Sunday, February 28, 2010

Minisonic music missed

Pages ahead, from my previous post, I've found this ad with PE Minisonic kits, parts, pcb's AND the "Symbiosis" cassette by Malcolm Pointon.

The Minisonic series of articles was published in Practical Electronic magazine between november 1974 and march 1975 issues, by a man named G. D. Shaw. I don't have any of these magazines, but I've saw the scans of this synth in the Anders Sponton's Cloned Analog Gear web, but the scan of Anders don't came from the magazines, is from a book published with all the constructive articles of the Minisonic and other things.

Judging by this ad, it seems that in the last article of the Minisonic was offered to the readers a companion tape with the music created with this synth.

I must admit that I never heard about Mr. Malcolm Pointon never in my life, then Wikipedia came to help me and I've learned about the very tragic life of this man. Obviously, I didn't know their music. I think it will be very interesting to hear this cassette, in first place because is related with the main role of this blog (electronic arts-electronic instruments) and then because it could be the only "electronic work" of this man demoing a very particular instrument.

I call all the people out there, mainly to the UK people, to search in the old pile of cassettes looking for this gem... and please share with us!
For more information about the Minisonic (and the PE Synthesiser) you could visit the Julian Bunn webpages about it, here and here. Very nteresting is the Minisonic serial number 001 (at the bottom of this page) maybe this was the used by Malcolm Pointon?
At the end, I want to show an alternative casing for the Minisonic with keyboard in this ad by Phonosonic, in this same magazine (also pay attention to the alternative casing for the PE Synthesiser and the kits for the PE Joanna piano that I've wrote before) .

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dewtron, or how to hide your magic (if you have it)

As I told in my previous post, I was re-reading my old magazines and this ad from 1975 got my attention:

I remembered that I saw this before but can't recall where, all I know about Dewtron (from D.E.W. Ltd.) until now is that this company was selling potted modules to build a synths... so I've started to search a little more...

In the Synthmuseum description for Dewtron they list the following instruments:

Mister Bassman
And they are missing the "Project-X" that I just remembered now

In Tim Stinchcombe's website there's a scan of an article appeared november 1972 in Practical Electronics which include an D.E.W. Ltd. ad and a picture of a synth built with Dewtron's modules.

In the Dr Robert P Fletcher webpage he mention the Dewtron modules and give us a picture (linked here):

"My earliest synth was built from DEWTRON modules in the early 1970's. Here's a picture of the inside of a box with modules in place!"
In a post on MusicThing from 2005 some people remarks, about one strange synth on eBay that was possibly built with Dewtron modules (as MusicThing sometimes 'lost' the pictures, I put here again as a 'backup' for this very ugly instrument) and an anonymous writer said::
"Dewtron was the the trademark of the company run solely by Brian Bailey: Design Engineering Wokingham. Brian moved to Ferndown, Dorset, where he started to get messages from aliens which he was very mystified by.

The modules were awful, potted in resin so you could not repair them. The 'Modumatrix' switches were a great idea, but cheaply made. If you got a badly contacting switch in the middle of an assembly, you had to take them all apart to get at the one that was bad.

I think many people bought the modules and like me was disappointed. He claimed to have built a system for Led Zeppelin."

In this SounOnSound forum thread there's the following statement about the basspedals used by Mike Rutherford (Genesis):
"The Dewtron bass pedals Rutherford used were made by a small (now defunct) UK company based (IIRC) in Cornwall (or suchlike) that sold synthesiser kits. You could buy the boards ready made or you could buy them in kit form. The bass pedals were one of the few actual fully assembled 'products' that they made. They were pretty cheap even back then and intended for cheesy home organs that didn't come with bass pedals supplied."
And other comment:
"In terms of Bass Pedals, he used the Dewtrons "Mr Bassman" up to Selling, and moved to the Taurus for "The Lamb"."
Also about Rutherford's bass pedals, in "Hollow Sun" website there's an article about the Moog Taurus and they're assuring the following:
"Famous users include Mike Rutherford of Genesis who replaced his old Dewtron bass pedals with the Taurus"
So, Dewtron were in fact the brand for DEW ltd. custom 'potted modules', and judging by the references nothing magnificent. With this modules seems they built different synth incarnations (Apollo, Project-X, etc.). The fantastic "Modumatrix" was nothing more than a patch-matrix built with pushbuttons. And the Mr. Bassman seems was their "almost" recognised instrument, a factory built bass-pedal used by top rock bands (or at least for a while). That's all the info about the Dewtron I can found at the moment, if you know something more, I invite to share your comments with dewtron-gnorants like me.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Joanna, the "shE-Piano"

Has been a while since the last post, to reward the curious visitor here this time I bring a piano. There are many builders of synthesizers, a bunch of organ builders ... but how many people have built a piano? And I'm talking about e-pianos, of course.

Reviewing my old magazines I found in Practical Electronics a series of articles to build the "Joanna" a very complete electronic piano for its time. The designer was a man named A. J. Boothman, I believe this man had a sort of relationship with the CLEF company, and certainly had a kit available through this company (although there were other companies offering it).
I did not have the opportunity to see the full series of articles, this was published between May and September 1975 and I only possess August and September. Judging by these two parts, it seems to me that was well designed and really well tested because at the end the author makes some recommendations on amps and speakers to obtain a good sound, making references to the equipment he used.

I really like to see the full serie of articles to have a further insight on this instrument, because how many people you know, that had made an e-piano? And if we could get some sound samples that would be really great! The interesting thing here is an e-piano that sound... 'electronic', because if you want more real pianos (and cheap), the samplers are the easy ways. Enjoy the pictures.