Company Name: ARP Instruments
Date Founded: 1969
Location: Newton, Massachusetts USA
Arp 2600

ARP Instruments, Inc. (subsequently referred to as ARP) was founded in 1969. The name came from the initials of one of the founders, Alan Robert Pearlman. Co-founders included Lewis G. Pollock and David Friend, who was the chief engineer and later designed the ARP Odyssey.

The first synth that ARP produced was the ARP 2500, a bulky modular synthesizer. It was meant to compete with the Moog modular synths that were coming out in the late 60’s. ARPs innovation was getting rid of the patch cable that tended to get in the way and block the view of the unit. The design replaced the common patch cable system of the time with a number of matrix switches.

“The electronic instrument’s value is chiefly as a novelty. With greater attention on the part of the engineer to the needs of the musician, the day may not be too remote when the electronic instrument may take its place … as a versatile, powerful, and expressive instrument.”

– Alan Pearlman, Founder of Arp Instruments

ARP Products:

1969 – ARP 2002
1970 – ARP 2500 (large and complex analog modular synthesizer, patched with a switch matrix, noted for its reliable tuning compared to competitors Moog and Buchla. Almost identical to the ARP 2002, except that the upper switch matrix had 20 buses instead of 10.); the ARP 2500 is the synthesizer heard on ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ by The Who.

ARP 2500

ARP instruments was the second largest such company after Moog Music for most of the 1970s. Originally founded under the name “Tonus” in 1968, the company was renamed using founder Pearlman’s initials when it released its first product, the lavish and expensive 2500 modular system, in 1970. Despite the 2500’s high cost, it soon became popular with university music departments. ARP’s next product, the semi-modular 2600, provided many of the functions of a modular in a smaller pre-configured case; it established ARP among first-rank synth and keyboard players of the decade.

Subsequent products included the Odyssey, a performance synthesizer similar in concept and features to the Minimoog and the Omni string synthesizer, the company’s best-selling product. However, management problems, including a conflict in direction between Pearlman and company president David Friend, resulted in excessive spending and miniscule profits. In 1977, over Pearlman’s objections, Friend launched a project to develop the Avatar guitar synthesizer. The Avatar consumed most of ARP’s research and development money, was late to market, and didn’t work very well when it was finally introduced. The resulting cash-flow problems constrained the company’s ability to develop further products, and without any new products, sales declined and the company was finally forced into bankruptcy in 1981.

ARP Pro Soloist



1970 – ARP Soloist (small, portable, monophonic preset, aftertouch sensitive synthesizer)
1971 – ARP 2600 (smaller, more portable analog semi-modular synthesizer, pre-patched and patchable with cables)
1972 – ARP Odyssey (pre-patched analog duophonic synthesizer, a truly portable performance instrument, a competitor of the Minimoog); former Deep Purple keyboardist, the late Jon Lord, played an ARP Odyssey.
1972 – ARP Pro Soloist (small, portable, monophonic preset, aftertouch sensitive synthesizer – updated version of Soloist)

String Synthesizer

String Ensemble
1974 – ARP String Ensemble (polyphonic string voice keyboard manufactured by Solina)
1974 – ARP Explorer (small, portable, monophonic preset, programmable sounds)
1975 – ARP Little Brother (keyboardless monophonic expander module)

Omni (rev.2)

Omni (rev.1)
1975 – ARP Omni (polyphonic string synthesizer with rudimentary polyphonic synthesizer functions)


1975 – ARP Axxe (pre-patched single oscillator analog synthesizer)
1975 – ARP String Synthesizer (a combination of the String Ensemble and the Explorer)
1976 – ARP Sequencer (desktop analog music sequencer)[8][9] 1977 – ARP Pro/DGX (small, portable, monophonic preset, aftertouch sensitive synthesizer – updated version of Pro Soloist)
1977 – ARP Omni 2 (polyphonic string synthesizer with rudimentary polyphonic synthesizer functions – updated version of Omni)
1977 – ARP Avatar (an Odyssey module fitted with a guitar pitch controller)
1978 – ARP Quadra (4 microprocessor-controlled analog synthesizers in one)
1979 – ARP Quartet (polyphonic orchestral synthesiser not manufacted by ARP – just bought in from Siel and rebadged )
1980 – ARP Solus (pre-patched analog monophonic synthesizer)
1981 – ARP Chroma (microprocessor controlled analog polyphonic synthesizer – sold to CBS/Rhodes when ARP closed)


I developed relatively sophisticated designs and think about them and model them until I’m happy with the design. Then I design it and usually the first take is the production model. I’ll design up a panel and that’s some of the designs I created in the ‘70s are still being built and they were originally designed for use, for production. We didn’t have time to go through a lot of prototype stages. Don Buchla

The company’s last development effort was the Chroma, its first practical effort to develop a polyphonic synth with patch memory. ARP ran out of money a few months short of the Chroma being ready for market. Chief engineer Philip Dodds rescued the project by reaching an agreement with CBS to sell the Chroma design and prototypes to them, and then re-launch the project under CBS’s ownership. The Chroma eventually went into production under the Rhodes brand name, which CBS owned at the time.

Today, ARP synths, like vintage Moogs, are highly sought after on the collectors’ market.

ARP Auctions

Vintage Arp Quadra synthesizer

Item specifics Seller Notes: “Used, moderate wear, minor damage. Functional.” Brand: Arp Country/Region of Manufacture: United States Exact Year: 1978 Vintage Arp Quadra synthesizer Current Bid : 1,225.00 Ends on : 2016-12-05...

ARP 1621 Sequencer

Item specifics Condition: Used: An item that has been used previously. The item may have some signs of cosmetic wear, but is fully Brand: ARP Model: 1621 Features: Sequencer ARP 1621 Sequencer Price : 1,500.00 Ends on : 2016-12-09...

Arp Odyssey – (model 2813) Vintage Synthesizer

Item specifics Condition: Used: An item that has been used previously. The item may have some signs of cosmetic wear, but is fully Brand: ARP Type: Synthesizer Arp Odyssey - (model 2813) Vintage Synthesizer Price : 1,000.00 Ends on : 2016-12-01...

Rare ARP 2600 synthesizer (model 2601) with ARP 2630 keyboard

Item specifics Condition: For parts or not working: An item that does not function as intended and is not fully operational. This includes items that Brand: ARP Type: Synthesizer Rare ARP 2600 synthesizer (model 2601) with ARP 2630 keyboard Price : 4,500.00 Ends on :...

ARP Discussions

Home Forums Synth Brands Buchla modular synthesizer


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