Yamaha GX-1

Yamaha GX-1 Image

The GX-1 was Yamaha's first big polyphonic analog synth, and it was a beast! Considered the predecessor to the CS-80 (another huge poly-synth), the GX-1 featured a triple-tiered keyboard, pedalboard, ribbon controller, eight polyphonic voices, chromed pedestals and a $50,000+ price tag! OK, so it wasn't designed for your everyday musician - less than 10 were ever made and have been owned mostly by legendary synth/keyboard players including Keith Emerson, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Rick Wright, George Fleury, Richard James of Aphex Twin, ABBA, and Hans Zimmer who bought Keith Emerson's.

Although it may look like an organ at first glance, it's all analog heaven inside! The two main keyboards have 61 (velocity sensitive!) keys each, and are supplemented by a smaller (3/4 scale, pressure sensitive) 37-note keyboard and a 25-note pedalboard at your feet - 184 keys total! Eight voices of polyphony plus an additional monophonic are available and can be shared and layered or split up among the different keyboards. There are also organ-style drawbars and a ribbon controller for tweaking the sounds. Additional programming buttons are hidden away under drawers and panels on the front-panel.

The GX-1 used two analog oscillators per voice which are pretty much the same one's used later in the CS-80, along with a mild 2-pole VCF (filter), standard LFO and some ADSR envelopes. The GX-1 also had two "swell" pedals and a spring-loaded knee controller. It was truly a lush synth for its time, and its frequent use by many rock-legends helped cement its place in history as well as pave the way for the legendary CS-80.

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22 Visitor comments
Oneki Kai
August 26, 2008 @ 9:36 pm
The Alesis QS series has waveforms sampled from this, supposedly.
August 20, 2008 @ 1:08 am
Gordon Reid from Sound On Sound magazine wrote a most excellent, informative (and highly envious) article about the acquisition of his GX1. The article is at the following link:


It's probably worth mentioning in relation to the blurb above that at according to most other reports, there were less than 40 of these instruments produced.

Also, the organ-style drawbars are more like tab sliders, and they don't work in the traditional sense of adding footages to an existing tone, rather they re-tune to the indicated pitch, one of the selected tones.

The keyboards are incredibly expressive to play.

(and all of the above is moot anyway - who amongst us poor plebs will ever own one??! :) )
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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 - Up to 8 voices + 1 monophonic voice
  • Oscillators - 2 VCO's per voice
  • LFO - 1 voltage-controlled LFO
  • VCA - 2 ADSR envelope generators
  • Filter - 2-pole low-pass voltage-controlled filter
  • Keyboard - Two 61-note keyboards with velocity sensitivity. One 37-note 3/4 scale pressure sensitive keyboard. One 25-note pedalboard.
  • Memory - None
  • Control - Ribbon Controller
  • Weight - 300 kg + 87 kg pedalboard
  • Date Produced - 1973-1977
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from Synthfool - Kevin Lightner's synth pages.

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