Here’s an unexpected reissue: Japanese music maker Suzuki is celebrating the company’s 70th anniversary by bringing back the original Omnichord, a unique 1981 electronic answer to the autoharp.
Wait, sorry, I’m explaining one niche instrument by mentioning another. But the Omnichord really does clearly have its roots in the autoharp – basically what happens if you start with a zither and add a mechanism that allows you to easily strum chords. For anyone who bristles at iPad apps and whatnot that make it easy for beginning musicians to avoid wrong notes, the autoharp was the 1882 German-American immigrant idea of the same. It turned into a fairly widely used folk instrument.
Suzuki does something like that with the Omnichord. The 1981 OM-27, which is what Suzuki says it will re-produce, has a 4-octave touch-sensitive strum plate and buttons to key in chords. It also adds something the autoharp couldn’t do – there’s an auto-accompaniment section with the requisite Rock, Waltz, Slow Rock, Latin Foxtrot, and Swing presets.
You should get this later this year. The Omnichord family hasn’t actually been out of production that long – especially if you count the Qchord, its eventual successor. But this is the first time we’ve seen a remake of the 1981 original. Suzuki writes:
We have been receiving requests to resurrect the Omnichord for a long time. And this year, 2023, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Suzuki Musical Instruments Manufacturing, we will reproduce the Omnichord! It is scheduled to be released around the fall of 2023.
And as they add, “Not only is it easy to play, but its unique appearance and tone makes it a hidden favorite both in Japan and overseas for artists who want to try something different and for non-musicians who want to play music!”
Now, what we get in the meanwhile is a wonderful timeline of Omnichords, starting with the lesser-known Tromichord PC-27 (pictured here) which came first.
Theoretically, though, it’s the OM-27 at top and below that we’re getting as the reissue. (I think some media outlets ran with a different model, in case you’re an Omnichord enthusiast.)
Of course, you can try to convince folks that your QC-1 Qchord is really more rare on the used market. Sorry, got lost in this timeline. Enjoy!
Yeah, Gorillaz did use this preset:
But there’s so much more…
But I think the Folktek mod is really the best version of this instrument. Here’s some vintage Hainbach: