What is a Vintage Synth, anyway?
IVintage Synthn order to be considered vintage, a synth must either be the first in a new technological innovation or offer something different in historical trends to make it one of a kind for its day. Like any other product that was ever invented and made with human hands, a vintage synth is one that sets it apart from the competition for the era in which it was introduced and sold. Or, another way to look at it: A Vintage Synth is the one that you still want long after it was no longer made! The Minimoog, with its built-in keyboard for instance, was the first Synthesizer of its kind, to be small and portable enough to use at gigs, concerts and even in the home. It was also an affordable synth compared to the big, clunky modular synths used to make music in studios back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Not only that, the MiniMoog just flat out played and sounded great for its day and continues to be appealing by todays standards. Thanks to the thick, rich bass and lead sounds it produces, the MiniMoog remains one of the most classic, Vintage Synths 40 years later. Of course, there are all kinds of other technological innovations which make the MiniMoog a Vintage Synth among enthusiasts and collectors of synthesizers, but suffice it to say, the MiniMoog is a classic instrument.
The other aspect which defines a Vintage Synthesizer is a specific technology that it uses such as additive synthesis, subtractive synthesis, FM and Phase Distortion; Granular Synthesis and Physical Modeling. Some models of synthesizers were either the first, to use one or more of these technologies or they made it popular in such a way that they defined a new direction in the development of other instruments. For instance, the Prophet VS synthesizer from the 1980s is a classic, vintage instrument based on it’s trend-setting vector synthesis technology which combines analog and digital technology and employs the use of wave form sounds in ROM and RAM. After the Prophet VS became popular, both Korg and Yamana employed the same vector and wave-form synthesis in their newest models. Let us also not forget, the hardware innovations such as ribbons, sliders, inputs, outputs, joysticks, memory media, etc., which make an instrument truly vintage in its concept.
With the enormous processing power and sound technology of computers, synthesizers continue to develop and innovate in different ways never imagined. There is some debate and controversy among Vintage Synth purists over whether or not purely digital synths can ever result in a one of a kind Vintage Synth like the MiniMoog. Are the new synths of today really synthesizers at all or are they simply a bundle of computer hardware and software incapable of every being considered a, Vintage Synth?
We’ll let the buyer decide for himself how to answer that question. Meanwhile, whether you are shopping for a vintage synth from 1970 or 2010, the number and assortment of models range from ridiculously affordable to amazingly expensive in price. There is something here for everyone, whether you are a vintage synth collector or a new member of the growing club of musicians and hobbyists who are fascinated with the sound and enjoyment you can get from playing and experimenting with Synthesizers for the first time.