What got you started into synthesizers?

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
Rezisehtnys
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 211
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:32 am
Real name: Casey
Gear: Ensoniq VFX
KORG Monotron
KORG Triton
Peavey Fury 1992
Peavey KB-300
Peavey Milestone 1984
Roland JX-8P
Waldorf Micro Q
Yamaha KX5
Yamaha SY77

What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by Rezisehtnys » Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:39 pm

Sorry if this has already been done, but I think it'll be fun learning about how everyone came to find a common interest. For me it was as a young child going through my parent's CD's like Van Halen, Journey, Rush, etc... and wondering what that magical sounding instrument was. It was at a later date I discovered they were called synthesizers. For some reason they just really captivated me, I HAD to have one. It wasn't until I was 15 that I got my first synthesizer, an Alesis Ion. I was in the school band, and I had to sell my trumpet to get it. It was everything I had dreamed them to be and more. For the first week I spent from the time I got home from school until bedtime playing with it. Up until then I had an old Yamaha PSR unit, so I had some playing ability at that point. Just going through all of the sounds, and learning what everything was and how it all interacted with each other. At times I think about grabbing another Ion just for nostalgia's sake. Shortly after I got my JX-8P which I still own to this day, and it's been a downward spiral ever since. I just can't get enough of synthesizers. Analogue, FM, Additive, Wavetable, etc... For the longest time my dream synth was the Oberheim OB-Xa since it was used by so many of the bands I listened to back in the day, nowadays I'm not entirely sure what it'd be. I don't know what I'd do without them in my life. Plus back in school it was cool being the only one not playing guitar. :P

So what's your story?

User avatar
Z
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 3513
Joined: Wed May 09, 2007 3:08 am
Gear: Bubble wrap, Styrofoam, boxes, packing tape
Location: Docking Bay 94 (Dallas, TX)
Contact:

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by Z » Sat Apr 19, 2014 12:22 am

I think there is already a thread about this, but here's mine:

Every Friday in elementary school music class, we were allowed to bring a record (yes, record) from home to play for the class. Someone brought Moving Pictures and played "Tom Sawyer". I was already familiar with orchestra instruments and some pop instruments, but was blown away by the filter sweep and asked the teacher what instrument it was and she replied, "a synthesizer" and briefly explained to the best of her knowledge what a synthesizer does.

The rest is history...
youtube.com/zibbybone facebook.com/ZsFlippinGear

User avatar
wiss
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 2141
Joined: Sun Dec 17, 2006 10:03 pm
Gear: .com, mpc, and a studio full of behringer clones.
Location: Chicago

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by wiss » Sat Apr 19, 2014 1:14 am

I wish there was an a-ha moment, but there isn't. I remember my first synth, the SK-1, then many years later falling a*s backwards into a Yamaha SY-2 and Wurltizer 7300 at piano shop. I only walked into the shop to get a break from 100 degree heat.

Shortly after that, I found Mark Vail's first book on synths and the rest is history.
Last edited by wiss on Sat Apr 19, 2014 6:33 am, edited 4 times in total.
"All we used was the explosion and the orchestra hit. The Fairlight was a $100,000 waste of space."

User avatar
griffin avid
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 1568
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 11:08 am
Location: New York
Contact:

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by griffin avid » Sat Apr 19, 2014 1:34 am

I think this topic should be restarted every so often. I'd like answers from currently active members.
That whole fresh perspectives thing...

For me, it was all about getting back to the source. I have a sampling background and would find myself always looking to snatch the same sounds and became curious about the source of those sounds. Lots of special effects and hard to categorize sounds- that aint no regular musical instrument....

And so synthesizers became the direction.
Music Product: Better Sounds for Beats http://www.StudioAVX.com
Music Production: Resources and Research http://www.ProducersEdgeMagazine.com
Music Produced: Abstract Hip Hop Sci-Fi: http://www.TheDynamicUniverse.com

User avatar
rhino
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 2610
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2008 5:00 pm
Real name: bill
Gear: keepers:
Kurzweil K2500x
Ensoniq TS-12
Yamaha SY-99
Alesis QS-8
Roland JD-800
Roland JX-10
Akai AX-80
Ensoniq SQ-80
Korg DSS-1
Moog Mini
Fizmo
Location: kentucky hills

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by rhino » Sat Apr 19, 2014 1:42 am

Hammond Solovox and "Forbidden Planet". Damn I'm old....
When the wise man points to the stars, the fool looks at the finger.
- Confucius

commodorejohn
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 1568
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:39 am
Real name: John
Gear: Roland JX-10/SH-09/MT-32/D-50, Yamaha DX7-II/V50/TX7/TG33/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/ARP Odyssey/DW-8000/X5DR, Ensoniq SQ-80, Oberheim SEM
Location: Sacramento, CA
Contact:

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by commodorejohn » Sat Apr 19, 2014 1:42 am

I was first introduced to the synthesizer as an instrument through my dad's Switched-On Bach LPs as a kid. The imagery of the enormous rack of knobs and cords looking like something out of a '50s sci-fi movie fired my imagination, and the sounds were captivating. But it took a long time to turn into anything more than an intrigued curiousity - because, unfortunately, being born in the mid-'80s I did most of my growing up in the '90s, in the dark days when ROMplers and preset keyboards and General MIDI dominated the landscape of electronic music from horizon to horizon.

It wasn't until we finally got a PC (I'd grown up on Macs) in the late '90s and I started playing old DOS shareware with music provided by the Yamaha OPL3 FM chip (or, rather, the crappy clone of it that our sound card had) that I realized that it was possible for me to create my own sounds, so I dug around on the Internet (still a mind-boggling new revolution type thing at the time) until I found a couple of programs for instrument editing and music sequencing on the OPL chips. Unfortunately, I couldn't wrap my head around FM, there weren't (at the time) any good explanations of how it worked online, and I mostly just wound up with a bunch of farts and screeches. (Which, sadly, put me on par with about half of all DOS game musicians, very few of whom ever bothered to learn their way around their own equipment!)

But one thing I did find out online was that the OPL chips were greatly simplified descendants of the technology in a synthesizer keyboard called the Yamaha DX7. "Naturally," I thought to myself, "what I need is to get my hands on one of these. My poor luck in making useable sounds must be due to the simplistic nature of the OPL chips, so if I get the real deal, I will assuredly have a much easier time of it creating my own sounds!" In retrospect I can look back and have a good hearty laugh over that, but I have no idea what would've happened if I'd been exposed to the DX7's user interface at an impressionable age. I would probably either have sworn off music and technology altogether and run off to live in a cave, or have wrapped my warped, damaged mind around it and become an even more hopeless junkie than I am now. At any rate I'd probably at least have stuck to my piano lessons.

But I didn't get a DX7 then, because I had no income of my own and couldn't talk my parents into buying me one (even though this was a magical time when you could get a secondhand DX7 for $30-60 on eBay!) when we had (*sigh*) a perfectly good preset ROMpler digital piano already. Instead, I got deep into my other obsession, vintage computers, which had the advantage that you could get them for pretty much nothing just by putting a free ad in the local rag. It was in this hobby, while mucking around with a Commodore 64 I got from a family friend, that I re-encountered the wonders of subtractive synthesis courtesy of the legendary SID chip. A little digging around on the Internet introduced me to GoatTracker, and I was hooked - even with only three single-oscillator voices, even with only one filter between them, I finally had the capability to create my own sounds and make music with them.

For quite some time, my musical endeavors remained strictly on the computer. Besides GoatTracker, there was the similar but more primitive NerdTracker II, which did for the NES pAPU what GoatTracker did for the SID, ModPlug Tracker, which introduced me to sampled sounds and the practice of just grabbing every single halfway-decent sample in every MOD I got my hands on, and finally Jeskola Buzz, where I was introduced to the world of softsynths. I started inching my way back to the idea of getting into hardware synthesizers proper when my parents, who wouldn't spot me $60 for a DX7, wound up getting me a MIDI controller keyboard and G-Force Minimonsta for Christmas! Turns out that even an emulation Minimoog is a friggin' inspiration - I went absolutely nuts with it, and became obsessed with the idea of getting a genuine analog synthesizer of my own.

Of course, I still had little income to speak of (working part-time at a grocery store for $8/hr.,) and even then a Minimoog commanded a hefty price. It wouldn't be until even later that I finally got a job that left me with enough disposable income that I could afford to start blowing semi-serious money on toys. Finally, in the fall of 2012, a good twelve years after I had first tried to get my hands on a DX7, I nabbed myself a couple of old MIDI modules - a Roland MT-32 and a Yamaha TX81Z - and started messing around with them. The following spring, I put an ad out on Craigslist and heard from an old keyboardist who had an Oberheim Matrix-6 and a Roland JX-10 gathering dust in his basement. From then on, I was inescapably hooked...
Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73

User avatar
TheKeytarist
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 252
Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2011 4:58 pm
Real name: Joseph
Location: Los Angeles CA

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by TheKeytarist » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:03 am

I'm such a teenager. I saw a midi controller in a catalog and got it a few months later. It came with ableton and some free soft synths and thats where it all started...
"A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one."
— Benjamin Franklin

:keys1: :drums: :keys2:

User avatar
Dr. Phibes
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 525
Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:12 am
Location: UK

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by Dr. Phibes » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:16 am

In a nutshell:



but also the music from 70s/80s sci-fi movies and, looking back on it, the surprisingly heavy use of the synthesiser in kids programming of the time and TV in general (I think because it was cheap).

Even during the teenage rock-and-roll h**l yeah! years I hid a shameful love of the electronic that I would only indulge late at night, on my own when I was sure nobody was about.

User avatar
moremagic
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 314
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:29 am
Real name: A.M.
Gear: electribe er-1, sp-303, sp-404sx, s612, nuo 2, sl-1200 mk ii, beatstep, eurorack, tb-03, vx-99
Location: nc

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by moremagic » Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:30 am

after xmas some dude was selling a busted polysix on craigslist a few counties over
it had had the battery replaced though, just no pwm or ensemble and a wonky attenuator and a broken key
he was askin three for it and i had a pocjet full of money and i knew from guitar gear that 'analog=good'
so i drove up and talked him down a few bucks and figured out how to use the damn thing
fortunately those piano lessons i took as a kid fiiiinaly came in handy lol
when i was getting it fixed i saw a moog ring mod and just went off the deepend
got and sold a microkorg and dx7, picked up a few moogerfoogers, a monopoly, and never enough patch cords

User avatar
silikon
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1247
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:21 am
Real name: Ms. Jackson
Gear: Random bullshit with knobs and buttons.
Band: Year with no summer
Location: East.
Contact:

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by silikon » Sat Apr 19, 2014 5:05 am

Image

and later...

Image

And then later in life resurrected my interest:

[bbvideo]http://nyti.ms/Nt0YTc[/bbvideo]
Last edited by silikon on Sat Apr 19, 2014 5:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
echo 1 > /dev/awesome

mute
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 640
Joined: Thu May 08, 2008 6:51 pm

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by mute » Sat Apr 19, 2014 5:17 am

Break dance gangs existed in my lower middle class suburban neighborhood. my brother and his friend were in one. at home he listened to s**t like zztop and kiss, but on their mix tapes they had stuff like kraftwerk, bambaataa, egyptian lover, etc. i was young, around 7 or 8 when i stole one of those tapes and listened to it alot. something about it just caught me.

One day he caught me listening to it and i asked what it was and he said he and his friend had made it on his friends keyboard... i believed it for quite sometime before i figured he was liar, and then much later figured out on my own it was kraftwerk i was listening to (computer world record). Oh, and there was the rollerrink dj who wasn't half bad (thanks Jerry).


For the next several years anything that had anything that wasn't guitar always grabbed my attention foremost. The first time I heard the Doors, the synth intro to Van Halen's 1984/Jump, The Show by Doug-E-Fresh, Depeche Mode, 242's Geography, Men without Hats, Mannheim Steamroller, etc. My appreciation of DM led me to Mute record's stuff..and the first couple of compilations of theirs i got blew my mind in all its avant-pop and experimental electronic music glory. From then on the doors were wide open to everything...


Rezisehtnys
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 211
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:32 am
Real name: Casey
Gear: Ensoniq VFX
KORG Monotron
KORG Triton
Peavey Fury 1992
Peavey KB-300
Peavey Milestone 1984
Roland JX-8P
Waldorf Micro Q
Yamaha KX5
Yamaha SY77

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by Rezisehtnys » Sat Apr 19, 2014 6:39 am

I had forgotten about Afrika Bambaataa. The majority of the 80's music had an influence on me, especially:


Was the first song I recall learning all the parts to.

User avatar
synthroom
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 876
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:16 pm
Real name: Kirk
Gear: Fairlight IIx(!), JP-8, D-50, S-50+550, S-760, JX-3P, JD-800, EII, Emax II, Mini, ARP 2600, P-5 Rev.1, Pro-One, Performer, K1m, K5m, few other things.
Location: pdx
Contact:

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by synthroom » Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:12 am

I was 6 years old when Switched-On Bach came out in 1969. I was hook by the futuristic sound of synths. I bought my first synth in 1987, a used Roland JX-3P, and bought my dream synth, a Fairlight IIx, a couple of years ago.
Fairlight IIx (Mid-Life Crisis - cheaper than a Corvette!)
Roland JP-8, D-50, S-50, S-550(2x), S-760(2x), JX-3P, JD-800
EII, Emax II, Minimoog, ARP 2600, P-5 Rev.1 (broken...), Pro-One, Crumar Performer, K1m, K5m, MS-2000B, Virus KC, a few other things.

User avatar
Black Tomorrow
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 367
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:52 am
Real name: kp Catalano
Gear: MG-1, V-Synth w/ VC1, Poly800, PSR740, Triton, SHS10, Boss DR770, Stylophone, Hammond M-143, acoustic piano, reed organ, didgeridoo, Garritan library.
Location: North Carolina
Contact:

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by Black Tomorrow » Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:49 am

For me, music (and not just synths) has often been a tale of reluctance followed by rabid enthusiasm. Entering high school I signed up for a piano class to get the required "fine arts" class out of the way. Within weeks I was hooked. Lessons, bands, yadda yadda. Fast forward to synthesizers.

All I had ever played were various ROMplers, particularly Yamaha PSRs of increasing quality. In addition to standard piano, organ, strings, horns and whatnot, there was always a bank of "synth" sounds. So I assumed if you wanted a particular synth sound, you bought the keyboard that had that particular sound in its presets. That worked just fine for me, particularly with the types of bands I always played in.

I don't remember which issue it was, but one year my dad gave me an issue of Keyboard Magazine as a birthday gift. In it was an interview with Rick Wakeman. I don't remember much about the article, but one part stuck out. He was asked what four keyboards he'd use if limited to only four. I don't remember what the other three were, but in particular he mentioned the Minimoog, and seemed particularly enthusiastic about it.

For some reason, I became pretty much single minded about that. Gotta get a Minimoog. This was also a time when I had just moved out on my own for the first time, so money was tight. But I would search ebay occasionally for prices while I scraped together what I could. Back then I was naive about ebay, so I didn't realise that typing "Minimoog" would yield other things that weren't Minimoogs. So when I had about $800 I bought one. Or so I thought. It turned out to be a Rogue. I saw all those sliders, switches and knobs and was baffled. The first note I played produced no sound at all. When I finally wrangled some sound out of it, I realised that I could only play one note at a time. "What the h**l's this piece of c**p?" I asked myself. Almost immediately I decided to sell it, but figured I might as well noodle around with it that night while I still had it.

This may sound stupid, but what caused me to decide to give it a chance was when I got a sonar ping from it. So I took it to the storage unit where my band practiced and set it up. The next time we got together, I demonstrated it and the guitarist got pissed off at me. He'd been pressuring me to get a Triton. Anyway, the band soon broke up, I learned a bit more about synths and kept the Rogue. My compositions quickly took a new direction.

Then I discovered VSE and the vast number of synths out there. This is where my synth addiction really took off, particularly after finding the forum. You SOBs have cost me a lot of money :lol: and I wouldn't change any of that.
You can't synthesize love

User avatar
vicd
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 312
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2011 9:26 am
Real name: Victor
Gear: Blofeld, Formanta (EMS01, Maestro, Mini), Fusion 8HD, JD800, Morpheus, MP7, Plugiator, TG77, TOM1501, TR626, UltraProteus, V-Synth XT
Band: ROBOPOP
Location: Siberia
Contact:

Re: What got you started into synthesizers?

Post by vicd » Sat Apr 19, 2014 8:08 am


I don't like the drums, but the drums like me!

Post Reply