The "Wasp Special" Vintage Monosynth

The Wasp Special is a bizarre monosynth from the late 70s. What an absolutely nasty-sounding synth. It's easy to love it! ^_^
The Wasp's filter design "abuses" digital inverters as if they were analog op-amps, leading to distortion, "grunge" and other "nasty" artifacts that define the specific sound of its filter, available in LP, BP and HP flavors...yummy.

The "Special" is a second-generation Wasp from the mind of Chris Huggett, progenitor of the OSCar synth. This one eschews the awful molded-plastic case of the original Wasp for a classy wood chassis but keeps the touch-sensitive keyboard. Surprisingly for something with digital components in the signal path, this is one of the warmest, phattest, dirty-ass synths I have ever heard or played.

The touch keyboard is nowhere near as bad as I feared as it is a capacitance design instead of a crappy membrane! Very easy to get bizarre glissandos and pitch sweeps. Triggering is suprisingly rather accurate. Takes a bit of getting used to, though if you've never played a touchplate or capacitance keyboard.

I had to apply a bit of TLC before this one sounded very good, it wasn't in too bad shape for around 27 years old. A little touch-up on the woodwork...It was a little dinged-up when I got it. Also, it needed some interior work with a soldering iron to get it back to "new" condition electronically - one leg of a cap had come loose from the board, some pots needed serious cleaning and I had to re-mount and re-solder a footage selector switch that had cold solder joints, causing Osc 2 to drop out occasionally. Physically its pretty solid now. I imagine the build quality of the first-gen plastic jobbies was rather "iffy", at least people have said so...I think I was very lucky to get a post-EDP model.

There's quite a lot of knobbage for such a "simple" two-oscillator mono...what a terribly underrated and underestimated monster! I would put it up against just about any other 2-osc mono of its day. The filter really is something else and the modulation capabilities aren't bad - much better than say a Moog Rogue, Prodigy or Roland SH-101, ARP Solus, etc. If you decide you can't stand the charming capacitance keyboard, Kenton Electronics makes the Pro-KADI which acts as a MIDI-to-Wasp converter. I think people might be suprised when they hear these MP3s, regardless of my obnoxious noodling:

Wasp1.mp3 , Wasp2.mp3 , Wasp3.mp3 , Wasp4.mp3

If you find one and can live with some of the build quality trade-offs, buy it immediately, nothing else sounds quite like a Wasp!

For more information on the Wasp and its brethren, check out the Wasp Overview in Sound On Sound.

If you're really hard-core, feel free to download the Wasp User's Manual.

What you give is what you get.

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