Rare Synth Showcase Part 5: HOHNER MULTIMONICA

This pre-war synth has become a real rarity
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Housed within an unassuming 30,000-square-foot building just outside Philadelphia is a massive collection of historically significant music gear. Under 25-foot ceilings, an extraordinary stockpile of vintage synthesizers sits alongside other keyboards, amplifiers, stompboxes, and recording equipment from years gone by. The climate-controlled building and all its contents belong to the Electronic Music Education and Preservation Project. EMEAPP is a non-profit organization devoted to collecting and preserving outstanding parcels of rock ’n’ roll and electronic music history for future generations.

HOHNER MULTIMONICA

Fig. 5

Fig. 5

One of the first mass-produced synthesizers was the Multimonica, a 57-pound, dual-manual, hybrid acoustic/electronic instrument with art deco styling in a Bakelite case(see Fig.5).German engineer and pioneering inventor Harald Bode designed its circuitry in 1940, but World War II delayed the onset of large-scale production. Its lower keyboard controls a reed organ driven by a blower fan, and the upper keyboard controls a tube-based monophonic synth with a sawtooth oscillator. The original Multimonica offers four tone selections, two switches for harmonic filtering, electromechnical vibrato, four switchable speakers, a microphone input, and an optional onboard AM radio that allows players to accompany music broadcasts. The more popular Multimonica II launched in 1953 and has six tone selections, only one speaker, and no radio option.