TONTO – The Ultimate Monster Synth

Saturday Synth Porn: This collection of photos captures T.O.N.T.O., The Original New Timbral Orchestra, designed and built by Malcolm Cecil.

TONTO is sort of the mother of all monster synths, incorporating such synths as:

  • 2 Moog Series III Modular Synthesizers
  • 2 Arp 2600s
  • Serge Modules
  • 4 Oberheim SEMs

TONTO began life as a Series III Moog modular synthesizer. A second Moog III was added in 1971 and TONTO continued to expand with various custom built as well as standard modules (somewhat modified) from many synthesizer manufacturers, including Serge with Moog-like panels, Oberheim, Arp 2500/2600, EMS, Roland, Yamaha, etc.

Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, made up of Cecil and Robert Margouleff, released the album Zero Time in 1971. The album was ahead of its time in many ways, and led to Cecil, Margouleff and TONTO working on some of the most important soul albums of the 70s. 

Here’s one of the odder tracks from Zero Time, Riversong:

You can find out more about T.O.N.T.O. at


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