Test Report on: Galanti 'Instastring'
Date: August 1975. £319.44 ex VAT
This impressive machine is designed to be used in a band or group environment and is eminently suitable for combo or organ/doubling applications.
Having tried all the string synthesizers on the market at the present time, I found that they all have good and bad points. If you compare them with a large synthesizer like a Modular Moog, they are very basic, but the large machines are not suitable for stage use because they need complicated setting-up before each part is played. This leaves a wide area where a smaller machine costing as little as possible can fill a useful role.
The Galanti "Instastring" is extremely good value for money and is very nearly as good as some machines costing twice as much.
Quite a good synthesiser of a real solo-violinist and the top register gives a nice string ensemble effect.
The best of the voices, the Cello is very realistic indeed.
Not at all like a live trumpet player, but has a very nice "Trumpet" voice similar to that emanating from a large pipe-organ, but with a most unusual "phasing"effect which many people could find very useful.
This voice did not impress me at all, but it does give an extra tonal effect which could be useful to have. The tone is rather stringy and has the timbre of a harpsichord played softly.
Some very pleasant sounds are created by using the Violin and Cello together, and by combining the Cello and Trumpet.
The Tuba sounded very happy when used in conjunction with the Cello.
Any of the four voices can be combined to give a lot of different tones, all of which sound bright and dean.
No vibrato control is supplied because the "ensemble" effect is caused by, if my ear tells me correctly, a phase-shift type phasing effect operating at a set speed.
This is possibly why the trumpet has such an unusual sound, but it is a good way of getting an out-of-phase sound from one set of generators without undertaking techniques which are prohibitively expensive.
The attack control does exactly what its name implies. You can set it to give a very slow, non-percussive, turn-on of a note or chord and at the extreme setting quite a noticeable delay between the note being depressed and any appreciable amplitude being attained occurs.
At the other extreme, the attack is still quite slow, and a minor criticism would be that you are not able to get enough attack to play very fast passages and no pizzicato effect is available.
The Decay cycle is controlled by another slide-potentiometer which gives, in organ parlance, a "sustain". The control available is wide and comes into effect only after a note or chord is released.
A slide potentiometer is fitted on the control panel which can be used to set the volume of signal available on the two output sockets which are labelled Hi. and Lo. outputs.
In addition, the Instastring comes with an expression pedal which plugs into the jack socket marked Exp. on the back of the instrument.
Neither of these controls seemed to affect the tone of the instrument at all and are therefore purely volume controls.
An exceptionally wide tuning facility is provided on the pitch control, which is conveniently situated on the control panel. Starting from an 'A=440 Hz.' setting, I managed to drop the overall pitch by an augmented fifth interval and, from the same starting point, raised it by a major 3rd interval, giving a total adjustment of 14 semitones.
Some very interesting effects become possible through this pitch variety and I'm sure that, with a little experimenting, the musician could learn to use this "Glissando "effect as a sound effect.
A single 49 note keyboard.
220v. 50/60 Hertz.
The mains cable was wired directly into the instrument and a 250 m.A. Slo-Blo type cartridge fuse was fitted to the back panel. A very useful cable pocket into which you can place the cable during the dreaded "humping" which most group and band equipment undergoes is also fitted.
The Mains switch is fitted to the little panel on the right hand end of the keyboard and sports a nice bright indicator light built into the switch itself.
As previously mentioned, normal jack sockets fitted on a panel at the other end of the instrument to the mains lead, thus minimising the possibility of mains pick-up on the screened leads going to the power amplifier.
No legs are fitted to the Instastring but two plastic blocks underneath have serrated bottoms which appear to be designed to sit on a table or another instrument and have quite a good grip. This should stop it sliding off at an inopportune moment.
The main chassis is mounted on a chipboard base and two veneered end cheeks, which I suspect are also made of chipboard, give it a nice stylish appearance.
The top panel looks as though it is made of anodised aluminium and has an attractive pattern in old gold on it.
The mains-lead and jack-socket panels have a sensible black plastic surround which should ensure that the all important connecting facilities do not suffer accidental damage easily.
Well worth the price and certainly likely to cause the other string-synthesizer people to look at their prices again.
The lack of attack means it is not really suitable as a lead-instrument.
One of the particularly nice things about this instrument is the very low level of extraneous noise, which make it suitable for use with high power amplifiers.
I found no "faults" on the machine I tested, which was chosen from the stock of an unsuspecting retailer.
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