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
G. Vos
August 5, 2011 @ 3:01 pm
Early seventies a few Italian companies were merged, so you could find a Solina string thing in a Viscount home organ, or - in my case - in a very rare 1973 Hammond clone built by Intercontinental! This organ still works fine, checked it today... :-)
Piano, harpsi etc runs from upper manual, and violin cello etc from lower, each with it's own sustain control too. Absolutely love it! :-)
Had this organ since bought new, I was 8 at the time playing for a choir. Time flies...

Just to add a little to the jealousy: ever heard these Strings through a Leslie 122?? Gorgeous..... :-)
Son of MooG
January 19, 2011 @ 11:53 am
I had those Strings in my Eminent Organ around 1976, with wich I taught myself playing keys. Without these Strings and the "Multivoice"-Effect I would've missed a lot of sound-inspiration.
January 13, 2011 @ 9:31 pm
Out of all my keyboards, which is a considerable collection, the Solina is my favorite. It just has a certain sound that's extremely silky and just sits in a mix like nothing else, IMHO.

The ensemble effect is a huge part of it, but even the oscillators without it have a creamy sound. The crescendo and sustain sliders really make it breath and drift and [beep] up, and the notes just bang together in a genuinely pleasing and undeniably cool way.

Like I said, my personal favorite.
January 9, 2011 @ 7:51 pm
I used to have a Carlos Robelli 'Superstringer' that looked very similar. It must have been a copy of this model. Sounded very cool.
September 23, 2010 @ 8:39 am
How can the Solina be rated as being twice as excellent as the Korg ES-50 Lambda? I find this odd... Perhaps it is merely because the Solina was used more?
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Rated 3.97 (388 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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