What and Why Paperface ?

_jun 16th is on the way !

_If you are asking “What is a Paperfaced Serge ?” No need to feel embarrassed or worry that your synth game isn’t up to par. You are not alone. The Paperfaced Serge is the black sheep of synthesizer history. Locked under stair ways for 40 years. The rebel of them all, called upon by those who know and love it as “The People’s Synthesizer”.

_The first Serge modular synths were sold as kits, built in workshops and were designed to be affordable multi function synthesis workstations. Every module having more than one or two uses.

Often donning psychedelic punk rock collaged front panels instead of something that looks like it cost a million bucks. Pretty much the original Synth DIY community. As this was on the west coast the Serge systems had banana jacks and 4u high panels.


_In its hey day one Serge system was taken on a boat in the SF Bay while activists dropped speakers in the water and patched whale sounds to lure the whales out of the bay trying to protect them from industrial ships. Sadly after educating and artistically liberating so many The People’s Synthesizer and Serge systems in large would be all but forgotten in the coming digital age.

_One of Serge’s many innovations was the Serge Panel a 7″ tall by 17″ wide aluminum panel with a 1″ center hole to center hole grid of 1/4″ holes all the way across the panel. Uniform. Panels are expensive ! Metal is not exactly craft paper. So they crafted panel art from paper and covered it with mylar. If a hole wasn’t used it got covered by the paper. Since in 73 these were usually built by the owner and in most cases the owner being some one artistic. Some original models still have the amazing and cryptic collaged panel art done in the 70s and 80s.


_Though Serge eventually ditched the Paper faced art for more professional looking metal panels, many synth diyers continue to collage their panels using a variety of methods including mylar and lamination.

A rebuilt panel by Ken Stone with a new layer of paper.

Photos from http://www.serge-fans.com

Are you wondering about the strange hieroglyphic looking shapes and patterns yet ?


The shapes all have a meaning. to help people patch at a glance. Instead of using the part of your brain that does the reading.

I have re drawn several of these original panel designs. Mine place the jacks towards the bottom of the panel and add mods.

When I need to make a panel for my self. I normally use a process that involves Acid etching, painting and sanding sheet aluminum.

_This process is not easy to learn and panels never come out perfect for me this way. May be a couple of  lost letters here and there from over etching. Often panels have blemishes. Ive gotten them to look pretty good and accepted the rustic look as part of the charm.

_Im working on a new etching system that may get these near perfect but no promises (blotting acid with q-tip instead of submersing). These are 1/16″ thick and are rigid. They were cut in a metal shop. I’m real happy with them.

_I know that people are not yet hip to what a paper faced synth is so I will be offering Etched panels for this workshop.


_I will also have blank pre tapped panels and paper prints so If you want to Paperface your module you can do that. My guess is that with awareness growing more people will want to build accurate replicas.

_If you are asking “Why individual panels ?” The individual panels make it more affordable for me as the workshop organizer and I feel that it breaks down the anxiety of building a whole Serge panel / system at once. For musicians new to SDIY these circuits should work as confidence boosters rather than daunting tasks. With our help. One little circuit at a time makes things nice and easy.

_I think that by placing the RS logo with the words CGS workshop Eddition 2012 it says exactly what the module is.

Its not a restored vintage museum piece.

Its not built by the world’s Only 30 year strong Serge builders STS.

This is a limited edition long discontinued 1973 Serge VCF built by us on Haight st. In summer 2012.  A historical event to celebrate our rich Lower Haight musical history. Commemorated in the panel.

There will be only 20, 1973 VCF with the RS logo and they will be built by the participants of the workshop for their own personal systems.

Join Us!




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One Response to What and Why Paperface ?

  1. brian says:

    Excited for this workshop. I had some questions about experience needed as well as minimum equpiment needed for the class. I couldnt find your email address