Thursday, November 19, 2009

ARP Family Dealer Ad Sheet, 1970s

'The ARP Family of Electronic Music Synthesizers' dealer ad sheet (front and back) from the 1970s including the Soloist Mk II, Pro-Soloist, 2600, 2500, and Odyssey.

I don't have an exact date on when this dealer ad sheet was printed, but my guess is around 1972 or 1973 since the Pro-Soloist is mentioned alongside the Soloist Mk II... What? Soloist Mk II? What is this piece of kit? Why have I never heard of it!?!

Looking at the Soloist Mk II description and photo from this scan, it looks to be the evolutionary 'missing link' between the original Soloist and the Pro-Soloist.

First, a bit of info about the original Soloist and the Pro-Soloist:
  • The Pro-Soloist Wikipedia page and Mark Vail's 2006 article on the Pro-Soloist have some good history of these two instruments and inform us that the original Soloist was entirely analog while the Pro-Soloist used digital read-only memory chips to program all of its internal functional modules. If I'm not mistaken, neither mentions the Soloist Mk II.
  • Images of the two instruments from the Vintage Synth Explorer page clearly show that the Soloist had a light-coloured panel of toggle switches located underneath the keyboard while the Pro-Soloist's switches were located on a dark panel above the keyboard. Again, no mention of the Soloist Mk II.
Now, compare the features above to the description and picture of the Soloist Mk II included in the dealer ad sheet, and you can clearly understand how it could be the electronic love-child of the two:
  • light-coloured panel like the Soloist
  • toggle switches on the main panel are above the keyboard like the Pro-Soloist
  • layout of switches seem to resemble the Pro-Soloist
  • controls beside the keyboard have a white lever or toggle switch in the middle of the darker sliders like the Soloist
  • 15 instrument sounds like the Soloist
  • digital design like the Pro-Soloist
I found two references to the Mk II online in forum and comment posts - both by who seems to be the same person - who I now dub thee Soloist Mk II expert.
- a 2008 comment by Micke on the Vintage Synth Explorer site mentions that the production dates for the Mk II was between 1972 and 1973.
- a 2006 BlueSynths forum post by Micke (Mikael L) where he describes it as a cross between the original Soloist and Pro-Soloist.

There is also a mention of the Mk II in an ARP 2500 brochure PDF on Tim Stinchcombe's Web site. The last page of the brochure contains the same list and images of the ARP instruments in this dealer ad sheet and lists the Soloist Mk II for $995 US.

But other than those references above, I can't seem to find much on this instrument. I even failed to get Google images to bring up a photo. I'll have to add it to my list of Wikipedia updates I need to do.

End note: Aren't you proud of me for not mentioning the ARP name-dropping thing that appears on the back of the ad sheet?. Oh... I guess I just did... :o)

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