Vintage synth myths

Seeing the suggestion of the ever mythical X-pander for $30 in a pawnshop made me recall this gem from the near-forgotten old lore on the Analog Heaven mailing list:

The special edition Bootsy Collins TB-323

Jam Master A:

There were only 42 ever made, in Pre-Production. They look similar to the TB-303, except that the writing is purple. The word ‘Bootsy’ has 2 5-pointed stars instead of o’s. Also, the ‘Accent’ feature was labeled ‘SLAP!’, and affected the filter differently than in the '303 … It had a bit more sustain than the 303, so that increasing the Env Amount gave it more of a ‘WAH’ sound … Allegedly, the music department in a small northwester university has one in thei e-music department, and they covet it as the ‘Treasure of the Northwest.’ The story is, they traded and Xpander for it, though this rumor is unconfirmed.

David Chandler:

I opened up the 323 once: it has “Atomic Dog” etched on the circuit board and the tune from that “Computer Games”-George Clinton song in notation drawn in solder. BTW, some of the diode-ladder filter circuit is made of the rare Gypsum diodes from Siberia. There is crystaline deposits on the circuit board from where the resonance oozed out!

Matt Haines:

The filter is set up differently, which accounts for most of that ‘bootsy’ sound. Roland ‘borrowed’ the technology for Musonic’s (aka ARP) Mutron III. That of course is the famous auto-wah that got used a lot by Bootsy in Parliament/Funkadelic days. Roland was subsequently sued by the owners of the patent (not ARP as they had already gone under). This may have been the reason for its short manufacturing run, I’m not sure. Just like the Mutron III, you could select bandpass or hipass filters as well.

I also remember reading about a fictional Roland TR-929 featuring unique Russian percussion sounds, just like the TR-727 is a TR-707 but with latin percussion.

We need more myths! Anyone got any good ones?

There are myths but sometimes it happens. A friend of me once pickup up a Korg MS10 for 10 euro on the flee market at Waterlooplein.

Wow! I paid 60€ for my MS-10…

A guy gave me his Moog Rogue. Thought it wasn’t worth anything. Technically, it shouldn’t be, but…

Not really a synth myth, more of a tale of a massive stroke of luck.

My mate bought a fully functioning and mint Maplin 5600s from a bloke down the road last year for £25 !
He advertised it on a local buy/sell website and I missed it.
I get to play on it occasionally though. It’s very very nice.

I picked up an Akai S1000, EMU E4 and Ensoniq Mirage that was thrown out by a neighbour.
Turned out the S1000 was broken, but the other items worked.


Yeah ripping off an old man at a garage/yard sale isn’t anything to brag on the internet about…

EDIT: Meaning, I’d buy a $30 xpander, but wouldn’t tell anyone that I ripped off an old man in the process.

My MS-10 wasn’t in vogue at the time I got it, and it was a colleague who moved to El Paso, TX who had to unload it. I clearly said, don’t you want more for this, and the guy was all - nah that’s all good.

But yeah, I’ve lost count of all those old anecdotes about getting a TB-303 or a MiniMoog for $100 from an old fart in a cabin in the woods…

Found in flea markets / "cash converters"like stores, and shamelessly resold immediately at their true value: 25€ Drumtraks (exception: I grew fond of it and actually kept it for a year), 50€ DMX, 80€ Taurus, free PolySix. It was a kind of hobby/source of pocket money when I was 18ish but took a lot of time. Glorious pre ebay days! This is also when I got a SH-101 for about 150€, and the ESQ-1 for more than it is worth today (about 250€. the sequencer and patch memory was filled with a ridiculously accurate recording of Partenaire Particulier - later it broke down and I built an obscure synth with its CEM3379 chips)

My SH-101 was 1000SEK when I got it, mod grip and all back in 1992! The TB-303 (that I resold for 8000) was 2500. That’s approx 112€ for the 101, and 280€ I paid for the 303.

Still, there are ridiculous finds out there if you’re lucky: Today I found a 220V Kawai K5000r with memory expansion on Ebay for not that mucho dinero (yet). The seller is in NYC and it’s a US only shipping deal. The seller seems clueless as to how easy it is to strap the transformer to 110V instead of 220V on those, but anywho. A TX 802 can be had fer cheap, or a CZ-5000… Old digital is truly unloved.

In Paris you have the best flea markets of europe i think…It;s a whole village of flea market, is it still there? I did a lot of crate digging overthere…

Bought broken Roand MKS50 and Wavestation AD on Craigslist advertised music equipment garage sale… she said I could have them for free, I offered $30 to avoid bad karma. Restored both, AD was tough.

I was in a medium town in the south of France (Montpellier) at that time. There is indeed a large flea market/antiques area in Paris, but you won’t find vintage synths there - just furniture, home items & collectibles…

I’ve started widening my range and searching Craigs List in places where there aren’t thousands of musicians driving up the price of gear.

I did find that VS (which I have to drive half-way to San Francisco to get today or tomorrow). There are a few more gems, but i’d have to find 2-3 in the same place to make a long drive worth it.

I have gotten a few steals locally that I’ve made some nice extra cash from- D-50 for $150, sold for $400; EMU MP-7 for $100, sold for $300; Bass Station Rack for $75, sold for $250; and a few more that I didn’t make much from. But still- there has to be some way to profit from obsessive Gearlust, right?

Perfect Circlejerk Audio makes a business. Actually I shouldn’t be calling them any names, SCNR, since they seem to be a good dealer with a solid reputation as far as I can tell. Oscidance in the Netherlands is another dealer with the occasional interesting piece of gear I know of, plus my local heroes at Jam here in Stockholm.

I think the better finds are made outside of Ebay since prices there tend to be inflated, but people will only ask what they can get away with.

While we’re on the subject of tracking down obscure items, if anyone in Germany (or maybe outside) comes across a Texas Instruments Buddy (German Speak & Spell), in working order, please give me a shout. I’ve been looking for one of these for years, to join my English Speak & Spell and Italian Grillo Parlante.


Oooh, those are bizarro indeed! Will keep an eye open. I’ve got the S&S, S&M and S&R plus a Super S&S made years later which is positively hi-fi compared to the old babies.

Why do I feel that a German Speak&Spell would frighten American children? “Die kuh mitspracherecht muhen” I took some google translate liberties there, but you get the idea…

ENGLISH Speak&Spell is pretty frightening on its own.

That sounds amazing…Bitspeek from Sonic Charge emulates these decently.