The MemoryMoog (Plus): American Monster Polysynth

The development and release of the Moog MemoryMoog (and MemoryMoog Plus) was the last gasp of the Moog company in the 80s. Around 1980, the two younger American synth companies, Sequential Circuits and Oberheim, were thriving, putting out one new synth after another. By the time the Memorymoog came out, SCI and Oberheim had already released multiple true polysynths. The Japanese companies were cranking out one new polysynth after another. The two remaining from the old guard of major American synth companies, ARP and Moog, were acutely aware of the serious market pressure to put out polysynths of their own. Each had already barfed out a big, cumbersome, paraphonic psuedo-poly (the ARP Quadra and the Polymoog, respectively) but it was REALLY time for them to get their act together, hire some programmers and design a true polysynth with digital voice assignment and control.

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“Don’t be that guy”

Roland CSQ-600: in which the tech replaced the NiCad memory battery but installed the replacement battery in a ziploc bag ziptied to the mains wiring.

One interesting thing about restoring vintage synths is that almost every instrument that we work on has been worked on by another tech at least once before. And it seems that more often than not, those other techs were… not great. We see a lot of bad work, but my favorite examples also feature a very special element of absurdity. Here are some recent highlights:

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ARP Axxe (#2) – repair tips for all ARPs

ARP Axxe
ARP Axxe

It’s been almost a year since I began working on the first ARP Axxe I restored, and I was amazed by how much more smoothly this second one went, though it’s not really surprising as I have worked on over 70 synths including a half dozen other ARPs in the year since then. Continue reading “ARP Axxe (#2) – repair tips for all ARPs”

Desoldering Tutorial: Tools, Techniques and Helpful Tips

the frikkin desoldering gauntlet

I would say that desoldering is much harder than soldering. It took me a couple weeks to get good at soldering and several years to get good at desoldering, partly because I didn’t used to do it as often when I first got into electronics, just building circuits from kit PCBs and schematics. Working on old synths though, I have to desolder all kinds of things constantly from different kinds of boards and have refined my techniques pretty well, so I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned here. Continue reading “Desoldering Tutorial: Tools, Techniques and Helpful Tips”

Roland Juno 106 (#6)

Roland Juno 106

After I finished actually working on this Juno, I finally caved in to my perverse scientific curiosity and decided to see if I could use parts from a few half-failed Juno chips (ones from various Juno 106s I’ve worked on, that weren’t fully restored by the soaking/stripping process) to create some fully-functioning ones. Continue reading “Roland Juno 106 (#6)”

Roland Jupiter 6 – calibration tips

Roland Jupiter 6
Roland Jupiter 6

The Jupiter 6 is one of Roland’s two most beloved 80’s polysynths, the other being the Jupiter 8. While I was looking for service documents for the Jupiter 6 though, I came across some absurdly aggressive forum posts from people who don’t like this synth and are pointlessly mad that a lot of other people like it a lot. Continue reading “Roland Jupiter 6 – calibration tips”

a DCO is not a digital oscillator

VCO vs. DCO vs. Digital Oscillator

I keep hearing and seeing people referring to DCOs as digital oscillators, which is not correct, and a sad insult to DCOs in my opinion as a lover of DCO synths. So I decided to fight misinformation by making a post here explaining the actual difference between VCOs, DCOs and digital oscillators. Continue reading “a DCO is not a digital oscillator”