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Do vintage synth bargains still exist? Most people would say no, but we disagree. Some of the best keyboards and modules of all time are still surprisingly affordable. We choose our ten most underrated classics and explain why you should buy them before everyone else realises just how good they are.
As the prices of most vintage synths continue to rise, we regularly kick ourselves when we realise the bargains we’ve missed. Those apocryphal tales of people throwing away ‘outdated’ TB-303s and TR-909s in the early 90s have become an ingrained part of dance music folklore.
But the remaining bargains continue to disappear. Minimoogs which seemed overpriced at £500 just a few years ago now fetch £2,000. Korg MS20s would have been a a safer investment than the stock market over the last few years, rising in value exponentially. Even the global financial crisis hasn’t halted the appreciation of these vintage analogue legends.
It’s hard to deny that the chance to find serious bargains has passed. Savvy producers snapped up all the £50 303s and rescued all the abandoned 808s from skips long ago. Gone are the days when Roland Jupiter 8s and Yamaha CS-80s regularly changed hands for under £500, but that doesn’t mean all the bargains have disappeared. Even in the age of the eBay bidding war, there are still good deals to be had.
In absolutely any field you’ll find unsung heroes. They might have minor flaws, live in the shadow of more highly regarded rivals or simply fly under the radar of most buyers. In this list we’ll reveal what we believe to be the top ten most underrated hardware synths in the world right now. Not just the rarest, not just the most expensive, but the ones which simply don’t get the credit they deserve.
Most of the synths on this list are easily available, many for little more than the price of a couple of plugins. There are no mega rarities here. You can probably find all of them for sale within a few minutes searching eBay or scanning classified adverts. Keep your eyes open for a few months and you won’t have much trouble picking them up for bargain prices. But, just like those Minimoogs and 303s which we never believed would get much more expensive, the prices of these underrated gems will inevitably rise as producers cotton on to the fact that they’re seriously, seriously undervalued. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.