The “Slingerland” Drum Machine.

  • Based on the Roland TR808 & TR909 analog circuits
  • Liquid High Hat circuit designed by Ryk TheCreator
  • +/- 15VDC operation
  • Built in 115VAC power supply

When I was a kid, I wanted to be Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich, but I was never that good. To become a drummer that good, takes years of complete dedication and obsessive focus, plus the talent to keep a different beat in your head, feet and hands simultaneously. Never less, I wanted to be Gene or Buddy, playing on a set of drums. I wanted a set of Slingerlands, just like Buddy or Gene, but could never afford them, so when I was 18, I bought a brand new, 5 piece kit from Steve’s music on Queen St. in Toronto. They were made by the Pearl Drum Co. and they were white. In my head, I was Buddy Rich….bappata tappata bappata tappata…….ting!.

Years ago, The Pearl Co. made an electronic drum machine called the ‘Syncussion SY-1’ it is a very rare beast, and a pile of junk. However, today they are selling for 10 times what they cost back in the late 70’s. Arguably, there are several really good analog drum machines made, and one of the best was the Roland TR-808 and TR-909 machines. Buying a used one, is like… well forget it because your getting a huge loan.  I do not understand folks that have this kind of coin, paying huge donaro for an old machine.  And if you bought one and need to repaired (oh, you will), please email me. Anyway, the patents have expired on most of the old synths and there is a growing cottage industry for DIY clones. sells the bare printed circuit boards for many percussion clones and designs from other folks. So, here is where we can build a new one, that sounds pretty close to the real TR-909 and for cost of a few cases of Canadian beer.

So for this build, I imagined what a Slingerland drum machine could look like.

The Slingerland drum machine uses the kick drum, clap and snare drum circuit designs from the TR-909 and the 3 tom drum circuit designs from the TR-808. The high-hat circuit was designed by a fellow Ontarian by the name of Ryk ‘TheCreator’ Miller. Ryk has been involved in electronic music and synths for a long time… probably since the construction of the Adam Beck generating station. Well maybe not that long, but the man knows his stuff. You can get his Liquid High-hat PCB through Hexinverter as well. All of the components are readily obtainable and the PCB for the Kick, is designed to allow you to use the original 2SC2603 & 2SA1115 transistors. They have not been made for years and are really hard to obtain,so the PCB allows for modern replacements. I used the newer, equivalent versions even though I had a dozen of the old version laying around.

If you are new to drum synths, you are going to need a sequencer (if one is not built into it), to trigger the various drum sounds. With the exception of the high=hat module, each circuit is fed a trigger signal from my big sequencer, and the output of each module goes into the audio mixer. The awesome thing with this design is that I can also feed a CV voltage in to the Accent input which gives the intensity of the ‘hit’ to the drum sound. The high-hat requires a shaped signal so it is fed by and envelope generator from a larger modular, then back into the VCA of the same modular.

For this design, I used +/-15VDC power supply instead of the +/-12VDC most of my other synths use. Although this design can use both, there is a noticeable difference in the that way the Accent input affects the sound and it is much more pronounced with a 15 volt supply. The supply is also larger than required, about 820mA, and has more than enough room to power a few other devices. This led me to add a voltage supply plug for the MPS and any other unit that requires the 15VDC.


Here are a couple videos of the testing:

Kick and Snare Video 1

Triple Toms Video 2

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