, in 1986. (He had bought a used TR-808 the year before)'
Love the writing. Mwah

I used to fix Soundmaster SR-88 and Boss DR-55s as a hobby!
Can I also suggest: Mattel Synsonics and Korg/Unix Minipops or even the "Doncamatic"

I used to fix Soundmaster SR-88 and Boss DR-55s as a hobby!
Can I also suggest: Mattel Synsonics and Korg/Unix Minipops or even the "Doncamatic"

its such a shame most of the photos in this book are TOO dark. i would not have bought it had i had know beforehand....

I meant Univox, not Unix!

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