John D's Set-up

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Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:49 pm

John D's Set-up

Post by PAiA-Scott »

Thanks John D.

"Well, just to start, again... I hope this won't be too long for someone to go through it. And we may all be Bozos on this bus. (--Firesign Theatre)

On your site, you should have "photo album" pictures of the old Stringz & Thingz (?) kit--beautiful cello sound. I took me a while to build i, but wow, worth it.
And where's the Phlanger (?), far better than a Gibson Maestro Phase Shifter. It's what Steve Walsh shoulda been using on his Hammond.
WOW, I played in bands 20+ years, and folks always loved PAiA stuff.
I regret I sold those off, at some point, with so much more.

I just watched last year's documentary, "I Dream Of Wires." Indeed.
I am out of that business, a long time (though never left, in my heart) and had no idea there was a return to modular synths, over the last 15 years. What?!
And though the interviewees complain throughout the film about not being able to afford Moogs & ARPs, etc.; they stupidly never mentioned PAiA or Aries Music modules. (Napoleon Dynamite: "Gosh, Idiot!") That was always your problem, not getting respect and publicity--I guess much-due to being available as kits. Also, you guys used 1/8" mini-phone jacks & pin plugs, which I thought was smart to save space AND cost. Also, maybe you couldn't bribe famous musicians?

So it's ongoing? I'm glad you came back. Wow. I like your site.
Memory Lane is in my ears and in my eyes:
Ouch. I spent my life in electronics manufacturing, computers, oil field, industry, watching it be sold out to Asia, one lay-off after the next. Electronics joined garments, autos (for the most part) and furniture as to industries sold out.
I tried, from time to time, to get jobs in music gear, but it went way down; and I guess now it sort of came back, huh. I'm only a technician.
My "career" is that popular definition of insanity: doing the same thing, over and over, expecting different results.

I visited your OK factory in 1977, while moving from Kansas City to Texas--and was already building and using PAiA. I continued!!
The main modular system needed a regulated power supply to keep it in tune, regardless of room temperature, etc. I built one, from scratch that same year. I think you came up with one; I forget.
The oddness then--and I wonder how you overcame it--was your initial plan to use +/- 9V and 18V on the modules. So I built my Supply to do that, plus +/- 12V & +/- 15V for some other things, including an amazing Aries Noise module. It had white, pink & random, and oaf-My-Gobs allowed real thunder & explosions, etc. Now you have white, red & blue. I'm pretty sure when I was in school, they didn't have even Brownian and so on. I guess it's like Hepatitis and bird flu--they just keep subdividing and/or making up more.
I ended up with your 2700 & 4700 series modules. Excellent. I played that thing live (see pics) for at least a decade. The crowds marveled. It's assumed-dead in storage, but I have a handy picture or two, attached. I used the old cabinets to make a pull-out module rack, so I could use one OR two keyboards, with the small OR big rack of modules, depending on the gig. I added a joystick, in one of the keyboards, and usually assigned pitch-bend and vibrato to the axis--but it was patchable.
Notably, I guess similar to the ARP 2500, I have several 10x10 slider matrix switches (Cherry Electronics?) at the top of the big box. This avoided a lot of patch cords--especially for voltage control.
I loved your little 4-Ch mixers for audio patch.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, I collected capacitors and parts, hoping to upgrade the whole thing. I mean, it worked fine, but after the mid-80s, i wasn't playing professionally, and I figured the electrolytics would go out, etc. Who knows.
Hey do you have replacement keyboards? I fear in storage the gold on those (and my Polaris) keyboards will have migrated and be stuck.

One of the attached photos has two pictures scanned together. (Yes, I'd like to dig it out of storage and take new photos; i have a photo album somewhere in there that has more pics.) The top is my 1984 gear, and you can sort of see the big white square synth module, straight on. The top center is those matrix switches. You note the dual keyboard, and the upper one has the joystick to the left side, hard to see, but a white area--or is it the little module standing above. McJeez I don't recall. I haven't touched it in a good 15 years?
The top keyboard could be pulled out and walk around with a guitar strap. Yes, let's do everything stupid at once. It had a very-long cable set; we were only getting into radio modules--back then, mostly for guitars.
By the way, I could exactly imitate the Rush 'Tom Sawyer' noise, and so many others. The full synth has a couple of your sequencers, too.
The bottom half of that pic is one of the Fender Chroma Polaris synths I got in the mid-'80s. I have two, also rotting in storage. They are analog, but with digital memory, incredible.

The other attachment pic is me playing, 1983. You can see the Stringz (profile) on top of the Fender Rhodes. In the back, it's hard to see the cut-down synth--the single keyboard, with a much--smaller module rack, below it.
In both pictures, there's a white rack separate from the synth. It's behind me, in the playing photo. It contained special effects, like the Phlanger, echos, your Parametric EQ modules, meters, a spare P.S., I dunno what all. Hey, the stuff accumulates.
And I made wooden cases for everything, always. I worked harder on moving the gear to/from gigs than even drummers. (Until those late 1970s years, I also played guitar in most bands. It just became stupid to carry a guitar AND all the other stuff. So if they wanted me to play guitar on a song, they had to provide it, ha ha. If I had to do it over, maybe I'd play only bass. Ha, in a couple bands, I WAS the bassist but mostly on the synths. All that and duct tape.)

SO now I'm really old and early Social Security would be too punitive. (Yet I read 85% of people take it, early. What a rip! A Ponzi rip! But I digress, every three minutes.)
Are you hiring? I live in Houston, but it still mostly sucks. I have two B.A.s, one in physics and one in music/ed. Ironically, I never got an electronics degree, just worked in the field. I'll attach my hilarious resume (there were tech jobs before Compaq, back to 1979?, but the resume is stupid long and just shows my age. Heck, line a bird cage.).

Okay, if you read this far, I am so sorry; but what you're doing is what I wanted to do. The music biz always has so many volunteers and hangers-on, it rarely needs to hire folks at the bottom."


Scott Lee