Thinking of getting a SY77

Yamaha SY77 is a 16 voice multitimbral music workstation first produced by Yamaha Corporation in 1989. The SY77 is a synthesizer whose architecture combines AFM (Advanced Frequency Modulation) synthesis, AWM2 (Advanced Wave Memory 2) for ROM-borne sample-based synthesis, and the combination of these two methods christened Realtime Convolution and Modulation Synthesis (RCM).

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BoogiemanSG
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Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by BoogiemanSG » Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:02 pm

First of all, I must confess that I am a guitar player with very little experience on synths, though I started playing the piano when I was a kid and still play once in while on an upright. I have been thinking about trying out synth playing and I thought it would be a good idea to start with a used but great sounding synth.

Recently, I saw a local FS ad that someone is selling his SY77. The SY77 in question comes with a soft case but no manuals. No voice data cards are included, but the seller indicated that he has a bunch of floppies to go with the it.

As it turned out, the seller's location is about 80km away. Before I'd take the trip, I was wondering:

1. Besides the LCD display and floppy drive mechanism, is there anything else that I should look for, as far as potential troubles go?
2. I had done some forum searches here regarding the SY77. It seems the latest firmware version is v1.5 from 1990. Is it better to find a SY77 that has the latest firmware?
3. Does Yamaha still service or repair the SY77? I understand this is a tough question, since I am not in the UK and what would Yamaha UK do does not mean it would be the same as Yamaha Canada.

Finally, the seller is asking for the equivalent of 400 Euros. I thought it was a little bit steep, even if the SY77 is in mint condition with no issues.

I would appreciate any thoughts and comments, and please forgive me if the questions are daft. I am pretty much a newbie when it comes to synth and MIDI.

Thank you in advance.
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Derek
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by Derek » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:27 pm

Hi,

The SY is a fine synth, but if I were you I’d think first what you want from a keyboard. Do you want classic FM sounds? if so then AFM is still one of the best FM engines. Do you want hyper realistic samples and lots of articulations. Then the SY s from the wrong era., as it has very limited ROM size - but the synth engine and FM make up for that.

400€ is quite steep. I’d be offering half of that, unless it is 100% mint condition with everything working, Even then I’d offer less, but maybe it is priced with that expectation,
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Derek Cook

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http://www.echoes-music.co.uk
http://www.xfactory-librarians.co.uk
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by EB5AGV » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:43 pm

I have four SY77, all but one bought with problems. I have fixed one (http://jvgavila.com/Yamaha_SY77_repair.htm) and hope to fix a couple more soon. :mrgreen:

One important thing, as it is very time-consuming to repair, is the condition of the switches. It has 70 of them and, if they are still the original ones, for sure some will fail or work only when pressed hard. The sliders are also prone to fail and they are not easy to source and somewhat expensive. So that would need to be checked also.

Regarding firmware, I am not sure if you can just upgrade the EPROMS or there is need for some extra change or even if it is not possible to upgrade. I will know soon as I have 1.3, 1.4 and 1.5 units and I plan to try to upgrade all to 1.5

Price... Well, I got my first one (hte one on my WEB) for about 120€, another for about 185€, the third one (which was smashed on transport :naughty: ) for 260€ and then my last one, with all the hard work done (new blue display, new pushbuttons and sliders) and with 1.5 software, for 425€. Yes, I know that one was perhaps too expensive, but it was close to mint and, well, sometimes the logical reasoning is out of the equation :wink:

I am pretty sure YAMAHA no longer works on SY77 anywhere in the World. But people like myself work on them, so you may find someone close if you don't want to do it yourself.

Jose
Jose Gavila

Yamaha DX7, TX81Z, 4x SY77, TG77, SPX990, SY85, EX5R, EX7, MOTIF RACK XS, DGX660, PSR-EW410, Genos
Arturia Keylab 61 MkII, Pigments, Analog Lab 3, Piano V-2
Casio CT-X5000
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by Rara » Thu Mar 07, 2019 9:57 am

From my homework on this synth, its just like the sy85, you cant just change the chips or upgrade the firmware.
Every revision of the motherboard had a firmware to suit. if you want to up grade the firmware change the whole board.
There are 5 revisions of the motherboard (DM1)
as mentioned by (who's his name ..... in another thread .... ) part of the firm ware is also written in to the CPU.

If I was to buy another SY77 myself, I'd be inclined to find one with the final revision motherboard. Which has the letter "F" (F for final i think) printed on it. also has an SMD CPU with yamaha printed on it with 2 roms and two empty sockets. the previous 4 versions have the the letter "D" printed on it which i think denotes"development". all but one of those 4 use the Hitachi h8 cpu.

Keep an eye on ebay for a seller called Feer1, he has adapters for modern PC floppy drives (if you want to keep the floppy that is)

Rara 0-)
Yamaha: SY35, SY85 (8.5mb), TX7, PSR 4600 - Roland: Juno106, MC307, MKB200, SE70
Kawai: XD5, Korg: Poly800Mk2 (moog slayer mod)
Casio: MA-201 E-MU: - ESI-2000 (128mb)
Digitech studio 400 - Tascam Porta 5 HS, MM1, - Studiomaster: Fusion
SX Bass (modded chinese fender P knock off - fat wires, Jap caps,pots, Dimarzio DP250, Ernie Ball strings)
Gliga 1

To be resurrected: SY77,FZ1,CZ1000,CZ5000, MKB200
Retired: Dr550mk2,SR-16,D110
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by BoogiemanSG » Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:42 pm

Many thanks for your comments. I made the trip to have a look at the SY-77 on Sunday. There were quite a few mechanical issues with the synth: 2 sliders were dodgy, along with several buttons that took a few tries to work.

The FS ad had only one low res photo of the synth (top view). When I got there to see the synth, it was obvious that the synth had been heavily used. I could have overlooked the scuff marks, but I noticed there was a piece of gaffer tape on the left back corner. From what I can tell, the gaffer tape had been there for a while. At the end of one side of the tape, a crack on the back panel was visible. Looked like the synth had been dropped previously.

As the seller had indicated that he had very little room on the asking price when we met, I left without making an offer. So much for the synth being in "great condition and 100% functional".....

@Derek. Yes, I have been looking specifically at FM synth. I had tried out a friend's DX7-FDII last year and I really liked it. He recommended the SY-77 as its FM sound is more advanced.

@EB5AGV. Thank you for pointing out the potential issues. I looked at those items first when I checked the synth. I think I made my decision to walk, before I thought of checking the floppy drive or asked about the battery.

@Rara. It would be nice if I would end up with a final revision SY-77 eventually.

I really liked the way the SY-77 sounded and the keyboard was better than some other Japanese synth brands made in the same period (I had tried a Korg M1 and a Roland D-50). The only thing I was not sure was the effects on some of the presets. That would be something for me to tweak when I get to own one?

Hopefully, another SY-77 or TG-77 would come my way soon.
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by Derek » Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:57 pm

Hi,

Yes, forget a DX7 unless you want a classic DX7 for the reasons of having one. The SY77 is a much more capable FM beast. A good one will turn up eventually. Having said that, my SY77 was my most ever disappointing eBay bid. Described as perfect and in full working order, like yours, it was a mess when it turned up. Glue residue all over the case, floppy drive shot and backlight shot. The latter were fixed, and fortunately the case cleaned up OK, but I think I went through a bottle of Isopropyl alcohol in cleaning it up. Fortunately I got a discount on my bid price when I complained about the state
Regards
Derek Cook

http://www.carregddu.co.uk
http://www.echoes-music.co.uk
http://www.xfactory-librarians.co.uk
http://www.ex5tech.co.uk
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by mininuke » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:24 am

got mine for about 200€. every key, buttons and fader in mint condition. Of course i had to change the floppy rubber band, soldered in a battery holder (CR2032) and bought a ready to install oled display. seller forgot to mention that i have to desolder the inverter to get rid of the high humming noise, so i deinstalled and put together everything more than one time (and this takes indeed some time - you have to deinstall maybe three layers of pcb to get to the display at least) . BUT: i love that board, its has something that is hard to describe: its professional sounding, warm deep and lush, not so raw as a DX7 and not so digital as other romplers.
Plus you can found hundreds of free patches in the web. If i have one complain, to bad one could not organize separat patches on a floppy disk. As far as i know you only can save them all together. Boogieman, do you have any exeriences with restoring a synth and soldering?
If not i would skip the idea, and there are many (unrestored) around for about 200 bucks. Times has changed and the prices for professional instrument are lower then ever. On the other hand, the SY77 is a true classic (at least for me) and i use it more often than my Montage (display starring vs. makin music)
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by Derek » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:50 pm

The SY77 is indeed a very underrated board, and a bit of a “synth secret” in that it is capable of so much, warm analog as much as digital FM.
Regards
Derek Cook

http://www.carregddu.co.uk
http://www.echoes-music.co.uk
http://www.xfactory-librarians.co.uk
http://www.ex5tech.co.uk
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by Studiostriver » Thu Mar 14, 2019 4:23 am

Welcome aboard. I recently bought SY77 and I must say I`m impressed first of all how it makes best out of FM sounds. I bought it basically cause I wanted FM synth that sounds better then those FM software that I`ve been using for ages and was never fully satisfied,and didnt had enough cash for DX7.

I found it for 70 euros,but it was far from perfect condition, i sent it to my electrician tech friend who saying everything is fully repairable.
Before that i`ve done one long demos in my DAW. He currently switching new push buttons,putting battery holder,and fixing last key that occasionally get stuck.Cant wait it to be finished.

Kind regards.
Last edited by Studiostriver on Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by Rara » Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:55 am

How is it everyone else finds these cheap SY77's in good condition ? :?
Everything I spotted here is $650+ in crappy condition :(
I just want one which works, regardless of any cosmetic condition,
with out the "retro" & "nostalgic" fee attached to it :pray:

Rara 0-)
Yamaha: SY35, SY85 (8.5mb), TX7, PSR 4600 - Roland: Juno106, MC307, MKB200, SE70
Kawai: XD5, Korg: Poly800Mk2 (moog slayer mod)
Casio: MA-201 E-MU: - ESI-2000 (128mb)
Digitech studio 400 - Tascam Porta 5 HS, MM1, - Studiomaster: Fusion
SX Bass (modded chinese fender P knock off - fat wires, Jap caps,pots, Dimarzio DP250, Ernie Ball strings)
Gliga 1

To be resurrected: SY77,FZ1,CZ1000,CZ5000, MKB200
Retired: Dr550mk2,SR-16,D110
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Derek
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by Derek » Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:42 am

I think it is luck. My £180 SY77 was a mess but it cleaned up OK (and I got some money back when I complained via eBay. My £250 SY99 was local collection only in a remote part of Wales (still a day’s round trip for me, but we made a day out around it) and my TG77 was an £80 spares or repair bargain (usual backlight problem plus the display would vanish completely after a few mins).

So you just need to bide your time....
Regards
Derek Cook

http://www.carregddu.co.uk
http://www.echoes-music.co.uk
http://www.xfactory-librarians.co.uk
http://www.ex5tech.co.uk
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by Rara » Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:14 am

Darn it :-P send some luck my way :-)
I shouldn't complain to much I have been lucky in the past.
I miss it though, it's like a chameleon.

Rara 0-)
Yamaha: SY35, SY85 (8.5mb), TX7, PSR 4600 - Roland: Juno106, MC307, MKB200, SE70
Kawai: XD5, Korg: Poly800Mk2 (moog slayer mod)
Casio: MA-201 E-MU: - ESI-2000 (128mb)
Digitech studio 400 - Tascam Porta 5 HS, MM1, - Studiomaster: Fusion
SX Bass (modded chinese fender P knock off - fat wires, Jap caps,pots, Dimarzio DP250, Ernie Ball strings)
Gliga 1

To be resurrected: SY77,FZ1,CZ1000,CZ5000, MKB200
Retired: Dr550mk2,SR-16,D110
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by Derek » Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:03 pm

It is indeed a chameleon and one the synth world’s best kept secrets...
Regards
Derek Cook

http://www.carregddu.co.uk
http://www.echoes-music.co.uk
http://www.xfactory-librarians.co.uk
http://www.ex5tech.co.uk
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by EB5AGV » Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:22 pm

Derek wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:03 pm
It is indeed a chameleon and one the synth world’s best kept secrets...
I think we will see soon a price increase on hardware synths from the 80s and 90s. I have bought quite a lot of them (see signature) over the last year and most have been bargain priced. Sooner or later someone with influence on the music scene will begin to use them regularly and then the frenzy will start. So, grab them while they are low priced ! :dance:

Jose
Jose Gavila

Yamaha DX7, TX81Z, 4x SY77, TG77, SPX990, SY85, EX5R, EX7, MOTIF RACK XS, DGX660, PSR-EW410, Genos
Arturia Keylab 61 MkII, Pigments, Analog Lab 3, Piano V-2
Casio CT-X5000
Korg M1, Wavestation, Triton Rack
Roland D-50, JV-1080
Steinberg Cubase Elements 10, The Grand 3
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Rara
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Re: Thinking of getting a SY77

Unread post by Rara » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:00 am

That frenzy started in Australia a long time ago, to a point where I feel I have to bang my head
on the desk when I see the words retro or vintage being used to sell anything. Even if an item is
a few years old. Give me strength :-P

Rara 0-)
Yamaha: SY35, SY85 (8.5mb), TX7, PSR 4600 - Roland: Juno106, MC307, MKB200, SE70
Kawai: XD5, Korg: Poly800Mk2 (moog slayer mod)
Casio: MA-201 E-MU: - ESI-2000 (128mb)
Digitech studio 400 - Tascam Porta 5 HS, MM1, - Studiomaster: Fusion
SX Bass (modded chinese fender P knock off - fat wires, Jap caps,pots, Dimarzio DP250, Ernie Ball strings)
Gliga 1

To be resurrected: SY77,FZ1,CZ1000,CZ5000, MKB200
Retired: Dr550mk2,SR-16,D110
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