Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wasatch Music Systems Sequencer 1020A, Contemporary Keyboard 1976

Wasatch Music Systems Sequencer 1020A 1/4-page advertisements from page 37 in the July/August issue (found on bottom left corner of page), and page 24 in the September/October issue (found on top left corner of page) of Contemporary Keyboard 1976. Also found in the May/June 1977 issue of Synapse.

What a gorgeous set of ads. They are so much a like that doing two different blog posts would prolly be overkill. Plus, I tend to lean towards laziness.

The first ad scan on the right only made the one appearance in the July/August issue of CK, and then Wasatch switched out the ad for the new version seen on the left. That second ad only ran two or three times between September 1976 and October 1977 in CK, but the ad also seems to have made an appearance or two in other magazines such as Synapse.

Although I initially only found a few minor design changes in the ad, I finally did notice the rather BIG difference in the actual piece of gear photographed. On the left-hand side of the 1020A is an extra chunk of front panel that is labeled "power module", including an on/off switch. That first photo must be an earlier model or prototype.  Excellent!

Contemporary Keyboard's SPEC SHEET description is annoying short, and seems to be taken almost directly from the advertisement. But, we do get some basic info, along with historical pricing and company location information.  Won't complain about that!
" WMS Sequencer: Compatible with most major brand synthesizers, the WMS 1020A Sequencer features two outputs per channel (one ascending, one descending), a VCC (voltage-controlled clock), and either 1-10 two-note control voltage outputs or 1-20 one-note control voltage outputs. The signal output can be carried to other sequencers to create larger sequence patterns. The unit can be used to control filters, play automatic bass lines, create various waveform patterns, and so on. Step and reset buttons are provided for manual operation. Price is $449.95, cabinet and power supply included. Wasatch Music Systems, Box 9175, Salt Lake City, UT 84109."
There isn't a lot of information online about Wasatch Music Systems or the 1020A Sequencer. But after my large team of researchers finished scouring the InterWebz for information, we came to a few important conclusions.

1. The company was probably named after Wasatch county in Utah, or, according to Wikipedia, "the Ute Indian word meaning mountain pass or low place in the high mountains".

2.  This thing has the freakin' coolest plastic fake wooden side panels. Seriously. Freakin'. Cool.

You can kind of get an idea of what they look like from that first ad scan above. And although I prefer the more art-deco-y design of the second ad, that angled shot of the 1020A in the first ad is more pleasing to my eyes. I bet those side panels add significantly to the value of these things on the second-hand market.

If this March 2011 ebay auction is any indication, a 1020A sequencer *without* the cool fake side panels goes for around $676.66. That's really not that high when you look at the eBay prices for old ARP sequencers and the like (I know - not an totally apple-to-apple comparison).  Unfortunately the photos for that auction are no longer available - but here comes MATRIXSYNTH to the rescue!

The seller of that auction actually pulls some great historical and functional information from a July 2006 1020A auction that is unfortunately no longer available.  But again we have MATRIXSYNTH to the rescue. The description of the 1020A in that auction post is just as good as the Spec Sheet plus you get the added bonus of a bit of a comparison with ARP's sequencer!

And most importantly... you get a REALLY GOOD LOOK at those awesome fake wood plastic side panels.Gorgeous!

What are the chances I can get furniture made out of that stuff! :D

1 comment:

Pete said...


I am Peter Lutz, former owner of Wasatch Music Systems. I am amazed this info is still circulating
around. I guess the interest in analog synths and modular gear has actually exceeded the 70's level.
I have many parts and brochures for the WMS series.
I have inventory to build about 15-20 of the 1020A sequencer and may do so. We sold about 400 of these units but shifted to our Flangers and Phasers, and equalizers which had more interest and were less expensive to manufacture. We switched the power supply to a separate module for UL/CSA reasons. The LA approval people were not happy with the original design. The sides were originally solid oak, but due to the insane cost, we switched to a
poly-foam material. Later we settled on a 1/4" alum anodized panel which was more rugged and lower in cost. Our logo was screen printed on these metal panels.
You can contact me at:



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