Yamaha GS2 synth advice

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Yamaha GS2 synth advice

Postby KBnewbie » Sat Jul 04, 2009 8:12 pm

Hi All,
Just registered and I'll fess up straight away that apart from playing some acoustic piano in my youth (now in my fifties) I'm a guitarist and a complete synth newbie.

Here's the thing, I've just acquired a 1980's Yamaha GS2 synth and doing some research on the web it's a little difficult to know if this is a desirable instrument or not.....mixed opinions...horses for courses.

This thing is heavy weighing 72kgs! 73 weighted full size keys.

The GS2 model was used by Spyra Gyra and Vangelis.

I have read that Yamaha only produced around 100 GS1's and not many more GS2's...any comment from anyone on the validity of this?

The GS1/2 were the precursor to the DX series.

Apparently Midi kits were introduced that could be retrofitted (mine is not midi retrofitted)

I've lifted the top and had a look inside and it appears all original and all fuses are good.

I read on the K.M.I. site that the GS1 should have 2 FM boards and the GS2 had 1 FM board...my GS2 has 2 FM boards???

Sadly and frustratingly I have not powered it up yet because it uses a 2 pin power socket (like an IEC 3 pin socket without the earth pin) and I do not have a power cable. Conversion to 3 pin socket would be possible although the socket is direct mounted onto PCB and would require some modification.

I understand that it uses magnetic cards to load sound sets....these might be hard to obtain here in OZ...there is a company in the USA that hire these for use to upload and then return at some astronomical price.

Ultimately I will be selling this as I am a guitarist not a KB player and I'm sure someone else will get better use from it than me.

Have not seen too much on the web regarding prices that these have achieved...seen 2 currently for sale in the USA for $695 USD and $2,995 USD and that is about it.

Just seeking some opinions from you all....by the way I'm situated in Brisbane.

Cheers,
Noel
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Postby Thirteen » Sat Jul 04, 2009 8:46 pm

I have serviced several GS 1's and 2's, they sound great, but you do need those cards to get sound into them.
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Postby KBnewbie » Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:02 pm

Thirteen wrote:I have serviced several GS 1's and 2's, they sound great, but you do need those cards to get sound into them.


Thanks Steve,
Excuse my ignorance but will there be a base sound set loaded or will that have been lost as I assume that the 2 AA batteries that retain memory are dead as I believe this keyboard has been sitting around for some time unused.
Cheers,
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Postby Thirteen » Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:38 pm

To be honest I can't remember if there is a base set, I doubt it if the batteries are dead.
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Postby headman » Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:38 pm

I owned and used a GS 2 in 1982 and 1983. There was no sound set on the synth at all - the sounds had to be loaded from the magnetic strips and until they went in there was no audio. I remember the strips were in a little soft pouch/wallet and I was always frightened that I would lose them and be stuck with a heavy synth and no sounds. There was always talk of a midi retrofit but I never heard of one materialising and then the DX7 appeared and the GS 1 and GS 2 were consigned to history (along with me). Not that midi was the thing straight away, people just played synths the same as before and then eventually got around to connecting them up, it was a bit of a sales gimmick at first.
There were not many GS 2's sold, and even less GS 1's, they were very expensive and compared to latter FM synthesisers very basic. It was a great weighted keyboard and if you could retrofit some midi interface it could be functional but not practicable as a master keyboard.
I doubt if it is worth very much, unlike it's predecessors the CS80 and GX1, I had them as well, they WERE heavy but they are all an interesting set in the Yamaha analogue/digital range. They were in fact test benches for all the home organs that were built in the late 70's and 80's and bits and pieces turned up over the years in Yamaha Electones
Last edited by headman on Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Thirteen » Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:42 pm

headman wrote:I owned and used a GS 2 in 1982 and 1983. There was no sound set on the synth at all - the sounds had to be loaded from the magnetic strips and until they went in there was no audio. I remember the strips were in a little soft pouch/wallet and I was always frightened that I would lose them and be stick with a heavy synth and no sounds. There was always talk of a midi retrofit but I never heard of one materialising and then the DX7 appeared and the GS 1 and GS 2 were consigned to history (along with me).
There were not many GS 2's sold, and even less GS 1's, they were very expensive and compared to latter FM synthesisers very basic. It was a great weighted keyboard and if you could retrofit some midi interface it could be functional but not practicable as a master keyboard.
I doubt if it is worth very much, unlike it's predecessors the CS80 and GX1, I had them as well, they WERE heavy but they are all an interesting set in the Yamaha analogue/digital range. They were in fact test benches for all the home organs that were built in the late 70's and 80's and bits and pieces turned up over the years in Yamaha Electones


I remember we had the GS programmer at Hutchings on loan for a few days. It was a big unit with 4 or 6 CRT screens on it, and 4 stapled A4 pages of instructions in Japanese. Needless to say no-one used it before it went back to Japan.
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Postby KBnewbie » Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:47 pm

Thirteen wrote:To be honest I can't remember if there is a base set, I doubt it if the batteries are dead.


Hi Steve,
Just downloaded a free manual for the GS1/2 and from what I read into it, there is 16 factory programmed voices and I assume that these are non volatile....the batteries are for backing up any voices you load from the cards. Also downloaded a description of the factory voices and the available library voices.

There is service manuals also available but these you need to pay for.

I'm learning all the time.

Might be time to hot wire that power socket in the next day or two and see if this thing will make some noises....of the good sort without accompanying atmospheric smoke effects!

Cheers,
Noel
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Postby wez » Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:01 pm

headman wrote:I doubt if it is worth very much, unlike it's predecessors the CS80 and GX1, I had them as well


you had a GX1?
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Postby KBnewbie » Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:07 pm

headman wrote:I owned and used a GS 2 in 1982 and 1983. There was no sound set on the synth at all - the sounds had to be loaded from the magnetic strips and until they went in there was no audio. I remember the strips were in a little soft pouch/wallet and I was always frightened that I would lose them and be stuck with a heavy synth and no sounds. There was always talk of a midi retrofit but I never heard of one materialising and then the DX7 appeared and the GS 1 and GS 2 were consigned to history (along with me). Not that midi was the thing straight away, people just played synths the same as before and then eventually got around to connecting them up, it was a bit of a sales gimmick at first.
There were not many GS 2's sold, and even less GS 1's, they were very expensive and compared to latter FM synthesisers very basic. It was a great weighted keyboard and if you could retrofit some midi interface it could be functional but not practicable as a master keyboard.
I doubt if it is worth very much, unlike it's predecessors the CS80 and GX1, I had them as well, they WERE heavy but they are all an interesting set in the Yamaha analogue/digital range. They were in fact test benches for all the home organs that were built in the late 70's and 80's and bits and pieces turned up over the years in Yamaha Electones


I'm surprised that the factory voices ARE volatile from your experience...damn!
Guess I'll know in a day or two when I fire it up.....I mean power it up.
There is a company in the USA that hires a library set but you have to pay USD$495 deposit and when you return the set undamaged they refund USD$360 meaning it costs USD$135 to load the library...of course you could purchase the set for $495...dont know if they do this internationally or whether it is strictly within the USA.
Given that I will be selling this I would not spend that sort of money.
Cheers,
Noel
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Postby headman » Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:23 am

"you had a GX1?"
Yep, for over 18 months. it was sitting in the store room of Yamaha Australia in Belmore for about six months doing nothing and every time I went down there to pick up some organs I asked if I could have it till they needed it. It was getting in the way (can you believe it) so I got the GX1, a huge speaker cabinet, the pedal board and the controller/filter/adsr unit to modify the sound tablets. Yamaha eventually needed it back for a concert at the Sydney Opera House. It was a generous offer and I'm grateful that I had it as long as I did. Back in the 1970's, early 80's, Yamaha Australia's main business was selling pianos and home organs (I owned a Yamaha organ/piano shop in Maitland) they really didn't understand what they had, and had never heard "Works Vol 1".
I think that eventually it was sold to St Josephs at Hunters Hill for a few thousand dollars. It's not there now, I checked. I used it live a few times, the boys in the band and roadies hated my guts but the sound was unbelievable once it tuned up, and of course we finished the night with Fanfare.
Last edited by headman on Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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GS 2 factory voices

Postby headman » Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:42 am

"I'm surprised that the factory voices ARE volatile from your experience...damn!"

It was a long time ago (29 years!) but I'm almost certain that that was the case. The sounds were not that good either, lots of mallet and percussive sounds, think TOTO's Africa. The pianos were ordinary but some good brass sounds and pads. I suppose it was the forerunner of the DX9 and the GS 1 (double the operators), the DX7. I asked if I could have the programmer at some stage but I would have had no more success than Hutchings had cause I was hopeless at programming a DX7 later on. The programmer went back to Japan and not that long after the DX series came out. They really were test benches for what was to come. I don't know how you can load the library and keep it all in the unit. The strips had to be reloaded every time I did a gig. After so long you might have trouble loading the strips into the little memory slot as well. Who knows what's gone in there over nearly 30 years.
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Postby KBnewbie » Sun Jul 05, 2009 1:33 pm

headman wrote:I owned and used a GS 2 in 1982 and 1983. There was no sound set on the synth at all - the sounds had to be loaded from the magnetic strips and until they went in there was no audio.


Well I checked the memory retention AA batteries voltage and to my surprise they still had 1.3 volts total on them (of their original 3 volts).
I took the plunge and hot wired the power socket and there IS a sound set loaded....I was surprised.
Of the 16 presets not all of them appear to have something on them.
The keyboard contacts will need to be cleaned (some sticky)and generally an electronics overhaul and adjustments will need to be undertaken but I think it will be a potential collectors project for someone who is into these and has the time.
Some of the voices sounded pretty cool IMO.

From this point I'll probably put it on an evilbay auction with an accurate as possible description and see where it goes...I suspect a Brisbane purchaser is more likely given it's 72kgs and size although I've shipped an L100 Hammond tonewheel organ to Sydney by furniture removalist before and it arrived safe and sound and the GS2 is essentially a roadcased unit anyway.
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Postby innerclock » Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:50 pm

Maybe that Yamaha Australia unit ended up here:-

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb00/a ... ahagx1.htm

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Postby NYMo » Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:32 pm

Hi Dave,

Yeah...i think Gordon got that one !
(lucky bastard)

Cheers
N
Y
m
O
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Postby headman » Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:16 pm

My GX1 was used at the Sydney Opera House probably late 1981, so I think the story "found it buried under a pile of cardboard. Discarded and decaying," reads better than it lives. It was used by some young Japanese musicians along with a 9 foot grand and percussion at a concert series, not a Electone organ final. After that I have no idea what happened. The other famous GX1's are still in use. Stevie Wonder had his refurbished for the Classic Albums series on DVD, J P Jones gave his to Keith Emerson for spares, and when things went bad for Keith he sold his to Hans Zimmer. The ABBA one I have no idea where that ended up. There must be a hundred of them in dusty rooms around Japan slowly disintegrating (not the case though).
I'm really glad and privileged that I had one to use for as long as I did, it was a great instrument regardless, discounting the pedigree of the composers and performers who used it.
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