Organ manufacturers such
as Hammond and Wurlitzer were keen to make drum machines to accompany
the organs they sold. Later on, of course, organs came with primitive
drum machines built in. These drum machines were not the programmable
ones we enjoy today - instead they offered cheesy preset patterns
such as waltz, mamba, foxtrot, etc., using equally cheesy sounds!
These sounds were generated electronically using very
simple analogue electronics. Typically, two circuits were used -
a noise generator for hi-hats, cymbals and snare drums and a simple
Wien-bridge sinewave oscillator for 'pitched' drums such as toms,
bongos and kick drums. In the case of a snare drum, this was typically
a mixture of a sinewave and a noise element. It's fair to say that
they didn't sound anything like the real thing but they do have
a charming character all their own.
Acetone were making drum machines in the late '60s and
the company was to go on to become one of the biggest and most influential
electronic musical instrument manufacturers in the world. Yes -
Acetone was to go on to become Roland! Given their origins, it's
hardly any wonder Roland were so pioneering with the development
of drum machines.
The Rhythm Ace was released around 1970 and was very
successful it seems. The sounds, however, were typical of drum machines
of the day - i.e. totally unrealistic!
You can enjoy these sounds again for those times when
you need a really cheesy rhythm accompaniment (or you get the local
ballroom dance hall gig!).