1989 Was The Best Year Ever To Buy Used Synthesizers

Want to get some great deals on used synthesizers?

Unfortunately, you have to go back to 1989.

Zagoba points out that ’89 was the best year ever to buy synths:

Look at these graphs from my favorite book ‘the a-z of analog synths’ by Peter Forrest [I have more than one favorite book, ok?]. They show values as defined by him of each synth ever made, ever. It struck me that I definitely started buying keyboards at the right time – every graph in the book has a very pronounced nadir around 1989. THOSE WERE THE DAYS!

[Trust me – every graph in the book looks like this….]

The graph, right, shows the pricing of the classic Moog Modular 3C, plotted over time.

Zagoba has a several more of these graphs on his site. And, yes, they all bottom out around 1989.

21 thoughts on “1989 Was The Best Year Ever To Buy Used Synthesizers

  1. I may be wrong, but I think I heard that at one point the tb 303 was $20. I want to go back to 1990 and get a $100 MS20.

  2. From 1989-1993 i saw and/or bought……..

    Two moog rouges at $40 a piece
    a memorymoog for $425
    I bought a tb-303 for $60 and a tr-606 for $25
    Arp axxe $60
    Monopoly $150
    Martrix 6 $150
    Tr-909 $125

    But even back at that time the modular gear was only in the shops for repair. Not to sell.

  3. The thing here surely is that back then (1989), these machines were regarded as heavy, bulky, old-fashioned, unreliable relics, most of which could only play one note at a time and didn't even have MIDI. The current values of these instruments reflect the fact that 1) it's currently perceived to be the best fun in the world to twiddle something 2) their sounds are trendy 3) they're relatively rare 4) they're somehow symbolic of the fantasies of (some of) our younger days and… 5) this is the current market price, because the price the middle-aged can often pay for re-creating unfulfilled youthful dreams is often quite high. I think point (5) is influencing the perceived current 'value' of these instruments more than points 1-4 combined…

  4. … and I guess it'll be another five-ten years before I get to sell my Ensoniq SQ 80 with the flat battery for more than diddly squat. I mean, it has patches that can actually be routed without wires and memorised! Polyphony! Those 'classic' sounds out of … dunno really. Maybe you get the drift…

  5. A 303 for $60 and a 909 for $125?

    Sorry – but everybody hates you now.

    Good for you for getting the deals, though!

  6. I worked in a music store at that time and Gordon's assessment feels pretty accurate from my recollection. Particularly with pre-MIDI stuff, a lot of folks really felt like, "I don't know what I'm going to do with this crap now." I bought a Sequential Pro-One off a customer for $48 after my manager refused to take it on a trade. But even so, $425 for a Memorymoog is absolutely insane. Best price I saw was $1200.

  7. How much are time machines going for, these days? I need a cost benefit analysis in chart form, asap!

    i feel dirty for saying 'asap'.

  8. AFOAF got a 303 and 606 pair for $600 from a guitar shop, they'd only got them that day, and had no idea what they were. oh to be in the right place at the right time!

  9. I totally agree with this. I bought my MS20 back in 1988 for 250 DM which is about 130 Euro today…
    Also in this period I bought a Moog Prodigy (~ 200 euro in 1990) a Korg monopoly (~200 Euro)
    and my beloved Jupiter6 for about 650 Euro.
    Those were the days…

  10. @Gordon What you say I've often observed. And I adore seeing the massive analogue museums some collectors have compiled, it shows passion. While I wouldn't shell out dough on those and I don't have the physical space to house such magnificent beasts, I love the sounds, and I can think of a few non-musical extravagances that I'd buy precisely because of emotion.

    I've held an increasing belief that when we can surpass limitations, our nostalgia factor for those previous restrictions multiplies exponentially. Value becomes not just about the devices themselves, but social status associated with them (e.g., the prestige of a DJ using a REAL TB-303 opposed to a software plugin — if you care about such things, I don't as long as I'm pleased with the sound).

    But today, we have so many awesome free plugins.

    @synthhead And here I am playing SampleTron's Optigans!

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