The Synthman is a 178-voice polyphonic analog subtractive synthesizer designed and built by Robert Stainton and Louis Agustin with help from their fathers in the early 1980's.


The Synthman was built by Robert and Louis along with their fathers. The project took 7 weeks and 1,176 work hours to complete. The frame of the Synthman was made from a old windowsill and a dead weeping willow tree.

The VCO's in the voices came out of "a couple of old Radar Range RR-4 microwaves that a local Burger Chef were throwing away" and some 1980 Kenmore Solid State microwaves that Louis' father had bought as overstock from a local family-run department store. The cross-modulation and sync were added to the VCO's by Louis' next-door circuit bender neighbor. The pulse-width modulation was out of a old Gibson Les Paul and was modified, the high-pass filter was custom-made, the resonant low-pass filter with 2-pole (12 dB/octave) and 4-pole (24 dB/octave) settings was also custom-made, the LFO with variable waveforms and routings was also custom-made, and the envelope generators were modded out of a Wurlitzer electric piano.

The keys came off an old church organ that the Covenant Presbyterian Church was throwing away. The Synthman had balanced stereo XLR outputs as well as unbalanced 1/4" outputs. It also has a coaxial cable port for plugging into a wall. The patches were custom-made, and could be loaded off a reel-to-reel tape, and later a CD. The CPU, used for managing storage of patches; scanning the keyboard and front-panel controls for changes; displaying the current patch number and other information on the display; and taking care of the auto-tune function, among other things, came out of a Apple I computer.

The sound came out of Pioneer CS-A700 speakers.


The first replica of the Synthman was built by Yamaha under request from Apple Entertainment, the Pizza Bakers' then concert promoter, and the owners of their record label, and was used as a back-up for live performances until it was disassembled by Robert, and gave the frame to Jake Sanford for use as a bird resting shelf. Eventually, Robert took back the frame and reassembled the replica.

The second copy was built by C. Bechstein in Germany. The frame was made of weeping willow wood.