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Boss DR-880 Drum Machine Reviews

4.5 stars based on 31 customer reviews
Questions about the Boss DR-880 Drum Machine?

Questions about the Boss DR-880 Drum Machine?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • Carson McClain

    There is a good chance that you are on this page because your old drum machine just does not cut it anymore. So, who is the customer for the DR-880 and why do you need it? In my experience this drum machine is for the customer who needs better sounding drum samples, and the ability to control pattern changes and BPMs live. There are a lot of one-man bands out there or groups with accordians, banjos, guitars, or keyboards that need drums for their performances and are not sure which drum machine to choose. I'm here to tell you that this is the box you need. It comes with country, bluegrass, classic rock, pop, jazz, and even speed metal patterns built in to get you started. I have been getting a lot of questions about changing patterns, starting and stopping songs, as well as tempo changes. If you need to do any of these funtions look at accessorizing the DR-880 with the FS-6, the EV-5, and the FC-300 pedals. All of the control you need is easily accessible with these accessories.

  • from Florida February 7, 2017Music Background:
    Proffessional guitarist for many moons

    Great piece of equipment

    I tried the Virtual route and it was definitely not for me. The Boss DR-880 is an incredible drum machine that will produce totally realistic drum tracks ( and Bass ) with an infinite amount of variation in sound - feel -groove - etc. To all you DAW heads out there - This will produce equal if not better tracks in much less time . Just need to explore all the options available in this unit. I bought a tutorial DVD specific to the DR-880 that is terrific for learning this machine. I have already gotten questions from other musicians asking who the drummer is on my recordings (using Tascam DP24). If you are a musician, but not a computer geek, this is what you need period.

  • from Niagara Falls, N.Y. November 13, 2016Music Background:
    Guitarist/new to recording

    Boss Dr-880

    I'm new to drum machines, but I've had a blast with the DR-880. I'm not the best at programing so I purchased the Roland DVD manual for the Dr-880 which for me is a god sent. So with the DVD along with the paper manual, I've been able to get my head around what this thing can really do. I'm now able to dig right into all this machine can do and I've had really great results. Once you get past the learning curve, this machine will give you everything that you might need for fantastic recordings or musical accompaniments. Thanks to Matt and Sweetwater for continued great service and tech help! Great buy and purchasing experience!!

  • from Palmdale September 30, 2015Music Background:
    Long long time Musician

    A real drum machine

    I am 'old school' my first drum machine was a brand new Roland TR-55 Rhythm 55...yea I'm THAT old.
    So I have seen a whole lot of them over the years since the 70's. Hard to find a simple drum machine anymore...this baby IS old school. I've wanted it for years....finally the goal is achieved. The best sounds for me. I'm a songwriter now and I need a tool that fits what and how I write. As I said 'old school'. The hip hop sounds are for that generation, I want a beat. Simple and real. It doesn't get closer to real than this baby. Sure I could go to software and there are some great sounds out there but I am a drum machine guy...
    Thanks to Sweetwater the wait is over. Thanks guys....you did it again. I couldn't be happier.

    P.S. No offense to the music/dj's of today its a generational thing. One day it will happen to you....

  • from Omaha, NE September 4, 2014Music Background:
    Musician, Blues, Jazz, Rock

    Worth Every Penny

    I'm just a guitarist that wanted to record some original songs. Knowing very little of how to step record or real time record drum parts I was always struggling to find a quality drum and bass sound to work with. No more! With the easy compose feature I am able to set the groundwork for my music. I track it into Logic and record the rest of my parts i.e. Rhythm, Lead & Vocals. It's very intuitive and easy to work with. For those of you that are used to a drum machine format, everything else is still there.

  • from July 31, 2014

    A good sound investment!

    Sounds great.

  • from Lafayette La January 28, 2014Music Background:
    Nashville songwriter with a grammy nominee credit (positive country category) a studio owner, guitar, bass and piano Player also arranger and engineer

    A must have for any musician period

    Listen to me please!!! this is not just a drum machine, that is like saying an I phone is just a phone. This wonderful tool is a complete rhythm section, If play guitar, and you want to get better every time you rehearse, get one of these bad boys to work with you, it has hundreds of preset rhythm play-along patterns, that are a must for improving your skills. The DR-880 has a great selection of effects for different Guitar sounds. And best of all if you have the writing and composing , gift you will never regret this purchase. I am a professional Musician, writer , engineer, vocalist and arranger and it cuts my time to a bare minimum. and the sounds are Great mixed in my recordings. And to do a solo act well you would have to see it to believe it!!! Just spend a little time working on the programing and you will be blown away !!!

  • from Springfield, Ohio January 26, 2014Music Background:
    Bass and Organ Hobbyist Musician

    Boss DR-880 is a Fantastic Piece of Equipment

    After being an in-active bass and organ player for quite a few years, my interest has been renewed. With this renewal, I decided to purchase a new drum machine to increase my playing ability and enjoyment. After reviewing several different drum machines of both higher and lower price units, the Boss DR-880 appeared to be the best choice for the money. Its many features will serve all of my immediate and future needs very well. I am amazed at the number of pre-recorded patterns there are along with being able to edit these patterns and save them for an additional 500 pattern or songs of your own design. The ability to save up to eighty favorite patterns and select them with the programmed pushbuttons is really a nice feature. Deciding which patterns are the favorites will be the problem. The sound of the drums and bass are fantastic, just like listening to a live band. Using the sound effects with my bass guitar has presented me with a new perspective of possibilities. The flexibility built into the output sound jacks make it quite easy to setup the system to match the users equipment needs.
    I am still discovering all of the built-in Fantastic Capabilities of the Boss DR-880 Rhythm Machine. It will be a challenge to master all of them.
    It needs to be mentioned that the customer service provided by Sweetwater in placing my order was just excellent! I have never had a company call me just to inform me that my order had shipped. And what other company offers a warranty of two years on a product that the manufacture offers only a year, if that. They will always be my first choice for new gear.

  • from Warren R.I. U.S.A. June 28, 2013Music Background:
    Hobbyist- and then some.

    Boss DR-880

    This boss DR880 brought my guitar playing to a better level and a better way of playing ,and a better understanding about root notes and so on.i only had it for a few days and because i am self taught I am learning more and more every time I pick up my guitar. THANKS ANDY B. p.s. I could go on and on but I have to get back to my guitar playing with my boss DR880..

  • from April 22, 2013Music Background:

    Boss Dr.Rhythm DR-880

    I've been using Boss drum machines since the '80s. The very first Dr.Rhythm DR110, then the TR505,TR626,R8 and I always liked them. I was recording on analog tape recorders back then...After a a 20 years break, I'm back to recording and this new machine feels familiar but is FAR superior in every aspect to anything I ever used. The drum sounds are outstanding, the velocity pads more sensitive and the built-in guitar and bass sound processors are an amazing addition. The best sign that it is in its own league is the fact that it's been around for years unchanged. It has the perfect balance between form and function. It will take a while before I learn to exploit its full potential but I am convinced that it will be worth the effort. Finally, I want to take the opportunity to thank my excellent Sweetwater rep Mike Baldonado for recommending this great product.

  • from olympia, Wa USA December 11, 2012Music Background:

    DR-880 What a machine

    The Boss DR-880 has feature,s that other drum units don't have like Groove modify it offers more of a realness to the pattern also the programable ghost note is really cool. Thank you Sweetwater for making it possible for me to have purchase this great machine at such a low price and delivered to my door in A+ shape. T.R.H

  • from New Bern, NC June 9, 2012Music Background:
    Recording Studio owner and musician

    Exceeded my expectations!

    The Boss DR-880 is a fantastic addition to our studio.
    I am very satisfied with the product, and the excellent service provided by Michael Eads at Sweetwater.

  • from Indianapolis, IN May 17, 2012Music Background:
    Professional Gigging Musician (my real job)

    Love It

    It is very User Friendly. The sounds are extremely genuine and with the additional Bass, a perfect One-Man Band ! The velocity sensitive pads are easy to control and to get used to.

  • from Port Charlotte, FL March 19, 2012Music Background:
    College degree BMEd. in music

    Much more

    Fantastic unit. Makes me want to compose tunes.

  • from Delta, CO August 26, 2011Music Background:
    Pro musician/luthier

    Wonderful Machine

    Living in the wilds of western Colorado, drummers and bassists are scarce. Hence the need for a drum/bass machine. I purchased it and the Boss DR-880 far exceeded my expectations in every respect.

    The quality of drums and bass modeling is phenomenal. The machine is also very easy to learn to operate compared to others I have tried. I was recording tracks in real time within 2 hours of receipt of the machine.

    The diverstiy of sounds available from this machine is amazing - hundreds of presets, scores of kits and bass sounds - you name it. Looping too. My bandmates are thrilled with it.

    This machine is well worth the money.

  • from Nasville, Tn February 1, 2011Music Background:
    Recording Engineer/ Pro Musician

    Excellent Drum Machine DR-880

    This drum machine in my opinion was made for guitar players and bass players that either just want to hone their guitar playing chops or for those that like to be creative and enjoy writing songs. The DR-880 is so easy to work with. That's the beauty of this unit, you can just take it home and start jamming! I love to hook it up through my PA system and jam for hours. Who has time to read manuals? Yea there is a small learning curve to most electronics but this baby is great for live gigs, recording and so much more. You will be blown away with the sound effects for the drums and the effects for the guitar. Absolutely Killer!!!! Buy one today.

  • from Portland, OR USA October 31, 2009Music Background:

    Something every guitar player should own...

    Ok, if you play electric guitar and don't own one of these babies then you are missing out big time. The drum and bass sounds are great as well as the guitar effects. There is a huge amount of flexibility with this unit... from customizing your guitar tone & effects, to creating your own drum & bass kits... its a very deep unit. But that doesn't mean it isn't fun or easy to use. In fact, the only downfall I've had with this unit is that I just lose track of time playing with it. If you are learning how to play guitar, then this unit will help you so much. For instance, there are some great patterns that help you embrace scale modes like the major scale. The fact that you can dial up a pattern, instantly set the key & tempo, and then jam along with it using great guitar sounds makes the unit worth the money, but it can do a whole lot more. And if you like playing with those long, trippy delays, well, the DR880 keeps the delay in time with the song, so you can base the delay off rhythm rather than milliseconds (but both options are available).
    Every guitar instructor/school should have one of these available for their students. Every guitar player that wishes they had a drummer and bass player to jam with to help push their playing should have one of these.
    I use mine every day, and record with it too... sounds fantastic.

  • from Deer Lodge Montana August 21, 2009Music Background:
    semi pro artist

    fantastic value

    Bought the Dr-880 back in 2001 and now have owned it for almost 9 years. I wanted to share my experience briefly that the Dr-880 has been truly an inspiration. I've learned alot about writing bass and drums while paying attention to dynamics, flow, rhythm, feel...all those hard to teach methods. I'm a guitar player who relies on bass and drums to help push me rhythmicly in ways I can't teach myself alone, although I have my own natural rhythm style. Excellent samples with a deep pallete of ideas to work with, make the Dr-880 a success in my opinion.

  • from boston, ma May 8, 2015Music Background:
    nothing but music all my life

    replaces 66 in home studio

    the 660 has been in my home studio for 15 years (maybe 20) - it had great sounds - other musicians always commented on the drum sound - one morning I woke up and turned on and it was dead - nothing - not the internal battery - so I needed a replacement - listened to other brands - sounded like, well just awful to my poor ears - got this - needed it for just drum sounds - bass and guitar things are not necessary to me (I record them live) - at first I didn't think the sounds were as good as the 660 - but in recording they sounded very good - many more features than I need - but good - got the DVD and it helped in the set-up - I loop the bass and snare drums and play all other parts live - will never replace a real drummer, but I record daily and it works for me - overall - best drum machine available - also thanks to Sweetwater - very professional interested courteous and kind to us lowly musicians

  • from Warren R.I. U.S.A. July 23, 2013Music Background:
    Hobbyist- and then some.

    BOSS DR880

    I think it is a great machine. It brought my guitar playing to a better level. I am self taught and stopped playing for 40+ years. THIS machine is great to jam with, and it helps you learn to play on time and learn your root notes and if you haven't played in a band for a long time this helps you to play along again.I think the DR880 is a great machine And it is helping me to get back into the swing of things. You jam with the DR880 and the next thing you know 3+ hours have gone by. The sound is great, bass and drums sounds like you are in a real band. I jam along with this machine 4-6 times a week and the time keeps flying by, hour after hour. Buy it and you won't be sorry. i would recommend this for anyone. I play guitar by ear and I seem to play a lot more and learn a lot more. So this is a great Plus for me. No wonder this machine has been around for a long time. That has to tell you something. If it is not broke don't fix it.( One thing), I wish they would have put a place for a SD card for more memory , that is the only thing as far as it goes with me. Thanks Andy B.

  • from Salisbury, MA March 31, 2011Music Background:
    Multi keyboard back up to a vocalist. 60's. 70's rock, blues

    Fantastic sounds

    Great sounds all around, patterns are realistic and this component gives all the versatility you will need. The ability to change the kit or tempo to a pattern makes this machine priceless. Adding a baseline is a bonus amd the sounds are all there.
    What do you want from a drummer, and a bass player? To show up on time. Machines always there, waiting. To keep a beat and not miss a note. The machine is spot on. When playing smaller gigs, you don't have to worry about needing extra space for a drum set and bass amp. Plus you get all the money.

  • from Johnsonville, SC November 21, 2008Music Background:
    Pro Harp player-28 years

    Playing The Bass

    I actually play the Boss DR-880 in church every Sunday. Note by note! I use it instead of strings. I have been playing two of these units at the same time. I use one to play the highs (Vintage-Bass) and the other to play the lows(Vintage Bass-). It sounds pretty good running through a delay pedal. Other true bass players wonder how can you get the real sound through push buttons. I been playing with this thing for about four years.

  • from Phila.Pa February 19, 2015Music Background:
    Musician,producer and home recording studio owner

    good machine,could have been beeter

    I've owned a few of Boss's drum machine and all of them were good.
    This one's no different with one exception. I really whose idea it was to remove the ability to assign the pads,but it (at least for me) was a really bad decision. I also don't know whose idea it was to put the bass drum before the snare drum (I guess they were thinking keyboard player and DJ)
    If they choose to update this machine I like to see them replace the ability to assign the pads!!Overall that's my only complaint,but its a BIG one to me because it cramps my musical creation,and that should not happen. So now I have retired this machine and moved to an Akai MPC Studio which is much more flexible and intuitive.

  • from Motown! October 9, 2014Music Background:
    Musician, Producer, Club Mgr.

    Boss DR-880

    Hands down, the best sounding unit you can find up to this price point. Great natural drum sounds, playing sound real, lots of tweaking available.
    However, and this is nothing new: the manual is a JOKE! Roland has been known for incredibly poor manuals for years, and the fact that they have not addressed this yet is really surprising and very disappointing. So if you a dumb ol' guitar player like me, you will have a hell of a time figuring out how to use many of the functions. The youtube vid's are of some help, but they seem to be geared for experienced drum boxers. That said, I'm hard at work trying to figure this dang thing out...'cuz it sounds sooooo good!

  • from Rutherfordton, NC June 11, 2013Music Background:
    Gigging musician

    Great workhorse

    Good sounds, a lot of features, and pretty easy to use. Bought one on a Monday, and used it for a gig on Friday with 28 songs programed in. Not bad!

  • from Georgia January 19, 2016Music Background:
    Professional musician with over 40 years to experience.

    Great Machine but missing important features.

    1) The unit assumes that you will know what tempo a pattern will use. As a live performer this was disappointing to me. I need to be able to switch patterns and keep the same tempo. A pattern should have the option of not having an initial tempo.
    2) The loop button should light up automatically whenever a song is selected that was saved with the loop light on. Again, when I'm on stage I have to remember to press the loop button for each song that I select. This is a disaster waiting to happen. If I forget to press the loop button my drum and bass line will end prematurely.
    3) It would be more convenient to have the option of typing numbers in versus having to use the wheel to navigate to songs and/or patterns.

  • from WV USA April 12, 2012Music Background:
    retired semi pro reed man.

    So So

    Sorry but I have searched for big band drumming machines and thought I was on a winner with the DR-880.
    Not so....The only rhythm I get is the Bump Chink Bump Chink effect with a cymbol thrown in. I know you can program a rhytm yourself but I was hoping for ready made stuff.
    If you are into R&B pop and Rock, it is great I suppose.
    I'm keeping it for that JUST IN CASE moment.
    Would have been better if the touch sensitive could be switched off sometime
    OR...maybe I have not read into it enough????.

  • March 29, 2006

    Great Drum Sounds

    This is one nice box. The sounds are very realistic and worth the price. There is a learning curve but EZ Compose helps while you learn the unit. One reviewer mentioned the tempo changing when patterns are switched. This feature depends on how you program the song. In Song mode you can choose to set the tempo or allow each pattern to use its pre-programed tempo. Actually this is not a drawback but a useful feature that allows for tempo shifts if you want them. I am sure that after a few hours the previous user found this out too.

  • from Salt Lake City, Utah February 4, 2006

    REAL drums, REAL guitar cabinets

    I won't wax poetic about this unit. Simply put it delivers in spades. The drum sounds are frightningly REAL with all the parameter choices you could imagine. The overall layout and use is pretty darn user friendly overall. The guitar input provided me with scary cabinet emulations and I simply could NOT put my guitar down. I found a nice patch, adjusted the key of the bass riffs and played on for a long while before finally having to go to bed. Overall THIS is THE drum machine you want to own.

  • from October 1, 2005

    Tempo issue

    With reference to previous post, DR-880 seems to design for live pattern playing with the favourite buttons and foot switch control - you can setup favourite buttons to call a pattern directly, or set the footswitch to select next/previous pattern.

    But the problem lies with the tempo setup at pattern mode. If you set the correct tempo at the start of the song, and proceed to change pattern, the next pattern will reset your original tempo. This makes changing patterns live unusable.

  • from Los Angeles, CA July 1, 2005

    Excellent sound

    Drum sound: Excellent!
    Easy to use: hhmmmm.... you have to be patient...
    I own this for about 3 months already, it fits my purpose as a jingle and minus one producer.
    But as a pro musician with weekly gigs I have 1 thing to plead for Roland: ..... please add 1 function/feature (and it's an easy one..) in LIVE situation I need to run from pattern to pattern back and forth such as: Intro-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-ending, etc.. it's an easy one...pleaseee...
    And another one (oooppss..) please add Flash Memory in the unit for the next model so we can store more songs, etc....
    Thank you!

  • February 1, 2005


    the boss dr-880 is awesome!! it is great for hip hop and pretty much any style of music u would need it for. i got it a few weeks ago and after a few days i wuz makin pro quality music. i havnt really tried out the chord progressions but everything else they say it does it does. I highly recommend this for any1 who wants to up there game in music production


  • Jacob Perkins

    The Boss DR-880 rhythm programmer is an invaluable tool for songwriters. It allows you to easily program drum and bass backing tracks for new songs and lets you tap in to preset loops to spark your creativity. There is even a guitar input so you can plug in and play along with the patterns using the COSM amp simulator and effects. I was programming my own patterns only minutes after I took it out of the box and plugged my guitar and headphones in to hear everything without disturbing the neighbors. This is a great tool to help form your ideas whether you are a songwriter building a new song or a drummer hammering out some new licks.

  • Brian McQuoid

    If you want to play like a pro it's no secret that you need to practice. And if you want to practice anywhere, anytime, and have great "players" behind you, the Boss DR-880 Drum Machine is the answer. The Dr-880 offers 1000 world class drum and bass patterns that give you instant access to hundreds of awesome sounding grooves right out of the box. From rock to blues, hip-hop to salsa, funk, R&B, gospel, latin, techno, jazz... the list goes on and on. A well-rounded musician will not only appreciate all of these genres of music, he will be able to play comfortably in them. The DR-880 is a great place to start.

    With the DR-880's manual still wrapped neatly in plastic, my inner rock star was quickly taking center stage as I cascaded through the plethora of drum grooves. A truly shocking discovery was the built in guitar processor based on the Boss GT-6. It's amp modeling and multi-effects sound great, and made me sound even better. From a clean JC-120, to a heavy Marshall stack, or a bluesy Vox, it brought to life a whole new set of possibilities for my performance. First I can choose the style of music I want to play (500 presets), then I pick the gear I'm going to play through (GT-6), and finally I can choose the venue I'll be performing in. This kind of quick and total control put me in the driver's seat like nothing else I've ever used.

    The Rhythm Dr. is perfect for working on your improvisation skills. I played one loop for about 15-20 minutes, just hammering away at every riff that came into my head and the DR-880 never got tired of indulging my ego. It was the perfect rehearsal and every nuance was within my control. Every pattern is so accessible with an easy to use jog wheel, ready to go like a band waiting in the wings. I don't even have to put my instrument down, I select a new groove while one keeps playing.

    This drum machine can be used a lot of different ways, but primarily it is about making better music and better musicians.

Questions about the Boss DR-880 Drum Machine?

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