Rare EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256 (pre-owned by Jürgen Karg)

The EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256: beautiful design, very rare. Only two dozen of them were supposedly built. One unit now appeared on Reverb.com (auction by the Belgian vintage shop Ocsidance). According to the dealer, this sequencer belonged to German composer and sound artist Jürgen Karg (born in 1942, age 79).

EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256

Karg’s career was varied and vibrant. In the 1960s, he gigged as a double bass player side by side with jazz musician Wolfgang Dauner. And he also played in the German classical orchestra “Süddeutsches Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester” (Stuttgart).

EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256

In the 1970s, Karg switched to electronic music. The collective recording “ELECTRONISCHE MYTHEN” (Electronic Myths) was created. This recording was made exclusively with EMS snthesizers. Four VCS3 produced the tones, controlled by the digital memory unit, the EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256.

Jürgen Karg, Elektronische Mythen, EMS VCS3, EMS Synthi Sequencer 256

Karg, who had several (!) VCS3 synthesizers in use, was surprisingly critical of them:

“The analog VCS3 synthesizers from EMS […] were extremely primitive and were hardly suitable for serious sound production, since they were not frequency stable. Only ring-modulated sounds could arouse my interest. And the Sequencer 256, the entry into digital technology, only slightly expanded the possibilities of control technology. Those 256 storable were rapidly being used up and had to be controlled in frequency in order to allow variety at all.”

(Translation from: http://juergenkarg.de)

EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256

EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256

Karg has made some modifications to the EMS sequencer, such as two additional VC Slew Limiter and extra outputs, in order to be able to control the already mentioned 4 EMS synths all at the same time.

The EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256 is a stunning machine. In addition to its many outputs, its external (clock) control options and its unusual (massive!) appearance, it features a luxurious 5-octave keyboard.

EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256

EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256

What a pity that the original logo (“SYNTHI Sequencer 256”) is missing on this unit. However, the useful extras / modifications by Karg will surely compensate for that.

EMS SYNTHI Sequencer 256


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Jürgen Karg: “Die Versunkene Stadt” (The Sunken City)

(from the Vinyl “Elektronische Mythen”, 1977)

Filed under 2021, General, Stories

“Es genügt, einen Ton schön zu spielen” sagte der Komponist Arvo Pärt im Jahre 2005. Diese Aussage ist ebenso einfach wie ich auch exzellent: Es braucht kein Meer an Tönen, denn entscheidend ist der Klang. Dass so mancher Vintage-Synthesizer der 70er und 80er Jahre teils unerreicht hochwertige Klänge liefert, steht außer Frage. Doch tatsächlich leben wir “heute” in einer nahezu perfekten Zeit. Einerseits hat man – mehr oder weniger – noch Zugriff auf die Vintage Analogen, andererseits wird auch bei Neugeräten die wichtige Komponente des hochwertigen Klanges wieder zunehmend berücksichtigt. Doepfer, Cwejman, Synthesizers.com, MacBeth, Moog, GRP, Studio Electronics, COTK, John Bowen und andere Hersteller bauen hervorragende Synthesizer, die den “Klassikern” in nichts nachstehen. All diesen (alten wie neuen) “großartigen” Instrumenten ist Great Synthesizers gewidmet. _________________________________________________________ In 2005 composer Arvo Pärt said: “Playing one tone really well is enough”. In other words, it is sufficient to play one tone 'beautifully'. I agree with that. All musical efforts are focused on the sound itself. Although I studied classical music (piano and drums), it’s the electronic sound that inspires me. Synthesizers are the epitome of new sounds and exciting tonal spheres. Today, many companies produce high-quality - excellent! - synthesizers: Doepfer, Cwejman, MacBeth, Moog, GRP, Synthesizers.com, COTK, Studio Electronics, John Bowen and others. It's their products I'm really interested in ... apart from Vintage Synthesizers, which I have been collecting for 20 years. Subsequent to our former websites Bluesynths and Blogasys, Peter Mahr and I have now created GreatSynthesizers. We hope you like it.

1 Comment

  1. Dr Graham Green

    They may have been primitive and not very stable, but in their defense they were not several thousand dollars each, they were around $600 each, so more bang for your buck, prices today reflect how good these “pathetic little machines” to Quote Peter Zinovieff are, and are still highly sort after, and copied by amateurs and professionals alike.

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