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Showing posts from March, 2018

Korg Poly-800 (Moog Slayer Filter And Battery Mod)

I’m trying to improve my electronics skills. I thought modding might be the logical next step from changing internal batteries and swapping out tactile switches. I’d like to add MIDI to my Korg Poly-61 and maybe improve the MIDI on my Roland JX-3P. These mods require skills above and beyond what I have now, and I certainly don’t want to wreck them in the process, so when a cheap Poly-800 became available on Yahoo Auctions, I snapped it up in the hopes of trying the Moog Slayer Filter Mod. As anyone who’s looked at a Poly-800 knows, there are no knobs on the front panel, just a few buttons and a lot of teal. I couldn’t do much about the teal but I could add two knobs to bring direct control of the filter and cutoff parameters to the fore. Seeing as it’s a Poly-800, and they sell for around $100 in Japan, I wouldn’t be too disappointed if I killed it. I could always sell it for parts and get my money back anyway. Cosmetically, my new Poly-800 wasn’t in terrible shape. There was so

Roland Juno-106 (Part 2 - Bath Time)

After much deliberation , I decided to send the voice chips to Synth Spa in America to be refurbished. I like that Allen stands behind his work with an 8-year guarantee. His prices are also reasonable. But mostly, with all there is to do on this restoration, I’m going to need a good sounding synth to keep me motivated in the days ahead. According to their site , Synth Spa only takes in new work via eBay these days. I did a search on eBay for Synth Spa and two entries came up, and both are for the 106 voice chip restoration. One is slightly more expensive. It’s a little hard to tell the difference but the more expensive one seems to be aimed at the gigging musician. Perhaps the ICs are slotted in a more secure way. But really, I’m not sure. I chose the cheaper version and a few hours later, I received instructions via email to remove the board and send it through the mail. The instructions looked easy enough—just disconnect cables and unscrew the board from the base of the synth

Yamaha TX81Z (or how I learned to stop worrying and love FM)

I’m not an FM guy. Some people love FM. It tickles their fancy. Not me. To me, it sounds sterile and sharp, like a scalpel. A highly polished scalpel dipped in antiseptic. Me, I prefer analog. It’s fuzzy and woolly and warm, like a forest animal. Or like a blanket. Or a hug. Of course, I’m exaggerating but you get the idea. We all have our preferences and mine tend towards analog. I like the smeary softness of analog. It reminds me of my childhood in the ‘70s and growing up in the ‘80s. That would be the early ‘80s, before our lives were blackened by the coming of the dreaded DX7. Of course, I’m exaggerating again. I may prefer analog but I’m also a fan of synthesizers in general, and there’s something to be said for having a variety of sounds at your disposal. The song needs what it needs. Also, digital sounds can be surprisingly easy to slot into a full mix. Surgical. Precise. FM. My first brush with frequency modulation came a few years ago when a friend offered me an old DX

Roland Juno-106 (Part One - Damage Report)

I had no intention of buying another synth, let alone a money-suck like a Juno-106, but there it was on Yahoo Auctions for only $500. I couldn’t resist, especially when the seller had it listed as “no voice chip issues.” Ha! More on that later. I’ve been wanting a Juno-106 for ages to replace the one I sold in 2001 when I was "downsized" and needed money to pay the rent. It was probably my favorite synth of my old studio, which also included a Sequential Circuits Prophet 600, Korg Mini-Korg 700, and a Realistic Concertmate MG-1. Of course the Juno sounded great, but I also found it to be a reliable workhouse that could handle pretty much whatever I threw at it: bass duties, filter sweep pads, effects. The fact that I associate the 106 with reliability will tell you how long ago that was. This was before the great 80017A VCF/VCA IC die-off. My new 106 arrived in a light gig bag with just a thin layer of bubble wrap between it and the elements.  I’m talking no box at all.