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VCS3 buying decisions?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Buchla, EMS & Serge  
Author VCS3 buying decisions?
mousegarden
I've been offered a VCS3, I think by a forum member, not sure.
It's been modified quite heavily.
The asking price is £9,000.
Here is a list of the mods...

"* The Matrix has been modded to behave like a mkI VCS3
* Hi/Lo switches on oscillators 2 & 3
* Envelope shaper source select switch (selects where the envelope gets its trigger from - either 8-way keyboard connector or external gate input)
* External gate input jack on rear of unit (supplied with special lead for use with MIDI/CV converter)
* Input channel SI/Mult switches (disconnects the link from 8 way keyboard socket - useful if keyboard and external audio inputs are connected as they can interact and crackle)
* Voltage controlled oscillator shape (3 x 3.5mm jack sockets with special patchpin leads - modulate osc shape, especially interesting for stereo effects)
* Dual patchable inverter (uses 3.5mm - patchpin lead to invert signals)
* Two extra input channels (fitted on back panel for CV or line level audio, joystick position to control levels!) with switch EXT CV / STICK.
* "Multiple" - four 3.5mm jack sockets wired to each other to act as a CV splitter when patching the mods together - control several things at once, for example."

It has been owned by Edward Williams and was used on the Life On Earth soundtrack.
It currently has a problem with one oscillator, but is being serviced by EMS.
I really want to buy an original, in unmodified condition, but I don't know about this, maybe this would be OK. some help would be greatly appreciated.
bwhittington
Maybe it depends on how well the mods are done, and you should be able to get a good opinion about that from Mr. Wood if he is servicing it. I've come around from being concerned about stock appearance to thinking that mods are great. I wish I'd picked a few more when I ordered mine. It really is a fairly simple synth without them.

A minor point, but the 3.5mm jacks don't seem like all that elegant of an approach. They depend on those convertor cables, and I never quite know where mine are when I need them.
lud
The Life On Earth soundtrack is amazing (and the series too!)
papz
The #1 question is "why do you want a VCS3 ?"
Then the answer to the other questions will come by itself.
momo
In my opinion these machines spring to life with modifications, and for those who worry after such things, they’re one of the vintage synths that seem not to be adversely affected price wise by mods (probably because they’re so useful).

If it’s lust, only an EMS will do, but it’s worth mentioning that you may wish to try to meet a Pin Electronics Hornet or Portabella, because they will likely be more reliable long term being of new manufacture, but in my experience that comes at the cost of the ‘bizarre’ factor EMS instruments are known and loved for. Final comment is that the Seaelectro pin matrix is vastly inferior in mechanical or tactile feedback than the Ghielmetti ones used by Pin and even the Jurgen Haible Synthi inspired device that I had the fortune to meet once in a tech’s living room awaiting repair following damage of the instrument during shipping. The difference to me is akin to 3.5mm vs. banana plugs. I’m not talking about reliability by the way - purely how joyous and solid the Ghielmetti matrices feels - there’s no comparison.
Scot Solida
mousegarden wrote:

I really want to buy an original, in unmodified condition, but I don't know about this, maybe this would be OK. some help would be greatly appreciated.


Judging by what I’ve seen of your temperament, I’d say that you should get an original, unmodified unit, otherwise, you’ll always second-guess your decision. On the other hand, I also think you’ll want some mods. Plus, this one is available. It isn’t every day that they come up for sale at a price you might find agreeable.

I have a nearly unmodified VCS3 MkII/DK2 and I love it dearly. However, I have no problem with the idea of further adding to it. Papz offers mods that do not change the appearance and can be safely removed if you change your mind.
chamomileshark
papz wrote:
The #1 question is "why do you want a VCS3 ?"
Then the answer to the other questions will come by itself.


Definately this is the question. Especially given you were downsizing on the modular side.

I can't quite understand why if you aren't a collector why having mods could be a deal breaker, with the assumption that these mods have been done properly and it's not been over done.

Mines new, fairly heavily modded but given the amount of blank panelling it dosn't look cluttered in the way that many modulars do.

It would be interesting to find out how many of pre Cornwall VCS3s are still un modded.
mousegarden
Thanks folks, I spoke to EMS this morning, it's pointless me going on the waiting list really, I may end up playing it in my coffin.
The chap who's offered this VCS is going to mail me when it's been repaired.
Why do I want one? It was my first synth, I love the sound and what it can do, and it will put a smile on my face every time I walk into the room. That pin matrix is pure heaven to use, espefially for feedback loops!

PS, that Pin Electronics Portabella doesn't look bad!
askthedust
mousegarden wrote:


PS, that Pin Electronics Portabella doesn't look bad!


don't want to hijack your thread but what's the common opinion on those?
modulator_esp
I've also got an ex Edward Williams VCS3, though mine is a Mk 1

I've got all the same mods and they definitely add to the range of sounds you can get, though I must confess I've never used the multiples.

VC of waveshape is fantastic SlayerBadger!

I've had some of these mods added too, oscillator sync, random voltage generator and extended attack time
melodydad
mousegarden wrote:
Thanks folks, I spoke to EMS this morning, it's pointless me going on the waiting list really, I may end up playing it in my coffin.


I would go for a metal - 'spring tank' coffin and benefit from the reverb! hihi
melodydad
. . . not that we want you to be 'shuffling off your mortal coil' (spring) anytime soon, you understand! Guinness ftw!
papz
modulator_esp wrote:
I've had some of Pin's mods added too, oscillator sync, random voltage generator and extended attack time

Do you mean these mods http://www.portabellabz.be/synthimods/index.html ?
I remember you ordered one of the first Random Voltage Generator kits for VCS3 from me a few years ago.
These are not Pin's but mines, I'm not Pin and I'm not involved in his business in any way.
modulator_esp
papz wrote:
modulator_esp wrote:
I've had some of Pin's mods added too, oscillator sync, random voltage generator and extended attack time

Do you mean these mods http://www.portabellabz.be/synthimods/index.html ?
I remember you ordered one of the first Random Voltage Generator kits for VCS3 from me a few years ago.
These are not Pin's but mines, I'm not Pin and I'm not involved in his business in any way.


oops, sorry, I'll fix that smile
papz
Chugging Beers
Scot Solida
papz is a Synthi messiah! we're not worthy
mousegarden
I wish I'd never been made aware of the Pin, but there is a 6 month waiting list I think.
ix
i couldnt personally be without some of the mods as they totally open up the synthi.

The Osc hi / low switches are one , mod for shape of osc's are a second , the filter and res mods also add a lot of timbral variation , especially the res mod.Osc sync is also something i would not want to be without.
MindMachine
That's a ton of dough. Any likely future chances may be less/or more for a non-modded unit. I would no way in hell pay USD $12,000-13,000 for any EMS/ Synthi unless I was comfortably retired.

Otherwise, yes go for it.
slow_riot
From an investment point of view it's worth mentioning that the price for the VCS3 is hyper inflated. If you have that money to spend and not worry about it good, but any prediction for how the price will hold in the future is a speculation that no-one can accurately make.
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