A Love Letter To The SH-101

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A short love letter to the Roland SH-101 covering my long standing devotion to this superb mono synth. Also going briefly into detail about my search for a modern iteration of it, and the decisions I made for my current live performances.

Directed by Martha Traer for MT Films.
©2017 The Urgency Of Change/MT Films
Special thanks to Roland, Doepfer, Intellijel, and Erica Synths

More about Martha Traer and MT Films: http://marthatraer.com
More about The Urgency of Change: http://theurgencyofchange.com


  1. Leo Elstob:

    First time I moved the filter slider on a 101 back in ’93 I nearly melted…. what a lovely film Sunshine! you are SO right about it all – just the best little workhorse synth – everybody’s easy white noise / bass / filter wig out friend….. and a damn fine acid squelch too.

  2. Joe Ciaramella:

    Love this series you’re doing, Sunshine!! Great stuff. : )

  3. Andre Ezer:

    Have you considered the Pioneer Toraiz AS-1 analog monosynth? It’s a wonderful little synth.

  4. Sunshine:

    @Andre Ezer – Really, anything Dave Smith Instruments put their mind to is superb. I LOVE my OB-6 and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but the Pioneer things weren’t around yet while I was doing this searching back in 2015. I’ve spent some time with the Pioneer folks and would love to test one of them out in a Funktion One Sound System! Oh yes I would.

  5. Sean Ober:

    Very nice and the exact reason why I’ve wanted an Atlantis since I first peeped one out… but, have not picked one up yet. If I was gigging, no doubt. Glad you found it… far more road-worthy for sure, those wonderful added options and w/ SH-101 flavor… Yum!

  6. Jonathan Condit:

    Another great film, Sunshine and Martha. Old synths. New synths. What a great time to be alive.

  7. Rob Mello:

    Wow you found my inner geek. Great video. I’ve always missed my 101 since it left me. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Seth Friedman:

    dude. it’s not the tool. it’s you

  9. Max Martinez:

    Dope vid

  10. Douglas Kilcourse:

    Love letters are the best.

  11. Sunshine:

    @ Seth Friedman – I couldn’t agree more. The best synthesizer (tool) is the one that’s right in front of you… an app, a toy, a discarded piano, whatever… agree.
    But you know there’s something to be said for having a quality screwdriver when it’s time to build something. The tools can really make a difference.

    But what I’m after here is to inspire, and share. This is an exhilarating time to be an electronic musician. Every day something new is happening that’s shifting the course of everything. It’s fantastic, and I’m so grateful that I’m giving back some of the love I’m receiving.

  12. Matt Lawrence:

    Get a room

  13. Sunshine Jones:

    @Matt Lawrence – Me and an SH-101 in a room alone together? YES please!!!! But eventually we’ll want to open the doors and let people in to join us…

  14. Andre Ezer:

    Sunshine Jones well, I’ve had mine for about 3 months. It’s great sounding, compact, very sturdy and could be a great fit for your live rig. Workflow is pretty easy. Menu is very flat, linear, so no deep diving. Sequencer not the greatest but you have the Pyramid so I would run it through that.

  15. Benjamin Dubansky:

    This is rad. Gave me a science idea!

  16. Sunshine Jones:

    @Benjamin Dubinsky – Got your message, LOVE your idea. I’m in for so many reasons. Yes.

  17. Ryan Vereen:

    These videos are amazing and the 101 is one of my all time favorite synths, too. Just such a versatile bit of kit that sounds incredible!

  18. Brock Chapin:

    Thanks for this.

  19. Sam Goldsmith:

    I understood about 50% of this film, but couldn’t turn it off. I think I could probably listen to you talk about anything, though.

  20. Owen Greenwood:

    I’m really curious about the upcoming Malekko Manther. Looks like it might be very 101-like, and hopefully cheaper than atlantis+metropolis+case.

  21. Sunshine:

    @Owen – Yes! I am totally excited about the Manther too.
    I think the Manther is based on the sound of the 101 and the internal step sequencer is more like a Varigate. So this could get really interesting really fast.

    Perhaps when it’s time, I’ll write a love letter to the Manther?

  22. Grodon Macarena:

    Nice video Sunshine. I saw the Juno one too a few days ago. Both are synths I have so nice tips too for playing live. What IS your live set up these days then? I saw a brief specs shot but couldn’t quite identify it all on my screen? By all means email me if you don’t want your post to get taken over by the nerds!!

  23. Sunshine Jones:

    @Grodon – The entire tour diagram and all the super secret details are here:

  24. Grodon Macarena:


  25. Grodon Macarena:

    Man, I have to say….so great that you’re still making music…. I mean obviously you love doing it with a passion and perhaps it’s weird of me to make such a statement to someone who I can tell is super passionate and couldn’t do it any other way…… but that consistent love of music in itself is a great thing to behold. It’s been well over 20 years since Mother Earth blew my little mind at Pure in Edinburgh back back back in the day! : ) ….. so keep on going x

  26. Sunshine Jones:

    @Grodon Macarena – It certainly has been a very long and interesting road hasn’t it? Not at all the world I was expecting back in 1991… I think it’s all just beautiful waves… the 80’s were such a creative, but painful time. San Francisco died of AIDS, and it really truly felt like the end of the world.

    Tracks like ‘Bring Down The Walls’ by Larry Heard aka MR Fingers and Robert Owens made more sense than anything, and that lit a fire which DJ’s like Martin Mendoza, Jason Drummond, and crews like Jeno Void, Mark Rowley, Thomas Bullock, and Garth Wynne-Jones brought to a fine point (with the help of Malachy O’Brien, Jason Walker, Donovan Drummond – who was there for literally ALL of all of the above – and a huge pile of some of the most eclectic and beautiful people I’ve ever met, or even dreamed about.)

    Man, from there I couldn’t do anything else but abandon my dreams of growing up to be Jazzy B, or my back up plan of digging latrines in west africa for the peace corps and started making music. House music.
    We were a family like nothing I’d known since Punk Rock in 1979, or the wester edition reggae movement, rock against racism, and the latter day radicals at the end of the 70’s. It felt like life had begun again at last, and I immediately stopped cutting my hair.

    But the following decades brought the natural divisions, separations, struggles for autonomy, the shattering of idealism, the growth, and inevitable depth which comes from eventually having no choice but to take a long hard look at yourself (ugh.)

    So divorce, separation from my child, the dissolution of my band, my label, the loss of all my friends took a toll on my idealistic (and monocularly obsessive) mind and heart and I needed to find a way to express my own voice. To stand up bravely as Sunshine Jones, without “San Francisco” or “Dubtribe” or anyone behind me. But you know, they are all behind me, always, everywhere I go, and in everything I do. They are a part of me.

    It took about ten years for me to find my feet, my hands, and my voice, but I’d like to think that this adventure hasn’t been for nothing. I don’t see what’s happening now as a return to the past. I’m really not interested in the past beyond its technical lessons, and morality play entertainment. The past is gone, and good riddance.
    There has never been a more exciting time to be an electronic musician than right now.

    These are inspirational times!

  27. Grodon Macarena:

    Word!!!…and that’s EXACTLY what I mean!! So many people I know have fallen by the way side over the years, and I mean in a number of ways but also musicians who stop making music, partly because they either weren’t that into it to begin with or have found the changes life brings too much to adapt to. Saying that, It’s weird people who live in the past, people whose musical taste is exactly the same as it was when they were teenagers, you see it all the time. Change is a great thing. Much like listening to the exact same music of your youth is weird, it’s the same as if you were DOING the exact same thing as you did 20 years ago. Not exactly healthy. So when I refer to the past (and hearing Mother earth) it’s not like I’m re-living it either….just aware that a LOT of time has passed. You can’t move on if you’re not aware of ageing! :) You should write by the way, if you don’t already. You have a way with words.

  28. Sunshine Jones:

    @Grodin – Amen! Say it again!!!

  29. I love all your videos. They usually inspire me to buy things. Now I have an SH-01a thanks to you ;)

    I would love to see a “missing manual” for the SH-01a as well. It is pretty intuitive so maybe not as necessary

  30. Sunshine:

    @Addison – It’s in the works, as well as a follow up video. coming soon!