I first got into synthesizers when I was 11 years old.

I could’t afford a ‘proper’ synth at the time, but I had received one of these little babies for Christmas when I was 10…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmV77oWcdS8

…and I was hungry for more…

Luckily, I could afford Music Technology magazine each month, and the first issue I bought included a review of this beast:

The SY77 was Yamaha’s new flagship synth, replacing the DX7 that had dominated pop music for most of the 1980s. However, at a cost of £2,000 (or ‘£CALL’ as most print ads for music shops at the time put it), there was no way I could ever afford it.

What I could almost afford (but never managed to save up for) was a legendary Roland SH-101, used on many hits in the early ’80s.

Back in 1990, analogue synths were seen as outdated and you could pick up a second-hand SH-101 for as little as £100.

Yes, it would be years until I owned a ‘proper’ synth but I did borrow a Yamaha DX100 from the school my mum worked at. The music teacher wasn’t happy when he discovered I’d saved a patch called ‘Robofart’.

Fast forward to 2015, and how things have changed. The SH-101 costs now about £1,000 on eBay, its price boosted by age and a demand for authentic retro analogue sounds. Meanwhile, you can pick up an SY77 for as little as £250. I wonder how long before digital synths come back into fashion and the SY77 rockets in value. Given that it’s far easier to emulate digital sounds in software than true analogue sounds, maybe it’ll never happen.

My old PSS130? You can pick up one of those for roughly the same price they cost new (£20-30) 25 years ago. Toy keyboards are definitely nowhere near the investment that a true synth is.

One Comment

  • Thanks for this. I’ve a copy sat on top of some cd shelving. I long ago got rid of my cattesse deck, didn’t know about the cd-r (part) re-issue so its a long time since I had the chance to hear it. Bought as one of my first purchases from the Freeman Bros in Leicester. I wanted to find out more about “the scene” but didn’t have much cash to splash so ended up with a second hand copy of this which cost me the princely sum of 5.00!Thanks againdjh

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