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June 2017 Giveaway

ARP Avatar

This was the disasterous product that sunk ARP, one of the original builders of modular synthesizers and later such popular models as the Odyssey and Axxe. The Avatar was an ambitious attempt to build a synthesizer that could be triggered by an electric guitar. Although ARP had eight years of experience building keyboard instruments, and was thriving by 1977 after a rocky start, the Avatar was a risky move. The reasoning behind the project was that there were at least four or five times more guitar players than keyboard players, and thus a much bigger market. However, the company never managed to do the necessary market research required to see if guitar players were actually willing to drop $3,000 or more for a synthesizer. Those that did discovered that the Avatar could not produce a truly clean sound, due to the imperfections of the pitch-to-voltage converters. Ultimately, ARP sold only about $1 million worth of Avatars in the short, 2-year lifespan of the product. The company had sunk all its resources into the guitar synth, only to end up with one of the most spectacular failures in the history of modern music. On September 11th of 1981 – exactly 20 years before 9/11! – a trustee took over the company to oversee the liquidation of all its assets.

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