Thursday, April 29, 2010

360 Sysytems Slavedriver, Synapse 1977



360 Systems Slavedriver guitar synthesizer advertisement from page 2 of Synapse Magazine May/June 1977.

The Slavedriver was part of the first wave of guitar/synthesizer systems that allowed guitars to control synthesizers. I never really got into them, probably because I didn't have the talent or time required to learn to play a guitar. But I don't want to turn this blog post into a therapy session...

I really like this advertisement for a number of reasons. The first and second of which are the logos.

The '360 Systems' logo itself stands the test of time. It is a shame they still don't use that logo today. But then again, they are pretty much a totally different company today too.

And I have a love-hate relationship with the 'Slavedriver' logo (tipping towards the love side). Maybe I'm a bit sensitive about the stylized 'whip' that runs across the top of the logo - it's a bit too literal for me, but the Battlestar Galactica-like font used for the logo is fantastically futuristic.

I also really like the way the 'Slavedriver' logo blends in with another funky-font-tag-line that is cheeky enough to tell the bulk of the readers of this electronic music magazine (ie. keyboard players) to 'move over!'. Seriously - wouldn't most of the readers of this magazine be synthesizer fanatics? I'm sure many would have a synthesizer lying around, but also a guitar? Is this a good strategy in a Synapse ad?

The ad copy underneath the tag-line also directs a lot its attention towards guitarists. There are a few places where they kinda give equal billing to that smaller segment of readers that may own both synthesizers and guitars, but the copy as a whole should really have squarely targeted keyboard players. Or am I just reading into it because of my disgust at not learning to play guitar? This very well may be turning into a therapy session.

Could the logic of placing this ad in Synapse have been that synthesizers cost more than guitars, so it would be easier to make the case for a keyboard player to buy a relatively inexpensive guitar in order to get out to the front of the stage? But then why direct this ad at guitarists?

It also makes me wonder if 70s guitar magazines also had guitar-synth ads? I'd think so.

Sorry, I'm starting to ramble...

Pushing the audience argument aside, the ad-copy itself may be a bit crowded but the way it curves around the photo of the Slavedriver hardware really adds to the design and style of the ad.

Back in March I blogged about a brochure from another of the guitar-synths trying to make its way in the world. The ARP Avatar. The ARP Avatar brochure directed its attention towards guitar playerst too, and it too made a fatal error. It tried to tell egocentric rock-god guitar players that they could get more performance potential with synthesizer sounds. Probably the last thing a rock-god guitar player wants to hear.

So therein lies the problem. How do you market a guitar synthesizer back in the 70s when the majority of guitarists and synthesists may have been entrenched in two totally separate camps at the time? That's a tough sell. To me it's like bring matter and anti-matter together. Kaboom!

And maybe that is why Tom Mulhern's Web site includes a great article entitled 'The History of Guitar Synthesizers: Four Revolutions, No Clear Winner'. And he should know - he spent more than a decade at Guitar Player magazine.

Maybe I should contact him to ask about guitar-synthesizer ads in Guitar Player... hmm...

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