ARP Instruments

ARP Instruments logo

ARP Instruments, Inc. was an American manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, founded by Alan Robert Pearlman[1][2][note 1] in 1969. Best known for its line of synthesizers that emerged in the early 1970s, ARP closed its doors in 1981 due to financial difficulties. The company earned a reputation for producing excellent sounding, innovative instruments and was granted several patents for the technology it developed. Almost three and a half decades after it closed its doors, the company's second flagship instrument, the ARP Odyssey, has been brought back into production by Korg, working in collaboration with David Friend, Alan Pearlman's co-founder at ARP.[3]


Alan Pearlman was an engineering student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts in 1948 when he foresaw the coming age of electronic music and synthesizers. He wrote:

"The electronic instrument's value is chiefly as a novelty. With greater attention on the part of the engineer to the needs of the musician, the day may not be too remote when the electronic instrument may take its place ... as a versatile, powerful, and expressive instrument."

Following 21 years of experience in electronic engineering and entrepreneurship, Alan Pearlman founded ARP Instruments in 1969 with US$100,000 of personal funds and a matching amount from investors, with fellow engineering graduate David Friend on board from the beginning as the co-founder of the company.

ARP 2600
Odyssey (rev.1)

Throughout the 1970s, ARP was the main competitor to Moog Music and eventually surpassed Moog to become the world's leading manufacturer of electronic musical instruments. There were two main camps  the Minimoog players and the ARP Odyssey/ARP 2600 players  with most proponents dedicated to their choice, although some players decided to pick and choose between the two for specific effect, as well as many who dabbled with products produced by other manufacturers. Notably, the ARP 2500 was featured in the hit movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind; ARP's Vice President of Engineering, Phillip Dodds, was sent to install the unit on the movie set and was subsequently cast as Jean Claude, the musician who played the now famous 5-note sequence on the huge synthesizer in an attempt to communicate with the alien mothership.

Avatar (top & front)

The demise of ARP Instruments was significantly influenced by the ill-fated decision to invest a significant amount of capital in the development of the ARP Avatar, a synthesizer module virtually identical to the ARP Odyssey sans keyboard and intended to be played by a solid body electric guitar via a specially-mounted hexaphonic guitar pickup whose signals were then processed through discrete pitch-to-voltage converters. Although an excellent, groundbreaking instrument by all accounts, the Avatar failed to sell well. ARP Instruments was never able to recoup the research and development costs associated with the Avatar project and, after several more attempts to produce successful instruments such as the ARP Quadra, ARP 16-Voice & 4-Voice Pianos, and the ARP Solus, the company finally declared bankruptcy in 1981.

Chroma Polaris (descendent of Chroma)
Rhodes Chroma, Expander, and Apple IIe

During the liquidation process, the company's assets and the rights to the manufacture of the 4-Voice Piano and also the prototype ARP Chroma - the company's most sophisticated instrument design to date - were sold to CBS Musical Instruments for the total sum of $350,000. The project was completed at CBS R&D, and the renamed Rhodes Chroma was produced from 1982 to late 1983. The instrument is notable for a very flexible voice architecture; 16-note polyphony; a high-quality weighted, wooden keyboard action; pioneering use of a single slider parameter editing system (subsequently implemented on the Yamaha DX7); and the inclusion of a proprietary digital interface system that predated MIDI.

The company's (second) flagship instrument, the ARP Odyssey, has been revived in 2015, by Korg developing in collaboration with ARP's co-founder David Friend.[4] The ARP2600 is currently available as a virtual instrument from the French company Arturia[5] and the Arp Odyssey is available in a modified form as the Ohm Force Oddity,[6] updated by GForce Software to a polyphonic version (the Oddity 2).[7]

Product highlights

String Synthesizer
String Ensemble
Omni (rev.2)
Omni (rev.1)

Notable clients

Some notable ARP users and endorsers include:

(in alphabetically order of group or family name)


  1. The name of founder Alan Robert Pearlman seems to be sometimes possibly incorrectly described as "Alan Richard Pearlman", as seen as below:
    • "'Alan Richard Pealrman': 4 results". Google Books Search.
    • Eberhard Höhn (1979). Elektronische Musik: Klangfarben, Klangentwicklung, Klangspiele. Hueber-Holzmann. p. 120. ARP: Amerikanischer Synthesizerhersteller, benant nach dem Begründer Alan Richard PEARLMAN.


  1. "'Alan Robert Pealrman': 9 results". Google Books Search.
  2. High Fidelity. ABC Leisure Magazines. 28 (1-6): 114. 1978. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. "The resurrection of ARP by Korg". May 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  4. "Korg Announces the development of the ARP Odyssey synthesizer". Korg. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  8. "ARP Sequencer". Music Trades. Music Trades Corporation. 124 (May 1976): 31. 1976. 3 FOR THE SHOW 1. ARP Sequencer The long-awaited ARP live performance sequencer is here. Loaded with elegant features, the sequencer interfaces with the ARP Axxe, Odyssey and 2600 synthesizers. ... MUSIC TRADES. MAY. 1976 31.
  9. Down Beat. Maher Publications. 43: 3. 1976. The new ARP Sequencer adds rich new textures to your music while it frees both hands for playing keyboards. Just patch the ARP Sequencer into an Axxe, ... Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE ARP KIND". August 1996. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  11. "Korg Oasys: On Tour with Tony Banks and Genesis". Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  12. 1 2 "David Bowie - Low (CD, Album) at Discogs". Archived from the original on 8 August 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
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  16. Keyboard Magazine: 33. March 1977. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  18. "Captain And Tennille - Love Will Keep Us Together (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  19. Miller, Johnathan (2004). Stripped: The True Story of Depeche Mode. Omnibus Press. pp. 247248. ISBN 1-84449-415-2.
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  26. Rideout, Ernie (2008). Keyboard Presents the Best of the 80's. Backbeat. p. 69. ISBN 0-87930-930-X.
  27. "Herbie Hancock - Thrust (CD, Album) at Discogs". Archived from the original on 16 September 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  28. "Jean Michel Jarre - Equinoxe (CD, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  29. "Elton John - Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (Vinyl, LP) at Discogs". Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  30. 1 2
  31. "Ekseption - Trinity (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  32. "Kansas (2) - Song For America (CD, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  33. "R.E.M. - New Adventures In Hi-Fi (CD, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 9 April 2011.
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  35. "Gary Numan - Telekon (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  36. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-02-18.
  37. Dann, Jonathan. "Anthony Phillips FAQ". Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  38. Future music, Issues 113-117. Larpress. 2001. p. 104.
  39. Justin Kleinfeld (April 1, 2004). "Skinny Puppy on recording and producing The Greater Wrong of the Right". Electronic Musician Magazine. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  40. "Eliane Radigue - Triptych (CD) at Discogs". Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  41. "Klaus Schulze - Picture Music (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  42. "Caravan - For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Archived from the original on 2 September 2010. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  45. YouTube video of Pete Townshend demonstrating it
  46. "Joe Walsh - Barnstorm (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  47. Vail, Mark (2000). Vintage Synthesizers: Pioneering Designers, Groundbreaking Instruments, Collecting Tips, Mutants of Technology. Miller Freeman Books. p. 125. ISBN 0-87930-603-3.
  48. Baraka, Imamu (1976). "Weather Report". Down Beat Magazine. 43: 46.
  49. "Zawinul Online - Keyboards". Retrieved 26 February 2012.

External links

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