All Buttons and Keys Work
March 28, 2017 2:28 PM   Subscribe

 
Two weeks ago, I chanced upon an unmarked synth repair shop just around the corner from my office. The non-descript door was open, and two guys were outside shooting the shit. I glanced in and did a double-take--yes, that was a vintage Steiner-Parker Synthacon just inside the door. One of the guys grinned, asked me if I liked synths, introduced himself as Rob and invited me into his workshop through a door marked "DANGEROUS FUMES AND CHEMICALS IN USE." Rob's workshop contained dozens of vintage analog keyboard instruments—many of them brands I'd never even heard of, like Octave and Crumar, in addition to the usual Rolands, ARPs and Moogs. Even though the instruments were all powered down, stored in upright shelving, and in various states of disassembly, I could sense their potential and their readiness to play again.

I tell you, for a certain type of synthesizer, beast is the correct word.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:39 PM on March 28, 2017 [22 favorites]


Oh my god, this is a brilliant use of tumblr.

I can't search my old craigslist postings, but I'm positive I've called a synth a 'beast' before. I'm part of the problem. I've never gendered them as female though, that's just creepy.
posted by naju at 2:43 PM on March 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


People Who Call Synths "Beasts."

That's just uncalled for: Hester maybe, but the rest are lovely people. Even Niska.
posted by leotrotsky at 3:13 PM on March 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


I have a DSI keyboard (an Evolver). It has 78 (at last count, but they multiply) knobs which need to be cleaned frequently. I see nothing wrong with calling it a beast.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:13 PM on March 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Sometimes when I say "beast" it sounds like "the goddamned knobs need to be cleaned again", though.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:15 PM on March 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


I sold my Poly Evolver pretty much entirely because the knobs were poorly functioning due to too much dust, and my attempts to clean them didn't seem to help. Lovely, otherworldly instruments, but the non-pot edition Evolvers are just horrible with this problem!
posted by naju at 3:34 PM on March 28, 2017


infinitewindow, your office isn't in L.A., is it? I have Juno-60 that's in need of repair (at least I think it does).
posted by dogstoevski at 3:43 PM on March 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I was given an Ensoniq ESQ-1 from 1986 in near-pristine condition (aside from needing a battery replacement) when someone was moving. It's a wavetable synth, but the rest of the path is all analog, and it sounds beautiful.

I managed to fuck up the key contact spring when I was replacing a functioning, but cosmetically damaged key. I sort of fixed it, and it works. For now. But someday that spring will break and I will have to learn how to desolder the broken one and solder on a new one without killing the keybed in the process. It also weighs like 30 pounds.

I call it a beast because it haunts me.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:45 PM on March 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


The only synthesizers worthy of being called beasts are the giant fucking Moog Modulars like Keith Emerson used to play. If your synthesizer cannot potentially crush you to death when you're playing it, it's not a beast.
posted by SansPoint at 3:50 PM on March 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I guess dying of deoxit inhalation isn't good enough for you
posted by Wolfdog at 3:57 PM on March 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


The ads are kinda funny. I'm not sure if the guy's opinions are a put-on? His opinions kinda suck.
posted by atoxyl at 4:09 PM on March 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


Yeah craigslist music ads are like picking slim fish from a barrel.
posted by kittensofthenight at 4:22 PM on March 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


they're all beasts, including that mictrobrute - i demo'd that through an amp at guitar center and thought it was going to blow it up

i have one now - watch out

oh, dear - "You’re right. There’s so much a DX7 is capable of. It can do glassy electric pianos, trebley electric pianos, crisp electric pianos, tinny electric pianos ... etc etc etc"

fool - there are settings on a dx7 that can change the DNA of every living thing within a 1/4 mile

agents are coming to your neighborhood

i hope you enjoy life as a newt
posted by pyramid termite at 5:12 PM on March 28, 2017 [13 favorites]


I totally thought this was a Fallout 4 thread.
posted by hanov3r at 5:23 PM on March 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if the guy's opinions are a put-on? His opinions kinda suck.

I'm giving this Tumblrite the benefit of the doubt and imagining that the tumblr is also a parody of That Synth Guy who thinks everything that's not either his preferred synth or his dream synth sucks.

(The proprietor of the site actually got in touch with me on tumblr to ask if I knew why so many people were following it all of a sudden.)
posted by infinitewindow at 5:48 PM on March 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


dogstoevski, check yr MeMail :)
posted by infinitewindow at 5:52 PM on March 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm giving this Tumblrite the benefit of the doubt and imagining that the tumblr is also a parody of That Synth Guy who thinks everything that's not either his preferred synth or his dream synth sucks.

I thought it might be because he seems to go out of his way to talk shit about every single one. I just wasn't completely sure because that guy kinda does exist?
posted by atoxyl at 7:32 PM on March 28, 2017


Vintage keyboards are kinda like vintage automobiles: in that they're evil. They're heavy, they're inefficient, sometimes they smell odd, sometimes they're over-priced, but they also have this weird, ineffable, indescribable aura to them which makes them distinctive in the modern world. That's what I call a beast: an interesting but evil old keyboard.
posted by ovvl at 7:33 PM on March 28, 2017


This is fantastic. Next, I'd like a compilation of magazine ads that refer to the amount of low end that a bass guitar produces as "punishing."

As an aside, those encoders on the evolver were awful. They sent me a tube of de-oxit to clean them (as well as a couple spare encoders for, I guess, when they eventually become uncleanable), but it was a chore. It sounded great, but I sold it before it got so bad that it was unsellable.

My Moog Sub37 — now THAT'S a beast.
posted by jonathanhughes at 8:18 PM on March 28, 2017


Went to snark, ended up laughing. I may have called a synth a beast before.
posted by bongo_x at 9:19 PM on March 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I was willing to cut these people some slack, but the person that called the Casio MT540 a beast? Do words have no meaning?
posted by bongo_x at 10:02 PM on March 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


they are beasts in that they are temperamental animals that need lots of love and care
posted by speicus at 12:25 AM on March 29, 2017


If your synthesizer cannot potentially crush you to death when you're playing it, it's not a beast.

You have no idea how much I want a synthesizers.com system to completely dominate my living room and pose a serious danger to me and my loved ones in the event of an earthquake.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:35 AM on March 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


"My other living room is a Moog Patch."
posted by wildblueyonder at 5:32 AM on March 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


Vintage keyboards are kinda like vintage automobiles: in that they're evil. They're heavy, they're inefficient, sometimes they smell odd, sometimes they're over-priced, but they also have this weird, ineffable, indescribable aura to them which makes them distinctive in the modern world. That's what I call a beast: an interesting but evil old keyboard.


My CS-30's ears are burning. Its smelly ears. Whenever i turn it on, the missus sprints in to check what's on fire. "are the smoke alarms broken?"
posted by Zerowensboring at 5:59 AM on March 29, 2017


Snarky he is, but he is also right. A Korg Volca Bass just isn't a beast.
posted by jonnay at 6:31 AM on March 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


fool - there are settings on a dx7 that can change the DNA of every living thing within a 1/4 mile

Also, they're indispensable for anyone forming a band that only covers Sega Genesis music.
posted by Jpfed at 9:02 AM on March 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


I must confess that I have called my synth a "beast", because it certainly FEELS beastly when it's square-waving away with an LFO on the filter resonance and all that, but, at least, there's this: I've never called it an "axe".
posted by crotchety old git at 9:34 AM on March 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


I heard it is hard to find DX-7s because Trent Reznor used them for controllers, and smashed them as part of the show
posted by thelonius at 9:35 AM on March 29, 2017


Yeah, Volcas and Pocket Operators are fun little toys and I'm having a blast discovering them and criminey the price is right, but they're definitely not beasts.
posted by Kyol at 9:52 AM on March 29, 2017


thelonius: he was doing us all a service, then.
posted by SansPoint at 9:55 AM on March 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


he was doing us all a service, then.

Why do you hate 80's power ballads?

I'm old enough to have experienced "OMG this thing is amazing" to "OMG, not a DX7" to "I don't know what to do with this thing, it was free" to "I wonder where I can find a DX7 for a reasonable price?"
posted by bongo_x at 11:02 AM on March 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


They made a couple hundred thousand DX7s - I don't think Trent could have made that much of a dent. They might be less dirt cheap than they once were due to nostalgia value. You can find lots of the other Yamaha FM synths dirt cheap, especially the rack versions.

FM is really much easier to program in software though. In case you didn't know - there are fancier FM plugins but that's the most accurate DX7 and it's free.
posted by atoxyl at 11:42 AM on March 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


i got my dx7 for 89 bucks because it had a broken key - but hey, that's what midi's for

i also have a tx81z and a sy77 and a volca dx, just because

and lots of romplers - i have to thank all the people who've snarked at romplers like the roland jv1080 and the emu 2k series becuase they've made my hardware affordable in the last 5 years

and they are very programmable and very underrated

and yes, dexed is cool
posted by pyramid termite at 1:10 PM on March 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


I got a tx81z too. I might have an emergency need for Lately Bass when a sample won't do, because that's reasonable, right? I haven't really had room for another BEAST, and don't really love FM, but who knows, doesn't mean I won't get a DX7 at some point.

I didn't know about dexed though somehow, thanks.
posted by bongo_x at 2:35 PM on March 29, 2017


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