Friday, February 05, 2016

Pink Floyd's SS30 S/N 2167

Back again from another long hiatus.

There's no progress to report on the SS30-M today. I'm currently working on some Eurorack DIY but once that's done the rack mounted SS30- will be back to the top of my to-do list.

There was an interesting auction in the UK in December : ☆RARE Vintage YAMAHA SS30 Analogue String Synthesiser!☆ Ultravox, Visage!☆solina

 Rare to find in the UK! An original vintage euro/uk 1977 Yamaha SS30 Analogue String Synthesiser in great fully working condition! These were famous for being used heavily by Ultravox, Dave Formula from Magazine and Visage, and of course Simple Minds.

This instrument actually came from Pink Floyd's cache when they had a sell off of gear many years ago. I was told it was used on 'Animals'...whether that is true I cannot say..but there you go!

The SS30 is very unique sounding amongst string machines as it has two separate VCOs, one of which that can be detuned against the other one to create further chorus and phasing effects(together with the adjustable ensemble effect) This creates a lushness not found in comparable string synths..it also has a separate VCA on every note giving individual attack and release on each key. Most stringers have just one and are 'paraphonic' not multiphonic as in this case!

They are also very high quality an extremely well built in comparison to many other similar synths of the time.

 This sold for £950. You've got to love that cheeky 'solina' in the description! Also, note my coinage of 'multiphonic' in the description.

There were some lovely photos to go with the auction which I've saved for posterity.

Was the  SS30 used by the Floyd on Animals? It seems unlikely that it's on the recording. Animals was recorded mostly in 1976 and was released in January of 1977. So, unless they had access to an early model, it's just too soon for an SS30. Whereas the ARP Solina had been around since 1974. Moreover, everyone seems to think it was a Solina. This document lists all the keyboards used by Rick Wright with Pink Floyd.
The Solina String Ensemble model V was probably the first ARP synth to become a part of Wright’s rig, from 1974-75 onwards, and it was unofficially dubbed as ‘The Floyd's String Machine’.
There's never any mention of the SS30 being used by Pink Floyd at all (that I can find) till this auction. What is going on then? I guess that Yamaha were keen for their string machine to take a bite out of Solina's market and we know that they were giving SS30s away to bands, as Billy Curie of Ultravox states in an interview for G-Force Software. Although that was a bit later. I guess that Yamaha gave the band an SS30 hoping they would use it instead of their Solina, and maybe they did. I can't find any definite info on what Rick Wright was playing on the In The Flesh Tour later in 1977. Maybe they took it on the road. Maybe they used it when jamming but it never made it onto the recordings because they preferred the Solina. Or maybe it just wasn't documented. Pink Floyd are a very well documented and thoroughly researched band though, so it seems that whilst they may have owned an SS30 it was never part of their main set-up.

I found that auction through this link: http://www.thevintagemusician.com/vintage-find-of-the-week-yamaha-ss30/