Monday, June 30, 2014


via this auction:

"Up for sale is a Synth that Toto had during the "Rossana/Africa" days. Apparently I was not clear in my earlier listing that THIS ACTUALLY BELONGED TO TOTO. I can provide evidence of this; call my customer service if you doubt that. There were only 100 of these built- they cost $25,000 and are pretty heavy. This was the immediate predecessor to the Yamaha DX-7 which was also based upon the new FM Synthesis theories developed by Professor John Chowning at Stanford University. (Baldwin & Hammond are STILL kicking themselves for NOT jumping at Prof Channing's formulations).

For the history of this unit, Sound on Sound dot com has a lengthy overview of not only this instrument, but the battle that was waging between the different companies of the time...

The controls are deceptively simple and studio musicians LOVE these machines because of the sounds, and textures that can be coaxed out of them when in the right hands. To the left it has Pitch Control (there is a master pitch conroller underneath to Tune the unit (see last photo)). Next there are TREMELO & VIBRATO- each is Variable and controlled by the left two foot pedals. The Right Foot Pedal is a damper. Next is an ENSEMBLE button to the left of the TOUCH CONTROL button. These two buttons woking together might be called "PSYCHEDELIA", because the combination of the two is Startling. Sometimes Ensemble sounds like a Chorus Effect. When you Really slam a key the effect is HEAVY Distortion. (i.e. THIS is a PLAYER'S EXPRESSION MACHINE).

Three band EQ.

There are 16 SOUND BUTTONS that light up when One is selected. The sounds are loaded from the SOUND STRIPS which are like little tiny plastic bookmarks with magnetic backing. As the photos show, I have both the SOUND LIBRARY & VOLUME ll of the SOUND LIBRARY.


You place the "A" End of the SOUND STRIP in the mouth of the reader to the right of the keyboard. When you press the designated sound button (1-16) the mechanism pulls the SOUND STRIP inside much like a credit card machine. When it has read the "A" end, the SOUND STRIP is returned to you. You have Now loaded sound onto ONE of the TWO onboard computers in the GS-1. You can now load the "B" end of the sound strip onto the SECOND Computer. UNLESS you want to experiment and load another "A" or "B" end into the second computer (Yamaha actually encouraged "mixing it up".). If you like the new sound you have created, you can record it and store it on a BLANK SOUND STRIP. (there are 8 blank strips provided). Again, THIS is a PLAYER'S EXPRESSION MACHINE!

The Yamaha engineers REALLY "knocked themselves out" on the design of this- the way the sounds can be loaded into the TWO computers, giving the option of 16 sounds YOU HAVE CREATED coupled with the interplay of the Touch-Sensitivity and the Expression functions, coupled (again) with the real-time pedal control of both the Vibrato and Tremelo functions - it's like "The Space Shuttle for Keyboard Players".

If you look at the video of Toto's AFRICA, you will see this machine on stage. Perhaps you are not much of a keyboard player, but a HUGE Toto fan, and turned your dope dealing money into a fortune on Wall Street. Wouldn't it be nice to have this in your living room so your kids could learn the "bum bum bum ba bum bum bum" intro to "Africa"? Or perhaps you are a PLAYER, and want the challenge of the predecessor the the famed DX-7 (which "kicked butt and took names"). Or you have a studio and need THIS to complete your keyboard stable- your clients might feel a tad humbled to be able to sit at Toto's Keyboard. ('let's see shall I up my rates 20, 30, or 40 per cent?')."


  1. Not gonna lie. I got a laugh out of the wall street dope comment. My father has via the mandolin player in his band (Whos also a fairly well known luthier) a friend whos got about $400mil in the bank from a mining lease, and the guy owns a collection of instruments previously owned by various famous mandolin players, and it drives the old man nuts because the guy is barely capable of even holding the instrument right so these magnificent instruments just sit there on display, mostly for wall street types that wouldn't know a mandolin from a ukelele. Barbarians.

    This is definately a fantastic looking piece of gear. Hopefully it'll belong to someone whos prepared to let it sing. Like a good studio.

  2. Toto had four GS1s, actually. I have one of them as well. This one has a seven-position switch on the left cheekblock used to select between banks of presets. This machine had been warehoused for 17 years before I came across it in 2001.

  3. Man! Just to even think about it gets me nuts I’ve always wanted to own a GS1 lucky for you @Old Crow

  4. The famous "Africa" riff was actually played on a CS-80. The GS-1 was used on the song, mostly for the marimba and (I think) the flutes.


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