Buchla, Legendary Modular Synth Brand, to Continue Under New Management

When the West Coast modular synth pioneer Don Buchla passed away in 2016, he had just recently sued his company.

Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments (BEMI) had owned his intellectual property since 2012. The Australian owners kept Buchla himself on as chief technology officer, re-released his classic Music Easel, and had begun offering new designs, but the founder and the company soon quarreled. In 2015 he sued the company for breach of contract, saying he had been treated "with oppression and malice," as reported by FACT magazine at the time.

Following his death and the acrimonious split from the company that bore his name, the legacy of the Buchla brand appeared uncertain.

But yesterday, January 11, a new company, Buchla U.S.A., announced that it has purchased BEMI and intends to stay true to Buchla's original intentions for his synths and company.

In an announcement, Buchla U.S.A. wrote that it "will continue to create unique, expressive, and iconic electronic performance instruments and controllers with a focus on the 50+ year history of Don Buchla."

The new CEO, Eric Fox, is also the owner of Foxtone Music, which has been a distributor for Buchla and other musical instrument brands for many years. The lead designer and engineer of Buchla U.S.A. will be Joel Davel, who had worked with Don for more than 20 years. Heading up production will be Dave Reilly, "who was hand-picked by Don to manufacture Buchla products," according to the company's announcement.

While the new company will, like Foxtone, be headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, production will continue to take place in the San Fransisco Bay Area, where Buchla first made his synths.

"With such an amazing legacy I am really excited about telling the story of Don and working closely with Joel and Dave to develop new products in the spirit of Don... and even revisiting/reimagining some of his designs that never actually made it out into the wild," said Fox. "I hope to involve as many of the artists and people that inspired Don as possible, moving forward. We owe it to him and the generations of new users to give them a sense of what he was all about."

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