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
Rob Neal
February 5, 2011 @ 4:24 pm
"Keith Emerson that he bought John Paul Jones's GX-1 to replace his own"
No he didn't Keiths had been sitting in the back of his barn covered in bird shiot for months on end, and JP Jone's was in even worse nick, as most of the voice boards were shot. Basically the two were cobbled together into one fully working machine, which Keith then decided he never really liked, so he sold it to Hans.

How do I know this? Because I helped do the rebuild.
Sean
August 20, 2010 @ 6:41 pm
"Keith Emerson that he bought John Paul Jones's GX-1 to replace his own"

True.
Then Keith sold this GX1 to Hans Zimmer, who in turn sold it later. Quote from H.Z. himself : "I just sold my Yamaha GX1 because I have a great remplacement with Arturia's CS-80V."
Sean
August 20, 2010 @ 6:37 pm
"While I've never played one, I've listened to 'Pirates' quite a lot and tried to emulate those sounds without any great success. And I have seen Keith Emerson (who I hold in high regard) say, "nothing else makes THAT sound" - and I believe him."

Actually, on the recent Emerson & Lake US tour, Keith used the Arturia Origin to recreate the GX1 sounds for the 'Pirates' intro (sounds kindly re-programmed by Drew Neumann).
Scott
May 25, 2010 @ 9:31 am
Jim, the beauty of music and instruments is that everything is subjective. You are absolutely entitled to your own opinion. While I've never played one, I've listened to 'Pirates' quite a lot and tried to emulate those sounds without any great success. And I have seen Keith Emerson (who I hold in high regard) say, "nothing else makes THAT sound" - and I believe him.

Even if evaluated only as a "test bed", the fact that it paved the way for (my personal "ultimate" synth) the CS80 makes it worthwhile.

If you search the net for GX1 Gentle Giant, you'll find an amazing two part article by a fellow who found one in Australia, bought it and had it moved to England, quite an interesting story.
John Bowen
March 18, 2010 @ 4:39 pm
I remember reading in Keyboard Magazine in 1988 in an article interviewing Keith Emerson that he bought John Paul Jones's GX-1 to replace his own that was badly damaged after being struck by a tractor on Emo's farm in England.
 
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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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