Randomly or perhaps opportunistically is how I have filled out my instrument collection. This Yamaha SK30 was on Craigslist -I had never heard of the SK line but it looked neat. I emailed and was the second guy to respond. I sent my hone number and tried to arrange a meet up. After 2 weeks of silence I sent a ‘hey -if you’ve still got it…’ email. A week later the seller responded and the next morning I was driving home with this in the back of my station wagon. During those three weeks I read up on the SK series of analog synthesizer/organ/string combo keyboards and got this impression: robust/reliable construction, great Hammond B3 emulation when combined with a Leslie, good fat synth bass, limited but none-the-less fun synth and the ability to mix all the voices.
The SK30 -massive -well, not as massive as the SK50d or CS-80, but still almost approaches the 90 pounds Vintage Synth Explorer claims! Notice that all the slider knobs are parallel -not usually the case with 30 year old synths that are regarded as toys.
The keyboard had 30 years of finger grime on everything but upon plugging it in everything worked -the only drawback being some scratchy sliders that some DeOxit should cure. I spent a couple of hours carefully detoxing it and it came up very nicely. No scratches even! The only damage is some minor bumped corners in the wood.
Here we go: all these buttons, sliders and knobs do neat stuff! In the output section the big knob is the main volume, four sliders below it are the levels of each ‘voice’. Below the output, on the same plane as the keyboard is the Tremolo/ensemble control which adds a chorus-Leslie type sound to things in a good way. The lone button below the four is the Tremolo speed button. The pitch section controls the tuning of some voices to add a little flutter or buzz to fatten things up. Below that is Vibrato and its adjustable parameters. On the bottom is the selector section for what the keyboard patches to, in this picture is the Solo Synth area with manual bass (controlled by the solo synth parameters below) or stock programmed bass patch or normal continuation of the other portion of the keyboard.
Solo synth at the top controls the manual bass and has all the usual options. Below that is the organ controls -sliders rather than draw bars. Below that is the keyboard split control, organ preset sound, cancel and manual selector. To the right of that is the string setting selector. In this picture the Organ is in preset 1 mode as is the String preset. Note how clean the keys are!
And the right side of the keyboard. The name and model in a box with the poly-synth controls below that -comprised of the usual parameters. And finally, below that is the poly synth mode select button -set to preset number one right now.
Okay, so I’ve only been playing with this thing for a few weeks so I really haven’t tapped into its potential, but I can say there are some great bass settings and the organ sounds amazing through a friends Motion Sound stereo Leslie amp.
This track is a quick rush done to see what the SK30 would be like. As usual it’s a quick iPad EasyBeats drum track and two SK tracks recorded in Garageband. Not much changes after about minute 2 so that’s a good place to stop. The turn around is part of a composition from my ‘usual’ band.