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'FAQ' Posts

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

What are the most rare Optigan discs?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

Apart from the test discs, the discs that were produced under Opsonar are the hardest to get ahold of. These are: Guitar Boogie Champagne Music Gospel Rock Swing It! Vox Humana Cathedral Organ Polka! Mazurka! Country Sunshine Down Home Country Waltz New Orleans Blues

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Was there ever a portable model made?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

No, although it is possible to convert an standard Optigan into a more “portable” instrument.

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How many different models are there?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

In the USA, there were six different versions of the Optigan. Essentially they were the same machine, the cabinet design being the primary variant. There was also a variation that only appeared in Europe. For pictures of the different types, go to this page. 34001 Early monophonic model, with reverb. Not very many of these [...]

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How many different discs were made?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

In total, 42 discs made it into production, including the two diagnostic test discs, which were only available to service technicians.

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What kinds of instruments were used for the keyboard scales?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

Mostly Hammond B3s, Vox Continentals, Gibson and Yamaha Organs.

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Who wrote the musical arrangements for the discs?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

Most of the arrangements weren’t “written” per se, but were improvised by the session guys based on certain guidelines laid down by Johnny, Mike and Marshall. The earliest sessions were very haphazard in this respect, and contain excessive noodling. Later on, Johnny Largo contracted arrangements from a variety of artists.

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Who played the instruments encoded on the discs?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

Over the years, a wide variety of session musicians played for Optigan. The earliest sessions were produced in Cologne, Germany, and constitute the bulk of material that was actually released as discs. The German session musicians can be heard chatting away auf Deutsch in the background of many of the master tapes. Back in the [...]

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How were the discs made?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

Click here to see a photo essay of the disc-making process.

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Who produced the discs?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

The core production team for the Optigan discs was Mike LeDoux and Marshall Pearlman. Marshall really oversaw the project as a whole, and Mike was largely responsible for actually creating the discs themselves.

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Why are Optigans so unreliable?

Posted by peahix on 23rd April 2006

The design team for the Optigan largely came from a toy manufacturing background, and consequently most of the engineers thought purely in mechanical terms. There were many elements of the Optigan’s design that could have been much better handled using electronic parts and transistors (such as the disc drive system), but even after designing and [...]

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