You may have noticed from reading the last few issues of Tape Op that we have a soft spot in our hearts for vintage synths, with interviews of Malcolm Cecil (keeper of TONTO), Bob Moog, and Larry Fast. I personally credit my days as a student at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, working with EMS Synthi's, ARP 2600's, and especially a large, modular Buchla synth for helping me to really understand signal flow. The Buchla wouldn't even make a fart sound without 10-20 audio and control voltage patch cords. If you too love vintage synths or just want to find out more about them, this book is great. All the previously mentioned synths are covered, as well as instruments from Moog, E-MU, Serge, Oberheim, Sequential Circuits, Korg, Yamaha, and lots more — including all kinds of one-off oddities that never really reached a mass market.
This book has lots of photos and is a fascinating read, largely because it focuses more on the eccentric (and I mean that in the good sense of the word) people behind the machines rather than on the machines themselves. For instance, the story of the rise and fall of ARP is a page turner of why the audio industry, particularly the smaller cottage companies, is so vibrant. In the appendix are ballpark prices for vintage synths if you feel the need to seek one out on eBay or somewhere else. It's a very complete book, with only one real omission that I could find: the NED Synclavier. While its competitor the Fairlight CMI gets an entire chapter, the Synclavier is conspicuous in its absence, as this was a truly revolutionary — if completely cost-prohibitive — instrument. I could have done without the chapter on Keith Emerson's Moog to see this included. Minor complaints aside, this is a great read.