1969 prototype Parasound String Controlled Synthesizer

Designed and constructed around 1968-69, this one-of-a-kind prototype was developed as a joint project between electronic musicians Beaver and Krause, and Parasound Inc. of Los Angeles, and was connected to a Moog modular synthesizer. Based on the documented history of this machine, I believe it to be the very first attempt at integrating a synthesizer with a guitar, and thus a little gem in the history of guitar synthesizers.

A few details:

The guitar body appears to have been manufactured locally by a Bay Area luthier, using a core neck and pickups from a Martin GT Series electric guitar. (Thanks! to Dick Boak and Michael Dickinson of Martin Guitars for their help!)

The original internal electronics were designed by John Criglar of Parasound Inc. in Los Angeles.

The various control signal outputs were connected to a modular Moog Synthesizer which was provided by Bernie Krause, who was the West Coast representative for Moog Music at the time.

The instrument was used on side 2 of George Harrison's Electronic Sound album. 2 copies of the album are included in the documentation package. Bernie Krause was also involved with that side of the album, but had his name removed from credits due to disputes over use of taped materials. Details are available around the Internet.

The instrument was supposedly also played by Jerry Garcia on several occasions.

The entire electronic "guts" of the guitar are missing. This guitar was involved in a long and bitter lawsuit over the years, and only the shell has survived, but is in very good condition otherwise.

The two humbucking pickups can be wired out to 2 pins on the multipin connector on the end block of the body, so could probably be used to play the guitar.

Neck, action, intonation are all OK and functional, but in need of work as mentioned with the pictures. The high E string needs to have action raised at the nut. It buzzes in open position, but is fine when fretted up the neck.

There is a significant collection of hand-typed technical descriptions, "owners guide" types of notes, copies of all legal paperwork re: the lawsuit, early photos and sketches of the guitar, and so on. Unfortunately there are no pictures of the guitar in the hands of George, Bernie, Jerry, or any other musicians. We are searching for more pictures, discussion, or reference to this instrument on the web or in print media of the time.

The owner of this instrument is seeking placement with interested museums or collectors. If you are interested, or know of someone who may be, please let me know.

Page 1 of the photos are my first few pictures of the instrument when I first saw it.

Page 2 and Page 3 of the photos are much more detailed, and show inner construction details.

Click on the thumbnails on those pages to view larger images. You can also easily browse through the images down at that level. If you would like larger copies of the full sized images (700K - 1M) for more easily zooming in on details, let me know by email.

PDF and JPEG files:

Conceptual sketch (jpeg) - may be an artists concept of a final production model? or maybe was the initial sketch for the prototype.

Photo of the original instrument (jpeg) - unfortunately, just a photocopy of a picture, but front panel controls can be seen.

Users Overview (PDF) - high level conceptual overview of the instrument. Dated 2/6/69

Legal paperwork (PDF) - regarding the suit to retrieve the instrument from Parasound in mid-70s.

All photos Copyright © 2000-2013 by Marvin Jones. All rights reserved. Please do not distribute.

All documents Copyright © 1969-2013 by the estate of John Criglar. All rights reserved. Please do not distribute.


updated 1/07/09