Favorite Stringer?

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Favorite Stringer?

Postby tomorrowstops » Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:27 pm

At some point this year I'd like to pick up a good ol' stringer. You know, the Solina type. One of my first synths was a Prelude, but at the time I had no idea what I was doing and let it go. The Solina obviously would be great, along with a VP330 or RS505, but I don't want to sink that much into it.

The weirder, the cheaper, the better. Hardware definitely.

What are your favorites?
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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby nathanscribe » Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:59 pm

No bias just because I'm selling one, but the Korg Lambda is very nice. It's more of a general ensemble keyboard than a stringer, and thought the Piano and whatnot aren't great alone, combinations of presets can sound wonderful. The Chorus is particularly nice (ie, the choir sound). It uses 3 oscillators with out-of-phase modulation to give a nice thick finish, and the BBD ensemble (ie, chorus effect) can get nice and phasey as slow settings. Stereo output too. And it looks like furniture.

I've got a Roland RS-101 too, from about 1975, which is always breaking down but sounds great - it only does one thing though, which some will find limiting. Stick it through a Small Stone or Phase 100 and you're laughing.
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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby garranimal » Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:14 pm

I've played and owned many over the years. The most superb to my ears is the Roland VP-330 and RS-505 quad-bbd ensembles. So thick and juicy, full of life and character. I am also a big fan of the Solina, there is just something magical about the way the parts are filtered that give it a distinct tone. Here's a quick pulse on my sentiments:
- Logan String Melody: Full rich timbre due to 4 octave voice mix.
- Elka Rhapsody, Crumar Multiman/Orchestrator: excellent stringers on a budget. You could hardly go wrong if it has three bbd lines.
- Roland RS-202: meh.
- Korg Polysix: very nice bbd ensemble effects for having only one bbd line(?).
- Korg Delta: a little on the bizarre side, its character sounds more like a cheesy organ to me but the synth can be layered in with interesting results.
- JH Triple Chorus: Sounds especially good on phase-locked polysynths like the Juno-106.
- Freeman: one day I'll get to play one.
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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby nathanscribe » Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:22 pm

garranimal wrote:The most superb to my ears is the Roland VP-330 and RS-505 quad-bbd ensembles. So thick and juicy, full of life and character.

- Roland RS-202: meh.


Which is interesting because the 101 and 202 also have quad BBD ensembles. The 101 has no control whatsoever over it, the 202 has a little. Not sure how the 330/505 compare, though.
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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby ryryoftokyo » Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:35 pm

I've been in the market for a stringer lately. So many options, so little time, and even less money.
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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby vicd » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:43 pm

Watch on youtube.com

My TOM-1501 is a clone (well, less some buttons)...

I don't like the drums, but the drums like me!
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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby Infinity Curve » Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:58 pm

Elka Rhapsody 490. Add a small stone and you are good to go to outer space.
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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby pmh » Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:48 pm

How about an E-mu Proteus 2, an orchestral synth which may have the sound you are looking for. There are some examples on YouTube.

Last one I saw went for a shade over £80, about $115.

They are, of course, rack mount however.

The Solina is an incredible sound, though I have not touched one since the early 80s. I do have a VSTi version, but it's just not the same.

Kind regards,



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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby commodorejohn » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:57 pm

I can only speak for the ones I own, but both are pretty nice. The Hohner String Performer is very lush and mellow, clearly synthetic, Oxygene kind of string sounds. Its additional sounds aren't worth much (the piano and clavichord can do pretty nicely for putting a harder attack on the strings, but the solo sounds are just absurdly cheesy,) but the basic sound is just gorgeous.

The Crumar Orchestrator, on the other hand, is brighter and crisper, sounding more like an attempt to synthesize Mellotron strings - even with the tone control all the way down it's not as soft as the Hohner. The basic sound isn't as lush, but it's still quite nice, and the additional sounds are much better - piano and clavichord sound good on their own and mix very nicely, and the paraphonic brass section has a Moog filter on which you can adjust the envelope cutoff amount and resonance, which is excellent.
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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby synthroom » Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:27 pm

I've got a Crumar Performer and I love the string sounds it makes. Select both octave range buttons at the same time, then push the bass and treble bias up and drop the mid bias down and it's got a very etherial sound to it. That said, I hate the brass sound. But the string sound more than make up for the brass.
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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby Carey M » Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:58 pm

Don't know how useful this is, but these are my experiences on the string machines I've owned or played with enough to form an opinion.

Logan String Melody
Soft, lush, ethereal. Probably my favourite string ensemble sound. Doesn't cut through the mix as well as some others. But man, I just love the sound. I've played on Melody II, but long ago and can't really say how they compare soundwise.

Hohner String Performer
Very similar to String Melody, but not as soft. The string sound is "heavier". Ie. more bass, has a bit of a grinding quality to it, but the difference isn't huge.

Crumar Multiman S (same as Orchestrator)
A bit weedier than the Logan, more "real" sounding. A great feature set. And the strings cut through really well. You can't adjust the attack fully, IIRC, but the tone controls are nice to have. A nice underdog solution.

Solina String Ensemble
I've had two that were rather different in sound. One was very lush and with a deeper chorus. The other was weedier and the ensemble effect didn't seem as deep as on the other. I like the Logan better, but the Solina works on just about anything.

Korg PE-2000
Fantastic phaser, but without it the strings were rather dry sounding. Other polyphonic sounds lackluster, but still with some of that old-Korg character. An oddball.

Moog Opus 3
As a whole, probably my favourite ensemble synth. The synth (aka brass) section is really nice and the strings, though a bit weedy, cut nicely. The ensemble effect is great and the string section has its own switchable (non-articulating) multimode filter. Bandpass sweeps, baby! I have a couple of demos up on soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/matti-juhana/moog-opus-3-demo-1
https://soundcloud.com/matti-juhana/moog-opus-3-demo-2

Yamaha SK-20
The organ is the best part here. The strings are alright, maybe a bit like the Crumars, a bit weak though and not what I'd call lush. The synth section is alright, but the Opus sounds better to me.

Arp Omni II
Great strings, similar to Solina (but not identical) and a nice synth section. Classic sounds.


I guess my next stop is a Roland stringer as I haven't had any of those. Maybe the little RS-09...
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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby garranimal » Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:09 am

nathanscribe wrote:
garranimal wrote:The most superb to my ears is the Roland VP-330 and RS-505 quad-bbd ensembles. So thick and juicy, full of life and character.

- Roland RS-202: meh.


The RS-202 schematics I've been looking at has three MN3002 chips but maybe it wasn't fair enough so say meh when I gloated over the other triple bbd stringers.
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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby fh991586 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:17 am

On the cheap and usually easy to obtain side, I can suggest the Roland RS-09.
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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby nathanscribe » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:27 am

garranimal wrote:
nathanscribe wrote:
garranimal wrote:The most superb to my ears is the Roland VP-330 and RS-505 quad-bbd ensembles. So thick and juicy, full of life and character.

- Roland RS-202: meh.


The RS-202 schematics I've been looking at has three MN3002 chips but maybe it wasn't fair enough so say meh when I gloated over the other triple bbd stringers.


Hmm, you are indeed correct... which is interesting, as the 101 definitely has a quad-3002 ensemble. The main tone-generating board is the same in both units, mind.
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Re: Favorite Stringer?

Postby Jorvik » Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:37 pm

Carey M wrote:Logan String Melody
Soft, lush, ethereal. Probably my favourite string ensemble sound. Doesn't cut through the mix as well as some others. But man, I just love the sound. I've played on Melody II, but long ago and can't really say how they compare soundwise.

Solina String Ensemble
I've had two that were rather different in sound. One was very lush and with a deeper chorus. The other was weedier and the ensemble effect didn't seem as deep as on the other. I like the Logan better, but the Solina works on just about anything.


I own both (well, a String Melody II) and would agree with this. The Logan is sweet and ethereal whereas my Eminent is darker and more raspy. At some point I intend doing a video comparing the sounds.

Isn't the only difference between the SM and SMII that the latter has different presets which affect the chorus/vibrato and in some cases over-ride the mixer levels? Or are there sonic differences in the underlying architecture?

The trumpet and horn on the Solina can add a useful bit of weight to the sound but don't sound very brassy on their own. The Solina's CV outs are also very useful – I have Doepfer minicase processing unit to run them through so I can get sounds like the GForce Virtual String Machine (which was what got me hooked) and it's less faffy on the Solina; whereas I have to rely on the enveloper follower for the Logan.

The SMII's variable mixing of the violin/viola/cello levels is really great for shaping the sound. I also find the fact that it's an octave higher than the Solina very useful, as is its keyboard split and ability to have different settings on the upper and lower sections.

Another plus point for the String Melody is that it's properly polyphonic wherease the Solina is only paraphonic, but in the Solina's favour its attack/release are far longer than the Logan's, which are rather short IMO.

I really, dearly wish my Logan's Bass and especially Percussive Bass worked (they're barely audible) as I'd get a lot of mileage out of the latter. The Logan's rather more manageable weight-wise as well :oops:

I'm amazed at how both have shot up in price in the last few years. I think a couple of absolutely mint Logans have, unfortunately, sent the price of lesser ones sky high on eBay, at least in the UK. I only paid about £130 for mine but they seem to go for about 600 quid these days (not that I've looked in ages). I thought £750 was steep for a Solina at the time a few years ago, but they seem to have gone crazy :roll:
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