TableHooters - my instrument hacks and collection

Here you can read about some specimens of my collection of more or less circuit- bent musical instruments, their most interesting features, what I found out about their hardware and which eastereggs I discovered.
to all eBay sellers: (terms of use)
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You can retrieve info about musical instruments from this site to sell your own instruments. But so far you include any quoted text parts or pictures from here into an announce on eBay or elsewhere, you must clearly mark the quoted parts as taken from CYBERYOGI =CO=Windler's keyboard site "WarrantyVoid" and include a link to it where possible.

This is forbidden:
It is forbidden to use any parts of this site in fraudulent or misleading ways. Especially you must not abuse pictures or descriptions of my modified instruments to sell unmodified ones without clearly explaining that your offered specimen is not modified.

Main purpose of my collection is to explore the domain of the unheard. But I also want to clear up with this site about the bizarre world of tablehooters, because unlike with expensive synthesizers and most professional instruments, the world of small home keyboards and electronic sound toys was yet still a blind spot of the internet since yet nobody else had ever systematically analyzed and catalogued which instruments exist, which sounds they make and how they technically function. E.g. it is still not commonly known that many old instrument employ digital squarewave sound generators those behaviour and timbre differs significantly (see here) from what standard theories of analogue synthesizers tell about square wave tones.

With my collection I am not interested in collecting multiple case variants of technically identical instruments, nor need mine to be in perfect mint condition. I also do not collect very expensive and professional things (like Roland TB303 or Minimoog) - not only by financial reasons but also because things with high collectors prices have already become well known establishment stuff while I want to explore and document particularly the unknown electronic instruments those have no huge collectors scene yet and thus don't appear in every common pop song today - and this despite many of them have great potential to set the sound for future musics.

note: I am not one of these wealthy snobs with big money. Despite my fairly large collection I neither own nor pay much money for my instruments (thus do not attempt to sell expensive things to me). All these instruments were gathered over years; monthly I spend not more money than other people for new CDs or videogames (perhaps roughly about 40..60€), and because I neither waste money for drugs (alc, tobacco, whatever) nor own a brain fryer (mobile phone) nor a petrol stinker (automobile), the limit of my keyboard collection is rather space than money. I am mainly watching eBay for forgotten, poorly described or broken items, thus often the postage is higher than the sales price. Only for very few items (mainly synthesizers) I paid about 50€, while most keyboards went far below 20€ and some I even got for 1€ by the lack of other bidders.

Nowadays I think that I have almost completed the task of collecting and documenting one specimen of every existing hardware class of classic small and midsize keyboards. Although I also buy cheap modern sound toys and beginners keyboards when they are interesting, as well their variety of unique sounds as the speed of innovation has strongly decreased, thus the collection will certainly grow much slower in future. (I e.g. don't even try to collect the hundreds of very similar My Music Center hardware variants, because most of them only differ in the selection of demo melodies and their very similar preset sounds.)

In the following texts "keys" always mean piano keys; the ones on the control panel I call "buttons". Functions those can always be selected by a single button press (important for live performance of tekkno etc.) are marked with "OBS" (one button select). So far not mentioned otherwise, the digital part of all these instruments is based on a single chip (here often called "CPU") and there are neither MIDI nor velocity sensitive keys. With "shift- register noise" I mean a shift- register feedback circuit (a pseudo random number generator which outputs a more or less long, but repeating bit sequence to approximate white noise). I call an instrument "digital" when sound generation and envelopes are digital, i.e. no envelope capacitors and no controllable analogue filters are present. I call it "analogue" when it contains any mainly analoguely generated or significantly this way post- processed (e.g. differently filtered) main voice sounds.

= nice and/or unusual sound
= very unusual hardware
= circuit bent (sound modified)
= much circuit bent 
= extremely circuit bent
= constructed by myself

In the following all instruments are sorted by the sound generation technology they mainly use.

music keyboards:

A "keyboard" means to me an instrument that has sharp and flat keys those permit to play music at least with all 12 tones per octave (like a piano) and that has more than 1 octave. A thing that has no sharps ("black" keys) or only 1 octave I usually classify as a "sound toy", so far it isn't despite particularly well suited to play melodies on it.
Antonelli - Star 2379 [updated 2005-04-26]
- organ keyboard with unusual polyphonic accompaniment, analogue rhythm
Jörgensen Electronic - Tuttivox [updated 2004-08-27]
- antique portable tube organ
Ramasio 892 [updated 2007-04-12]
- small midsize(!) full polyphonic keyboard, great polyphonic accompaniment
Antonelli 2495 [updated 2007-04-12]
- unusual, versatile accompaniment, arpeggio, analogue rhythm, MIDI
Bontempi HT 313.10 [new 2005-04-26]
- short keyboard with home organ sound & accompaniment
Bontempi - Minstrel Beta [updated 2006-06-07]
- nice arpeggio accompaniment
Bontempi - MRS52/D [updated 2005-04-26]
- cute warm home organ sound, analogue rhythm, nice accompaniment
Yamaha PS-2 [updated 2003-11-08]
- first PortaSound, unusual percussion
Yamaha PS-30, PS-20 [updated 2006-06-07]
- filter envelope sounds & layering, nice arpeggio accompaniment, unusual percussion
Squarewave means that the timbres are mainly made from the square waveform (with or without envelope), which is the simplest electronic basic waveform (see here). This permits e.g. to re-create the unique electronic sound style known from historical videogames and homecomputers. I call an instrument "squarewave" when the waveform is not only processed internally (which is done in most analogue instruments), but also well audible as characteristic timbre.

sound toys, drum computers & others:

GEM Drum15
- drum machine without ICs
SoundMaster - Memory Rhythm SR-88
- ancient drum computer
analogue monophonic:
GoodPlay - Elektronische Orgel [updated 2005-04-26]
analogue squarewave:
Bontempi - Disney Band [updated 2006-06-07]
- great POKEY tekkno noises
Unisynth XG-1 [updated 2004-02-24]
- electronic pseudo- guitar (with repair tips)
dual natural waveforms:
SoundWaves - Graduate Jammer Guitar MG-1530 [updated 2006-06-07]
- toy pseudo- guitar with great accompaniment & blip rhythms
plain samples:
animal train sound toy (blue)
Beat Square - AIR-Dance Mixer [new 2006-06-07]
- unique tekkno toy groovebox with hand gesture sensors
Beat Square - Mix Evolution (Potex Ultra-Mixer) [updated 2007-04-12]
- impressive toy DJ console with working scratch disc, voice changer, keyboard & many nice tekkno samples
Creatoy - 64 Keys (touchpad) [updated 2003-04-13]
- great OBS playability
- toy drum computer
GoldTronic - Electronic Air Drums [updated 2003-02-19]
- electronic toy drum kit
keychain techno sound toys
KiK Discobox [new 2005-04-26]
stylish electronic toy drum kit with fat lo-fi sound & squarewave melodies
Kid's Com - Cyber Drum Center [new 2005-04-26]
- electronic toy drum kit with 30 nicely unusual rhythms
Kid's Com - Mix Me DJ [updated 2007-04-12]
- toy DJ groovebox with many tekkno effect samples, keyboard, scratch disc & rhythms
Simba - My Music World drum kit [new 2005-04-26]
- electronic toy drum kit with lo-fi sample rhythms
Super Stereo, My Portable Rockman
- toy drum computer
Xin Anda - 8-Melody Letter Study Piano [new 2005-04-26]
- weird toy tablehooter with animal sound & alphabet letter samples
Azan Clock [updated 2003-02-19]
- robotic muezzin voice
My First Sony - Cassette-Corder [updated 2005-04-26]
- toy cassette recorder with 6 drumpads & animal samples
My First Sony - Sound Pad SOP-1000 [new 2005-04-26]
- toy drum machine with effect samples

instruments created by me:

- optical theremin from 2034
Tekknetion prototype 1
- live performance sampling instrument
Beside the ones I listed here, I also own various other electronic instruments (mainly modern sound bank keyboards, sound toys and many toy laptops) I yet found no time to write about. Thus I gave priority to describing the most unusual sounding and least documented hardware families - mainly belonging to the realm of squarewave. I am also not less interested in historical videogames and pinball, but I made this site about small tablehooters and have collected specimen from most existing hardware classes because while video- and pinball games are already well researched and documented on the internet, toy instruments and beginners keyboards were an almost a blind spot (and thus ignored by most musicians) despite many of them have interesting sounds those differ much from the establishment stuff found on professional instruments.
 removal of these screws voids warranty...