ARP Avatar – Retroaktiv patch bay kit installation and the vintage synth modding controversy

ARP Avatar with Retroaktiv “Modular Patch Bay Kit”

This was a pretty big mod project that Darian finished a few weeks ago on an ARP Avatar, the ARP guitar synth which is mostly just a keyboardless Odyssey with a bunch of guitar-processing junk that no one cares about. That’s just a fact. Anyway, several years ago New England Analog developed this kit to break out a lot of the CV input points and modulation sources of the synth’s architecture to 1/8″ jacks mounted on a single long PCB, and now that New England Analog has closed, a new version of the kit is available from Retroaktiv. Continue reading “ARP Avatar – Retroaktiv patch bay kit installation and the vintage synth modding controversy”

Moog Sonic Six

Moog Sonic Six
Moog Sonic Six

The Moog Sonic Six came out the same year as the Minimoog Model D and was actually developed as the Sonic V by a company called Musonics which  purchased the financially struggling R. A. Moog Company in 1970. After the merger, the Moog team did some tweaks on the synth and released it as the Sonic VI or Sonic Six.  Continue reading “Moog Sonic Six”

Sequential Circuits Prophet 600 – Gligli Upgrade

Sequential Circuits Prophet 600
Sequential Circuits Prophet 600

This Prophet 600 was brought in for a Gligli P600FW upgrade, which is a CPU/firmware upgrade using a Teensy ++ microcontroller board. It offers improved resolution for all parameters (128 values instead of like, 15 or 7!), a new LFO just for vibrato, arpeggiator MIDI sync and more, which you can read about here. The firmware is generously offered for free by the developer and in order to install it, we procure a Teensy 2++ board, do some modification to the Teensy, flash the firmware onto via USB, and install it in the Prophet 600 in place of the original Z80 CPU. We can do this mod for only about $100 including parts. Continue reading “Sequential Circuits Prophet 600 – Gligli Upgrade”

Moog Multimoog

Moog Multimoog synthesizer
Moog Multimoog

Should I be embarassed to admit I had never heard of the Multimoog until this one showed up on our doorstep? The Multimoog was a Moog monosynth made between 1978 and 1981 and I’m not sure I understand how it was intended to fit into the Moog product line, or what is “multi” about it.  Continue reading “Moog Multimoog”

SIEL DK-600

SIEL DK-600 synthesizer
SIEL DK-600

This is a really good one. SIEL was an Italian company that always quite clearly had their own way of doing things. It is a 6-voice DCO polysynth with the ability to make just beautiful, delicate, lush tones. The square wave can go so low that it just sounds like a lawn mower in the distance. That’s not a very useful feature, but for some reason it always delights me when I encounter it. Continue reading “SIEL DK-600”

5 Underrated ’80s Polysynths (that you can get for under $1000)

50 underrated 80s polysynths

Here’s another article I wrote for Reverb.com, devised as a sort of year-end-list for 2017, profiling my favorite vintage polysynths I’ve worked on that can still be had for under $1000. This one’s for all of you who feel like you can’t afford to own a cool vintage synth. Some of these can be found for as little as $300!

siel dk-80 synthesizer

“Kiwi-8P” Roland JX-8P Upgrade (and a Kiwi 106)

"Kiwi 8P" upgraded Roland JX-8P
“Kiwi 8P” upgraded Roland JX-8P

I did the Kiwi 8P upgrade on this Roland JX-8P this week and just by coincidence did a Kiwi 106 just last week as well. These are very deep and powerful synth upgrades designed by a New Zealand-based company called Kiwitechnics, and they have similar ones available for a few other 80s polysynths. Continue reading ““Kiwi-8P” Roland JX-8P Upgrade (and a Kiwi 106)”

new Buchla Music Easel – intermittent or “dead” touch keys?

Buchla Music Easel
Buchla Music Easel

Here’s a PSA about something we learned from a Buchla Music Easel (the new version) that we didn’t end up having to fix. We were told this Easel had an issue where sometimes, one or two of the keys on the touch keyboard just wouldn’t work. Continue reading “new Buchla Music Easel – intermittent or “dead” touch keys?”

Farfisa Combo Compact (#3?)

Farfisa Compact Combo
Farfisa Compact Combo

We now have a waiting list for big instruments that won’t fit on our work table like combo organs, Wurlitzers and Rhodes pianos because we only have room to work on one of them at a time. So if you have a big instrument like this that you’d like us to work on any time in the next several months, it might be wise to get in touch now so you can get into the queue. We’re currently scheduling them out into April already. Continue reading “Farfisa Combo Compact (#3?)”