Taking Proper Care of Your Vintage Synth

Vintage Synthesizer

Post date:

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 14:21


Naomi Bolton

In this day and age when many people rush out to the store the second a new version of their phone or gadget is announced, it’s hard to imagine holding on to hardware that is decades old or even paying a fortune for the privilege of owning them. However, this is exactly what many fans of vintage synthesizers do and it’s not just collectors either, but people who actually still use the equipment because they love the sounds they produce. While many modern products appear to be designed with built-in obsolescence, vintage gear has continued on for far longer than what their designers probably ever envisioned. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that they are impervious to damage, so care must be taken to keep them functional. Even if your vintage synth looks spotless from the outside, there could still be major problems lurking inside. The following tips will help you to extend the lifespan of your vintage synth and nip any potential problems in the bud before they get a chance to cause damage.

Check For Battery Leaks

As forum user “HideawayStudio” has pointed out, battery leakage can wreak havoc to the printed circuit boards of your vintage gear. Some batteries are more prone to leakage than others, but most of them carry the risk of corrosive acid spilling out eventually. Alkaline and NiCad batteries, in particular, are susceptible to this and are worth replacing with lithium batteries whenever possible. So, don’t just polish your gear on the outside, remember to also check the inside as some of the batteries used in vintage gear are now getting close to 40 years old. Check out the list of vintage gear at risk of severe damage due to battery leakage that HideawayStudio is maintaining on the forum and make sure that you keep yours in good shape.

Keep An Eye On Capacitors

Capacitors are often overlooked because they are unlikely to cause any direct damage. However, damaged or faulty capacitors leaves other components open to the risk of power spikes. Capacitor problems can also influence filters and oscillators, so it is worth examining them every now and then to check for caps that are bulging or blown. Since a lot of capacitors were made of perishable materials, it is usually only a matter of time before problems arise. Chips and transistors are often damaged by surge energy when filter capacitors in power supplies begin failing, so make sure any issues are quickly addressed.

Keep Your Synth Out Of Direct Sunlight

Unlike humans, vintage synths have no need for vitamin D, so keep them out of direct sunlight. This is not just to prevent the case from fading, but can also safeguard the synth against other issues. Keeping it out of direct sunlight decreases the chances of it overheating and ending up with dry solder joints.

Minimize Dust And Smoke

Dust and smoke can cause a lot of problems for any type of equipment, especially vintage synths. Always try to keep the environment where your synth is used or stored as smoke-free as possible. Dust is inevitable, but to keep it from building up in the knobs and sliders it is a good idea to invest in a dust cover. This won’t eliminate the problem completely, but can help to reduce the amount of dust that gets into your synth.

Use It Or Lose It

As nice as vintage synths are to look at, they are meant to be used, and if you don’t it, can actually lead to problems. Even if you only turn it on every now and then to let it warm up you can decrease the chances of the capacitors drying up. Moisture build up can be a big problem in areas with a lot of humidity, so depending on where you live, don’t leave the synth switched off for extended periods of time. However, don’t overdo it and leave the synth switched on all the time either as this can also cause problems. Instead, turn off your synths when you are not using them. If you do have to keep your synth switched off for a long period of time, invest in a proper case, store it flat and don’t forget to add packets of silica gel for good measure.





Do You Have Any Other Maintenance Tips for Vintage Synthesizers?

Comment below and, if they are good, we will add it to this article.