3 Maverick Synth Makers who Did it for Themselves

US Innovation is the main focus for these builders.      30/04/24

3 Maverick Synth Makers who Did it for Themselves

The largest synth companies concern themselves with market trends; balancing creativity and innovation with commercial viability - products that will sell in decent numbers. But for smaller, niche makers, innovation takes precedence, as does the attitude of making the instruments that they themselves would like to use. Often, the results can be startling!


Gotharman is an interesting character! His instruments are very flexible and imaginative. I recently interviewed him for this website, and what struck me was his intrinsic motivation:

I think my priorities are different, because I have never really been good at thinking business. I just make the instruments that I would like to have myself. I made it possible to change the filter boards, because I feel that it is the filter that is mostly giving a synth its sound. And it makes things a lot easier, if I can just change a filter board, instead of designing a whole new synth.

I have never done any market research. I just make the instruments I would like to have myself.

Gotharman's latest synth, Zaturn, is a hybrid 4-voice poly (with choice of polyphonic filter board - mine has a multimode SSI2040) - with sampling, wavetables, oscillators (or anything!) as modulators, sequencing and effects. Expect a video (at very least a 5 Minutes With) soon!


For now, here's a little demo of some unhinged FM sounds:


Soma Laboratory

Soma Laboratory are a little bizarre in form and function - yet very musical. From the micro-tonal ambient exploration-station that is the Lyra-8, to quirky percussion powerhouses like the Pulsar-23 and playable multi-algorithm instruments like Terra.

In an interview with Perfect Circuit, maestro Vlad Kreimer said:

I didn't expect such resonance. Honestly, I never thought of myself as a builder of new synths. Initially, I only did it for my own performances. I think the reason for such resonance is the strong philosophy behind each instrument and a lot of emotions that flow along with these developments.


Despite those intrinsic beginnings, Soma have gathered a sizable following. Their philosophy of "trying to build a happy utopia and proper sound tools for it" has seemingly resonated with musicians around the globe.




Gjis Gieskes makes some wonderfully odd designs. My favourite one is a Nintendo Gameboy that was welded to a Eurorack panel:

Not all of his products are quite so niche, but all are interesting, how about an audio to VGA video converter module or a VCO made from a fan?

In an interview with Make Zine, Gjis stated that:

I have a lot of ideas that take a lot of time to to realize and I skip projects a lot, I work on something and then move to the next project if I get stuck on the one I am working on at that time, so I have no idea what I will put on my site next.

I like this organic approach - and the results always seem to raise eyebrows! Read the full interview here: https://makezine.com/article/maker-news/make-interview-modding-co/

That's all for today, let us know your favourite inventive, niche synth manufacturers!

Posted by MagicalSynthAdventure an expert in synthesis technology from last Century and Amiga enthusiast.

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