So, you’ve decided to get a hardware synth for yourself, you’ve never purchased one before and you are not sure where to start! Somehow you’ve stumbled across my blog, and luckily enough, I’m going to give you some pointers/tips to figure out where to get started when purchasing a synth, and what you ideally should pick! When I was much younger, I did receive advice from a couple of online sites regarding synths, I don’t think those sites are around anymore (they were from 1999-2000 period), so I’m going to offer my advice to anyone out there looking for their first synth! So, here we go!!
First of all, figure out what you want to use this synth for… do you want to create new sounds? Do you need something with a sequencer, so you can write/sequence songs into it? Do you need something that samples (so you can sample that weird sound that plays from an obscure movie)? Do you need something with a high polyphony (like the Yamaha Montage [128 voice polyphony]), so you can layer multiple sounds? Do you need all the above? Ask yourself exactly what are you going to use the synth for… these are the questions you want to ask, as it determines what you are really gonna use the synth for!
Once, you’ve determined what you are gonna use the synth for, I would suggest either going to your local music store and asking the customer service person if they have something like that you are looking for (if they do, ask if you could try it out in store, or maybe rent it to try it out for a week or so), or go into your local music store and start trying out the different options they have there, and maybe renting one of them if you seem to like it. I would also pick up any brochure that goes into detail about the synth you are wanting (if they have a brochure, if not then check the details out online)!
After you’ve tried out the synth in store (or rented) and you like the sounds in it, and you like the feel of it, you like what it offers, then I would suggest purchasing it! For myself, when I chose the synth (Yamaha EX7), I knew I wanted a synth and wasn’t sure exactly which one I wanted, I knew I needed something I could create my own sounds with (not just a ROMpler), something with a sequencer (so I could write songs right into the synth, and maybe even bounce tracks [or parts of tracks] from my computer to the synth), and maybe a sampler (so I could sample TV shows/movies/found sounds/etc), I also knew I needed something with MIDI as well (which most synths have nowadays), as I wanted something I could use with my software on my computer at the time! I had walked into the local music store, and sat down and played on a Yamaha EX7 at the time, I quite liked it! It wasn’t until I had moved to a new city that I realized that was the synth I wanted, just randomly I walked into a music shop and there was the EX7 sitting there, so I tried it out again, I realized that was the synth I wanted, so I went up to the store attendee and talked to her about it… she handed me a brochure with all the relevant info about the synth… It honestly wasn’t until 2012 that I ended up purchasing the synth (so, many years later), but I found someone that was willing to sell theirs online (as they weren’t in store anymore), purchased it, and haven’t regretted it! Best purchase I have ever made! It had everything I wanted, I could create my own sounds (it had all the synthesis options I wanted), it had a sequencer, a sampler, 64 voice polyphony, MIDI capabilities, some knobs for sound manipulation, and I like the way the keys on it feel! I will never get rid of this synth! It is my first synth purchase, and the only synth I’ve ever wanted!
My philosophy for picking gear:
When purchasing the Yamaha EX7, I chose it because, it could do everything I wanted it to do, and it sounded great (or rather, I loved the way it sounds)… I also chose it because, I wanted something that could do everything, so I wouldn’t have to make more synth purchases in the future! The advice I received years ago was; Remember the rule of synths: one great synth is worth ten good synths, and one good synth is worth one hundred bad synths. Whether or not a synth is good or not depends on YOUR personal tastes, regardless of what others say... I chose the one great synth 😉
Well, hopefully this was helpful! If you folks have any other questions, post them in the comment section, and I’ll try my best to answer them!