V-Combo History

The following lists Roland ‘transportable combo organs’ (in old days, 60 kilos were regarded as ‘transportable’…).
Initially ‘pure Hammond clones’, more and more ‘non-organ sounds’ were added from the beginning of the 1990th

Acetone (first company of Mr. Kakehashi, founder of Roland):

  • Top1-Top9 (1965-1969): single manual, 49-61 keys
  • GT2 (1971): single manual, 49 keys (synth-type). Later also sold as ‘Hammond X2’
  • GT5 (1971): double manuals (spinet), 2×49 keys (synth-type), bass short pedal. Laer also sold as ‘Hammond X5’
  • GT7 (1971): double manuals (spinet), 2×49 keys (synth-type), bass short pedal, more sound features than GT5 and a small builtin 25W ‘practice amp’

Roland VK-series

  • VK-6 (1977): double manual (spinet), 2×49 keys (synth-type), bass short pedal, only organ sound
  • VK-9 (1977): double manual (cabinet), 2×61 keys (synth-type), 2 octave full bass pedal, only organ sound
  • VK-1 (1979): single manual, 61 keys (synth-type), only organ sound
  • VK-09 (1981): single manual, 61 keys (synth-type), only organ sound
  • VK-1000 (1991 – Roland-Rhodes): ‘organ synth’ based on famous SA-synthesis: one of the first ‘combo organs’ in modern understanding and predecessor of VR760: single manual, 76 touch sensitiv keys (synth-type), drawbar organ, APs, EPs, synth-sound, ‘moddable’ with the drawbars, effects, mod-pitch-joystick.
    (side note: also in 1991, the famous SA-1000 piano and JD800 saw the daylight…)
  • VK7 (1997): single manual, 61 synth-type keys
  • VK77 (1997): double manual (cabinet) version of VK7
  • VK8 (2002): single manual, 61 keys (waterfall)
  • VK88 (2003): double manual (cabinet) version of VK8

Roland VR-series:

  • VR760 (2003) single manual 76 keys (waterfall)
  • VR700 (2010) single manual 76 keys (waterfall)
  • VR09 (2013) single manual 61 keys (synth-type)
  • VR09B (2017) single manual 61 keys (synth-type), only optical changes to VR09
  • VR730 (2017) single manual 73 keys (waterfall)

Roland ATELIER ‘Combo’ series:

  • AT 350C (2011) double manual 49+61 (synth + waterfall) keys ATELIER COMBO

The V-Combo/VR series in detail:

VK-1000 (Roland-Rhodes) – we added this ‘VK’ as it is more Combo than pure organ:
76 synth keys, split/layer + bass
8 basic sounds (waveforms): organ1+2, pipe organ, organ bass, rhodes, lead synth, vibraphone, chimes
Organ with ‘real drawbars’, percussion
Envelope for amplitude (ADR) and pitch
MFX: Wah, Reverb, Delay, Overdrive, Rotary, Phaser, Flanger, EQ. FX are customizable (e.g. Leslie ‘parameters’)
Joystick for modulation/pitch and ‘leslie switch’
assignable controllers (3 faders, 3 pedals)
64 user patcher + 64 on external card
5-pin DIN Midi
22kg
todays buyers guide: VK-1000 can be regarded as the ‘mother of modern Combos’ – we added it for historical reasons – and maybe for collectors 🙂

VR 760:
76 waterfall keys (Roland action), split/layer + bass (organ cannot be splitted)
3 sound sections: Organ / Piano / Synth
VK-8 organ engine with ‘real drawbars’, percussion, organ types, amp types, etc
Envelope (ADR) and Filter (cutoff, resonance)
40 Cosm MFX, fully customizable
Joystick for modulation/pitch and ‘leslie switch’, D-Beam
64 user Favorites
5-pin DIN Midi
USB thumb drive for backup
reader for SRX extention cards
17kg
todays buyers guide: VR760 has the famous Roland Waterfall keybed that could be seen as the ‘perfect hybrid action’ for playing both organ and piano. Most controls are accessible on the keyboard panel which makes the 760 an excellent live tool.
Tonewheel organ with very good and versatile base sound and ‘tube-ish’ overdrive. It can do ‘sweet jazzy smoke’ but also cry like J. Lord (excellent octave foldback). Leslie-effect is usable but not on par with modern keys (a bit of tremoloing vibrato).
Acoustic pianos are a bit dull with short decay (sustain) and no sympathetic resonance – but 760 can load the high quality SRX-11 ‘Piano’ extension board.
E-Pianos are nice, realistic and ‘vintage’.
Bread&Butter sounds are outdated but have ‘oldschool’ charme
With envelope, filter and the mighty MFX section there is much room for sound creation
SRX-cards can add a lot of sound variation – but the more sought-after (‘Pianos’, ‘E-Pianos’, …) became horribly expensive (> 300 USD)

VR 700:
76 waterfall keys (Roland action), split/layer + bass (organ can be splitted)
2 sound sections: Organ / ‘Ensemble’ (more than 300 sounds)
VK-8 organ engine with ‘real drawbars’, percussion, organ types, amp types, etc
Joystick for modulation/pitch and ‘leslie switch’, D-Beam
64 user Favorites
Midi 5-pin DIN + USB-Midi
USB thumb drive for backup, audio play, midi play
With CTRLR V-700 EDITOR: 80 Cosm MFX
17kg
todays buyers guide: VR700 has the same famous Roland Waterfall keybed as VR760. For 700, the superb handling of the 760 had been changed to an user unfriendly ‘preset’-concept with a ridiculously small display, which makes sound and patch creation a torture (see below, ‘EDITOR’)
Tonewheel organ and ‘Leslie’ are almost identical to 760 with additional parameters (e.g. ‘mic position).
Acoustic pianos are the best of the entire VR series: they have a bright but not too aggressive timbre, long decay (albeit with noticable looping) and, as a big plus, Roland added (customizable) sympathetic resonance which contributes a lot to the ‘richness’ of the APs.
E-Pianos are nice, realistic and ‘vintage’. Bread&Butter sounds are a bit outdated in quality but have ‘oldschool’ charme
MFX are statically ‘bound’ to each sound but that limitation can be overcome by using CTRLR V700 EDITOR which makes them freely assignable and customizable
With more sounds and improved layering compared to VR760 and the help of CTRLR V700 EDITOR (comfortable patch editing, ‘hidden features’ like ‘free MFX’) VR700 is probably the more versatile board than VR760

VR 09 (VR 730):
61 synth keys (73 waterfall keys FATAR TP/8O) , split/layer + bass
3 sound sections: Organ / Piano / Synth
SuperNatural-Organ with ‘drawfaders’, percussion, organ types, amp types, etc
Virtual Analog Synthesizer (requires Roland iPad app or CTRLR EDITOR)
Joystick for modulation/pitch and ‘leslie switch’, D-Beam
100 user Registrations
Midi 5-pin DIN + USB-Midi
USB thumb drive for backup, audio play, midi play
With CTRLR V-COMBO EDITOR: 4 zones, 9 parts (layers), hundreds of hidden sounds, hidden features…
5.5 (10)kg
todays buyers guide: VR09 has the standard synth action from Juno G/Gi/D/Di, FA06, JDXa, etc. VR730 has the FATAR TP/8O Waterfall action – a good action but not on the level of Rolands Waterfall in VR700/760
The handling returned to VR760ish ‘on-board controls’
From a ‘Hammond purist’ point of view, tonewheel organ is a drawback (probably taken from ATELIER SuperNatural organ) with’sinodial’ base sound and reduced parameters and a very harsh overdrive (which one can also can admire on AT-350Combo). Leslie-Effekt is excellent and maybe one of the best simulations of those days.
Acoustic pianos are a step back: they are standard pianos from Roland-XV sound engine, shrill, short decay, no sympathetic resonance
E-Pianos are ‘modern’ with a lot (sometimes too much) of ‘bark’. Bread&Butter sounds are a nice, synth sounds are of ‘modern’ Juno/FA/DS type
MFX are limited with basically no customization.
CTRLR V-Combo EDITOR ‘hacks’ a lot of hidden features, adds ‘hidden sounds’, multi-zones and more timbrality

AT 350C (ATELIER Combo)
Dual manual: 49 + 61 (synth + waterfall key), bass (pedal)
Sound sections: Organ / ‘Orchestral’ / specific sounds
SuperNatural organ engine with 2 full ‘real’ drawbar-sets, percussion, organ types, amp types, etc
Rhythms, Accompanigment
User Registrations
Midi 5-pin DIN + USB-Midi
USB thumb drive for backup, ATELIER sound file replay, audio replay, midi replay
Built-in speakers (stereo)
25 kg
todays buyers guide: AT 350c has the touch of a ‘double manual VR09/730’: they share the same ‘SuperNatural’ Tonewheel engine (AT350 has Jazz/Rock organ, Leslie Type 1/2, parameters) with the same ‘timbre’ – and the ‘harsh overdrive’. AT350c has no MFX or VA-Synth but ‘styles’, rhythm-accompaniment and some gizmos that are not functional on VR09 (e.g. AEX sounds, ATELIER SuperNatural ‘N.sounds’, etc). With 25kilos, it’s still portable and can serve as a valuable organ for traditional Jazz (Swing), Pop standards and one-man entertainment

 


Demystification…

“VR09 is a copy of Nord Electro”

1991: VK-1000: dawbars, organ/rhodes/synth, envelope, MFX, split/layer, mod+pitch, …
2001: Electro 1: ‘LED draw-buttons’, organ + some APs/EPs, some basic FX, ‘organ split’, no layers, no mod/pitch
2002: Electro 2: kind of software upgrade to NE1 – no big changes
2003: VR760: dawbars, 3 sections Organ-Piano-Synth, envelope+filter, 40 Cosm FX, split/layer, mod+pitch, d-beam…
2005: Nord Stage: 3 sound sections: ‘Organ Piano Synth’ (ahaaaa…), synthesizer, split/layer, and …. ‘LED draw-buttons’
2009: Electro 3 (6 years after VR760): ‘sample library’ for Bread&Butter sounds – still ‘LED draw-buttons’, only ‘organ split’, no layers
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2012: Electro 4D: now with draw-faders! still only ‘organ split’, no layers…
2013: VR09: colours+’sections’ as VR760, ‘box-design’ Juno-G aera, components as VR760: organ, APs/EPs, synth, mod/pitch, d-beam…
2015: Electro 5: keyboard-split ! (restricted though, and still no layers). Bread&Butter section is now called ‘Synth’
2018: Electro 6: yepeee – it can layer!
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2020-: People still claim: “Roland VR copied Nord Electro”