Category Synthesizers

Roland JX-8P Synthesizer

The one I found was a little road worn. It had one dead key, another couple of keys that were sluggish, and the volume slider needs some help (it only goes to 1/4 volume or to 11). Even with the dead key it can still be controlled fully via MIDI – which is how I normally control these synths anyway. And, when I record, the volume is cranked to send the most signal through the lines. So, a couple pretty easy fixes which aren’t even a priority for me.

Parts of this machine are pretty worn so I might do some custom work to it. I normally avoid doing major cosmetic changes but anything I do to this thing will be an improvement at this point. Perhaps a total paint job – Bright Red! I’m not sure yet. I need to crack it and see how the guts look first.

She’s a tired old girl but she sounds good ...

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Roland JX-3P Synthesizer

Ran across this nice little fellow at a good price. I am the second owner.

Insert super-duper specs..
Polyphony – 6 voices
Oscillators – 2 DCO’s per voice
Memory – 32 preset, 32 user
Filter – Resonant Low pass
Effects – Chorus
Arpeg/Seq – Simple Sequencer
Keyboard – 61 keys
Control – MIDI (no velocity except with a special ROM upgrade)
Date Produced – 1983

Acquired: 2009

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Roland JP8000 Synthesizer

I love my JP8000! Knobs, sliders, blinky lights. If only it had a shiny black metal case.

Acquired: 2007

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Roland Juno 106 Synthesizer

The classic Juno 106.

My 106 was in great shape when I bought it slightly used at a fair price around 1998. Sadly, it took a spill off the back of a keyboard rack, slid down the wall and by the time it reached the floor it lost several sliders. Thanks to the Interwebs I found a fellow in Hong Kong who had several aftermarket parts for the Juno 106. I ordered my replacement sliders (as well as a couple for future repairs). I also bought a fancy clear plastic pitch bender backlighted by a couple blue LED’s.

The guts of the Juno 106

Another shot of the Juno 106 guts

Funky blue LED pitch bend installed on the Juno 106

How many times have you said to yourself "Glarble!! It is dark and I can not find the pitch bend on my Juno 106!" - I shall never utter those words again.

UPDATE 2010.10.06:...

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Roland D-50 Synthesizer

This synth was used on the song I Am Energy (bass and bouncy synth sounds)

I bought my Roland D-50 new in 1987. I was the first out of that music store with one. I may have also been first in town to get one because none of the other music stores had them in yet.

This has been my all time favourite synth to date. Once you get your brain wrapped around programming “Linear Arithmetic” Synthesis, the sky is the limit. This is also the main keyboard I use for synth sound MIDI programming. The action is really smooth, the bender and modulation has nice control and the aftertouch is very expressive.

Over the years this machine has held up really well. It’s been hammered on in the studio, been on many stages at a number of shows, packed around in the back of cars...

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Korg X5D Synthesizer

I bought this via the Interwebs from a rocker dude who thought it was called a symp. For being such a small keyboard it really makes some cool sounds.

Tech Notes:

Reset to factory defaults: Global mode page 05A.

The special “Communication Terminal” on the back of the X5D and connecting cable is really an 8-pin MiniDIN to serial. If for some reason you want to build one of these cables, download and install the special software from Korg, and connect your X5D to your computer via serial connector (why?) here is how.

The pin outs (from the outside) are as follows.
D-SUB 9-pin
5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1
9 – 8 – 7 – 6

Mini DIN 8-pin
6 – 7 – 8
3 – 4 – 5
1 – 2

DIN 3 to Dsub 2
DIN 4 to Dsub 5
DIN 5 to Dsub 3
Jump pins 7 and 8 on Dsub

Specs in the city:

  • Sound Generation Method: AI2 (Advanced In...
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    Korg Wavestation EX Synthesizer

    A Korg classic. Along the same lines as a Roland D-50. It can be cheezy or you can program your own sounds and it can become quite expressive. I’m a big fan of this synth outside of the crappy little display.

    Spec-tabulus information below…

    • Sound sources: Advanced Vector Synthesis
    • Voices: 32 Voices, 32 Oscillators
    • Keyboard: 61 Keys, halfweighted with aftertouch and velocity
    • Effects: 2 Mastereffects, 47 Programs available
    • Presets: 150 Performances internal + 50 on card, 105 patches + 35 on card
    • Controllers: Joystick, pitch wheel, modulation wheel, 2 programmable foot pedals/triggers
    • Outputs: 1/L/MONO, 2/R, 3, 4, phones
    • Display: 64 x 240 pixels
    • Weight: 12,5 KG
    • Measurements: 1000 mm (W) x 350 mm (D) x 110 mm (H)

    Acquired: 1987

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    Korg Poly-61 Synthesizer

    The Korg Poly-61 was released in 1982 as the successor to the Polysix. It’s the first synth that adopted what KORG calls “Digital Access Control” user interface that is also used in POLY-800. I answered an advert which was offering two of these (one working, one not). The working one works well except for the dead backup battery. (A little tech note: This uses a 3.6 battery. A standard 3v 2032 won’t work. I tried it hoping it was just enough juice.)

    The non-working Poly-61 was a victim of backup battery leak. It’s kind of a mess inside.

    Polyriffic spec-o-meg-a-rama…

    • Polyphony – 6 Voices
    • Oscillators – DCO1:sawtooth, pulse, and square; DCO-2: sawtooth, square
    • LFO – 1 LFO can modulate the DCOs or the Filter
    • Filter – 1 lowpass filter w/ ADSR
    • Memory – 64 patches
    • VCA – ADSR
    • Keyboard – 61 keys
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    Kurzweil PC-88 MIDI controller / Piano

    This synth was used on the song What’s That You Said? (Bass sound)

    A big, heavy beast. Solid and well build. The Kurzweil piano sounds and the action of a real piano sold me on this unit. Little did I know I’d use some of the other sounds as well. The jazz bass sounds are quite nice.

    Look Ma,. mo’ specs.
    88-note, two-piece weighted keyboard with mono pressure.


    • Pitch wheel,
    • modulation wheel,
    • 4 front panel sliders,
    • 3 front panel switches (momentary or toggle, software selectable),
    • 4 continuous control pedal inputs,
    • 2 footswitch inputs,
    • mono pressure.

    MIDI: Transmits on 4 channels, Receives on 16 channels. In, Out, Thru (hardware switchable to copy of MIDI Out).
    Max Polyphony: 64, dynamically allocated.

    Acquired: 1998

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    Ensoniq Fizmo Synthesizer

    This synth was used on the song Decomputerization (The main synth groove sound)

    This is a fun machine to noodle around on. It’s a bit digital-thin on most the sounds it makes, but it can make an interesting array of sounds. I’m very careful with this synth as it feels cheaply made. The buttons are a bit clunky and the readout seems like it will stop any day now. In fact, the little LCD readout pretty much sucks. Outside of that, I love this machine.

    Specs! Specs! Get yer specs here….

    • Polyphony – 48 voices
    • Oscillators – 4 MB of 16-bit internal wave ROM, featuring Transwaves 58 waveforms
    • LFO Time – 8 LFO’s (7 waveform choices, can sync to Arpeggiator or external MIDI clock)
    • Filter – Resonant LP & BP 4 pole filters.
    • Effects – 41 digital VLSI 24-bit effects
      • 8 Global Reverbs,
      • Chorus,
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