ARP Solina String Ensemble

ARP Solina String Ensemble Image

The Solina String Ensemble is often thought of as the String Machine of the late 1970's disco era. It's a multi-orchestral machine with Violin, Viola, Trumpet, Horn, Cello and Contra-Bass sounds. These sounds can be engaged via individual on/off switches, allowing for a variety of ensemble configurations. The Cello and Contra-Bass sounds are monophonic and available only on the lower 20 keys of the keyboard. The remaining four sounds are polyphonic and can be played across the entire length of the keyboard. On their own, the sounds are quite unrealistic and not particularly useable. But when combined as an ensemble, and especially with the Chorus effect engaged, the resulting string sound becomes especially lush and shimmery.

The Solina String Ensemble uses divide-down technology, common in organs of the era, to achieve full polyphony. The Chorus/Ensemble effect is achieved by passing the sound through three modulated delay lines that cause a phase-shifting effect to make it sound thicker and more animated. There are also on-board Crescendo (attack) and Sustain Length (decay) sliders, volume sliders and a global tuning knob. It also has Gate and Trigger outputs from the polyphonic keyboard and is completely cased in wood (or wood-like) panels with a clean and discrete layout.

The Solina String Ensemble, like a few other ARP products, is not actually an ARP invention. The Solina was created by the Dutch company Eminent in 1974. It was derived from the string section of Eminent's 310U Organ, and sold commercially as the Eminent Solina String Ensemble. ARP bought the rights to re-brand the Solina for the US market as the ARP String Ensemble. There were also four versions: SE-I was monoaural with a permanent chorus effect, SE-II added an on/off switch for the chorus effect, SE-III added stereo sound, and SE-IV added LEDs.

The String Ensemble has been used by Air, The Eagles, Elton John, Pink Floyd, The Cure, Joy Division, OMD, Josh Wink, STYX, Tangerine Dream, Keane, Japan, and New Order.

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50 Visitor comments
April 5, 2014 @ 11:43 am
Hollow Sun has just released a Kontakt synth that uses an ensemble circuit clone.
Tom Domino
December 14, 2013 @ 9:18 am
I must have a real mutt here. Gate + Trigger jacks look like they were add-ons (IDs for these jacks are labels over original jack panel) but wiring for them looks original, Arp sticker is over top of a metal Solina name plate on c.p., no mod/chorus switch on far right. ID plate reads Series 10 No. 008xx71. Looks like the schematics and a small paper envelope (spare fuse?) are still tacked to the inside back panel in a large clear plastic sleeve. I bought it used in early '86 and it's never failed to fire up and work.
October 13, 2013 @ 6:02 am
I noticed today that when de Master Volume Fader is completely down... there's still sound coming through when you play.

Is this common ? or do I have to replace the Master Volume slider ? :-)
June 6, 2013 @ 8:12 pm
@sfh Mine does the same thing but I find if I just leave it for 20 minutes after powering up the noise is gone when I engage the ensemble. It's probably old caps in the ensemble circuit that are dying and once the synth warms up it goes away.

The Solina SE-IV is the best sounding stringer period. It has a brightness and smoothness the other stringers can't do. Youtube videos don't justify it as they can't catch the high frequencies properly. If it's too bright and you want it to sound more like a Roland, Crumar or Logan just put it through a low pass filter with some resonance.
Bob O
May 26, 2013 @ 9:48 am
I just got an SE IV and it sounds fantastic. Very silky and warm and a little more versatile than I thought it would be. Sits great in a mix. It should be noted that the information on this site is misleading. The SE IV pictured has no Led's and is mono out. The stereo version has led's and just says "Solina" on the front. According to some posts on Gearsluts the stereo version was produced by Eminent after Arp went out of business. It supposedly sounds inferior to the SE IV as they got rid of all the discreet circuits and hand wiring.
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 3.97 (390 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 - Full
  • Oscillators - Viola, Violin, Cello, Contra-Bass, Horn, Trumpet
  • LFO - n/a
  • Filter - n/a
  • VCA - Crescendo (attack) / Sustain (decay)
  • Keyboard - 49 keys
  • Arpeg/Seq - None
  • Control - CV/GATE
  • Date Produced - 1974 - 1981
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from

    Review updated August, 2012.

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