This site is dedicated to everyone interested in Serge Modular Music Synthesizers
HISTORICAL BITS AND PIECES Content on these pages courtesy Darrel Johansen

In 1997 I donated my custom 6-panel Serge Modular synthesizer to California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California.

This instrument was made in the early 80s and represents the third generation of analog synthesizer modules designed by Serge Tcherepnin. Utilizing custom panel graphics, a polished wood case, and instrumentation quality parts, this instrument is unique --as were most of the synthesizers produced in the Hollywood and San Francisco shops during this time. This modular music system has digital interface wiring, and can be connected to a computer with a multi-pin connector on the rear. Banana jacks along the left and right edges of each panel provide interconnects to and from the analog synthesizer modules to the computer.

The graphics for all modules in this series of synthesizers were done either for individual modules or for an entire panel at once. This overlay was an adhesive backed metallic material that could be exposed to a negative much like a photograph. This particular system used positive rather than negative masters, resulting in the black face and silver lettering and trim, which is opposite the standard Serge synthesizer look of black lettering on the mainly silver panel.

This generation of musical instruments has been used in college and university music programs, film scores, studio recordings and live music performances. Many instruments were made during this period, and most are still in use. It was due to many people's efforts that the Serge shop was able to produce these custom, quality instruments that are now legendary. Among the contributors to this endeavor from the late 70s to the early 80s were the following:

  • Paul Young, who shouldered many of the technical issues in the production shop allowing me to manage the Serge Modular Music Systems business during this peak era of its productivity 'freeing Serge to concentrate fully on designing the fantastic third generation of modules.
  • Gary Chang, who introduced me to Serge, and assisted in the crafting of instruments, catalogs, and graphics.
  • Jill Fraser, whose excellent workmanship was a model for high quality, hand-crafted instruments.
  • Kevin Braheny, who was an essential assistant to Serge long before and after my association with the business.

Like these creative, dedicated individuals, others who helped produce Serge synthesizers were mostly artists who were able to wire and solder synthesizer systems while pursuing their artistic careers and academic studies. It was Serge's unique vision and creative genius to design these instruments. It was a team effort to craft the catalogs, write the user guides, keep the parts bins stocked, lay out the PC boards, solder components, wire up the panels, hand match transistors and resistors, test assembled units, repair returns, deal with customer service and get shipments out on time. Among these talented people were Eric Drew Feldman, Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Anne Graham, Chas Smith, Richard Marriott, Arthur Barrow and a good many more who have gone on to make a name for themselves. To those I didn't mention by name, I apologize - it has been twenty years.

Darrel Johansen

Oct 01