MATRIXSYNTH: The Ace Tone Rhythm Ace family: FR-1 Full Auto

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Ace Tone Rhythm Ace family: FR-1 Full Auto

video upload by ohm_studi_ohm

"Here is a glimpse of the analog drum machine range from japanese manufacturer Ace Tone. Quite popular in the late 60s and early 70s, they were probably the leader in those presets rhythm units at the time before Roland came into the game.

Full analog, only transistors and diodes, no integrated circuit yet.

FR1 and FR2 are basically the same unit. They do sound similar (same PCB) and have the same presets. The main difference is the cancel buttons. On the FR1 you can cancel "bass drum", "cowbell", "claves" and "cymbal", whereas on the FR-2L you can cancel "snare", "claves" and "cymbal".

Of course it is very easy to mod these units and add other mutes buttons, individual levels, outputs etc

The FR20 is quite similar soundwise to the previous ones. The patterns are different, they are fewer but you have 3 "customizable" presets with differents variations of snare and cymbal, thus effectively giving it a wider range of possible patterns, and this time you have cancel for "bass drum", "snare" and "cymbal" which make more sense then the previous ones' choices.

But the main feature of the FR-20 is that it has a built in amp powered speaker cabinet. And it sound loud and deep, it's a great combo. Plus ther is an input so you can plug you organ or synthesizer and play along the rhythm (start stop with foot pedal is possible on all units btw).

The FR6 is quite a different beast. It sounds very different to the other 3, soundwise and in terms of patterns. Sound is brighter, crispier even harsher.

Note all the units where fully recapped so difference in sounds isn't due to ageing component but to design. I don't have the schematics for this one but it's definetly not the same layout. It might have been designed or "inspired" by some other model available at the time. (could be the Roland TR-66 with which it shares many features).

So here is a demo of the first one: The FR-1.

Recorded through a Teisco 120 to add some reverb."

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for this post. How do you mod an FR-2 to include voice cancellation for Bass Drum and Cowbell, and especially for individual output per voice? I would like to do this, and can solder etc., but could need a little help in directions.


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