Synth History

A Personal history of Synths

1973 – started to learn acoustic piano

1978 – started to learn the ‘cello

1981 – my dad bought me my first electronic keyboard – a Roland MP600. This had a sort of pianoish sound and a harpsichord and a clavichord sound that you could mix together. I liked it a lot and played in a school band. It is still in the corner of my studio.

1982 – Drumatix. Simple beeping drum machine. Rather cool really.

1982 – it didn’t belong to me, but I often borrowed a Juno 6. Great pads, easy to program, but no memories. My first introduction to synthesis and I loved it.

1984 – I saved up and bought a Yamaha DX7. Mean to program, incredibly rich selection of sounds. Nothing had been like it before. Not the warmest or fattest pads and sounds, but wonderful clanging things.

1986 – Roland TR 505 drum machine. More realistic drum sounds, got used a lot. Last seen Johnny Bath had it.

1989 – Roland U110. Simple small sound unit, with the best piano I had heard and a great variety of sounds. Not really programmable, but it was multitimbral, so I started using it with an Amstrad PC using Voyetra Sequencer One. Baselines, leads, pads, drums all mixed up.

1993 – Sequential Circuits Pro One – no memories, rough wild sound. Why did I sell it?

1995 – Korg Wavestation – still hanging around somewhere. Beautiful ambient pads. Rather hard to program and architecture a bit irritating. Changing one sound would alter other sounds

1998 – Nord Lead 2 – clear, cutting, great to program. Looked really cool. Why did I sell it? All it really needed was some delay and chorus to liven it up a bit.

2001 – Korg MS2000 – friend borrowing this. Great little synth. I moved up to the Radias as I liked the extra polyphony, the double filter and the riff sequencing

2003 – Roland RD-170 full length electronic piano. Great sound, lovely to play. Feels to me like a real piano (drat, even I am using that word now). I had a classical revieval for a few years, but I’ve got over that. I pplay it at church now, but at home I prefer my lovely Nord Electro.

2004 – Nord Electro 2 – my main keyboard at present. Cool, beautiful, light and small, full of character. The organs are such fun to play. Easy to program while performing. I don’t even use the memories. The only bit I don’t like is the drawbars – if only they were actual bars you could pull in and out – it would be perfect.

2004 – Korg Radias – lovely sound, lots of polyphony. You can make really complex layered sound, but a bit hard work. A lot of the programming is right in front of you, but some you have to go into menus which has put me off a bit. Still it’s my main polysyth at the present. I have the keyboard for it but at the moment I’m using it a sound module controled by the Nord Electro 2

2006 – Doepfer A100 suitcase case box x2 and many modules. I might put down the module numbers sometime. Fantastic and mad. Wires everywhere. No memories, not easy for live use! Sounds completely psychotic.

2007 – Korg Electrotribe sampler. Neat machine. Using it for backing beats for my synths, so that I have a more live feel, rather than using beats on Cubase, which is less immediate.

2008 – Moog Little Phatty. I really wanted a synth which was completely hands on. No computer menus to scroll through. Not a variety of sound like the DX7, but fat, warm, hands on. Memories but excellent interface. I love it. I did consider buying the Voyager, but it is expensive, more complex and heavy.

I wonder if I have missed any of them out. The loves of my life – past and present. I’ll add more in as I remember. The years probably aren’t accurate, life wanders on at it’s own pace. Peace James

More to add? SPD-20 drum pads. Yamaha Exlorer electronic drums. Roland sound module XV2010 or something. 4 track tape recorders, alesis compressor, TLA 5051 preamp. Depends whether this is a history of synths or musical gear. My 100 year old cello. Battered Levin acoustic guitar off my dad which I think has fallen apart now. Djembe and Darbuka, African hand drum – tourist variety, Concentina used to be my dads, various Hohner and Lee Oscar harmonicas. Session 8 – my first entry into digital recording – much better than casette stuff. Sony minidiscs and portable DATS.

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