Roland AX-Synth

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Jean-Michel Jarre playing an AX-Synth during his IN>DOORS tour

The Roland AX-Synth is a keytar that is manufactured by Roland Corporation, and was released in late August 2009. This modernized instrument builds on the features of its predecessor, the Roland AX-7. The most notable change is the addition of an internal synthesizer. A UV Black-colored "premium" model called "Black Sparkle" was released in September 2010.


The AX-Synth extends the keyboard to 49 keys (from the AX-7's 45) and also adds dedicated V-Link functionality to control audio and video onstage. It runs on 8 AA batteries or an external power source. It has 264 built in tones, 128-voice polyphony, and a 3-character LED display. The AX-Synth also has all of the AX-7's stage performance functions such as the touchpad-like pitch bend ribbon, expression bar, sustain switch, and volume control knob, all on the upper neck of the instrument. As with the AX-7, there is also a proprietary "D-Beam" interface, made up of infrared sensors that detect nearby motion.

The AX-Synth also has a wide variety of sounds. Many are synthesised, however, there are many samples of real sounds, from brass to a 'Jazz Scat' sound; this varies depending on the velocity with which the note is played, as seen in "Funky Keytar Duo". The AX-Synth has been often criticized for the large size of the keytar (as seen here dwarfing a large framed Roland rep "Roland AX-SYNTH keytar DEMO") which was necessary to contain all of the sound generating hardware vs. the sleek stylings of previous Roland Keytars like the Roland AX-1 and Roland AX-7.

MIDI Functionality[edit]

The AX-Synth has full MIDI functionality like the AX-7, but also adds an internal synthesizer with 128 voice polyphony and stereo output. It has both MIDI in and out ports and as is common with more recent synthesizers, it also has a USB port which can also be used to communicate MIDI messages, and edit the sounds via Roland's free patch editor/librarian software for PC and Mac.[1]

Notable users[edit]

French composer Jean-Michel Jarre used a prototype version of the AX-Synth during the first concerts of his 2009 IN>DOORS tour. The white model keytar was painted in black[2] to reduce reflections produced by the laser and lighting used during the concerts. Later during the tour, Roland Japan provided him with an official[3] black production model. The black sparkle AX-synth model is now available from Roland and is in high demand.[4]

Tim Blake of Hawkwind uses a white AX-Synth.

Henrik Klingenberg of Sonata Arctica also plays a custom purple, black, & white AX-Synth.[5]

Lady Gaga uses a number of modified AX-Synths on stage, particularly during The Monster Ball Tour and for a performance on Saturday Night Live in 2009.She also use it for the final of The Born This Way Ball,Marry the Night[6]

The Black Eyed Peas have used the Roland Ax-Synth for a number of performances since 2009.[7]

Tim Minchin used one during his tour, Tim Minchin vs Orchestra during the song 'Cheese'; and on his 'Ready for This?' Tour during the song 'Bears don't dig on dancing'.

Brett Domino has used the AX-Synth in several videos.[8]

Imogen Heap uses one in her Ellipse tour.

Stephen Devassy

Christopher Bowes of Alestorm uses a black and a white AX-Synth to record and play live.

The Human League

Rush Coil uses a number of AX-Synths and Lucinas connected by MIDI to video game consoles for chiptune performances.

T-Pain used one in his 'Best Love Song' feat. Chris Brown music video.

Sparkles* of Area 11 regularly uses a white AX-Synth

Benny from Axis of Awesome once owned an AX-Synth, reviewed it,[9] and promptly destroyed it.

Bridgit Mendler used the Roland AX-Synth in 2013.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Roland AX-Synth Shoulder Synthesizer :: Specifications". Roland. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  2. ^ "Magic Brussels". Jean-Michel Jarre. Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  3. ^ "Magic Brussels". Jean-Michel Jarre. Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  4. ^ "Magic Brussels". Jean-Michel Jarre. Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
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