Had a two-day session in the diary for today/tomorrow with a singer who has had great success with a cute/twee/folky take on pop.
Naturally I thought i'd do something with my prized possession, the Optigan. Not the loops so much, which have been used by many- including on this singer's first album, but the keyboard scales, which always sound delightfully wonky. The Big Top Marching Band Disc is always the one as it has a wicked calliope sound (sounds more like a single-reed harmonium though).
With the singer not present*, I went to town, setting up multiple mics, somehow getting the optigan D.I to work which I thought had long been broken, and practicing the part, writing the different sections of the song.
Getting the optigan to be in tune can prove to be difficult... cue multiple turning it off-and-on, messing with the tempo wheel. But I had forgotten how delicate these things are... they're not really made to withstand such abuse- At about 5pm, the optigan gave up the ghost. It would power up, but upon awkward inspection inside I could see that the motor was no longer turning the discs.
I'm terrified. It's my absolute favourite musical instrument of all-time, a kind of fusion of keyboard instrument and vinyl crackle. I've invested hundreds of pounds in discs. The one instrument (apart from my Walnut Rhodes Piano) that I would never, ever part with. It can't break. It just can't.
Internet research on the optigan will not instill a potential buyer with confidence. None of them work anymore. Having a working optigan is like the holy grail. Plastic parts, terrible build quality, ageing components... they weren't built to last. Unfortunately for me, being in the UK, there's nobody here who can service them.
Tomorrow then, I embark on my own attempt at fixing it. Hopefully I can do that, and then as a bonus i'll try and fix all the buttons that don't work. I reckon I can do it, but one things for sure, this baby won't withstand another studio move. Each time you move it around, a little piece of it dies...
*Unfortunately she had to cancel due to illness, hence we were trying to work remotely