This is the first column of what hopefully will become a series about the ins and outs of Synth Do-It-Yourself. I haven’t decided yet on the exact format, but Synth DIY is something I like to do personally. In the past I received several mails and messages from people asking me what to do or choose I thought this column would be a good place to share information, tips, tricks and thoughts.
There are a few simple thoughts about and ‘rules’ from the Synth DIY scene to let you decide whether you should try it.
First of all don’t expect it to be cheap. You will be needing a bit of gear and material and even if it won’t kill you, getting the hang of it and aiming for a full 12 cabinet modular system will set you away many 1000’s of dollars. And I’m not mentioning the invested time, which you could have spent working and earning money to simply buy finished products (with the guarantee it actually works).
Also: Don’t expect things to work at once. If you are impatient and totally incapable of reading or willing to understand electrical schemes, it might not be something to strive for. It’s very small things you’re handling, and soldering may not always be right at the first try. So yes, sometimes you buy things and after building they don’t work. As with programming (for those familiar with that) it can be 20% building and 80% debugging.
So at this moment you have a small decision to make. Are these two things pissing you off more then anything else in the world? Because in that case – as fun as it might be and as much as you might like it – you might have to consider the fact it’s not your thing. I’ll tell you later about a synth I made which took me 8 years (!!!) before I got it to work …
But it’s not all negativity in these writings. Rest assured that anything you make yourself is way more satisfying then any machine you’ll ever buy. It might not sound as perfect, or maybe the interface is not USB programmable or the color of the machine doesn’t fit your curtains but, you did it yourself! That feeling, to make something, to build things and in the end to be able to actually use it, make music, or make noises, or weird farty thingies … The creational process and the feeling of fulfillment is really, really great.
So the hard question which I myself would like to see answered after reading my own crap is: Where the fuck should I start?! I DO think I want to try some things out and I DO think I am patient enough and I am DEFINITELY willing to learn basic stuff about electronics and learn from my mistakes.
Maybe we’ll get to that in the second part…