MATRIXSYNTH: The Sonica - Serge

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Sonica - Serge

Title link takes you to one more shot via this auction and this auction.

"Up for auction is the extremely rare Sonica, built by Frank Eventoff. Only 650 of these were ever produced, making it a highly collectible electronic device. Very few are now known to exist, and listed below is some information I discovered when researching the history behind this unique instrument.

In 1979, the first Sonicas were produced, a collaboration with Larry Heller. There were 650 eventually built, but very few are seen nowadays. Serge Tcherepnin of Serge synthesizers (analog modular) did the oscillator design, and the oscillator inside the Sonica is indeed a Serge oscillator! The bodies have an interesting gourd/phallic shape, and were crafted of carved wood. The neck is incredibly comfortable, and easily fits into the hand, facilitating the sliding action used for playing the Sonica.

Creator Frank Eventoff's neighbor in Silverlake was a modelmaker and carved the bodies - they produced them in runs of 24 at a time.

Donna Summer bought one of the runs of 24 and created a Sonica Orchestra !!! They performed live in Hawaii, with all the musicians in her band equipped with Sonicas at some point in the show!

The body is made from finely hand carved mahogany.

The sound of the Sonica can best be described as somewhere between a sitar and violin. When run through a simple delay, an amazing array of soundscapes are derived. The front panel features a Key/Pitch Knob, and an On/Off Volume Knob. It also features three buttons. " Slider ", which is a tremolo type effect, " Tone ", which is actually a tonal boost, and " Half-Step ", which raises the note an octave. It features a built-in speaker, with an 1/8 inch output to connect to an amplifier or recording device. It runs on one 9-voly battery which is installed by accessing a plate on the backside of the device. This device includes the original carrying case, and original owners manual. The Key/Pitch Knob seems to adjust the key only intermittently. This may be solved by fine tuning the Key Knob, which is explained in detail in the owners manual. All other functions operate perfectly. This device is guaranteed to work upon arrival, but due to the vintage nature of this instrument, it must be sold as is. Winning bidder to submit payment via Paypal, Cashiers Check, or Money Order within 5 business days of auction end, to include $ 20 insured shipping within the continental U.S."

via Lost Signal.

Update via elgauchoandres in the comments:

The Sonica has been around in others sales ie. this auction [shots added to the flickr set]

And there's a webpage with all the info you need to know it a bit more"

Update: Be sure to check out this post for more images and documentation.


  1. WOW! Brass, wood and some n electronic guts! anybody know where some sound samples or schematics can be had?

  2. Hats off to the coked-up A&R guy who greenlit the Sonica Orchestra idea!

  3. i love the strange side projects of synth manufacturers. there should be a database specifically for these things. a lot of the time they dont make it onto synth websites.

  4. The Sonica has been around in others sales ie.

    And there's a webpage with all the info you need to know it a bit more

  5. I forwarded some photos of the Sonica innards and the Sonica manual to matrix. I'll try to forward some sound samples too. It's just a simple buzzy kind of triangle wave. A very pleasing mellow tone. Pressing on the Tone pad sort of opens the filter a tiny bit more. It's not some amazing synth, but it wasn't meant to be. It's easy and fun to play and that was the intent. Also, when I got mine, I was surprised how small it is, it's only 18" It doesn't need to be any bigger, I just thought it would be for some reason. Somebody somewhere has got ot have video of Donna Summer's band playing 24 of them. I've really got to see that!!

  6. i just listed one of these on ebay today. please check it out.


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