I’ve been surprised by how many people have seemed to enjoy reading the Bell Tone Synth Works blog and now feel bad that it has been neglected so much in recent months. So what happened to the blog? Basically, the blog is a victim of its own success. I started the blog when I started the business and didn’t have many clients, to sort of get our name out there, make our site more findable on Google and prove to prospective clients that I knew what I was doing, aware that as a somewhat young woman working in a field undeniably dominated by middle-aged and older men, my knowledge and skills might be met with skepticism, conscious or subconscious. I also wanted to store my notes on my repairs somewhere so that I could refer to them later, and figured I might as well put them where other people could find them too.
Now, partly thanks to the blog and our YouTube channel but also to a great extent due to word of mouth and our growing reputation for doing good work (which is great), we have so much demand for our work that I often feel like I can’t spare the time it takes to write here.
One thing we find in almost every 1980s Roland we work on is crumbly, dirty “dust shields” or “dust protectors” on the sliders (aka faders) of the panel board. These gaskets were cut from thin black EVA foam sheets and were meant to protect the sliders from dust. However, 35 years later, they have dried out and are falling apart, their fragments actually falling into the sliders and making their crackly and intermittent behavior much worse.
I worked on this Korg Trident shortly after it had been serviced by a well respected tech, but it had been shipped home to Philadelphia and was unfortunately damaged in transit… a tragic event considering it was in great condition and was apparently working perfectly. The owner repaired the physical damage to the wood end pieces but took it to us because the manual controls and the piano / clavinet presets for the synthesizer section were inoperable. Continue reading “Korg Trident MKI”
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”
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”
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”
Crumar’s T1 is a surprisingly nice 70’s drawbar organ that used the latest octave divider chips that were present in a lot of keyboards of that era. An additional feature that makes it more useful than your average organ is the addition of a very rich, fuzzy bass synth voice that can be added to the lower octaves of the keyboard. The synth voice has a basic resonant filter and a decay envelope that you have some control over. The organ voices sort of drop out in the bass section, so it really helps add a thick low end that would otherwise be lost. It also has a really nice LFO that can be applied as both a tremolo and a vibrato and the speed is controlled with a rotary pot.
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”
One of my main pieces of advice to anyone learning to fix vintage synths is to never underestimate the likelihood that whatever problem your synth has is just because of cold solder joints. Continue reading “Juno 60 (#4)”
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”