A Super-Rare Guitar Synth Module | Fess' Find

This week’s Fess' Find brings us to The Nebula, an analog guitar synthesizer module made by a now-defunct brand from Sunnyvale, California, called BCD Technology Inc. This incredibly rare synth unit was initially manufactured in 1978—serial number 0111—and was originally marketed as a processor for vocals, guitar, violin, electric keyboard, banjo, accordion, and any other type of instrument input through its "pitch-to-voltage" converters.

This is The Nebula

Given its obscurity, getting the details about the Nebula proved to be quite a challenge. Many have referred to it as a "vaporware" product, a term often used in the early days of the computer industry to describe a product that was announced but was never manufactured or officially canceled. After a long internet search, we came across a forum that linked to an archive of a tech newsletter from the late 70s called Device, where we found out the unit made extensive use of Dave Rossum and Ron Dow's SSM chips. The guitar signal is processed directly (no hex pickup, no PVC) and is modified by way of an input processor that consists of a compressor, fuzz, and octave divider/multiplier, a VCF, a VCA, envelope generators, and a parametric equalizer.

This particular Nebula unit is in excellent condition and has been lightly serviced in-house by the seller, ​​Little Tokyo Vintage, in Los Angeles. Despite its scarce status, this Nebula unit is now fully-functioning and ready to add unique sounds to any audio setup. It's important to note that the top portion of the formica case is not included with the unit.

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