EMERYVILLE, Calif. (KTVU) - It's by appointment only and you may not have known it exists, but this Friday music gear lovers may want to check out the Vintage Synthesizer Museum as it celebrates their fifth anniversary at its Emeryville location along the Oakland border.
Speaking with a hint of his Southern drawl intact over the phone, Lance Hill, the museum's founder and curator, said the museum was previously in West Oakland before relocating to 65th Street. He didn't really advertise then because he wasn't fully comfortable with the setup.
Now he's in a place where he's proud to present "over 50 of the most psychedelic machines that mankind has ever known."
For $5, Friday's more or less an open house to the public at a much cheaper rate than he normally charges.
"I've always played in bands," Hill said. His attraction to synthesizers is their "exotic" and "weird" sounds. You can hear it in the "bleep, bloop" of the loops bands like Stereolab use in their music," he said giving one example. But he's not exaggerating when he says synthesizers can create an infinite amount of sound.
He plays synth in an Oakland-based band, appropriately named, Shame Waves.
Hill moved to the Bay Area from the Mid-South 18 years ago. "Bartending was the first time I had any money." At first, some vintage synthesizers were lent to him, but later he was able to find them on sites like Craigslist.
Now he's amassed an impressive collection of rare synths from brands gear heads would recognize like; ARP, Yamaha, Moog, Roland and Korg. For the layperson, or novice music fans, they'd probably only recognize the sounds.
People come from across the country and around the world to see Hill's attraction. "I just had two separate sets of visitors come in from Chicago," he said.
An appointment grants you access to all of the synthesizers, drum and effects machines. You can even make your own recording. During the anniversary open house from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Hill will be on hand to demo how the equipment all hooks up to create a variety of sounds.
The fun goes through the weekend with Saturday's hands-on "Intro to Synthesis Workshop," which breaks down the components of oscillators, filters and creating a synthesizer voice. Space is very limited.
And Sunday, be sure to bring a pillow for the $5 "Sunday Soundbath" from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Here you'll be able to "relax, meditate and chill" to the sound of 20 synthesizers as they drone and arpeggiate in harmony.
If you miss it all, but still want to be in on the secret, you can always call (510) 859–3558 and make your own private appointment.
Click here for details.