Buchla’s LSD time trip - Tech - Mixmag

Buchla’s LSD time trip

When tasked with repairing a mysterious Buchla module, one technician got a little more than he bargained for…

  • Gavin Herlihy
  • 2 August 2019

As afternoons at work go, San Francisco TV station technician Eliot Curtis’s task of cleaning up an old Buchla modular synth while volunteering for a local university proved a little more eventful than anticipated. The synth had lain dormant in a cool, dark room for decades, but when he began cleaning a crystalline substance from a mysterious red module, reality took a sharp left turn. The synth, he found out after his nine-hour trip had subsided, had been dipped in acid.

For years, message board geeks had chatted about a mythical Buchla synth dipped in LSD. One of the infamous red panel modules had been installed in the famous ‘Further’ bus that Ken Kesey and the 60s acid pioneers had driven around the USA to spread the word about LSD.

The synth’s designer Don Buchla was a key figure in electronic music in the 60s and a friend of Owsley Stanley, the creator of the Grateful Dead’s sound system and a clandestine chemist behind for some of the era’s most famous batches of LSD. It had been embedded under a knob that Curtis had attempted to remove using his fingernails. He’s not the only one to be spiked by skin contact with a hallucinogenic substance. LSD pioneer Albert Hoffman discovered its mind-bending properties after accidentally touching it during an experiment in 1943.

At the Namm industry conference back in January, Buchla announced a partnership to bring Buchla-style modules to the Euro Rack under the name ‘Red Panel Buchla 100 Series’. All aboard!


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