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Roland Juno-106

The Juno-106 was my first synthesizer. I did not really know much about synthesizers from any practical hands on experience. I knew of them from the massive amounts of songs that utilized them throughout the 80's. I was familiar with the Moog Synthesizer as early as 1980. When I started to get interested in writing music I got a small Casio keyboard when I was like 13. I would play to records or cassette recordings of The Cars (Just what I needed), Duran Duran (The Chauffeur), The Monkees (I'm a Believer), etc. The casio was just a small preset keyboard with mini keys which were about the size of a miniKorg's or JD-Xi's keys. It was just a toy and not a serious music making, performance machine by any means.

When I was in High school I took a TV communications class. In the classroom was an Ensoniq Mirage. The Ensoniq Mirage was a sampler keyboard. You would have to load disks into ints RAM to get it to make sounds. The school/city may have used it in some sound effects for video production work. I was able to create music with it by using 3/4" video tape and bouncing tracks down.

When I went to purchase a synthesizer, I originally was looking for something sample based or even a sampler. In the late 80's/early 90's analog was not really popular. Digital machines and sample playback instruments were what people wanted and the direction the manufactures went in making new instruments. I ended up going to a pawn shop to search for a synthesizer. Back then there was no eBay so the local trading post paper or pawn shops were your best bet at getting a synthesizer used. At one Pawn shop I saw the Juno-106 and was familiar with the brand Roland. I initially thought it would play sampled back material. The guy in the sound department demoed the Juno-106 but was controlling a rack rack module unbeknownst to me. I ended up purchasing it and taking it home and could not find or get it to make any sound I was familiar with. At first I was perplexed about it not making any kind of familiar sounds. The sounds it produced were very abstract and a bit dark. Very quickly though I fell in love with what the Juno-106 could do and the sounds it could produce. This was when I became very interested in synthesis and creating my own sounds. The Juno-106 was very inviting with all of its controls on the front panel. I found myself using the Juno-106 a lot for basses, stabs, ethereal sounds and some leads and still do over 25 years later.

My Juno-106 still sits in my studio. I have been very fortunate to not need much servicing on mine through the years. I believe it is an earlier production run and has not had failing voice chips that have plagued many Juno-106s from what I understand. My Juno-106 is missing its noise slider (I never bothered to replace it after I bought it) The original battery was replaced about 7 years ago. That original battery lasted for years and years! I soldered in a battery socket/holder to easily change batteries out. Some of my favorite features on the Juno-106 are it ability to do Pulse Width Modulation and route it to the LFO. I also love its bottom end and its chorus (#2 setting). The Juno-106 can create some unique big basses and it serves my music well.

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