The Optigan - one of Neil's secret weapons

Hi folks,

I've made a couple of replies to the Woodface doco threads about the 1970's Optigan instrument Neil Finn used on "Not the girl", "Chocolate Cake" and other Crowdies tracks(?), but thought it may be of general interst too.

Here's some useful links if you want to know more:

The Optigan website: http://www.optigan.com

Optigan FAQ: http://www.optigan.com/faq.html

Optigan Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optigan

MaxSynth Optigan entry with YouTube links: http://matrixsynth.blogspot.com/search/label/Optigan

Hope this is of some use to someone out there.

Cheers

Andy
Canberra, Australia

Real men wear orange!

Original Post
Fantastic Andy. Thanks for the info. I was fascinated by this instrument as well. It does look like a normal organ at start, but there's a whole other thing to it.
Are these things rare and worth a lot of money?
I collect strange musical instruments and this one I'd have to say, I want one!
Hi Mandy,

I don't own one (I'm not sure there would be more than a handful in Australia - only the Netherlands seemed to get any kind of international shipment and it was limited to a small number), but according to the Optigan FAQ:

http://www.optigan.com/faq.html#q3
How much did Optigans cost new, and how much are they worth now?
There were several different models of Optigan to choose from, ranging in price from about US$300 to US$500. As for how much they're worth now, I suppose their value is in the eye of the beholder. I've seen functioning Optigans change hands for as little as US$5 to as much as US$600. An average price to expect to pay for one is more like US$50 to US$150.

Assuming that Neil's high profile use hasn't suddenly driven the prices up you could get an Optigan for a decent price, but the freight charge from the US to Australia would be high given the weight of the instrument, plus you pay GST and import tarrifs on top (I buy guitars from the USA for myself when I can afford it).

Hope that helps.

Cheers

Andy
Canberra, Australia
quote:
Originally posted by Jeffcoop:
He still uses it--I don't know if it's on Time on Earth anywhere, but it's prominently featured in the introduction to "Won't Give In" on EIH.


After seeing the Optigan being used on Chocolate Cake, it actually makes me wonder if those "La La La"s in She Called Up are from on Optigan.

(Or is it just the band? (Which is the more obvious answer))
I think the optigan was only used on Not The Girl, certainly it's a chamberlin on Temple of Lowmen and Woodface and most of Everyone Is Here.

There's Squids Tron Collection #1 that contains most of the Optigan sounds (they're sampled from the real thing and sound exactly the same, in fact these contain the same samples Neil Finn uses live, some of the Chamberlin samples are sampled from Neil Finn's own Chamberlin). I own this, and it's a lot cheaper than buying the real things (mellotrons, Chamberlins and Optigans are notorious for they're performance quirks). You also get a really nice harmonium sample set as well.
quote:
Originally posted by Jeffcoop:
He still uses it--I don't know if it's on Time on Earth anywhere, but it's prominently featured in the introduction to "Won't Give In" on EIH.
The Optigan and the Chamberlain were both used in the Roundhead sessions for Time On Earth but I don't know if anything made it to the final album or not.

The Optigan's certainly influenced many of Neil's songs over the years ('Instinct', 'Tokyo', etc) and Liam made good use of it on his album.

I recognized the sounds on some Neil Finn/Crowded House tracks as Optigan, and thought I'd check in.  Old thread, I know.

I worked on the Optigan after the company was sold to Miner Industries (who also owned Magnatone, the guitar and amp manufacturer).  The design of the Optigan was done well before my time, but I designed the electronics for the first Orchestrons.  I demo'd those for Dave Vankoevering, founder of Vako, who subsequently bought the Orchestron. 

Very cool to hear the Optigan on those tracks.  I didn't realize that he had used an Orchestron as well.

Mark G.

 

Add Reply

Likes (0)
    All times London, UK.

    ©1998-Eternity, Frenz.com. All post content is the copyrighted work of the person who wrote it. Please don't copy, reproduce, or publish anything you see written here without the author's permission.
×
×
×
×
×