Thursday, December 31, 2020

ARP 2600, Omni-2, Piano and Quartet infosheets, 1979

Set of ARP 2600, Omni-2, Piano and Quartet infosheets from 1979.

Catalogues, info-sheets, brochures? I just don't know which is which anymore. I definitely haven't been consistent over the last 11 or 12 years that I've been yapping on and on through this blog. And my tags are a dog's breakfast because of it.

In my head, catalogues are usually larger marketing documents that contain a little bit of everything, bound together in some way. Saddle stitch, glue or whatever.

Love 'em. 

I got a lot of 'em. 

Roland. Korg. Casio, Akai... they even have covers that say "catalog" or "catalogue" on 'em with a year/date and volume number - very official looking.  But scanning large catalogues takes a lot of time and I'm an "efficiently lazy" person by nature, so you don't see a lot of them on the blog.  

Info-sheets, on the other hand, are those one-pagers (often two-sided) that contain a lot of information and specs on one instrument. Often, they are part of a larger group of similarly designed info-sheets like the ones above.  And usually I scan these similar documents all at once, and then spread out their posts over time so that in my head I feel like I'm being more productive. 

I gotta tell ya, lately I've been feeling like I'm running out of things to say. 

How many times can I say...

"Consistent design!"
"Large photo!"
"Did I mention diagram!"

Now, I gotta say that all of the above applies here and posting them all at once really shows off the lovely consistent design with large photos and diagrams. I could literally post a scan and just write LCLFLDD underneath the images and call it a day.  

There isn't much else coming outta my head these days synth-related. 

Hence, lets continue on with my original thought. Where was I? Catalogues. Info-sheets... oh right...


Brochures, in my head, are usually smaller that catalogues, but larger than info-sheets. Maybe stapled if they are more than two pages. 

Sometimes they tell the company story and feature more than one instrument - I'm thinking in particular of that 1974 "Arp Story" brochure that I had posted earlier this month. 

But, isn't this just a catalogue? 

To make it even more confusing, each of those pages can also be found in the wild as individual "info-sheets", and ARP even created addition info-sheet inserts for this brochure of newly released instruments to increase the shelf life of the original brochure. 

But how about those Roland "We design the future" brochures I fetishize over?


*tick tick tick*

(Its literally two hours later because I started looking at these lovely beasts. I still have so many to scan from this series.)

Anyways, like those ARP info-sheets above, these Roland brochures feature one instrument and usually contain a diagram or two, some specs, and are part of a larger group of similarly designed documents. The only real difference between those ARP info-sheets and these Roland brochures is a fold. Seriously. A FOLD. 

I guess my point is that I have no standardization. 

Hey... I'm surfing around the blog now... what about this ARP "promo/datasheet"...?

Or these Moog "reference sheets"... ?

Do I go back and change them all to "fact sheets" now? 

So much work. 

Double ugh.   :)

ARP "From Jimmy With ARP" advertisement, Downbeat Magazine 1974


ARP "From Jimmy With ARP" half-page black and white advertisement from page 41 in the June 20, 1974 issue of Downbeat Magazine.

Well, look at this! I hope you are noticing the trend. As part of trying to get all my 2020 ARP 50th anniversary celebration posts... eeer... posted, I've been uploading quite a few ARP pieces this month, including two of the many ARP advertisements from the time period that used a very similar half page, black and white format. 

And now... I've posted the third. With more to come.

I love that all three of these ads all fit into a theme, but yet they are all very distinguishable from each other. There isn't a stagnant "photo/artwork at top" - "text in the middle" - "Logo in bottom right" format to them. Each of the ads has kept a unique look. As unique as the different artists that are featured in each one. 

One other thing I like about all three ads is they all contain one of those little cookies I went on about in my last Carpenters ad. This earlier ad uses the code "DB-620" (Downbeat June 20), but curiously leaves out the "year", unlike that those other 1975 ads included (DB 1-16-75). Looking at a few of the other earlier ARP ads like the Edgar Winter ARP ads that appeared around six months earlier, they too used the earlier cookie format that didn't include the year. No real other comment to make on that fact - just interesting that they changed the format.

Another little thing that separates this earlier ad from the others is the little picture in the bottom right hand corner of three of ARP's products. This little photo also appears in Edgar Winter's Frankenstein and Freeride ARP ads, but not in Billy Preston's Space Race ARP ad or Stevie Wonder's WonderArp ad (none which I've posted yet). Once I've mapped out the timeline for all these half-pagers, it will be interesting to see when exactly they were added and removed. 

My past experiences of 'Zep run along the same lines of The Who. I didn't really understand or 'get' the synth influences first time around. The one thing I do notice when looking back, is that fans of Townsend were much more accepting of the band's use of synthesizers where Led fans weren't so sure they shared their favourite band's love for them.  Just my observation - your mileage may vary. 

Now, where deeper knowledge of most Zeppelin songs flew over my head (except for the mandatory ever butt-grabbing Stairway to Heaven), there was one song I was always willing to get behind...


For some reason I've always had an affinity for that one. Maybe it was the synths that first got me hooked? Maybe?  It could also have been that some of the dreamier parts reminded me of Alan Parson's stuff.  I dunno. Hard to say. But I can tell you when the topic of Led Zeppelin came up with friends at a party, I would turn the convo towards that song, and trying to convince them to play it on whatever stereo system was handy.

Just for fun, I googled the song to see what others had to say, and this rather interesting post on came up - "What Robert Plant Regretted About Led Zeppelin’s ‘Carouselambra’". It takes a little bit of a deep dive on the lyrics of the song.  

Go Cheatsheet! Go Carouselabra! 

And okay... go Stairway to Heaven!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

ARP "Meet the Carpenters new string ensemble" ad, Downbeat Magazine 1975


ARP "Meet the Carpenters new string ensemble" black and white advertisement from the March 27, 1975 issue of Downbeat Magazine 1975.

I'm a cookie addict. As someone who likes to eat. As an online marketing professional. As a curator/archivist. Yum! But more about that in a sec...

Following hot on the heels of my post about ARP's 1975 advertisement that featured Pete Townshend of The Who and his 2600 is this lovely promo featuring the Carpenters and ARP's String Ensemble. As far as I can tell, this advertisement showed up in various issues in a few different publications in 1974 and 1975, but I've even seen it referenced in 1976 as well. 

It's interesting that it got so much page time, so rather than blog about The Carpenters, a band I unsurprisingly know very little about, I thought I'd take a look at the marketing side of things. In particular, the little "cookie" that followed this, and many other ads around like gum on a shoe to tell the company where someone saw this advertisement.

In a way, it's similar to the common digital cookie that can end up following you around the web, annoying you with an ad for a Home Depot lawn mower you were looking at earlier in the day. ARP placed a cookie in the mail-in section of many of their ads, so if you bothered to fill it out and mail it in, ARP knew you were responding to this very specific advertisement.  You can see that cookie in the close-up below (red box). 

DB 1-16-75. 

Downbeat, January 16, 1975. 

I can hear you say "but you said this advertisement was from the March 27, 1975 issue!" It sure was, but the advertising campaign or budget utilizing this ad probably first appeared in the January issue. Smart. 

If you look closely at the Pete Townshend ad I posted, it has a DB 6-5-75 cookie, so that particular ad campaign probably began in the June 5, 1975 issue of Downbeat - the one I scanned! And, if you compare it to the same ARP/Pete ad that appeared in the May 22, 1975 issue of Rolling Stone, you can see it uses a different code - RS-142. 

So, RS = Rolling Stone. But what the heck is that 142? Well... 

I'm not sure. No, really. Not sure at all. 

The May 22, 1975 issue of Rolling Stone was issue 187. Since Rolling Stone was produced bi-weekly (I think?!?!) at that point, it would mean that if that number referred to the issue number, the first appearance of this ad would be almost two years before. Which doesn't appear likely. So, yeah. Still a mystery. 

But the point is, when all those cut-out return forms start making their way back home, those little cookies let ARP have a better idea of which ad in which magazine worked best to get you to respond.  

When I first started noticing these cookies in magazines, I first thought maybe the code wasn't a company code at all - maybe it was included by the magazine as a courtesy or to show the company that got the form back that the reader saw the ad in that particular magazine. To try and solve this question, I started looking at other ads that included mail-ins. 

Sure enough, many other ads included a little cookie in their clip-out sections as well. But, the cookie in different ads were often in different formats. For example, in that same issue of Rolling Stone that the ARP RS-142 cookie is found, we also get the company below using a fictitious department called "Dept RS" as the cookie. This is interesting because if the reader decides they don't want to cut out the form from their precious magazine, they would still use this address to write to the company and the company would STILL know how the reader found them since the address on the letter would have included the cookie. 

Another ad for a reggae record from the same Rolling Stone mag used the PO Box (Box 6/RS) for their cookie:

"Feelin' High". Ha! Yes, I'm nine years old. 

And finally, this Monty Python ad below from the same mag has just a little "rs" in the bottom right corner. Adorable. 

I've seen them in all manner of magazines. Those I collect - like Contemporary Keyboard/Keyboard, Electronic Musician, Electronics & Music Maker,  etc... as well as magazines I just happen to be flipping through at a friends house or online. From the 70s to the 90s and beyond. Those little cookies are everywhere. 

I get especially excited when I see an ad with a cookie, but the cookie is for a different magazine entirely. It's like someone forgot to update the ad for the new mag.  That's pure adrenaline! Makes my day.

Once I started looking for them, I couldn't stop, and to this day I still look for them.

Now you will too! You got lots of time during your covid lock down anyways.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

ARP "Pete's ARP Opera" half page advertisement, Downbeat Magazine, 1975

ARP "Pete's ARP Opera" black and white advertisement from the June 5, 1975 issue of Downbeat magazine. 

I'm betting that Pete's face sold a lot of synths for ARP. 

If you were familiar with The Who... Pete Townshend... or ARP Instruments at the time, you definitely had come across this image in the media. It was everywhere - including this ARP advertisement in Downbeat. Prior to 1976 there weren't a lot of synth magazines to promote your synth products. So Rolling Stone and Downbeat were two magazines that managed to hoovered up more than a few advertising dollars from synth companies.

Let's face it, ARP loved using endorsements as a marketing tool, so when Pete sent promotional photos of himself with his ARP synths to them, it was a match made in heaven. Not sure I can call it serendipity... but it's something. 

According to ARP's own Arpeggio newsletter from April 1974, the original "outrageous self-portrait of Pete Townshend with his ARP 2600 has appeared in dozens of magazines, including Penthouse, Downbeat, Crawdaddy, Rolling Stone, Cream, and many others. Pete presented this photo to ARP about two years ago, and it has really made the rounds". 

No kidding. That quote also provides us with an estimated date the photo was taken - that issue of Arpeggio came out in April 1974... and two years earlier would have been around 1972. And that 1972 date is confirmed through other sources too.  Nice. 

And then three years later that photo showed up in this ad for ARP. That's a pretty good shelf life. 

Back in my early days, I was familiar with The Who mostly because a few of my friends considered themselves Mods during that culture blip in the 80s. It was one of those bands I listened to, but never really picked apart or dove too deep.  As a result I never really tuned into the fact that Townshend was such a synthhead. But as I got older and started hanging out in Usenet groups like, I became aware just how synth-heavy the band was. Baba O'Riley. Who Are You. Won't Get Fooled Again. So many familiar songs.

I guess my point is... I want to squeeze the cheeks of this face. 

If you want to see a lot more of Pete and his synths, in particular his ARPs, check out the "The Electronic Music of Pete Townshend" page on  Lots of great stuff there. 

Side note: the same site came out with a nice little post when Korg reissued the 2600 early in 2020 - it has some good bits about Pete and the use of the the ARP synths, including the Reverb feature video on the 2600 that came out at the time as well. Which of course includes a few of RetroSynthAd's ad and brochure scans!

Friday, December 11, 2020

ARP Literature Order Form, 1975

ARP three-page Literature Order Form from 1975.

I know its Friday afternoon - the time that company's put out news releases they don't want anyone to see and the place that blog posts go to die. Well, tough! There are still a few weeks left in ARP's 50th anniversary and there's stuff to be posted!

To many of you peeps, an order form ain't that glam, but for a collector... dat right dar is pur gold. 

It's a checklist for what is potentially out there... waiting... for me. It's a list of search terms to plug into Google and eBay. 

The thing that is so striking about this lit form are the prices. I get they are 1975 prices, but even for 1975, many of the items are cheap as borscht.

Mmmm... borscht.  Sorry, my blood sugar is getting low. 

I'm guessing those cheap prices are so dealers will buy 'em and pass them on to potential customers. 

Just look at 'em:

2500 manual - $3.60. 

2600 manual - $3.60. 

Odyssey manual - 90 cents! 

ARP Educator's brochure. Wut?!?!? Never come across that before.  12 cents! 

Odyssey cassette course. Never seen that either I don't think. $6.00. 

Now, let's flip to page two - and specifically "Dealer Materials". Boom! Promotion Kit! Musician's Workshop Invitations! Educator's Clinic Invitation! Decals! Tie tacks!  The list goes on and on. 

Let's flip to page three. Arrrrgh! 

Dummy plug? If someone knows what these are, contact me. Wait - never mind. Googled it. 

From an August 2012 post in one of the modular forums... someone going by the name Sempervirant had this to say... 
"A dummy plug is just a plug with no cable attached. I remember seeing one in Automatic Gainsay's videos on YouTube, where he was demonstrating the ARP 2600. Most of the internal connections on the 2600 are normalized (which is why it's considered a semi-modular). If you want to break one of those internal connections, but don't actually want to patch something else in, you just insert a dummy plug to bypass the normalized connection." 
And then, later on in the discussion, Sempervirant was nice enough to find that AG video - thank you very much! Go to 5m:58s to see him use one. Sweet. 

I have an ARP 2600, and many other semi-modulars and never knew dummy plugs existed.  Just goes to show you, we never stop learning. 

Now to find out if those ARP patch cords are branded at all. I gotta know. 


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

ARP "The Arp Story" brochure, 1974


ARP "The ARP Story" 8-page colour brochure for the Pro Soloist, Odyssey, 2600 and 2500, including two extra colour inserts for the Axxe and Explorer. 

Okay, it's been a while since I've blogged. But it's ARP's 50th anniversary and I just gotta get a few more ARP posts in over the next week or so. So, if things go as planned, you will be sick of me. But lucky you, I'll be keeping these short. 

We are talking a colour brochure for six of Arp's kick-ass instruments, gorgeously designed and positioned. The instrument shot, those sexy flowing backgrounds, thin, yet chubby font, and those unique little white computer generated swirlies that appear somewhere on each product's page.  And, then to accompany each of those product page (except the 2500) is an accompanying page that includes some info on each instrument along with... yup... my fav...  


Diagram. Line drawing. Whatever you want to call 'em. 

I call it... ART. 

Straight up, Boo. (I have no idea what I just said. But the kids will get it, I'm sure). 

Now, you will notice that ARP sacrificed a back page for the 2500 so it could, rightfully, include a little bit about ARP itself.  But even this page is very much art, with its colourful duotone photographs - one that includes, of course,  Alan R. Pearlman, and the other, double f course - Pete Townsend of The Who. More on him and his connection with ARP in a future post, I'm sure

Now, if there is one thing I like in my brochures, its when they talk about other marketing material I just have to get my hands on. And ARP punches me in the face by throwing a few teasers out...
"We offer an exclusive series of instructional programs, playing guide songbooks, and cassette tape packages designed specifically for ARP synthesizers."
Gak! Time to go down another rabbit hole. But first, let me finish...

All put together, the brochure and the extra leaflets, it all becomes one of the most gorgeous retro synth brochures in existence. Not just ARP brochures - of all synth brochures. Sure, there are few others on this level. But this is top five for sure. If not top three. ARP at it's finest. 

There is nothing more I can say that is not already included on those pages. I suggest you give ARP some of your time during their 50th anniversary and read 'em.   :)

Friday, September 4, 2020

ARP 2500 modular "The ARP electronic music synthesizer" brochure and mail-in insert, 1970/71

ARP 2500 "The ARP electronic music synthesizer" 8 page colour brochure and mail-in insert from approximately 1970/71.

Oooooh boy! Here's a doozy. Such a doozy that this post got rather long-winded. My apologies in advance. 

"What? What's so 'doozy' about this?!?!", I hear you say... "I've seen this brochure on tons of sites! BORING!!!!!" 

Well, yes. But no. 

Take a closer look at that front page. That's not ARP's treble clef logo!  And the company name and address is listed as... "Tonus Inc. 45 Kenneth Street, Newton Highlands, Massachusetts. 02162"


Now go take a look at all those other ARP 2500 8-page brochures with a similar front page image. They all have "ARP Instruments, Inc. 320 Needham Street" as the company and street name. 

So, for example, the front page of this September 1972 "The ARP 2500 Electronic Music Synthesizer" brochure on the Internet Archive has the same image, but the title is slightly different, it includes the new more familiar treble clef ARP logo instead of the older Tonus/ARP logo, and it has the later Needham street address at the bottom (see image at right). 

Interestingly, it seems that this same set of September 1972 scans pops up on a few sites, including the ARP 2500 page on, but can be traced back to Tim Stinchcombe's awesome set of old synth brochure scans, including this 2500 brochure that was originally scanned by Ben Ward and sent to Tim for posting. Good work!

An even later version of this 2500 brochure dated September 1974 recently went up for auction last August on eBay and some photos can be found on the fabulous MATRIXSYNTH website. Although only six of the eight pages were photographed in the auction, I've managed to find a few differences between the 72 and 74 version. 

For one, in the 1972 brochure, there were five different keyboard models available for the 2500 - 3604, 3001, 3002 3212 and 3222, but in 1974, that list seems to have shrunk down to three models - 2604, 3002 and 3222. And this has lead to some small price differences on four of the six sample systems featured a few pages later. 

Another difference is on the back page where ARP does a little cross advertising of their other synths. In the 1972 brochure, the Odyssey, Pro Soloist, Soloist Mk II and 2600 are featured. But in the 1974 brochure, we see the 2600, Odyssey, Pro Soloist and Explorer. 

But I'm getting off topic... let's get back to *my* brochure.  Not only is the front page different, but so are guts. For example, there is no other instruments being promoted in this earlier brochure. And we definitely don't have as much pricing info scattered throughout. 

All in all, the biggest takeaway from this brochure has gotta be the design. Those lovely colours. That lovely fat font used for much of the titles. And of course those lovely graphics and close-ups of the modules.  I've never taken a closer look at that angel - did you ever notice the different wave forms coming out of the trumpet?!?! GAH!!!

Take my word for it - its worth going down the rabbit hole of the different iterations of this 2500 brochure  - ALL OF THEM!

I gotta say I was pretty proud of myself thinking I had *the earliest* version of this 8-page brochure. So proud I've been strutting down the street like the dude from Saturday Night Fever. But after doing the research, someone out there, of course, happens to have an EVEN EARLIER VERSION!!!!

This earlier version is dated 1969/1970 and I found it as a featured eBay auction from 2017 on MATRIXSYNTH! Unlike my 1970/71 brochure, the front page doesn't include any ARP logo on the front page. Even more cool, is that some of the modules on pages 4 and 5 don't even have photos yet! They are just white spaces with the name of the modules. 

Seriously, just how cool is that. 

And the last page is totally different as well. My version of the brochure has a lot more information about the modules available, and that cool map that we see in future iterations of the brochure as well.

As angry as I am that MAXTRIXSYNTH has outdone me AGAIN *shaking my fists at you!!!!*, I thought I'd return the favour by include two other scans in my post! I haven't seen the mail-in insert that was included in my brochure ANYWHERE else online (although I'm now afraid to look). Either way, its another two pages of cool ARP history. 

Well, that's the end of another blog pos... wait a second!!!

One last point I'd like to make has to do with that map on the back. The one of the left from my brochure (1970ish) has the Kenneth Street location. The one on the right (from the 1972 brochure) is the Needham Street location. 


The new location is literally just down the street - a ten minute walk! And in that 1972 map, they include the location of the "old ARP location" as a reference point. Sweet. 

Maybe more interestingly is looking these locations up on Google Maps. 

The Kenneth Street location looks to be still there, but there's a few differences from the map in the brochure. The house to the Northeast of Tonus Inc. has been replaced by Salon Fabio. And the Power'd Equp building is now the Loyal Companion pet store. But the Liquor store seems to have managed to stand the test of time!

The 1972 Needham Street location is definitely still there. There is even that notch in the south corner that is drawn into the building in the map from the brochure. Looks like its now Inflexxion - a business consulting business, among other things. 

Now, I'm not asking anyone to stalk these location, but the first people to send me a photo of themselves (preferably with an ARP synth) in front of the doors of either location - or inside getting your hair done at Salon Fabio - will get added to the blog post.  :)

This is exactly why I love historical documents such a these. Not just the location info, but having a date on the later document allows me to more accurately estimate print dates of other undated ARP brochures that came after it. 

Okay. I think I'm done now. Phew.