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
August 31, 2010 @ 12:07 pm
Probably worth mentioning, the Solina String Ensemble is the string circuit which was built by Eminent into the 310 series of organs. The 310 is famous for Jarre's Equinoxe and Oxygene sounds, and the organ itself proved to be such a success that ARP licensed the technology and released the Solina. The characteristic "Oxygene" sound was produced by running the Solina through a Small Stone phaser.

The same string section is also present in the Eminent 2000 Grand Theatre organ, however, I would not recommend that one for on the road use!

So, bottom line: ARP Solina, same string section as the 310U, different box.
August 7, 2010 @ 6:56 pm
Henke, Yes Flash did use it I own one and it is it.
April 29, 2010 @ 4:00 am
I've always wondered if it was this one that is used on - basically - all Flash and the Pan albums. They used a string synthesiser up front as their main backing on all songs. I've always wondered which. Their string sound sounds a lot like the one found on KORG Polysix but their albums were made earlier. As much as you can probe deep and scrutinize the net on all info on Flash and the Pan, there's nothing about instrumentation and production, since they were basically a studio spin off project, that went well for the beginning of the 80s. Harry Vanda and George Young were the men behind Flash and The Pan.
April 6, 2010 @ 8:56 pm
Didn't STYX use this for Mr. Roboto?
Charles Van de Kree
March 31, 2010 @ 2:22 am
For nostalgists, the Solina is an interesting find. There's no doubting its sleek and gorgeous string sound. And with a Small Stone phaser, it can really dominate a mix with its icy sheen and flashing neon. On the other hand, they seem to be pretty pricey, going for right around a grand on ebay. Still, for those who want a dedicated string machine, it's probably the best buy--unless that is you can find and afford an Eminent. Good luck with that, though. If you can't afford it, the Ensoniq Mirage is quite capable of doing a spot-on impersonation of the Solina.
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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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