MATRIXSYNTH: SSB Syntec Banana

Sunday, October 01, 2006

SSB Syntec Banana

via this VSE Post.

Update:

download here

Some details also pulled:
inVrs: "i recently bought this very rare german synthesizer called "banana". it was manufactured by SSB (Synthesiezr Studio Bonn) and only about 100 were built as far as i know."

Analog Crazy: "The Banana is basically an Oberheim OB Polyphonic made only in Germany. Its flat top reminds me of the OB-SX but apparently it sounds more like an OB-8. You are lucky to have one because only 200 units were ever made."

dougt: "Supposedly they were trying to get Oberheim to market it that's why they copied the OB look..."

My question: Was it really called the banana? What's up with that?

Update via Dirk Matten in the comments:
"The price for the OB-Xa was DM 14.230 - the Banana sold for DM 5.350. Tschak!
It is not a Oberheim copy and the sound can be compared to Moog. We made it look like the Oberheims, because we sold the Oberheim line exclusiv in Germany, did all the advertising and marketing without any support, made the name Oberheim big in Germany - and planed to offer the Banana to Oberheim as a competetive item for the international market. Received quite a lot of requests from internation distributers. Even without having seen the product, Tom Oberheim told me that he would never produce or sell something from outside his company. This was a big mistake - that's what Russ Jones, marketing & sales for Oberheim, told me some years later. "Dirk, we both know that this would have been a big business."

Dirk Matten"

Update regarding the name:
"We also planned a drummachine "Coconut" and had the idea for an ad: my business partner and me as apes eathing bananas throwing with coconuts.

I asked several people over a long period and Conny Plank, most important producer in Germany, told me: Dirk, very simple "Harras" or "Hasso" like the german shepherd dog. That's what he thought would be fine for international success. We kept it national with "Banana".

harrharr"

Funny! : ) There would just something funny about owning a synth called the banana. I'd get a kick out of that.

Another Update from Dirk. Fascinating stuff:
"To be a little bit more precise on the historical aspect, which might be intersting to someone:

When Tom came to our company we asked him: "What do you think about a hot product from outside?" His answer was: "Every day I get a lot of letters and telephone calls from all over the world by no name people, who want to offer their ideas to me. Did Roger Linn call me? No. He did it himself."

We stopped that discussion, did not show the prototype to him, had a nice lunch in an italian restaurant in Cologne and decided to go the Roger Linn way."




11 comments:

  1. I've heard the story about supposedly trying to get Oberheim to carry it too. Sounds fishy. Why would Oberheim want a synth that's just a variation on what they had, or am I missing a big selling point somewhere.

    It seems to me that with importing and taxes Oberheim gear certainly wasn't cheap in Germany. If you aren't a known name it would seem that looking like Oberheim might get sales. Having a story for people accusing them of partly copying look and concept of something else would also help.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The price for the OB-Xa was DM 14.230 - the Banana sold for DM 5.350. Tschak!
    It is not a Oberheim copy and the sound can be compared to Moog. We made it look like the Oberheims, because we sold the Oberheim line exclusiv in Germany, did all the advertising and marketing without any support, made the name Oberheim big in Germany - and planed to offer the Banana to Oberheim as a competetive item for the international market. Received quite a lot of requests from internation distributers. Even without having seen the product, Tom Oberheim told me that he would never produce or sell something from outside his company. This was a big mistake - that's what Russ Jones, marketing & sales for Oberheim, told me some years later. "Dirk, we both know that this would have been a big business."

    Dirk Matten

    ReplyDelete
  3. dirk, just curious, why was it named the banana? Not passing judgement, I just think it's a curious name for a synth. It definitely stands out and would be easy to remember.

    ReplyDelete
  4. We also planned a drummachine "Coconut" and had the idea for an ad: my business partner and me as apes eathing bananas throwing with coconuts.

    I asked several people over a long period and Conny Plank, most important producer in Germany, told me: Dirk, very simple "Harras" or "Hasso" like the german shepherd dog. That's what he thought would be fine for international success. We kept it national with "Banana".

    harrharr

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's pretty funny! : ) I think the name would have taken it far. It would be hard to forget a name like banana or coconut for a synth.

    ReplyDelete
  6. With all due respect, I think Dirk may have misunderstood Tom's point.
    Stop and consider that it was Tom's name (Oberheim) on these synths.
    There is a level of pride if someone does that. Tom was in control of all aspects of his designs and manufacturing and would have been endorsing a synth that looked like his, could cause market confusion, but was something he had no part of in the design or build quality.

    In other words, he seemed to ignore the pride aspect and disregarded that money wasn't the most important aspect to Tom's work.
    Russ is a marketer. He buys, advertises and sells. HIS bottom line is money.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You are quite right. Oberheim synthesizers had these blue lines and that was the only thing which was similar to the Banana. It was my fault not to change the colour of the blue lines to pink after my decicion not to show him our prototype.

    ReplyDelete
  8. To be a little bit more precise on the historical aspect, which might be intersting to someone:

    When Tom came to our company we asked him: "What do you think about a hot product from outside?" His answer was: "Every day I get a lot of letters and telephone calls from all over the world by no name people, who want to offer their ideas to me. Did Roger Linn call me? No. He did it himself."

    We stopped that discussion, did not show the prototype to him, had a nice lunch in an italian restaurant in Cologne and decided to go the Roger Linn way.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well alot of good that "name guarding" did Tom Oberheim in the end, eh? What about the Gibson/Oberheim Echoplex, or the Viscount/Oberheim OB-12? I know they came later, but it's just kind of funny when you hear this story about how he shunned away other ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think Tom lost the right to use his name as Bob did. He never got it back so far, it is still with Gibson/Viscount. That´s why the Marion Pro Synth is not bearing Tom´s name.

    The Matrix 6/1000 is allready a bit off from the classical Oberheim quality. It is more mass market oriented, cheaper build quality and if my memory serves me right, designed and built in Japan?

    Georg.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Banana - the first gay synthesizer.

    ReplyDelete

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