VSM Keyboard

VSM Development & the Original String Machines

To say that we went overboard during our research and development of the VSM would be putting it mildly.

The initial idea of a virtual string machine stemmed from being asked to find a good condition Solina for UK band Kasabian, because when we finally sourced a good one we realised (a) how bloody heavy the damn things are and (b) how they are increasingly difficult to find for a realistic price.

Armed with this, and having had conversations with several other musicians who were also after some of these old-skool sounds we set about researching the whole String Ensemble genre and found to our surprise that it originated from a British musician and part-time boffin, Ken Freeman.

Of course, as is often the way, the inventor isn’t necessarily the one who is able to capitalise on the first commercial product and this was certainly the way for Ken. However, anyone who heard his initial invention knows that we all owe considerably more than just a nod to the man himself for what was to follow.

There were literally hundreds of String Ensemble Instruments released in the 70s and 80s and after a lengthy chat with UK technical journalist Gordon Reid, who had been researching this genre himself, we decided that it would be a great idea to find, record and preserve as many of these sounds as possible - after all, they all had their quirks, anomalies and, more importantly, defining timbres.

Of course, the concern was that after all our work we'd take a subjective look after the event and think "one trick pony." But to us the entire journey was a truly fascinating one and just listening to the differences in tone between the various instruments slowly revealed that this wouldn't be the case.

Furthermore, while we love the simplicity of a hardware String Machine such as a RS202 or Omni, in this day and age people are more au-fait with synthesis than they were in those early days which is why we decided to add a multi-band filter as well as an amplitude and filter envelope. This allows also the end-user to use some of the classic tones as a spring-board to other new tones and textures while still retaining the vibe and flavour of the original instruments.

For the VSM we've recorded more instruments than was good for our health and these are included in the initial instrument release. However, we still haven't stopped and also have some additional recordings on the way that include some very special and rare instruments.

That’s later though so in the meanwhile have a look at some of the classic instruments we were fortunate to capture, plus we’ll give you a sneak preview something yet to come.

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