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
January 20, 2010 @ 6:23 pm
Joy Division used a Solina on "Atmosphere'; Bernie Sumner confirms this in the 'Synth Brittania' doc.
Solinas are one of the easiest 'synths' to spot in a mix...solina chorus has that icy, airy, not-quite-a-wobble happening that is so very different from all the other stringers. 'Sound&Vision' by Bowie probably the most obvious example.
August 4, 2009 @ 10:10 am mention of Bernie Worrell? Check out Prelude on The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein and the string parts on Flashlight. Classic sounds.
elang eby
May 16, 2009 @ 2:02 pm
i have this one and this is my second strings after roland rs 202...but i never use roland rs 202 anymore...;'ll know the reason after you've try both of them...i bought this cos darkel from AIR...i'm a huge fan of yess mr jarre always have the first thing first...see the oxygene instrument explanation from him and he always said this is my first...ems,theremin,etc...yess his a pioneer...doesn't matter what he use but see how he used and threat his equipment...that's the important things...;p

elang eby
David Johnson
February 5, 2009 @ 1:37 pm
Mike Oldfield also used the Solina String Ensemble; you'll see him pictured with it in the booklet that came with the BOXED set.
January 10, 2009 @ 8:41 pm
Jean-Michel Jarre did not play the Solina, but the Eminent 310 Unique organ. But the confusion is easily made; The Solina's circuitry is taken directly from the Eminent.
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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
  • Images from

    Review updated August, 2012.

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