A Rare Roland Boombox Groovebox | Fess' Find

This week's Fess' Find features one of Roland's rare flops: the EG-101 Groovekeyboard. Initially released in 1999, the EG-101 succeeded the JX-305 Groovekeyboard with a 49-key velocity-sensitive keyboard and built-in speakers, which is quite unusual for Roland. Upon release, it fell flat among the techno and trance producers that Roland was trying to appeal to. That said, its classic groovebox and sampler functionalities are unique enough that it's still worth exploring today.

Roland EG-101

The EG-101 has a collection of synth sounds sourced from the MC-505 Groovebox. The on-board arpeggiator has a three-octave range, basic up/down types, and even a random note mode. All these can be used with the decay knob while modifying arpeggiated notes, which always go well when looking for a groove. The factory drum sounds are an array of TR-808 and TR-909 kits with preset drum rhythms that can be remixed using its Part Manipulator.

The sampler has some of the same functionality as an SP-202, including looping, time-stretch, pitch shifting, and adjusting start/stop times. You can also process samples and external audio with its filter, reverb, and ring modulation effects. With a selection of 16 sample locations, located in four banks and triggered by the panel buttons or the keyboard. There’s 32 seconds worth of sampling time which can be unlocked by sampling with the ‘lo-fi’ rate making your samples sound even more lo-fi, gritty, and crunchy.

If the built-in speakers and its Nintendo 64-esque color scheme aren’t unusual enough, there’s also Roland's D-Beam centered on its front panel, which is quite possibly the most prominent placement of the patented touch-free modulator than any other Roland product. Keep in mind that even the slightest head nod will be picked up by the D-Beam—but who knows? This might be exactly what you are searching for.

This EG-101 is listed in good condition with a fair amount of wear and tear, but the seller states that everything is in working order and sounds good. At a respectable price of $392 plus shipping, this "groovekeyboard" still deserves to be appreciated and properly preserved, or at the least make for an excellent feature on an YouTube episode of Bad Gear!

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