Logan / Hohner String Melody

Hohner String Melody Image

The String Melody is an Italian string synthesizer from Logan Electronics, first released in 1973. At first, success was lukewarm as Logan Electronics was relatively unknown. But in 1977 a slightly updated ‘mark II’ model was released and Logan Electronics began to see some commercial success from the sales of this instrument. As a result, almost all String Melodies floating around out there today are the ‘mark II’ version, as the original is quite rare. Also of note: outside of Italy, the String Melody was distributed by Hohner International, so you will find them labeled either the Hohner or Logan String Melody.

There are three basic sounds available: ‘Violin’, ‘Viola’ and ‘Cello’. These three sounds are actually all the same sound, just in three different octaves. The keyboard is permanently split in the middle, with the lower half called Bass and the upper called Treble. There are three drawbar volume sliders for each of the three sounds in the Bass region (the red sliders), and another three sliders for the three sounds in the Treble region (the blue sliders). This allows you to mix in as much of each sound in either section of the keyboard as you want for some really customized string combinations!

But wait, there is more! There are another two additional sounds on-board: ‘Bass’ and ‘Perc’. These sounds are only available in the Bass region of the keyboard (the yellow sliders). The name of the ‘Perc’ sound is a little misleading though, as it is still a bass string sound—it’s just that it is a percussive sub-bass sound with a fast attack.

The only other control sliders are for two sets of Attack and Release (called ‘Sustain’ on the String Melody). One set controls the Bass region and the other allows for independent control of the Treble region. In back there is a single 1/4 inch mono audio output and a volume control pedal input. But that is it—no CV or Gate options here.

On the ‘mark I’ there is a button called ‘Orchestra’ which acts sort of like an ensemble effect Preset, recalling its own mix-levels and attack/decay settings in which all the tone sliders are at full volume. This is where the ‘mark II’ version differs from the original—it added four new ensemble effect Presets: ‘O’, ‘ACC.’, ‘SOLO’, and ‘ORGAN’. You must have at least one of these effect Presets on at all times - it uses those old-fashioned push buttons where engaging one button disengages whatever button was previously engaged, so at least one button is always engaged. The ‘O’ setting is a subtle chorus effect. The ‘ACC’ (Accordion) is the closest thing to no ensemble effect, leaving the strings sounding their driest. ‘SOLO’ is a vibrato-like effect with some chorusing. ‘ORGAN’ is a really nice chorus that’s almost phaser-like.

The String Melody is a pure string synth, and has a really great sound. Being Italian, it sounds quite different from similar types of string synths from Roland (Japan) and ARP (USA), and many would say the String Melody has the best sound of them all! It may not have as much editable flexibility as the others, but it sounds so good—it truly does what it was meant to do, and does it just right! It is built into a durable heavy flight-case with wood paneling, a handle, and even a cover! Considering that it is a niche instrument, they seem to maintain a relatively low second-hand market price. Which means if you can find one, you’d better jump at the chance to acquire it, because samples still can’t beat the real thing!

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23 Visitor comments
State of Mindd
June 8, 2011 @ 5:30 pm
Bought one of these on eBay - orginally as a cheap substitute for a Solina - but it has become one of my favourite pieces of outboard gear.
One remark: While probably technically correct, I think it's a bit confusing for the average player (myself included) to refer to the ACC and ORGAN sounds as "effects". Their sounds are very different - all the other settings sound like strings - these definitely sound more like accordion and organ.
Otherwise, a fine review of a very charming and probably underrated instrument.
Chris
April 14, 2011 @ 5:18 pm
I've just acquired one of these, having wanted a string synth for a while. It sounds fantastic, even better than the otherwise very impressive samples from Hollow Sun. Being able to interactively alter the sound is part of the fun of these beasts, just as it is with analogue synths,

The only downsides are the action of the keyboard (very fragile feeling), and the sheer weight if you have to move it around - the best part of 30 kilos is not something you want to lug about with just a flimsy handle!
micke
January 14, 2011 @ 12:52 pm
The String Melody mk I was additionally marketed in the UK as the "Vox String Thing",
which was the version used by Nick Magnus back in the day, eg with Steve Hackett band.
 
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  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 49 notes
  • LFO - No user controls
  • Filter - None
  • Envelope - Attack / Decay (Sustain)
  • Effects - Ensemble effects (mkI has 1 ensemble effect; mkII has 5: O, ACC., SOLO, ORCH., and ORGAN)
  • Arpeg/Seq - None
  • Keyboard - 49 keys
  • Memory - None
  • Control - Volume Control Pedal input
  • Date Produced -
    mkI 1973 - 1976
    mkII 1977 -1980
  • Resources & Credits
  • Original images from Wikipedia

    Reviewed January 2011

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