UCan Play Directors Jason and Jonathan have recently returned from a trip to Roland UK in, … guess where … Swansea! In this post they share some of their reflections from the day and some of the great sights and sounds from the Roland UK HQ.

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Our day started bright and early in Cheshire, but by the time we got to Swansea the swans on the lake opposite Atlantic Close were already enjoying their mid-morning swim. Roland UK’s HQ is in an unassuming business park, but once you get inside the front door there is no doubt that you are in the offices of the world’s leading music technology manufacturer:

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Little touches make all the difference don’t they, so it was lovely to see that that they had announced our arrival to everyone in the reception area!

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Going up the stairs to the first floor we were captivated by the visualisation of the company’s history in a time line that wrapped its way up the stairs, featuring all of the company’s iconic products, artists and other references to key moments in popular musical history:

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There is even space on the top wall for new products that are yet to be released and, believe us, they are going to be equally exciting and impressive as Roland’s back catalogue including the iconic TR-808 and TB-303:

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We spent a fair while absorbing all this amazing history and spotting instruments that we had purchased and enjoyed playing in the past. Jonathan recalled spending many happy hours lugging his RD1000 piano up and down the staircases of many nightclubs in Norwich:

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The ‘breakthrough’ was probably a reference to future back issues as a result of these experiences!

Jason loves his guitar technology, so not only was he excited to see a reference to the very first guitar synth, the GR-500, produced in 1978:

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But can you imagine his excitement when, later on in building, we found the very first actual guitar synth that Roland made hanging on the wall!

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Scattered throughout the building, there are some superb images of musicians performing and live events. Here’s the web team working in front of stage set for live music:

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And how about this for a great motto for life:

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Further evidence of the TR-808 being celebrated alongside Roland’s long history of electronic percussion and drums:

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But this amazing wall paper caught our eye:

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Yes, you’ve guessed it. It features all of the Boss pedal products. We really wanted to get a roll of this but, sadly, it is not in production and not available for sale.

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But, of course, Roland is known for the legendary status of its products – easy to use, super sounding, robust and brilliant engineered. Downstairs, we were delighted to see that Roland have their own play room just like the one we have at our studios. It features a load of new and older products and is used by Roland staff when dealing with enquiries from the public about technical or other use issues, as well as the odd product demonstration (of which more later):

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After quite a while playing, we were given a tour of the warehouse where all your future instruments – pianos, drumkits, synths, cables, Boss pedals and assorted other items – are located prior to dispatch. It is huge! See which products you can spot!

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Alita, our lovely tour guide, was very keen to show us her ‘accessories’ isle. Roland and Boss have recently brought out a huge range of new accessories including leads, guitar straps, pics, cleaners, stands and loads of other cool stuff. All of it housed here and ready to go!

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During the afternoon, we received demonstrations on some of the very cool new gear that Roland released as part of the 909 day earlier this month. Product specialist Dean showed us his moves on the very impressive DJ808:

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Roland’s DJ808 features a beautiful link with the amazing Serato DJ software and this instruments is set to make a huge splash in the DJ and education world when it arrives in the UK later this year. We are delighted to announce that we’ll be featuring the first DJ808 to arrive in the UK on our stand at the Musical FuturesĀ Music Learning Revolution event at the RNCM on the 18th October. Come and have a play!

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So, all good things have to come to an end and our day that started with swans was to end by the sea. We retired to a beautiful Indian restaurant with the Roland MD and his senior team for a lovely meal on the beautiful Swansea sea front:

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Ok, it didn’t look quite like this on a windy evening in late September but you get the idea.

We’d like to express a massive thank you to all the Roland staff who welcomed us so warmly and made our day an absolutely brilliant one that we won’t forget for a very long time. Roland’s ongoing commitment to education is also something that we should all celebrate enthusiastically. Thanks to you all!