RE: Hardware Retro Drum Machine (help?)

Hi folks,

I have been thinkin’ of forming a duo (with, say, a saxophonist) now that lockdown is over. I would be playing left-hand bass on one keyboard, and piano/rhodes/organ on another ie. (with my right-hand).

Now, my question is specifically in relation to drum-machines. Cast your mind back to the 80’s (or earlier) and drum-machines provided the user with preset ‘patterns’ (or ‘styles’, as they have also been called). You had choices of: Bossa Nova, Swing, Pop, Funk, etc. Often you had an ‘intro’ and’ ‘outro’ dedicated button (or pedal-trigger) to get you in and out of the song, and a ‘fill’ button (or pedal-trigger) so you could have it perform a one-bar-fill at any given moment. I used to own a Yamaha QY20 which was also great for individual practice/jamming with.

Anyway, I’m sure you get my drift here. You did not really have to faff around to much with programming if you did not want to.

But do such devices still exist?; I mean, do we have modern day equivalents? Or have the manufactures completely done away with such models nowadays? There are lots of fancy boxes like ‘Maschine’ but they are just way above and beyond what I need for a duo type setting.

Many thanks in advance for any kind assistance offered here.


Paul David Seaman (UK)

You can still buy an Alesis SR-16, for example.

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Many thanks Mr Soundman,

Funnily enough the SR16 was the ONLY unit I could seem to find (online) which was anything close to what I require.

However, is it not rather dated?; I mean, will the drum samples sound rather antiquated?

I used to also own a Boss Dr Rhythm (which you could trigger if you were a guitarist - which I’m not). The sounds and patterns were fine for 25 years ago, but I dare say they might be laughable nowadays! I’m not sure if the SR16 is of similar ilk?



Yes the SR-16 is still made. It’s a good unit to have around and I think it still sounds pretty good and can be set up easily for live use. These days it has 24 bit resolution rather than 16 bit and you can also pick up second hand ones for okay prices. They also made the later SR-18 as well:

Funny as there was a discussion about this here on the Gear Page recently:

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Hi wildschwein,

Thanks very much indeed. That was very interesting to read.

I have more recently been looking into the BeatBuddy (full version):

It looks quite good, to my eyes at least. You can purchase additional beats/styles from their website also.



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Looks interesting for a small pedal but pricey.

… and this is the bit I don’t like, nor do I like pedals that need a phone to download sounds to them. They will only last as long as the vendor wants to keep updating the app. Not 30 years like the SR-16 :slight_smile: I’d prefer to slave an SR-16 to Cubase, and record the patterns into it over MIDI.

One of the things about the SR-16 was that the patterns were allegedly played in by drummers, not programmed. The sounds had a bit of live room to them as well, which meant that it pretty much did the job in a mix.


Hi Mr Soundman,

Thanks for your message.

Yes, it is a bit pricey I do admit.

I think one of the You Tube reviewers said that there is a BeatBuddy forum with a thread where members can file-share (ie. their own patterns/songs). But I also read that such a process can be quite convoluted. Though I’m not actually sure I would even participate in such activities.

I did actually email the BeatBuddy team asking in more detail which type of patterns come factory-shipped. It has Jazz, Funk, Latin, Odd Time Signatures, etc - which I what I’m mostly looking for to be honest.


You could also go completely oldskool and transfer grooves from Cubase, a pattern at a time, to a retro drum machine using MIDI clock sync.

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Hi Mr Soundman,

I was actually thinking of doing what you suggest, however, using EZ Drummer (Toontracks) instead.