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The Wurlitzer Sideman

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The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company (Wurlitzer) released the first commercially produced drum machine called the Sideman in 1959. It was an "electro-mechanical" drum machine that offered a choice of 12 electronically generated predefined rhythm patterns with variable tempos. "The sound source was a series of vacuum tubes which created 10 preset electronic drum sounds.

The drum sounds were 'sequenced' by a rotating disc with metal contacts across its face, spaced in a certain pattern to generate parts of a particular rhythm. Combinations of these different sets of rhythms and drum sounds created popular rhythmic patterns of the day, e.g. waltzes, fox trots etc. These combinations were selected by a rotary knob on the top of the Sideman box. The tempo of the patterns was controlled by a slider that increased the speed of rotation of the disc.

The Sideman had a panel of 10 buttons for manually triggering drum sounds, and a remote player to control the machine while playing from an organ keyboard. The Sideman was housed in a wooden cabinet that contained the sound generating circuitry, amplifier and speaker.


Type: Analog
Sound Engine: Subtractive
Pattern Engine
Programming: Presets
Pattern Notes:
12 Patterns:
+ Beguine
+ Bolero
+ Cha Cha
+ Foxtrot 2 Beat
+ Foxtrot 4 Beat
+ March
+ Rhumba
+ Samba
+ Shuffle
+ Tango
+ Waltz
+ Western
Sounds Per Pad
Sounds Per Pad: 1
Sources: Synthesizer
Sounds Notes:
10 Sounds:
+ Bass Drum
+ Brush
+ Claves
+ Cymbal
+ Maracas
+ Temple Block
+ Temple Block II
+ Tom Tom I
+ Tom Tom II
+ Wood Block
Polyphony & Tuning
Polyphony: 10
Timbrality: 10
Tuning: Standard
Modes: Polyphonic
Patterns User: 0
Patterns Preset: 12
Case: Console (stand alone)
Trigger Pads : 10 pads, Buttons, Hard Pads
Controls: Buttons, Knobs, Sliders
MIDI / Sync / Trigger
Audio Outputs: Mono Out
Audio Output Notes: Built in amp and speaker
Used: $100 - $450
Released: 1959
Used By
Raymond Scott
References & Sources

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