One important comparison of the Roland boutique SH-01A to the original SH-101 I haven’t yet seen: can it ski?

Well, anyway, that was a selling point Roland seemed to want to push when it came to the original. (Fetching your own matching lycra bodysuit – now that you can do, if you so choose, today.)

A series of color ads from Keyboard magazine (USA) in 1984 introduced the idea of mobility on the SH-101 synth. Color-coded ads depicted different mobile scenarios: a woman on a skateboard, a guy on skis, and an entire band on a scooter, always matching outfit color to synth color. (Cool.)

Retro Synth Ads picked this up a few years ago, with some insightful commentary. Most of all – there was a green unit. Dear Roland: please issue red and green SH-01A, not just blue?

Roland also seemed to have something crazy going with its keyboardist fashion. Yes, please, let’s all dress like this. The hell with all black!

Also, kudos to Roland design and layout from this era:

It’s maybe worth revisiting this over two decades later, as now mobility is again a selling point. Not bad for 1984: the SH-101 offered battery power, strap-on operation, and of course what was for the time “compact” size. Now, the modern Boutique series shrinks to the size of a TB-303 – though it loses the “keytar” function in the process. On the other hand, part of the pitch here was to get keyboardists out from behind the rest of the band. That never entirely caught on – and if anything, keyboardists fronting the band often do so simply just play behind keyboard stands.

But if keytars weren’t the wave of the future, mobility sure was. “Takes you where you want to go” is a great tagline. And I miss this age of ads, actually. We just need to go back to print, huh? (Who’s game?)

  • DPrty

    These ads are awesome.

  • Dubby Labby

    Keytars are awesome. I hope they return at the right moment and become the hit they deserve

    ImIj ruacanroooooll

  • Ads with half undressed female models like the above would not go down well these days, I guess. And rightly so. The only way this would be considered politically correct: When Peaches or St. Vincent would use those motifs as promotional material (each with their very own twist and goals behind it).

    • EricM

      Still happens in music/guitar mags. Nothing’s changed.


      our “Politically correct” culture has gotten us into trouble. People tend to focus on words, rather than actions. It’s exactly how our gov’t has managed to pull the wool over our eyes for years.

  • Some things from the eighties should simply stay in the eighties. That said, I wonder why there was never a “strap-on” drum machine. It’s an opportunity….

    • Dubby Labby

      Dj Griffi from Solo los Solo/Chacho Brodas plays it live in his gigs.
      He is one of the best Hiphop Spanish beatmakers and he was Spanish DMC champ in the 1994 and 6th in the World DMC the same year. Make a search at yt for some nice music from him, worth it.


      The 80’s are still here, and always will be. Nu electro/funk is being made, and even being released on vinyl. The show “Stranger Things” is set in 1984, with a synth sountrack to go with it!
      “Stay in the 80’s”? Yes…I sure will thanks.


  • AnalogResistance

    Make it more then 3 decades ago đŸ˜‰ and also, the SH-01a is made in Grey, blue & RED!