Find of the Week: This Piano Is Actually an Early FM Synth

Looks can be deceptive. This week's Find of the Week could easily pass as a piano, but open it up and you'll change your tune: it's a 1981 Yamaha GS1, which was one of the first commercially produced synthesizers to utilize FM (frequency modulation) synthesis.

This is a Yamaha GS-1 FM Synthesizer opened up.
A look inside this Yamaha GS-1 FM Synthesizer.

Released two years before their successful flagship FM synth, the DX-7, Yamaha's goal with the GS-1 was to enable musicians to play a synth without any prior knowledge of how it worked. Despite being equipped with a weighted keyboard, 16-voice polyphony and an 8-operator voice architecture, users were unable to select algorithms and its onboard LFO could only be applied to a few parameters. Due to these limitations and an exorbitant price tag, Yamaha was only able to sell less than 100.

This particular GS1 has been fully restored and loaded with its 16 original presets (as well as two books of patches) and a Yamaha MIDI interface was installed after the fact. Interested buyers take note: this 200-pound beast is only available for local pickup only in Placerville, California, about a two-hour drive northeast of the Bay Area, so be prepared to make a road trip and handle it with extreme care. As the seller states, "a rare vintage instrument like this will require a serious commitment from an informed and experienced collector."

Be sure to check out the full listing for more photos and information, and make an offer today on this rare piece of digital synthesis history.

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