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Synth Price List – June 2012

No major structural changes. More models and a few new vendors added.

As always, the “Range” column represents the year-to-date average taking into account the availability of that particular hardware along with the difference between the high and low prices. A wide range indicates either low sales volume or large gap between the high and low (or both).

Synth Prices – June 2012

Synth Price List – May 2012

Format is the same, for a change. Added a couple of new manufacturers and a bunch of new models. I have several manufacturers with just one or two models; I may add them primarily to use as filler to make the pages come out even.

As explained in a previous post, the Range column represents a range of prices based on the high and low to date, but also takes into account the volume of sales. If the range is really narrow, either the item is very popular or the prices are always pretty close. Wide ranges indicate either a big disparity between high and low or a small volume.

In either case, it’s reasonable to assume that if you want to purchase something, seeing a price somewhere close to that range is a good thing.

Synth Prices – May 2012

Synth Price List – March 2012

Commentary to come later, but for the moment here’s the list. As usual, it’s grown a little.

Synth Prices – March 2012

The Kurzweil K1000 – Welcome Home!

In 1987 when IBM introduced their new PS/2 computer lineup, mixed in with all the fancy new machines was a nondescript add-on card called the IBM PC Music Feature. Retailing for  about $495, it was essentially  Yamaha’s 4-operator  FB-01 FM synthesizer on a card, coupled with a MIDI interface.  Around this time I was working as a hardware tech in a computer store in New Jersey.  They had actually had a system set up with the Music Feature, a Yamaha YPR-9 piano, and whatever the heck the software was that ran the card (I know it WASN’T Play/Rec; beyond that I don’t have a clue).

Since I’ve been interested in electronic music forever, and since no one else in the store had a clue what to do with it, I talked the owner into letting me take the system home occasionally. So when they finally had someone who was interested in purchasing a complete setup, naturally they had me do the demo.  Those were the days…they sold a $3500 computer with a $500 sound card, based on my dubious selling skills and a badly programmed version of the Miami Vice theme.  I did cheat, a little – in addition to the computer, I also had a Casio CZ-101 doing the guitar parts.  Not that anyone noticed, of course.

The customer wanted a really good keyboard – he didn’t like the dinky piano we were using (well, neither did I).  Given a (literal) blank check, I went to Sam Ash in Edison and picked out the Kurzweil K1000 as a controller.  If I could never actually own one, at least I could visit with it for a while.

And visit I did – I loved it. Loved the keyboard action, loved the look, and loved the sounds. As I recall I sold at least two other complete systems, and each time the K1000 was carefully and thoroughly tested for as long as I could possibly justify it.

Flash forward to, well, now. Although the K2000 series and beyond are firmly established as classic high-end high-power machines, the K1000 series faded quickly. They would show up on Ebay from time to time, usually for a couple of hundred dollars but always with outrageously high shipping. Which only makes sense as they’re made of things like real metal and weigh a ton. But I read craigslist… a lot. And about twelve seconds after one was listed a few weeks ago, I got it.

I have an absolute limit of $100 on any single piece of kit. Although I have a lot of equipment, my cheap nature (or thriftiness) means that most of the things I buy have something wrong with them. But in this case, I got the K1000, the stand, both original pedals, a copy of the manual, and the power cord, for that same $100. The only defect at all – which I didn’t even notice until I was reading up on the unit – was the backlight was bad.

Although it’s not really a big deal, my eyes aren’t all that great anymore.  There are a number of approaches to this, but since I found a guy on Ebay selling replacement EL panels for $25, I went the easy route.

Working on this is a dream. It’s big, well-made, solid, and logical.


From left to right, the processor board, the keyboard logic board, and the power supply. There is a lithium backup battery, but it’s very intelligently mounted on the power supply PCB instead of, say, the middle of the programmer board (yes, Korg, I’m looking at you).

This is the panel board which contains the LCD display.


Sorry about the odd colors – it’s a new camera & I haven’t figured out all the settings yet. Here’s the actual LCD panel with the LCD removed from the circuit board and the EL panel visible, and the replacement EL panel. I used flush cutters to snip the two leads on the existing panel, tinned the little copper tabs on the replacement, and soldered it in as quickly as I could to avoid melting the covering.


This is the panel after the install. Which you could see in the first picture  if the flash hadn’t gone off. You may also notice the display looks a little odd – I initially installed the LCD upside down, which offset the element contacts and shifted the letters over one row.  Memo to self – magic markers are our friends.

I also took the opportunity to clean the inside and out, checked all the connections, made sure the backup battery was holding a charge, and tested all keys, all switches,  and the pitch & mod wheels.  There are no other problems.

And it still sounds awesome.