I’ve been at this for while you know.
There were second hand open reel tape recorders whose accompanying tapes were chopped into crude loops with sellotape, and records scratched into locked grooves on dying Dansettes.
There was the VL-Tone, a birthday present the year they came out. They can’t be underestimated as a synth for one reason, the ADSR setting that you keyed numbers into (it was a calculator, after all) and which created new sounds. For a £40 , forty year old device, so many people have found a place for it in their music
My first real synth was a Teisco S60-F, that I bought with paper round money in 1981. It was a great machine, one oscillator and a Moog-ish filter that could be made to act very strangely in damp Yorkshire weather, something that was put to serendipitious use on ‘Calm Before’. I recorded with it and the VL-Tone by overdubbing on a double deck cassette recorder so that hiss became a feature. I made a tape under the name Electronic Communications Corporation because I wanted to be pseudo-corporate like BEF or PiL, and got short shrift in Electronics and Music Maker.
Then I got a Soundmaster ST-305 drum machine as there was only so far you could go with percussion sounds on a cheap monosynth. This had a trigger out and the Teisco had a trigger in. I could recreate ‘I Feel Love’ and what Wire called dugga-dugga but couldn’t quite get ‘Kebabtraume’ by DAF right.
And then… I swapped the synth, first for a Casio keyboard, then for a fretless bass. I don’t know why now, apart from a shortage of money and probably the frustration of having to overdub everything, plus a shortage of unattached synthesiser players in the Doncaster area. Gets rather depressing when I see them on eBay now.
The fretless bass became a cheaper fretted Eastern European one that lent itself to playing chords and electro-acoustic noise was changed for more conventional music.
Music fell in the background for far too long but not for want of trying. Every now and then I would try and do something when work wasn’t getting in the way. Software became more interesting than hardware, then started to emulate hardware and that room full of synths I had once dreamed about would fit on a laptop. And here I go again.