What’s Old is New Again.

Keyboard Setup Based on Vintage RMI 300B “Electra-Piano”

Remember me saying that Tom, the guy who sold me the Pax tape echo chamber is pretty cool?  Well … periodically he texts me links to good local deals on second-hand gear.  He seems to know exactly what kind of equipment I’m interested in, and he has a real nose for good deals.  I have added him to my contact list as “Tommy Tape Echo”.

A little over a month ago, he tipped me off to this really cool vintage keyboard from RMI (“Rocky Mount Instruments”).  I picked it up from a guy in Oakville that day for a couple hundred bucks.  Then, a few weeks later, when I finally got together with my experimental jam band, I put together a setup that looked like this (click the image to enlarge):

Retro Keyboard Setup

Korg MS-20 (Kit), Arturia Microbrute, Mackie 402 Mixer, EHX Small Clone Phase Shifter, Boss RE-20 Space Echo Pedal. All supported by the monstrous RMI 300B "Electra Piano"

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Yamaha SY35 Synthesizer – Downloadable Service Manual Now Available

Yamaha SY35 Vector SynthesizerAs promised, here’s the hard-to-find manual for Yamaha’s last Vector synth.

Yamaha sent it to me as 4 separate PDFs (Service Manual, MIDI Implementation, Parts List, Expanded big PCB pages), plus a monster-sized TIFF of the schematic. They didn’t want anything for it, and they didn’t ask any questions. I assembled the files into a single PDF, then used the the web-based Compress PDF to reduce the file size (to 6.5 MB, down from about 12 MB).

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Yamaha SY35 repairs …

The Non-Hunt for Synth Parts

Yamaha SY35 Vector SynthesizerYeah, I grabbed one of Yamaha’s forgotten vectors a while back for a good price.  The SY35 is a pretty sweet-sounding instrument that’s fun to program. I look forward to digging deep into its digital soul.

The unit I got had a couple of dead keys. I also noticed a couple of keys that were hyper-sensitive to velocity, i.e. they would always sound as though you struck them twice as hard as you actually did. So I took the keyboard apart and tried to clean the key contacts under the offending keys, which turned out to be a colossal waste of a lot of time. After a bit of research, I found that this keyboard mechanism is used on a lot of Yamaha keyboards including Continue reading

Mecha-Mania Boy (Devo Cover) – Restored from a 20-year old cassette.

DEVO (Red Energy Dome icon)I think it was around 1994 when I was approached to contribute something for a compilation CD of Devo covers. At that time, “Mecha-Mania Boy” was only available (as far as I know) as the B-side of “Jerkin Back And Forth”, and it would still be a couple of years before it would be released on a CD. Only hardcore DEVO-TEES (and their close spud friends) had ever heard it – which is a shame, because it was one of their best.

Read on, and hear the full recording!