East Bay museum celebrates vintage synthesizers

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ByJonathan Bloom KGO logo
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
East Bay museum celebrates synthesized music
A new East Bay museum dedicated to vintage synthesizers has a collection of instruments that produce unmistakable sounds found in many of the songs of the 1970s and 1980s.

EMERYVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- In today's digital world, an East Bay man is offering up a serious dose of analog at a new museum he just opened to the public.

Some East Bay musicians and engineers have created a unique music space, one that preserves the history of synthesized and music, as well as the instruments which made those sounds in the 70s and 80s, and maybe even more recently.

The Vintage Synthesizer Museum in Emeryville is a place where music lovers can learn, play, rent, or record.

From the classic to the experimental, the museum has instruments that defined more than a decade of music.

Lance Hill is the mastermind behind the collection that acquired piece by piece for more than a decade.

"It's ridiculous," Hill said in regards to his collection, and obviously an addiction. An addiction he used to keep to himself until he found a space for rent.

"I found the studio," he said. "It looked like an old recording studio from the 80s and I just knew that this was the place to have the collection."

The Vintage Synthesizer Museum includes something that's been in magazines with its famous owner, an oddity made of see-through plastic.

Some of the synthesizers on display at his Vintage Synthesizer Museum in Emeryville.

"It was formerly owned by Joe Zawinul of Weather Report. It's kind of in rough condition because he took it on the road," Hill said.

"This clear case, there was maybe 20 of these and I have one of them," Hill said.

It turns out these analog instruments are more than just history. they make sounds that computer engineers still haven't quite been able to imitate. A discerning musician can always tell the difference.

"They sound warm and fuzzy and beautiful," one of Hill's friend's said.

"I don't know, it moves you. It's a little more inspiring," another one of Hill's friends said.

"You are not going to get a computer emulation of this that sounds remotely like this," Hill said.

Unlike digital keyboards, these actually require tuning and they can go out of tune, which some say makes the sound more real.