Moog announced last week that it is bringing back one of its iconic synthesizers — the IIIp — for a limited reissue for $35,000. The company says only 40 units will be handcrafted, and each one will feature the original’s documentation, art, and circuit board files. In total, each IIIp will have 37 modules including ten 901-Series audio oscillators, the 984 4-channel Matrix Mixer, and the 905 Spring Reverb.
Originally released in the late 1960s, the Moog Synthesizer IIIp was the company’s first portable system, coming in roadworthy flight cases, and was used by artists like Isao Tomita and George Harrison. They were discontinued in 1973 but are still coveted, not only because of their limitless ability to be reconfigured, but for the inimitable sounds it creates. These types of modular synthesizers have unique sonic character due to many physical components and attributes (like the cabinets, which help resonate the sound itself, or the actual temperature of the synth), resulting in imperfect waveforms, drifting notes, and more.
If you’re scoffing at the price, a Moog engineer broke down why machines like this can cost tens of thousands of dollars in an interview with CDM. “Buying a IIIp new between 1969 and 1973 equates to more than $50,000 USD in today’s money,” the engineer says, “so $35,000 represents a significant decrease in price for these systems... The process to build a single IIIp takes hundreds of hours of labor to complete. Every circuit board is hand populated and every component has to be hand soldered by someone in the Moog Factory. Each circuit board has to be mounted into a module, and then that module has to be tested and calibrated — multiply that by 37+ (depending on how you count modules) and you start to get an idea of the scope of this build.”
Each Moog IIIp will be custom mounted and hand-wired in three solid wood, tolex-wrapped cabinets, exactly per the original design. It will have a 100 percent discrete design, and will be made using the original parts. (Moog worked with parts suppliers to re-issue certain components that had been outmoded or discontinued to ensure there were no modern replacements.)
This isn’t the first time Moog has brought back a popular synth. In 2015, it did a limited run of the System 55, System 35, and the Model 15, synths that originally came out in the 1970s.