Here’s some really old stuff, dating from the late 1960’s & 70’s. Yup, I did this stuff while I was still in high school.

I worked with many famous musicians, creating custom instruments and modifying existing ones.

My company, Synthetic Sound Labs was a Moog, EML, ARP, Roland, Crumar and PAiA service center.

Drum Synth

This custom drum performance synth was built for Jazz-fusion violinist Michael Urbaniak.

Mini-Moog Chopped

There really was a craze in the 70’s to get keyboardists into the spotlight. I’ve forgotten who contracted me to do this (Mark???), but I took a MiniMoog and chopped the crap out of the case.  I added a 4th oscillator (that’s the cutout over the left-hand controller) and wired up a long umbilical between the keyboard and the electronics. I also installed my famous sync switch modification and some other stuff I don’t recall.

Mini-Moog w/ Joystick & 4th Osc.

Here’s a MiniMoog that I modified with a Kraft joystick and a fourth oscillator.  I actually like the feel.  The spring loaded pitch bend was left to right and the non-spring loaded modulation was back to front.  Notice I said back to front – It was much easier to control the joystick by pulling the stick back to increase modulation.

I’ll have a Mini “on-the-rocks” please !

This MiniMoog was modified with sync switches, and a pedal system that included pitch & modulation pedals with glide & decay (sustain) foot switches.  The client was a member of the Frankie Valie band at that time.  The photograph was taken on the jetty rocks in front of my apartment in Bradley Beach, NJ on a cloudy day.  I recall that the fresh smell of the ocean was almost overwhelming that day.

I did very similar modifications and pedal systems for David Sancious, Chic Corea, Manfred Mann and others.

Mini-Moog w/Sync & Tuning Lights

Mini sync switches and tuning lights I designed.

Orpheus’ Para-phonic Custom

This was one of those very special custom machines that was way, WAY ahead of it’s time.  During the “keyboardist-as-front-man” craze, when keyboard players finally stepped into the spotlight – this was the “real deal”.

This thing was fully polyphonic (actually ‘paraphonic’), meaning that all notes could be played at once.  It used a combination of two  “PAiA String Things”, a couple of Moog 4 pole low pass filters, custom envelope generators, and custom control circuits that allowed all of the note, switch and dial information to come down only a few wires.  Clever, if I do say so myself.  This thing sounded a lot like a PolyMoog on steroids.  The wooden body of the controller was hand made from a single piece of wood by the famous guitar maker Phil Pettillo (RIP), of Ocean, NJ.

Unfortunately, I never heard of it being used on any recordings and the Staten Island, NY artist that I designed it for disappeared from the face of the map.  I’d love to know what happened to it!

Crumar DS-2 Mods

No synth of the time was safe from a mod or two. Here’s a Crumar DS-2 with a MicroMoog ribbon controller.

Vibe Controller for MiniMoog

Although I didn’t build this impressive instrument, I was hired to repair it.  Mike Manieri was the client.  This beast is about 7 feet long!  It used special conductive mallets and touch sensitive brass plates with some rather innovative TTL digital circuitry to control a MiniMoog.  Pretty cool for the time!