Mighty synth companies made mistakes. (Sometimes, very embarrassing ones.)

A friend mentioned seeing an ARP Quadra in a pawnshop yesterday. He asked the pawnbroker to plug it in, and sure enough–it was totally non-functional.

In case you were not aware of it, the Quadra was ARP’s 1978 attempt to make a “super keyboard” by tossing together a pile of assorted stuff they already had. So, it’s basically a “sandwich” containing an Omni string synth, an Axxe (or Solus? some disagreement) lead synth, a simple one-VCO bass synth, and a really nice phaser, all stuffed into a very large box with a cheap keyboard assembly (which was easily ruined if you dropped the Quadra, as it protruded from the case) and a very primitive preset capability. I seem to recall that it sold for more than $4000 when it came out.

Should you be tempted to buy one, be aware that it is guaranteed that the membrane buttons will be unusable and very difficult to replace or substitute. And the electronics will have a long list of issues. Synth-collector snobs don’t like to talk about the Quadra…….Oh well, at least it had a nice phaser. Long ago I was tempted to buy a used Quadra because it could do fascinating, warped things…but then I heard the horror stories about it…..

Sonic State’s Quadra info

Emulator Archive’s info on the Quadra

A brave soul repairs his Quadra’s buttons, by building a subpanel with regular pushbuttons–BIG job

(If you want just the phaser, you could maybe DIY your own from Juergen Haible’s design)

ARP Quadra

One thought on “Mighty synth companies made mistakes. (Sometimes, very embarrassing ones.)”

  1. About 14 years ago I bought a Quadra from a dude on AH (sorry). I was just betwitched by them after seeing New Order use it… (some shots of it in “The Perfect Kiss” video, along with that HOT Voyetra 8).

    He had 2 for sale, one was in “better shape” than the other, but being in college I didn’t have a ton of spare dough, so i went for lesser one. You should have seen the box it came in. Anyway – it worked pretty well for awhile… and yes, that phaser section is killer. After about a year, it started to get a little glitchy/freaky. i decided to open it up and found that the main circuit board was nice and cracked. D’oh.

    Sold it as-is to a friend for $100. I think it’s gathering dust in his garage…

    Maybe not the best war story, but this post brought back some great memories!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.