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New Optigan Disc Set – TRIPLE HEADER 2

Posted by peahix on October 1st, 2015

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Now shipping!

TRIPLE HEADER 2 is a new 3-disc set available at a special bundle price, packaged in a single jacket. By popular demand, we’ve ported three more Orchestron sounds to the Optigan, and have also dug into the Optigan master tape archives for more previously unreleased material recorded 40+ years ago.

CELLESTE features the Orchestron CELLO scale, along with a newly arranged and recorded accompaniment featuring Celeste and Glockenspiel in 3/4. These light sounds complement the low, warm tones of the cello nicely. (SFX tabs: Glockenspiel, C-G-D-A-E major chords)

FOLK GUITAR & FLUTE pairs the Orchestron FLUTE scale with an unreleased rolling guitar accompaniment and drums/percussion from the Optigan master tapes.

LATIN GUITAR & TRUMPET features the Orchestron TRUMPET scale, along with more previously unreleased guitar/drums/percussion accompaniments from the Optigan master tapes. (Note: The A and E major chords on this disc are true A and E major chords, which means that the Bb, F, G, D, and E dim chords are NOT true dim chords. The C and A dim chords are the only true dim chords on this disc.)

These three discs represent the open/simple sound of many of the original Optigan disc titles- sounds that have become perennial favorites due to their wide applicability and haunting qualities.

Posted in New Optigan / Orchestron Discs, Shoptigan | 1 Comment »

POLL: Would You Buy This New Optigan Disc?

Posted by peahix on August 8th, 2015

We’ve pressed up a prototype of a more experimental Optigan disc called GLITCHEDELICA. It’s basically 57 glitchy loops (ie, each chord button and keyboard key contains a unique loop), mostly rhythmic in nature, that you can combine and recombine in an endless glitchy sonic soup. We like the disc, but we want to get a feel for whether or not y’all like it (and would plonk down $99.99 for a copy) before we decide to go ahead with it. Here’s a demo of the current revision. If we get sufficient interest, we’ll proceed with the final revision and offer it up for sale.

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Pea generated and processed all this material from a variety of unique sources. None of these loops are culled from 3rd party sources or are otherwise available anywhere else. If we make the disc available, it will carry the same Creative Commons Attribution license that all of our discs carry, which means that you’ll be able to use the disc in your own work, commercial or otherwise, just so long as you give credit to the source.

Would you buy a copy of GLITCHEDELICA ($99.99)?


Posted in New Optigan / Orchestron Discs, Shoptigan | 14 Comments »

New 2015 Orchestron Disc – HARMONIUM – Now Available

Posted by peahix on July 13th, 2015

New 2015 Orchestron Disc – HARMONIUM – Now Available

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Posted in New Optigan / Orchestron Discs, Orchestron | 1 Comment »

Orchestron Vibraphone Disc Inspires New Song by Belgian Band OSTYN

Posted by peahix on June 10th, 2015

Our good friend Dieter Vanmarcke alerted us to this track by the band Ostyn, which was built around an improvisation on our Vibraphone disc for the Orchestron!

Posted in New Optigan / Orchestron Discs, Orchestron, Sightings | No Comments »

Optigan/Orchestron Disc Limited Time Offer Now Closed

Posted by peahix on March 10th, 2015

Thanks to all who took advantage of our limited-time offer to order titles from our back-catalog of Optigan/Orchestron discs. We had a good response, and will get started making the discs right away. Since these discs are hand-made, it will take a month or so to get everything ready for shipment. Your patience and continued support is very much appreciated! Look for new Optigan/Orchestron titles in the coming months!!

Posted in New Optigan / Orchestron Discs, Shoptigan | 2 Comments »

New Optigan-laden Album by Matthew Leonard

Posted by peahix on February 11th, 2015


Matthew Leonard sends this info about his new album Sunnyside, Ohio!

NYC rocker Matthew Leonard joins Columbus rock and jazz veterans on Sunnyside, Ohio.   Recorded with vintage instruments on an Ampex 440 reel-to-reel tape machine, this epic album features Columbus rock royalty (David Holm, Bret Burleson, Bill Heingartner) and Brooklyn indie alumni: JC and John Kole, plus indomitable guitarist Dwight Scott. Leonard’s signature instrument is the Optigan, a plastic organ produced by Mattel in the 1970s, prized for its early sampling ability.  Pea Hicks of wrote, “Matthew Leonard strikes right balance between catchy and weird, lo-fi yet coherent production”. Sunnyside Ohio builds a sonic landscape that ranges from the George Harrison-inspired “Drums of Kin” to the bass-driven indie rock anthem “Aphasia”, with vintage organ interludes and Optigan-infused melodic pop (“Lovely Young Sunday”, “The Music”).   The album also features a cover of British indie legend Babybird’s “I Didn’t Want to Wake You Up”.

Matthew delivers once again with some solid lo-fi pop, which stands out regardless of the Optigan angle! Highly recommended!! Click the link above to get it!

Posted in Sightings | No Comments »

Rami Jaffee Tests Drives His Newly Restored Optigan

Posted by peahix on February 10th, 2015

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Recently our good friend and associate Robert Becker restored and customized an Optigan 35012 for Rami Jaffee of Foo Fighters and Wallflowers fame. Robert works at Quilter Labs, and he arranged an unveiling and test drive for Rami at their office. Thanks to Rami for letting us film the occasion and post it here for posterity!

Posted in Sightings, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Limited Time Offer – Buy Optigan/Orchestron Discs From Our Back Catalog!

Posted by peahix on February 10th, 2015

For a very limited one-month time period only, from now until March 9th 2015, we’re offering an opportunity to buy discs from our back-catalog (click this link to go to the web store). Normally we’re not able to keep these titles in stock, because historically the vendor that makes the raw discs has required a minimum order of 25 copies of any given title. Since our cost for these copies is quite high, and it’s an extremely niche market, we can’t afford to buy them in large quantities and remain thousands of dollars in the red while the orders slowly trickle in. BUT, based on individual requests for discs, we’ve reached a point at the moment where there are enough total requests for discs across all the various titles, that the vendor is willing to take an order without requiring the usual minimum number of copies for each title. This all has to happen in one fell swoop, so we’re limiting the time frame in which folks can place their orders. Once the deadline passes, we’ll order only as many copies as we have actual orders for. It will then take a month or two to get all those copies fabricated and sent out. Your patience is appreciated! Unfortunately, we cannot offer any sort of bulk discounts or other types of custom orders beyond what is offered in our store. In the past we’ve experimented with different bundle pricing schemes, etc, so the prices set for those bundles will remain in effect. All discs will ship with the printed jackets exactly as pictured on the product page for each item.

Posted in New Optigan / Orchestron Discs, Shoptigan | 1 Comment » Forums Closing!

Posted by peahix on February 10th, 2015

As many of you know, the user forums have been extremely flaky in recent years. I had to severely restrict registration because of constant bombardment by spambots, despite having all sorts of verification measures in place. My admin struggled mightily trying to resolve this problem or replace the forum with a better one, but it just ended up being a total nightmare. Since much Optigan discussion happens on social media and other forums anyway, I’ve decided to simply shut down our forum here. I encourage you to visit The Optigoners on Facebook if you have questions or Optigan-related things to share. I know I’ll probably get “I can fix your forum!” type messages, and I appreciate in advance folks’ willingness to help, but I’ve simply decided it’s best to move the discussion elsewhere at this point. Thanks to all who have participated in the forums over the years!

Posted in Site Info | 3 Comments »

SOLD – Optigan 35001 & 34 Discs For Sale in Los Angeles Area – $750

Posted by peahix on November 27th, 2014

Optigan 2014-014a

Former Optigan employee Mike McKittrick writes:

I have a fully functional Optigan organ in good condition for sale with extras. All for $750 (cash or cashiers check only).
Here’s the list-
Optigan Console- Model 35001 with owners manual and cleaning wand.
Optigan bench- hinged seat opens for easy storage of music discs and music books.
Music discs – 34 discs in 3 storage organizers (with index tabs for each disc).
Music books- 18 Optigan music books.
Here’s a pdf with a detailed rundown of what’s included.

I want to sell everything as one complete package with local pickup from the Los Angeles area.
Interested parties please email me and I’d be happy to email you a detailed PDF and photos.
Again, all for $750. Interested serious parties only. Price is firm.

THIS OPTIGAN IS NOW SOLD. I’m leaving up the details for informational purposes only.

Mike also writes:

By the way, I’m a retired longtime Mattel employee. In my early 20′s, I had the pleasure of working at Optigan (early 70′s) for a brief time. I was there just as they were about to start production, rocky start and all.

Here’s my recollection of working at Optigan in the pre-production/production-start days:

I worked there in a temporary position (only a few months) while I waited for another position to open at Mattel HQ. My primary job was in the Model Shop making molded parts of the heart of the Optigan for pre-production and testing purposes. That part is the black unit that holds the 57 optical sensors for reading audio data from the disc. I used a manual, hand operated molding press affectionately called a ‘dental press’ to mold the parts. Quite tedious and monotonous. Many of my molded parts were used in early production Optigans because the final manufacturing mold wasn’t finished yet.  Other jobs included sonic welding the little white speed indicator to the tempo slider, milling slots in one of the PCB boards, and general floor sweeping. Good times.

One day prior to actual production, there was a factory floor ‘walk through’ for the big-wigs from Mattel including Ruth Handler, CEO Mattel. The chief engineer demonstrated a solid working prototype and indicated he needed more time to finalize details in preparation for production- meaning it still have a few bugs. He was pressured from those above his pay grade to get into production ASAP, hence the buggy Optigans we all know and love today.

I recall the first time I heard and played with the Optigan. It was so cool….for it’s time. I remember quickly moving the tempo wheel while playing a few notes and it reminded me of a track from Pink Floyd’s LP ‘Atom Heart Mother’. (Yes an LP, and funny the things one remembers.)

One of the engineers you list is John Northrop, who is the son of Jack Northrop of ‘Northrop’ aviation fame. For a few weeks, John’s son Mark worked alongside me in the model shop making parts.

There are probably a few other tidbits to share but hey, it’s been over 40 years!
I worked at Mattel in D&D for over 30 years engineering and managing toy development. One of my favorite toys that I engineered was ‘Spydor’ for the Masters of the Universe line in the 80′s. Good times indeed.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »