Yamaha SY77 Music Synthesizer

Yamaha SY77 Music Synthesizer
Yamaha SY77 Music Synthesizer

The day following my purchase of the Yamaha V50, I took a drive over to another used music store that I usually visit about twice a month. I was stunned to see sitting on top of a shelf a vintage Yamaha SY77 in excellent condition. It had a hard shell case and inserted into the card slot was an MCD64 64K Memory Card. The pice tag was $100 bucks. I took it down from the shelf and quickly decided to give it a whirl to see how nice it sounded. As expected, it sounded great.

Just one day before I had found a fantastic Yamaha V50. One of the things I wanted was a memory card for it, so I got onto Ebay and checked around. As exepcted I found a couple of MCD64 memory cards, but they were at least $75 plus an extra $35 or so for shipping to Japan. You can imagine what I was thinking when I saw the MCD64 memory card sticking out of the Yamaha SY77. In my mind, I basically bought the memory card and got a Yamaha SY77 synthesizer for free…laugh. Seriously, that’s what I thought.

When I got home with the Yamaha SY77 I noticed that it was extremely heavy. This thing is built like a tank and it weighs like one as well. Throw a hard shell case in with it and you have some major ball busting to carry this around. I don’t know if I’ll be lugging it on the stage, but I can certainly say it will fit nicely in the home studio. It’s a big synth, but the keys feel great and really solid just like the Yamaha DX7.

A couple of notable problem areas on these Yamaha SY77 synthesizers are (a) the LCD fading out and (b) the floppy disk drive failing due to broken drive belts. In my case, the LCD was just fine. However, my floppy drive was indeed not working. I opened up the synth and took a look inside. As expected ( and hoping ), the floppy drive had a broken belt. The rubber stuff was luckily easy to clean off in my case and quickly I scrounged up a rubber band to replace the floppy drive belt temporarily. I needed to check and see if the floppy drive was operational or whether there was an additional problem.

I put the Yamaha SY77 back together with the floppy drive fixed using a rubber band. I started it up and decided to format a new floppy disk. Awesome! The floppy drive worked like a charm. Now I can just order a new floppy belt off of Ebay and know that will fix it for quite a while. I don’t know if just using the rubber band will be stable enough long term. I was happy that I didn’t have to pay $85 from Floppy Drive Solutions for a new floppy drive, although I may do that in the future if I use the drive a lot. Right now, transferring voice banks from the computer via midi is the way to go. I can also use the MCD64 Memory Card for adding extra banks to the SY77.

All in all it was a great day and a nice surprise to come home with a really nice Yamaha SY77 to go along with the Yamaha V50 from yesterday. After playing both synths, I must say that the sequencer, drum machine, and raw edgy synth sound of the Yamaha V50 is pretty cool and unique. However, the incredible power of the Yamaha SY77 Synthesizer is simply awesome. I haven’t tried the sequencer yet, but it looks great and of course it’s a Yamaha. They have probably the best sequencers. What I like the best about both synths are the keys themselves. They are so nice to play and are very sturdy.

If anyone has any questions about the Yamaha SY77 or Yamaha V50, please feel free to comment or send me an email anytime. Thanks and enjoy!

Roland Juno 106 Voice Chips in Reverse? Huh?

Roland Juno 106 Jim Atwood in Japan
Jim Atwood in Japan's Roland Juno 106

Recently I Pm’d an individual on a forum who had success with the Analogue Renaissance Voice Chips. I thought I might be able to find out some additional info about installation or the chips themselves.

Here was my question:


I just recently purchased a full set of Juno 106 Voice Chips from Analogue Renaissance. I live in Japan and had an Ex-Roland tech solder two chips into the board. We have discovered that the chips “possibly” don’t work. It’s unlikely the tech soldered them incorrectly but that’s equally a possibility.

I was wondering since you had success, whether you might have done anything special with the chips before inserting and soldering them into the board. I have the newest version and there apparently is a black plastic sleeve over the pins. We just kept them on and inserted the chip as that seemed the most logical and the tech said no problem.

Did you just get your chips and solder them on as is? I would greatly appreciate any info about anything unusual you might have done to install the chips. The Roland Tech feels certain I got bad chips. I’m trying to be diplomatic but it’s tough for me to argue with BOTH a Roland Pro and what seems to be a very Professional and Successful Chip Designer at Analogue Renaissance. Thus I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place so to speak.

If I can’t get the two existing chips to work, then I’ll likely sell or give away the remaining chips and junk the Roland 106. It’s like an old 73 Volkswagon Bug I used to have in College that did nothing but rip money out of my pocket every month…laugh.

In any event, thanks in advance for any tips. Much appreciated.

The response I got was this ….

They should work out of the box unless –

1. You placed them in reverse
2. The problem is not the chips themselves
3. You have bad chips, which is not likely as AFAIK the guy tests them prior to sending them. Contact and ask him about this.

I greatly appreciated the response. The #2 and #3 response is likely although with #2 I haven’t found anything at all wrong with the main board or wiring. Still looking into that though and doing some meter testing.

With regards to the #3 response, that is quite a stretch. If you look at the pins and the main board one will find that it’s near impossible to get these reversed. You simply wouldn’t be able to solder them into the board UNLESS you inserted them upside down which would become obvious when inserting the board back into the Juno 106. Could this mean then “Reverse Order”? If so there should be numbers on the chips that correspond to the numbers on the main board for each slot. I don’t see any numbers and I also don’t hear anyone else discussing such an issue on the Net. Thus I find #1 to be out of the question.

So far EVERYTHING works on the main board except those Analogue Renaissance Voice Chips and my one Dead Lower Octave ( E ) Key which I mentioned in a previous post.

I appreciate the response from the gentleman above. It only confirms I am dealing with a “mystery” problem other than chips or simply speaking newly acquired bad chips. The mystery continues.

Note there is absolutely NO DEFENSE against “the guy tests them prior to sending them”. Nobody knows! That’s why I have to accept the loss. They could have been damaged in transit, myself, the technician, or anything else for that matter. It’s “word” against “word” on that subject which is the reason why I’ve accepted the loss. I don’t doubt they were tested, but I also don’t have proof that they were. There’s nothing I can do but look for alternatives and continue to research the possible problems.

Stay tuned and have a great weekend.

Replacement Carbon Contacts for Dead Keys on Roland Juno 106

On my newly acquired Roland Juno 106, I discovered I had a dead key (E) on the lowest octave. I researched and found out how to open, remove, and clean the carbon contacts ( upper and lower ) for the dead key. When put back into order I still had the dead key problem. So I then figured the carbon contact located on the Silicon rubber had to be wiped out. So I looked around on the Internet and found a gentleman who was selling just what I needed. They were “stick on” Carbon Contacts for Silicon Rubber with Dead Keys. They were not tested on a Juno 106, but for $25 bucks a sheet I decided to pick some up for a possible fix or future use. I attached two photos of what I received in the mail last week.

Carbon Contacts Dead Keys Roland Juno 106
Carbon Contacts for Dead Keys on Roland Juno 106

I opened up the Roland Juno 106 and once again took out the dead lower E key. I gently placed a new Carbon Contact from the sheet onto the Rubber Silicon. You need to be careful when doing this as they do fly off the tweezers quite easily. It happened to me once, but luckily I found it. Then I closed up the Juno 106 and gave it a try. It didn’t work…laugh. Seriously it didn’t work at all. This means that the Carbon Contact either didn’t work ( unlikely, I’ll explain later ) or that I have now isolated the problem to the actual contact on the board below the keys. I now most likely will have to remove all of the keys, and trace the patch to the dead key to try and find a break in the connection. For now, I can live with the dead key as I don’t use it much and I can always midi up a controller with aftertouch and everything else that the Juno 106 doesn’t have.

Dead Key Carbon Contact Replacements Roland Synthesizers
Dead Key Carbon Contact Replacements on Synthesizers

I did however as a test tried putting a Carbon Contact on a key that already worked and that worked fine. The Carbon Contact from the new sheet completely covered the old contact. I am assuming that if the Carbon Contact itself didn’t work, then it would block the original causing the key to become weak or even fail. Thus I am willing to bet that if and when an actual Silicon Rubber contact fails, these new replacement Contacts should work just fine.

The Gentleman whom I purchased these from at http://sounddoctorin.com/synthtec/parts/key.htm is a great guy and very sincere. He was extremely helpful and his website has quite a bit of useful information on Synth repair. He also has replacement parts for sale. I highly recommend trying these new Carbon Contact Replacements for your dead keys provided you only have a problem with the Silicon Rubber part. If you have an issue on the board itself, then you’ll need to isolate the problem and perhaps do a bit of soldering to reconnect the dead key. I have read about this being done on the Roland Juno 106 and other synthesizers so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

If you are actually missing Roland Juno 106 keys and need replacements for physical broken keys, I have seen many on Ebay. However, they are often sold one at a time, so it could be expensive if you need many keys. As always, you should weight the option of buying a second used Juno 106 for spare parts instead of selectively buying parts. Good Luck!

Ordered Analogue Renaissance Juno 106 Voice Chips

I ordered a full set of Voice Chips from Analogue Renaissance while they are still available. My Juno 106 is going to be a keeper as it really fits nicely into my current gear setup. I’ll let everyone know how that goes once I installed the new chips.

I noticed today though that I had one dead “E” key located in the lower first Octave. I took apart the keys section and removed a the “E” key and found the silicon rubber piece over the contact. I cleaned the upper and lower contact first with the eraser trick and then with some alcohol cleaner. I put everything back together and the “E” key still does not work. Does anybody know what else I can try? Is there any paste or substance I can put on that contact to revive it or create a new connection?

For now I can of course I can use midi, move the keys up or down and octave, or simply dance around the dead key. However, my Juno 106 would be utterly perfect if I could just fix that dead key. At least the key is way down low instead of in the middle. I notice I don’t play it that much anyway, but I sure wish I could fix it. It’s the perfectionist in me I suppose.



Yank those Juno 106 Voice Chips!

Today I went ahead and removed the 1st, 5th, and 6th voice chips from my Juno 106. It was nearly impossible “for me” to get the chips out unscathed, so I elected to simply yank them. Then I used a Solder Pump to clean up the pin holes. Everything went fine. I then mounted the board back into the Juno 106 and fired it up. The static, crackling, and pop sound “Completely” disappeared. Thus I appeared to have answered my question. Dying voices can exhibit “non-stop” crackling, noise, hissing, popping, etc. absolutely. This can prevent you from recording or performing live with the Juno 106.

Furthermore, in test mode I CRANKED the volume and played with the VCF frequency slider and noticed that the other three voices had about 5% life still left in them. They were very hard to hear, but I could detect some sound after playing the keys. This helped me to determine that the background noise had to be “hopefully” coming from 1,5, or the 6 voice chip and that they were not completely dead yet. Thus the constant crackling noise.

So beware that even if the key sounds dead, it may not be just yet. You may need to crank the volume really high in test mode or even in regular playing mode to try and detect faint sounds when hitting the keys. Note that you’ll also have to watch your ears, but it should be rather quick to hear a synth sound of some sort.

Now I effectively have a Roland Juno 103 as people are calling it when you lose voices. However, I am planning to put in an order for the complete Voice Chip Set from Analogue Renaissance this week to both replace the 3 bad voices and have spares in case the other three fail.

For those who have pulled their dead or dying chips and still have noise, my guess is that another voice is probably “just starting” to crap out. I was worried this might happen because I would then have to really think about how to detect which of the three voice chips left were bad. That might have been difficult considering they all were sounding about the same.

I wish everyone continued success with fixing their Juno 106. I found mine for 50 bucks in Japan. It cleaned up really nicely and with some new clone chips installed, I should be back to jamming in no time. Note that for now I can just play with 3 voices. Ala Juno 103! Enjoy!

Regards, Jim