Omnichord

Last week I finally got my hands on something I’ve wanted for a while — an Omnichord. It is a kitsch electronic music instrument produced by Suzuki in the 1980s. It makes a very charming sound and is addictive to play.

The key feature that makes the Omnichord stand out from other instruments is the sonic strings. This is essentially a plate that you run your fingers over to imitate strumming. You select a chord you would like to play (there are 84 to choose from), and strum away.

It is amazingly easy to play. I haven’t played a musical instrument seriously for a very long time, but just mucking around on the Omnichord has been very satisfying already.

I first heard of the Omnichord when I was a fan of the indie group The High Fidelity back in about 2000. They released an entire album inspired by the Omnichord.

Since then, I have noticed the Omnichord cropping up in the music of many of my favourite artists.

The otherworldly sound of the Omnichord intrigued me, as did the passion that so many people have for the instrument. Ever since, I have toyed with the idea of getting my hands on one of these cult objects. Last week I bit the bullet at last.

It is an eBay job — these Omnichords were discontinued in the 1980s. I think I got lucky. I got my hands on this one for £120. I had already lost an auction a couple of months ago. On that occasion it went for well over £200.

Apart from a couple of sticky buttons, this Omnichord — which is older than I am — is in remarkably good condition. It feels robust, so with a bit of luck this will have quite a long life, despite it being quite old already.

I am super chuffed with this purchase. Here is an audio clip of me mucking about with the Omnichord.

Omnichord

Hopefully I can progress beyond just mucking about with it, and maybe start getting into playing music properly again. I’m even starting to wonder about getting the Qchord, which is the successor to the Omnichord.

Here is a video of Sean Dickson from the High Fidelity performing Teenage Kicks on a Qchord.

1 comment

  1. You forgot the voiceover to your recording!

    “Look around you…

    Just look around you…”

    On the subject of sturdy 1980′s musical equipment, I used a PA yesterday that used to belong to my uncle’s band in the 1980′s. It’s been bashed about like hell and one of the horns is broken, but it still works a treat and outdoes the modern one supplied in the practice place! Thank goodness plenty of this gear is kicking during recessions! The new leads I bought to connect up the PA amount to about as much as I paid for the second hand PA itself!