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
December 22, 2008 @ 10:57 am
Jean-Michel Jarre used both. He used the String Ensemble most on Oxygene and Equinoxe though.
December 19, 2008 @ 4:26 am
On "Oxygene", Jarre used the Eminent 310U organ. He never played the Solina during his career.
November 24, 2008 @ 10:16 am
Jean Michel Jarre's classic Oxygene is Solina strings put through a msallstone effects pedal....
October 26, 2008 @ 3:12 pm
To the best of my knowledge, neither Joy Division, OMD nor New Order ever used one of these back in the day.

More famous users of this classic stringer: Rick Wright ("Dreamweaver"), Herbie Hancock, Patrick Gleeson (who was given an early prototype from Arp back in '73), David Bowie, Thomas Dolby, Geoff Downes ( w / Buggles, Yes, Asia), Rick Van Der Linden (w / Trace), Greg Mathieson, Giorgio Moroder (From here to eternity, Midnight Express soundtrack album), Mike Oldfield, Roxy Music, Sparks, Roger Powell, Todd Rundgren, Ralph Grierson, Alphaville, The Moog Cookbook, Duncan MacKay, Les Rockets, Tonto's expanding head band, Ian Underwood, David Hentschel, Suzanne Ciani, Joe Delia (Driller killer soundtrack etc) and many more....
Paul Cox
October 7, 2008 @ 10:18 am
I recently dug out my ARP solina string ensemble (24yrs), left it in the sun indoors for 2 days and it worked perfectly. I played it twice, leant it to a friend who has knock it over, into the corner of a monitor. I am now looking for another one for breaking. I will know exactly what I need in a few days once it is assessed. I need to use it on a progressive rock track that is in the latter stages of recording in a studio. Can anyone help? The chap who dropped will underwrite the repairs. I hope you can post this for me. Desperate

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User Rating

Rated 3.97 (390 Votes)

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  • 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
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    Review updated August, 2012.

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