Yamaha SY-77 No Sound Output Solved – Battery Check!

Yamaha SY-77 Synthesizer
Yamaha SY-77 Synthesizer

Sitting in a store right down the street here in Japan were two Yamaha SY77 synths that were for $10 and $30 respectively. Both were in minty condition and had a note on them that said “No Sound”. The note confirmed that both would power on but had no sound coming out of the outputs. It seemed the problem could be a bad output board, except it still was possible the batteries might needed to be changed in these. I decided to wait until I could come up with some additional space. Both had been in the store for several months which lead me to believe that they could have some major issues. I waited and pondered whether I should gamble or not with these synths.

Well it wasn’t long and I got the itch to take on another project so I went back and bought one of the Yamaha SY77’s in the store with no output. I bought the $30 one because it came with a case, no chipped keys and overall looked in near mint condition. The other $10 one had a chipped key and no case, but it also was in excellent condition. When I got home I found inside the case had the manuals and an MDC64 memory card. I thought if I couldn’t get the SY77 working, at least I’d score on the memory card. I powered it up and sure enough no sound, BUT, I got a delightful message saying the battery needed to be changed. With my past experience at these stores in Japan, the sales clerks most of the time call that “broken” or “junk”. I had suspected that could be the problem because with my first SY77 I had to change the battery and had all sorts of issues which weren’t resolved until that was done. I also took a look at the bottom of the SY77 and clearly it had never been opened. To me this is often a sign that any sort of problem “could” in fact be battery related.

Thus I changed the battery and did the reset procedure. Presto! The Yamaha SY77 came back to life and check out with flying colors. I then threw a disk into the floppy drive to have a laugh because in almost every case they are broken with bad belts. To my surprise, the floppy disk drive worked without a hitch. I was able to format and save data to the floppy. I probably shouldn’t be surprised in that the inside was absolutely spotless with no dust and almost like new. There were a few label stickers on the outside which suggested the SY77 was used in a studio and likely not stored under the house…laugh.

As a result, case closed. The Yamaha SY77 is working great. I suspect the other one at the shop is the same, although I simply don’t have storage to bring in another tank such as the SY77. It’s a great synth but they are big and heavy. I’m sure another tech will snag it sometime.

With my two SY77 synths I can say that the batteries were the root of all issues including the lack of audio output. The battery is soldered in there and my holders don’t fit, so I usually have to solder in custom wiring. If anyone has troubles with their Yamaha SY77, be sure to check the battery and replace it properly. After resetting, you shouldn’t have any further issues.

Last night I played the SY77 for about an hour with some custom patches. It sure sounded wonderful!! It’s amazing how the SY77 was like 3 grand when they first came out.

Nice video here form Youtube: Yamaha SY77 Digital Synth Sounding Very Analog like

SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator for Roland W-30 S-330 Samplers

SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator
SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator

Today I just purchased an SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator off Ebay for testing with the Roland W-30 and Roland S-330 Samplers that I have. I’ve been pondering whether to to do this or not and finally gathered enough info with my own research on the subject. I feel it’s worth giving it a shot to see if the SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator rev. C works with my Roland W-30 or S-330.

The SDCard HxC Floppy Emulator can replace different kind of floppy disk drive and allows you use SDCard media instead of floppy disk. I heard this Emulator will work with the Roland S-50. The Roland W-30 and S-330 are very similar if not the same as the Roland S-50. I really need something more reliable for my samplers and so I thought why not give it a test. I also have a couple of other synths that likely could work with the SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator, so all is not lost if it fails to work on the Roland W-30 and S-330. We’ll see!

It’ll be a couple of weeks before I receive the SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator in the mail. Please stay tuned for further updates on how I progress with this project. Thanks!

Progress Report:
Does the SD Card HxC Floppy Emulator work on the Roland S-330 and W-30 Samplers?

Roland S-330 – YES!
Roland W-30 – YES!
Roland S-50 – YES!
Korg T2 – YES!

Roland W30 LCD Backlight Replacement

Roland W30 LCD Backlight
Roland W30 LCD Backlight

After the success of my Yamaha SY77 “Cool Blue” LCD backlight replacement, I decided to see if I could upgrade a few other of my old keyboard if possible. Today I found a Roland W30 “White” LCD replacement backlight for a great price $26.00 on Ebay. There are other options around, but most are asking for $50 or more which I think is a bit much.

The great thing about this “White” LCD replacement, is that it should brighten up the Roland W30’s green LCD considerably. Note that this LCD backlight replacement can also be used for the Korg 01W and Wavestation A/D. I find myself playing in a lot of dark places and with the Roland W30 having a brighter display it should be more fun and less headache to work with. One BIG problem that will still exist is the power converter noise or hum in the Roland W30. I completely eliminated this whine from the Yamaha SY77 by replacing the LCD unit altogether, but I have yet to find the proper replacement hardware for the Roland W30. Until then, this White LCD Backlight replacement I bought from Ebay should suffice regarding the brightness of the display.

Once I receive and replace the Roland W30 LCD display, I’ll post some photos of before and after. As far as I know I simply need to desolder a couple of pins and the solder in the new replacement LCD sheet. Probably the most difficult or time consuming aspect will be taking apart the Roland W30 to access the LCD display. That was an all day job with the Yamaha SY77…laugh. Nonetheless, it’s kind of fun actually. Nothing beats the raw smell of those old vintage keyboards and synthesizers when you crack open the cases. Yeah right!

Enjoy! – Jim

UPDATE #1: Here is a video found on Youtube of someone replacing the old Korg Wavestation A/D backlight with a new “white” version similar to the one I purchased above. This video will show you the difference roughly of before (green) and after (white). It’s much brighter you can see. Awesome!

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!