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'FAQ' Posts

Frequently asked questions about the Optigan and some answers. These posts populate the Optigan FAQ.

What are some of the more advanced techniques of Optigan playing?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

Gimmicky techniques such as upside-down and multiple discs are obvious, and hence pretty boring. As far as disc manipulation goes, I like to take two copies of the same disc and tape them together back-to-back so that the beats line up perfectly. This way you get some cool reverse echo effects on the drums. As [...]

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How do you pronounce “Optigan?”

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

Well, the most common way is “Optigon,” hence the frequent misspelling. But if you want to be a complete purist, you’ll pronouce it just the way it’s spelled (ie pronounce “-gan” as in “organ”). The only people I’ve met that pronounce it this way consistantly are Gus Wylde, Mike LeDoux and Johnny Largo.

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Has the Optigan appeared on any commercially available albums?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

Yes. Many. They are listed on the Optigan Discography page.

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Are Optigan samples available?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

YES! You can find our various sample packages here.

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What’s the best way to record an Optigan?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

Plugging a stereo 1/4″ cable into the headphone output is the easiest way to get a decent recording of an Optigan, though you have to be careful to set the volume pedal so as not to get alot of distortion. I usually shove books under the pedal to keep it in place as just the [...]

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Can I get copies of the Optigan Master Reels?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

At this time, I have not made the complete, unedited contents of the Optigan Master Reels available. You can, however, purchase a selection of loops culled from the reels here.

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Do the master tapes for the Optigan discs still exist?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

Yes and no. All of the original 8 and 16 track masters are gone, but fortunately Mike held on to the 1/4″ stereo mix-down masters. These are probably the most useful tapes to have anyway. I am the current legal owner of these tapes, and have copyrighted the material contained on them. All 40-odd hours [...]

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Are there any rare prototype Optigans still out there?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

Probably not. The earliest design concept for the Optigan was a small organ containing something like an Edison Cylinder. When the keys were pressed, they would push down needles onto the audio tracks. This proved to be completely unstable, though, so the focus shifted to optical means. It’s doubtful that any of these prototypes still [...]

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Are there any rare prototype discs available?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

Yes, a few have surfaced, most notably “Mod Rock,” which reached the point of having an official catalog number and label art, but was mysteriously never put into production. Two copies came from Stan Cutler’s estate- one with full label art, and one without. More recently, a third copy appeared on eBay. “Mod Rock” was [...]

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Was there ever a “Sitar” disc made?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

Not in the original Optigan production period of the early 1970s. There were never even any studio recordings of sitar. Apparently the word “sitar” was put on the cover of the owner’s manual because someone in the office thought it would look good. When we started producing new Optigan discs in 2008, one of our [...]

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