Top 20 Weirdest Instruments - The Optigan

The amazing legacy of Mattel's Home Organ      14/11/08

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7:0 mins
This week it's the turn of the Optigan. The home organ that didn't actually make it into very many homes, but will forever leave it's mark on hardcore lo-fi fanatics due to it's incredible selection of scratchy loops and fills.
GForce Software's Dave Spiers gives us the lowdown on Mattel's domestic disaster.
Oh, and by the way. All the music you hear on this episode? Yep, you guessed it. It all comes from the mighty Optigan!

Simon Power


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16 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
MediaMan    Said...

When will GForce be releasing the virtual version?

14-Nov-08 08:42 AM


I can remember seeing one of these or maybe it was the later one (opsonar or whatever it was called) in a bric a brac shop, for 90 quid back in 1991. I thought "who the **** would use that on a record?"...

Brilliant bit of kit, and yet another instrument ripe to be turned into a virtual wonder.

14-Nov-08 03:11 PM

nick b    Said...

Well, I'm sure that Dave wouldnt mind me mentioning that there are quite a few Optigan samples in the M-Tron Pro library

14-Nov-08 03:24 PM

Howling Terror    Said...

What a truely terrible instrument. Yet i've never seen Dave look so animated...Bless

14-Nov-08 07:22 PM

CR78    Said...


You obviously have'nt seen him after a few at the old cantina.........;)

15-Nov-08 12:28 AM

Jykala    Said...

Oh, how I miss the professor...

15-Nov-08 11:21 AM

Marc JX8P    Said...

Cool show! What I am curious about is how the fx buttons triggered those music phrases at the correct time since if I am correct the phrases are continually looping, each one on one track?

15-Nov-08 01:30 PM

duperfly    Said...

Really enjoyed this one. Very funny & very informative.

15-Nov-08 04:28 PM

Kimplex    Said...

Aaahh... re-release please! Optigan Voyager...

17-Nov-08 01:09 AM

rod    Said...

Brilliant piece of rubbish - wow! The radioactive head... now did that make it glow in the dark and did it also make random noises on its own? I wouldn't be surprised if it picked up some SW echo station HAH!

19-Nov-08 02:35 PM

Marc ARP2600    Said...

Marc JX8P: The speed of rotation and the size of the discs insured that all of the graphic samples printed on them (actual visual representations of the waveform... like the audio track on a 16mm film) were in time with each other. There was also a little red dot on the disc which led to a little light hole which blinked in tempo!

08-Jan-09 11:29 PM

Marc ARP2600    Said...

It should also be noted that this is the horrible stepchild of Daphne Oram's great Oramics machine. : )

08-Jan-09 11:30 PM

Narcotic Audio    Said...

I used to have one of these! I picked it up from a st vicent de paul or salvation army store in about 1999. I later gave it to a good friend as I already had 3 other classic organs and well it was ugly as ****. I recall it being terribly heavy for what it was.

23-Jan-09 05:06 PM

VH    Said...

There aren't 'hundreds' of records! Only about 40 different one's

12-Oct-10 01:48 PM

Organ fixer    Said...

Its ok mucking about on these machines, but wouldn't it be fairer to show them played properly instead of just stupid mickey-taking. Or maybe you have not got anyone who is capable of playing real music on them.... Every technology has to start from somewhere. Interesting, nevertheless.

11-Jan-12 03:56 AM

DGL    Said...

Don't forget that the tech in this went into the orchestron, which are the choir sounds used by kraftwerk (listen to radioactivity and europe endless)

24-Jan-12 04:23 PM

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