Roland AX-1

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Roland AX-1
Roland AX-1 keytar midi controller.JPG
Roland AX-1 1994 Cherry Red
Manufacturer Roland
Period 1992-1994 [1]
Colors available
Red and Black.

The Roland AX-1 is a keytar (a shoulder-held clavier keyboard worn like a guitar), produced by Roland, that does not produce its own sounds but controls other devices (such as keyboards, sound modules and samplers) via MIDI. The industrial design of the Roland AX-1 was done in a basement studio in London, U.K. by two designers, David Sherriff and Andrew Leggo, who ran a small design studio called Space Logic. The electronic design and engineering was done by Roland Europe, Italy.


The Roland AX-1 has a pitch bend ribbon and a touchpad-like expression bar on its neck. It also has a sustain switch on the back of its neck for ease of playing. It has 45 velocity sensitive keys. It does not produce its own sounds but must be plugged into a MIDI device in order to be played. The AX-1 was followed by the Roland AX-7 which added many additional features.

MIDI functionality[edit]

This instrument functions as a MIDI controller; it produces MIDI messages that are sent to an external synthesizer or sound module. (Thus it produces no sound on its own.) It is fully compatible with General MIDI, General MIDI Level 2, and Roland's own GS MIDI implementation. It can store up to 32 patches.


A black model was also produced, the AX-1B.

Notable users[edit]

  • Kristian Sensini Italian Film Composer plays an AX-1.
  • Henrik Klingenberg of Power Metal band Sonata Arctica plays an AX-1.
  • More recently, Jake Hallman, pianist for Eric Lee Beddingfield and County Line was seen playing an AX-1 at several live shows, a rarity in Country and Southern Rock Music.
  • French Maestro Jean-Michel Jarre has been using the AX-1 ever since his 1993 Europe In Concert tour. He used both the red and black versions (with the lower octaves having reversed coloured keys) and a customized white AX-1 also.
  • Imogen Heap, formerly of British Pop duo Frou Frou, sported an AX-1 while touring with Frou Frou and on her solo tours.
  • Branden E. Cate of the North Idaho alternative rock band, UNISON, frequently uses a red AX-1 with a flame sticker in concert.
  • Chris Marion of classic rock band Little River Band has used an AX-1 since it was commercially released in the 90's.
  • Madonna Wayne Gacy, former keyboardist of Marilyn Manson, played a customized AX-1 with sections spray painted black live during the Dead to the World tour.
  • Simon Kvamm, of the Danish group Nephew, used the black AX-1 during the 07.07.2007 concert in Roskilde Festival in Denmark.
  • Janne Warman, of the Finnish band Children of Bodom, used an AX-1 onstage.
  • Haruko Momoi performs on stage and in pictures with the AX-1.
  • The Gregory Brothers often use a red AX-1, which can be seen in many of their Auto-Tune the News series.
  • Eitan Levine of "The N Result" and "100% Cotton" can be seen using his keytar at his live performance. Notably on the hard rock hit, "On My Shoulders.:
  • Benno de Goeij was using it at Armin Only Imagine events in 2008, playing Armin's track Never Say Never.
  • Peter Gabriel used it whilst playing the song "Steam" on his Secret world tour in 1993.
  • Jay Metarri, Belgian session man, used it in the past; now he plays a customized AX7 model.
  • Rick and Adam Wakeman duelled solos during many of their tours on the AX1
  • Justin Bailey of Grigori 3 played the AX-1B live at all of their shows.
  • Bobby Caldwell used the AX-1 on stage while in concert in the 1990s.
  • Ben Folds has used the AX-1 on stage at concerts, and can be seen using it in the music video for Rockin' The Suburbs.
  • Keytar Bear, a street performer in Boston, MA, uses a Roland AX-1 as his main instrument.
  • Pablo Lescano from Argentinian Cumbia Villera band Damas Gratis still uses a Roland AX-1
  • David Quintero, keyboard player of the panamenian band DANNY&DAVID plays an AX-1 on their shows.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The History of Roland: Part 4". Sound-on-Sound. February 2005. Retrieved 19 April 2012.