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The A-Z of Analogue (Part 4)

This month: the Crumar Roadracer to the Dubreq Stylophone! Peter Forrest is your guide


MT's exclusive guide to every analogue synth made. Included are keyboards, expanders/sound modules and the better known electronic pianos and organs. Not included are drum machines, standalone sequencers and effects units, vocoders and those guitar/wind synths which aren't regularly used as expanders in their own right.

Readers are invited to submit details of little-known instruments which may be of use in compiling the series and also to point out any mistakes and/or omissions if these occur. All contributions will be fully credited. Compiled by Peter Forrest.

C


Crumar continued



ROADRACER

Velocity-sensitive, 61-note electronic piano. 1978 - c. 1982 Original price: £375
Target price: £40

  • Three piano presets plus bass.
  • Pitch control, vibrato speed and depth on front panel, underneath keys.
  • Hawaiian guitar effects with pitch slider.
  • Chorus effects.


ROADRUNNER I, II & III

61-note electronic pianos. 1977 - c.1983
Original price: c.£299
Target price: £30
Users include: Billy Preston, Mickey Virtue (UB40), Edgar Winter.

  • Original Roadrunner identical to Roadracer with the exception of touch sensitivity.
  • Roadrunner II featured re-designed panel, still three piano (normal, honky tonk, clavicord) and one bass sound plus variable speed chorus.
  • Roadrunner III featured different piano sounds - mellow, bright, and harps plus variable speed phaser.


ROADY

61-note electronic piano. 1979 - 1982
Original price: £349
Target price: £30 - £60

  • Three piano sounds (including fairish Rhodes and harpsichord impersonations), vibes, bass, mixable and splittable (bass over bottom two octaves).
  • Three separate outs.
  • lightweight for easy portability. (Hence the name?)


SPIRIT

37-note, 2-VCO monosynth with arpeggiator. Designed by one Robert Moog. 1983 - c.1986
Original price: £450
Target price: £100 - £150

  • One of the last monosynths ever to go into production.
  • Interesting but complicated and disorganised front panel, including ring mod, loads of LFO modulation possibilities, sample and hold, the arpeggiator, inversion of the ADSR envelope.
  • Filters possibly strongest point - switchable 12dB/24dB, high-pass, low-pass, and bandpass plus overdrive control to help it sound like a Moog.
  • Idiosyncratic terminology - shaper Y, red noise, etc.
  • Three modulation wheels.
  • Only one octave switch for both oscillators; but intervals may be set
  • Oscillator sync available as well.
Interface: ★★
VFM: ★★
Sounds: ★★★
Character: ★★
Controls: ★★
Collectability: ★★★
Memories:
Ease of use:


STRATUS

49-note string/brass/organ synthesiser. 1982 -1984
Original price: £499
Target price: £60 - £90

  • Slimmed down brother of the Trilogy.
  • Strings, poly/brass and organ mixable.
  • Single and multiple triggering switchable.
  • Two independent oscillators. Invertable envelopes. Joystick modulation control.
  • More 'synth' control than on previous multi-instrument keyboards.
Interface:
VFM:
Sounds:
Character:
Controls: ★★
Collectability:
Memories:
Ease of use:


STRINGMAN

61-note string synthesiser, c.1974 - c.1979
Original price: £406
Target price: £50
Users include: Keith Emerson

  • Violin, cello, contrabass imitations - contrabass on bottom 17 notes.
  • Vibrato amount and delay, chorus, 3-band EQ - mellow, medium, bright
  • Variable sustain and separate bass volume level.
Interface:
VFM:
Sounds:
Character:
Controls:
Collectability:
Memories:
Ease of use: ★★


SYNTHEPHONE

37-note monosynth with breath control. 1982 - c.1984
Original price: £179
Target price: £125

  • Controls on front edge, under keys.
  • Breath controller has good expressive potential.


T3

Two manual, 2 x 49-note organ with pedal board, c.1981
Original price: £1630
Target price: £140

  • Shorter keyboards than Organizer T2, but, surprisingly, more expensive.


TOCCATA

49-note electronic organ, c.1981
Original price: £329
Target price: £50

  • Eight presets to imitate the "eight most common" drawbar configurations.
  • 4' and 2' percussion (variable volume) and key-click (single or multiple trigger).
  • Two-speed Leslie imitations, including speed-up/slow-down.


TRILOGY

49-note poly/string/organ synth. 1981 - c. 1983
Original price: £799
Target price: £90 - £120

  • Unusual layout of controls - ADSR is down at left side of keyboard.
  • Organ controls: four horizontal footage sliders, top left of panel.
  • String controls: 8', 16' mixable, attack and release, tone.
  • Decent sounds, including seven presets.
  • Limited choice of waveforms - both oscillators the same - sawtooth, square, or mix.
  • Joystick control: up/down for modulation, left-right for pitch-bend.
  • Good, comprehensive LFO routing and control.
  • ADSR invertable.
Interface:
VFM: ★★
Sounds: ★★
Character:
Controls: ★★★
Collectability:
Memories:
Ease of use: ★★★




D


DGS



SPIDER

37-note, 3-VCO monophonic synthesiser made in Holland, c.1982

  • Sharply-angled rear panel like Minimoog.
  • Good interface patchbay on top edge of panel.
  • All white.




Davis



CLAVITAR

Remote guitar-shaped 37-note keyboard for controlling monophonic synthesisers.
Users include: George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Patrick Moraz



Davoli



DAVOLISINT

Users include: Sweet

DAVOLISINT B

c.1975
Original price: £232.

  • Improved version of Davolisint, with "far more features, only slightly increased price".


SINTACORD

c.1975
Original price: £280

SINTORCHESTRA




Dewtron



GIPSY

37-note, 2-VCO monophonic synth. c.1973
Original price: £468
Target price: £40 - £180

  • Vernier knobs for pitch, as in VCS3.
  • Mahogany case with telescopic legs.
  • Each oscillator has mixable sine, triangle and square waves.
  • Separate LFO, with variable depth and speed; portamento; spring reverb; ring modulator.
  • Only single AD envelope, routed to filter, VCA or VCO; very basic filter.
  • Claimed to be touch-sensitive, but note the small print: "...by careful setting of attack and decay times so that light-touch playing results in sensitive sounds, and heavy playing gives bold, rich sounds".
Interface:
VFM:
Sounds:
Character: ★★
Controls:
Collectability: ★★
Memories:
Ease of use:


MISTER BASSMAN

13-note pedal board, c.1969
Original price: £27.30

  • Two tones: string/organ.


VC

Audio module kits
Users include: Cabaret Voltaire

Interface: ★★★★
VFM:
Sounds:
Character: ★★★★
Controls: ★★★★★
Collectability: ★★★★
Memories:
Ease of use: ★★




Digisound



MOD 80

Modular kit system.
Original price (eg, Voice Card): £112
Target price: £50 - £80
Users include: The Orb, Wavestar
  • Kit built - thus very variable quality control on finished products, but easily repairable.
  • Complex modular system with tremendous control possibilities.
  • 9" x 3" modules include: VCO and VCLFO (13 in/out sockets each); Dual Envelope Generator - two ADSRs with gate, trigger and manual override; Dual Resonant Filter for elaborate and powerful band-pass filtering; Low and High VCFs; Dual VCA with 14 in/outs, and a lag processor/attenuator module (something often left out of more famous and expensive modular systems).
  • 9" x 9" modules include: complete 2-VCO Voice Card using Curtis chips.
  • Uses mini-jack patch leads, with no need for screened cable.
  • Easily interfaced with 1-volt/octave equipment, MIDI/CV convertors, etc.
Interface: ★★★★★
Sounds: ★★★★
Controls: ★★★★
Memories:
VFM: ★★★★
Character: ★★★
Collectability: ★★
Ease of use:




Dubreq



STYLOPHONE

Miniature, stylus-controlled monophonic 20-note instrument c.1968.
Original price: Unknown
Target price: £10 - £25
Users include: Rolf Harris, The Herd, Rick Wakeman (David Bowie: 'Space Oddity').

  • Rolf Harris used his on his television programme, subsequently endorsed it, and produced a demo record that was sold with it
  • It even made it to the Frankfurt Spring Fair 1969, where the makers were promising that treble and bass versions would be forthcoming.
  • Organ tone, with or without vibrato.
  • Built-in two-inch (5cm) speaker, and mini-jack output to external amp.
  • Distinctive, particularly in the glitches between notes as the stylus goes from one segment of the keyboard to the next
  • Glissandi a speciality.
Interface:
VFM:
Sounds:
Character: ★★★
Controls:
Collectability: ★★★
Memories:
Ease of use: ★★


STYLOPHONE 350S

Deluxe model with two styli. c.1974
Original price: £49
Target price: £20 - £40
Users include: Rod Argent
  • Three presets, vibrato and decay
  • Second stylus (used on left side panel of instrument) acts as modulator/re-iterator.
  • Presets switchable to 2', 4', 8' or 16'.
  • Much bigger (7" elliptical) built-in speaker.
Interface:
VFM:
Sounds:
Character: ★★★
Controls:
Collectability: ★★★
Memories:
Ease of use: ★★


Series

Read the next part in this series:
The A-Z of Analogue (Part 5)



Previous Article in this issue

Touching Bass

Next article in this issue

Dream Sequence


Music Technology - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

 

Music Technology - Nov 1993

Topic:

Vintage Instruments


Series:

The A-Z of Analogue

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 (Viewing) | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10


Feature by Peter Forrest

Previous article in this issue:

> Touching Bass

Next article in this issue:

> Dream Sequence


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