Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The loft beckons

We carried on making music after we went to uni, but the SS30 was used less and less.

Part of the problem was the condition of the keyboard. Both synths we bought we 'gigged' or bashed around, in other words. The Moog had/has a dent in the back and had lost quite a few slider caps. The SS30 was painted black and had had a few repairs to the keyboard. The issue with the keyboard was that it gave a rather uneven loudness for each note. Moving from one chord to the next could result in a sudden drop in volume. This was annoying but did give me an idea that I will discuss later.

Another problem for us was it's inherent lack of an interface. As a polyphonic keyboard it wasn't eligible for a trigger/CV interface which only works for monophonic keyboards and MIDI was a dream when it was built. The way we worked, as time became more of an issue, meant sequencing and playing back from MIDI rather than playing live was the norm and so the Strings was left in corner.

Finally it was just too flipping big. I never took it to uni' as it was far to big to cart around and was difficult to have set-up all the time anyway.

Eventually I bought a Yamaha CS1x and the immediate need for a cumbersome, poorly working strings keyboard all but vanished.

However, I'm not one to throw out working electronics and I didn't see much resale value in it. The only thing to do was keep it in the expectation that one day I would cure it's problems.

Post uni' I'd rented for a couple of years but (just before the price boom) me and my partner bought house. Time to clear out the last of the junk from my parents loft and put it in my own roof-space.

The SS30 will rest on it's end quite happily in a corner and had been in the garage for a couple of years not getting in anyone's way. By now I had a fairly good idea that I'd rack-mount the SS30 and attach MIDI interface of my own design (I'd studied electronics at uni). The keyboard and case were surplus to requirements plus getting it in the back of Nissan Micra along with all my other stuff was a problem. A cardboard box was found and the electronics were duly stripped out.

The case hung around for a few more years but eventually went skipwards. This was a probably a waste of good wood but regrets won't bring it back. The innards sat quietly in my new loft until I finally decreed 2004 the year of the SS30-M!

Monday, June 28, 2004

The golden years

So, we had a Yamaha SS30 or more accurately a Yamaha Strings SS-30. But what was it? The SS30 is a polyphonic, analogue strings keyboard. It recreates the sound of bowed string instruments namely violin, viola and cellos through analogue circuitry. I'll save a thorough description for later.

We used the SS30 for a couple of years before we packed off to university.

Here's an excerpt from a track we produced in around 1992

One Of Many

Back-story continued

Here's what the advert said we were going for...

And here's what we took home: A Yamaha SS30


A Realistic Moog MG-1. Not bad.



This Blog is intended to be a handy way for me to document my project to rack-mount and MIDI interface my Yamaha SS30. I could have just put this in to a Word document (I've already done some of this) but the Blog will allow me access my notes at work as well as home. Obviously having it published will also allow me to share my findings and will hopefully draw some helpful comments from anyone else reading it.

What's the story?

About 12 years ago me and my friend responded to a classified ad in our local paper. The advert simply said Mini Moog £25. Now £25 for a Minimoog is a steal. They were fetching up to £600 even then. Off we went only to find that this was not a Minimoog. "Ah! Now that's not a Minimoog is it?" I said, some what disappointed. The seller looked a bit put out by my observation perhaps thinking that the sale would fall through. What he had was a Realistic MG-1 made by Moog for Tandy (AKA Radioshack in the U.S.). Well, £25 was still a good deal but at the time we had a Korg MS10 and Moog Rogue on semi-permanent loan from our high school. Did we really need this thing considering it was pretty close to the Rogue anyway and we were already pooling meager resources to get this thing. Sensing our reticence the seller then suggested he'd throw this other keyboard into the deal. Enter the SS30. We didn't know what it was but it looked interesting so we took the long term view that we wouldn't have the school's synths for ever and took the pair of them home.


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