Synth Legends: TB-303

TB-303 Documentary – Bassline Baseline (2005)

Published by: alexfox101


Designed by Tadao Kikumoto in 1982, the TB-303 is a bass synthesizer with a built-in sequencer originally designed for bands or guitarists practicing without a bass player. It features a single analog oscillator with two waveforms (saw or square) and has a simple VCF filter with resonance, cut-off, and envelope controls. There are also knobs to adjust tuning, envelope decay, tempo and accent amount. The TB-303 was also  made to accompany the TR-606 drum machine pictured below.


After TB-303 production was halted three years after its debut, no one would have thought that it would be at the center of electronic dance music. It has helped develop and stylize many forms of electronic dance genres such as house, techno, trance and of course acid. An Electronic Musician article on Tadao Kikumoto published in January 2003 describes how the TB-303 came to the attention of the dance world:

One trio of friends collectively identified as Phuture (Spanky, Herbert J and DJ Pierre) stumbled upon the 303 circa 1985 and effectively changed the course of dance music by pioneering a searing, intense new sound: acid. “I went over to [Spanky’s] house, and he had a track playing with this crazy sound on it,” Pierre recalls. “He didn’t exactly know how to work it, but he liked the sound it was putting out. I agreed and proceeded to mess around with the knobs and stuff. We made a tape of it that day and got it right away to Ron Hardy.” That tape, dubbed Acid Trax, ignited a spark that set the burgeoning house community alight. Hardy adopted the sound, and soon artists such as 808 State, Humanoid (who later formed FSOL) and Hard-floor began churning out acid tracks at an alarming rate.

Vintage Synth Explorer acknowledges the TB-303 as “THE sound of acid and techno house music!” and “one of the most sought after vintage synths ever!”. If the TB-303 ever needed justification for its use in electronic dance music one would have to look no further than Norman Cook’s (Fatboy Slim) song, “Everybody Needs a 303” and Josh Wink’s “Higher State of Consciousness” for its heavy use.

Fatboy Slim – Everybody Needs a 303

Published by OfficalFatBoySlim

To acquire this original bass synthesizer today in playable condition would take a little bit of luck and a chunk of your savings, the value has increased significantly since its 1982 debut. Today, one could own an emulated version of the TB-303 with the help of a JUPITER-80 or JUPITER-50 via the JUPITER Synth Legends sound collection download for free. You can also win a JUPITER-50 for free fully loaded with the Synth Legends sound collection but you better hurry, this contest ends December 14.