This is a rare original ARP Soloist (before the ProSoloist or DGX). A lot or restoration work was done on it, but one issue remained; the slider shafts were all broken at the point where they exited the case, and the slider caps were long gone.
The sliders are the same type as fitted to the ARP 2600 and moog SonicSix, amongst others. This is a hard to find part, and here we have 4 sliders with 3 different values. Sometimes you can find replacement shafts for these on Ebay, but nothing was listed at this time. After much head scratching I decided to raise the existing sliders by 8mm, and needed some precise flat blocks to do that with. I came up with a design and after many attempts (that’s 3D printing for you!) I produced a nicely printed set.
The sliders were removed, opened, cleaned, re-greased, then set on the blocks which I had super-glued to the circuit board. There were locators in the blocks for the original slider mounting, so when the wiring was added using a heavy gauge wire extension, all was firm and true. I re-assembled the unit and added some Omni-2 style slider caps I had previously printed. All working and crackle free. Next move was to tune and scale it.
One item remains on the Soloist, the after-touch used conductive foam which was known to only last 8 months, and had all by disappeared on this 1975 keyboard. I would have liked to have got some modern strain/pressure sensors and tried to make a solution, but the owner decided to defer that to another time.
Arp String Ensemble
I have had three of these come into the shop in the last 6 weeks, and the last of these was picked up yesterday by the owner. I’m seeing failures of rare and expensive divider chips such as the SAJ110 (QDIP pin layout but the only NOS parts I can find are DIP so an adapter socket needed to be made), and SAH190 can. The Mullard C280 series “tropical fish” striped capacitors are falling apart on touch (you see cracks appearing at the ends), but wherever possible I leave them alone in the signal path as newer mylar types may have a different tone (the C280’s are sought after by vintage pedal builders for there tone, which I guess means they are non-linear!).
An SAJ110 on one machine was sucking many amps (it measured 12 ohms) and had caused the power supply to fail, on another it was a missing output. I recapped the power supply on two units, and for one of them we did a mass replacement of electrolytic’s as part of a restoration (and a sample of physically tired looking capacitors showed they were drying out with severely reduced capacitance.
The third unit had one dead key, and the owner had already changed a TDA0470 to no avail. Looking with a scope the replacement chip was bad, and in fact it was ordered over Ebay from a vendor in China so who knows what it actually was. The original was put back in, and after much probing and deciphering of component layout the bug was traced to a bad resistor that had oxidized where the leg was cut off (they seem to have used some sort of pin flattening cutting tool in the factory which makes it hard to get components out), and then it had been re-soldered with a blob of solder over the top of the joint hiding the issue.
These keyboards sound great, but there are a lot of supporting components and rare chips that went into it so reliability is an issue.
This just came in with “squirrelly” keys, and VCO 2 was drifting badly when warm. The keyboard contacts were cleaned, and VCO 2 was checked with an oscilloscope. The VCO was found to have drifting frequency output, but stable inputs. The 2600 had sealed VCO’s (these early modules were encapsulated in solid epoxy, later ARP ones had an epoxy sealing layer and can be opened and repaired) so an aftermarket replacement was ordered from CEM. The replacement part arrived after some months and was duly fitted. The keyboard contacts were cleaned, and the unit set-up per the service manual.
via This Old Synth – Vintage Analog Synthesizer Repair Portfolio Page.