Fake Synths Process Post

For our Coming Home video we needed some burnable synths. Being a handy guy with a skill saw and plumb bob I whipped up three fake keyboards based on the Sequential Prophet 5, The Moog Voyager and a large 5U modular. It nearly destroyed my mind and I ended up basically pulling 3 all-nighters to finish in time. Anyway, the plan was to make them look as authentic as possible and to that end, I think we succeeded. Here are some pics of the process…

Layouts were copied from pics & manuals for Voyager, Prophet 5 and the MOTM / DotCom 5U modules and redrawn in Illustrator. Graphics were output and tiled onto transparencies.

Transparencies were then shot and silkscreened onto black formica and painted fibreboard.

The printed sheets were cut in the -30 degree vestibule with frozen saw and guides.

Fake mod and pitch wheels cut using a coffee mug as a guide.

Wooden end cheek and frame components cut and stained. The foreground shows the Voyager box being glued and clamped.

Voyager frame and box completed, with knobs and switches placed for gluing. I even found a piano hinge in the garage so I was able to make this swivel like the real deal.

Prophet mid-assembly. I ordered cheap knobs and jacks from Hong Kong which arrived on the last possible delivery date, hours before the shoot.

For the fraudular modules, each hole was drilled and a 1/4″ jack was inserted and tightened, then knobs were hot glued on the face. This took foreeeeever. By far, the longest, most tedious section of the build.

This joke controller isn’t really seen in the video because it ended up on top of the synth under a dense clump of burning cables. It was a total homage to the Hot Chip Coming on Strong album art. The Modules are finally all assembled. Anyone familiar with DotCom modules may recognize the bottom row asĀ  Q119 and Q960 Moog-style sequencers.

At this point it was 5am on the day of the shoot and there was a ton of assembly left to do, so it was time for a few quick PBJ Modules. Note beard-dye, intended to make my “beard” a supple brown shade for the video shoot. This never happened and I went hobofaced as usual.

Fraudular assembly complete.

Prophet 5 assembly nearing completion. The keybeds were stolen from broken casio and yamaha portasound boards. True story: A few weeks before, I drove to see Murray at Harmony Organ Repair thinking he’d probably have an attic full of dusty broken keybeds. He wasn’t home and I rambled off an explanation to his wife, who immediately offered me the ornamental casio some joker had yoinked off their garage the previous night. It was a serendipitous end for the weathered & floppy casio.

At the shoot, with old cruddy cables patched for authenticity.

Weekend at Burn-ies…

Nik’s real Voyager was used for the pre-burn portions of the shoot, then the stooge was swapped in and burnt. A flammable goo was dabbed onto various sections and lit. A burning fake keyboard has a very uh.. robust smell.

More goo residue on the P5

I learned a lot doing all this. It seemed kind of ridiculous to be that anal about detail when the edits were going to be so choppy and the details would be most likely obscured by the medium, but I still felt compelled to do things this way. I really wanted fellow synth nerds to have a few heart palpatating moments of uncertainty when watching the video, wondering if we were actually burning a $10000 modular or not. I’ve now moved on to building 5U kit modules to replicate the fraudular for real. Process thread to follow in 2021.

9 comments to Fake Synths Process Post

  • Astounding. I know the feel of needing the fraudular to be as real as possible. Otherwise, guilt sets in.


  • Matthew Skopyk

    Wow! Great work Lyle, thanks for doing this step-by-step!

  • Gotta say, that the attention to detail and will that went into making the faux mod seems pretty amazing. It looked incredible in the video. Choice.

  • These are incredible! Honestly made my heart skip a beat. Great work. When’s the video out?

    ps. Love how you linked to muffwiggler when referring to your “fellow synth nerds”. :)

  • sduck

    Very nice mash up of dotcom and motm style modules!

  • Thanks fellerz. I did indeed base these off both DotCom and MOTM panels. Good Eyeballin… This video came out quite a while back, in 2009.

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