ARP Explorer I

ARP Explorer I Image

The Explorer is a programmable preset analog synthesizer. It was very similar to ARP's Pro-Soloist and Pro-DGX preset synths, but offered more flexibility when it came to modifying or creating entirely new sounds. The preset sounds of the Explorer are your basic flute, trumpet, clarinet, strings, pulsar, lunar lander, etc. But unlike other preset synths of the time, in "Manual" mode you could synthesize all kinds of new sounds ranging from wind effects to electronic synth sounds.

The simple design and controls offer three main sections. The waveform section lets you mix and match its various waveforms at different pitch ranges to create unique sounds and timbres. There's a VCF/VCA section with basic ADSR and filter controls for shaping and contouring sounds. The filter is a decent low-pass 4-pole filter. And an effects section offers controls for repeat, vibrato, pitch bend, portamento, etc. All in all the Explorer is a unique and somewhat rare piece of equipment which signalled, at least for ARP, the transition of compact vintage synths from preset to programmable sounds. It has been used by Philip Glass and Herbie Hancock.

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11 Visitor comments
Bad Sneakers
June 6, 2011 @ 5:57 am
I have one of these for Sale in MINT CONDITION!! In fact it's a museum quality! Lovely synth with that classic ARP sound - angular, warm and gritty. Email me at for pics and info. Will post worldwide.
D Taylor
May 28, 2011 @ 8:10 pm
@Sven: Really the only way to make the sliders work more smoothly is to replace them, or remove them from the circuit board, disassemble them, clean them thoroughly, apply new grease, and re-assemble. I take old sliders apart all the time, and while time consuming, it's often cheaper than trying to find an original in good condition, especially if the part is really rare.
Keith Hale
May 11, 2011 @ 4:16 pm
The Explorer was my first synth. I used it extensively on Toyah's first album, " Sheep Farming in Barnet*. Her first single *Victims* had at least 3 parts multitracked to provide the harmonic structure of the track.

You can hear also it on "Warrior Rock" and "Mayhem", also by Toyah, as well as almost anything by my own band Blood Donor, and finally the "Zones" and "Levitation" Live albums by Hawkwind.

I tried to get it repaired a few years ago, but sadly it's joined the great oscillator in the sky.
February 21, 2011 @ 11:15 am
I also have one of these and agree w/the comments - including the flimsy cardboard bottom. ;) I get some very big bass sounds (very similar character to Minimoog) and love it for that... Only issue is the sliders (Resonance and ADSR) have gotten very sticky and I haven't found a good way to smoothen the action on them. (Ideas welcome).
October 22, 2010 @ 9:15 am
I too own one of these little beasties and have a lot of fun with it. It holds it own against many monos of the 70s and early 80s and I agree with your comments.

Only thing I don't like is the base - mine is made of bendy hardboard which I'm loathe to replace in case it's original.

Anyone confirm?
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Rated 3.14 (166 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Monophonic
  • Oscillators - 1 VCO (w/ sawtooth, square, narrow pulse and modulated-width pulse waveforms and Pink Noise generator)
  • LFO - 1 LFO with adjustable speed, depth and delay controls
  • Filter - 4-pole (24dB/oct) low pass filter with cutoff and resonance controls
  • VCA - 1 ADSR envelope
  • Keyboard - 37 keys
  • Arpeg/Seq - None
  • Control - None
  • Memory - None
  • Effects - repeat, delayed vibrato, bender, portamento, and pitchbend
  • Date Produced - 1974 -1978
  • Resources & Credits
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