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
February 24, 2014 @ 9:13 am
hi Rob. I did the original swap over when K.E. bought J.P.J's GX1. I think that was in 1987.
Keith's had been fitted with a crude MIDI interface which was transferred to JPJ's machine as it was structurally in better shape. I toured with the GX1, and it was an absolute pig to manhandle, and a [beep] to keep in tune. The barns at Stonehill were appalling for storing old electronics.
September 30, 2013 @ 7:39 am
To the best of my knowledge the GX-1 was originally introduced in late '74/early '75, not '73.
January 21, 2013 @ 1:44 pm
The Old Crow is right. It is a common problem, that so many people talk about synths, they never had seen in real life. Most posts belong to other posts, so there is so much wrong information out there. We have an Yamaha EX1 and this is a fantastic looking synth, too. And playing it means flying it. This is a space trip on earth. Look at www.tastronauten.de/yamaha-ex-1.html
We also will post a demo video on youtube, soon. (tastronauten channel)
The Old Crow
September 2, 2011 @ 8:44 pm
The spec table isn't quite accurate. There is one VCO per voice; two voices pair to a channel. There are two channels. This is 32 VCOs. You are able to select any two voicing presets per channel. There are four filters per voice: one HPF hardwired to variable pulse waveform, one BPF hardwired to the ramp output, and the sum of all selected waveforms passes through a VCHPF (2-pole) followed by VCLPF (2-pole). All filters are Sallen-Key diode ring-based. One EG is a fixed-positive ADSR (VCA) and the other EG is a bipolar ADR with sustain fixed at zero, and initial and peak attack levels.
July 30, 2011 @ 5:55 am
I have a Yamaha EX-1, extremely rare, and apparently only 10 of them were ever made as well. I think in a visual sense the EX-1 is much "cooler"looking. This thing is impressive, trust me. Anyone who's ever been at my house over the years has been blown away by this thing. If you want to see what it looks like, you can click on this link for photos : http://www.vintagesynth.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=63440
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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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