Preparation: Nashville Omnichord Supply Co. Celebrates Unusual Instrument | Characteristics


Editor’s Note: In our occasional series which we call Gearing Up, we portray some of the people in town who make, repair or sell the instruments and other equipment used by musicians. Consult our previous installments on Hi Tech Service; MIDI Paradise; luthiers Marty Lanham and Manuel Delgado and vintage drum dealer Bryson Nelson; and RudeTech.

Never heard of a Suzuki Omnichord? No problem. Novice or expert, Ross Collier has you. The multi-instrumentalist who sometimes turns local punk-folk trio Styrofoam Winos into a quartet is so in love with the instrument that he has built a small business around him: Nashville Omnichord Supply Co. in Madison.

When Collier Zoome with me to demystify the Omnichord, he explains that in simple terms it’s an electronic autoharp – a unique synthesizer that you play with a combination of buttons and a ribbon controller that you can tap or strum. The first model, released in 1981, “seemed to be marketed in the same way a domestic organ could have been,” explains the 28-year-old musician. He first heard one in action in 2012 via his friend Zeke Bandy, a Nashvillian native now living in Jackson, Mississippi.

The Omnichord had the power to stay for Collier. “Compositionally, it’s phenomenal,” he says. “You can jump chords, experiment with modulations, [create chord] changes you wouldn’t want otherwise. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the plastic trapezoidal body of the Omnichord, you’ve probably heard one before. Songs by some top players that include his unique sound are Parquet Courts “Before the water rises too high”, Tame Impala’s “Why don’t they talk to me? “ and Wilco “War against war”. If you fancy a showcase that puts the Omnichord front and center, including the built-in drum machines found on some models, discover the multi-volume of Collier and Bandy A very omnipotent Christmas collection on Bandcamp. Collier also designates producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois as passionate about the instrument in the recording studio.

“You can use it ambient, but you can also put a guitar pedal in it and it will roll,” says Collier. “Run it through a [Roland] Jazz Chorus, make it a moody indie thing. Or run it through a Marshall and make a giant warp wall out of it. It’s very versatile.

Collier launched Nashville Omnichord Supply on a lark in a shared workspace off Neely’s Bend Road. Although he insisted that he is not a reducer – “It was really just a lot of trial and error, buying broken Omnichords on eBay and screwing the inside” – he continued to acquire Omnichords in various states of disrepair the business into a legitimate business. It turns out that he also built a museum.

“We grabbed those crazy shelves from a wagon that looked like God was coming down from the sky and gave us shelves with the perfect length and width to fit all Omnichords,” says Collier. “When you are in the store, you are in the presence of more Omnichords than anywhere else in the world. It is a small sanctuary.

An Omnichord in perfect condition costs around $ 600. Collier understands that this is a definitive test before purchasing figure. Committed to keeping his inventory circulating locally, he simply encourages the curious to consult his website, call him and make an appointment to come over, nerd out and maybe find a match in his collection. That said, if you think finding a good deal is either a must or just part of the fun, don’t think there isn’t an Omnichord for you.

“It is quite possible to find one in good condition in a thrift store or during a $ 50 real estate sale. They are still there. Do not lose hope!”

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