Learn How A Vintage Buchla Modular Synth Sent An Engineer On A LSD Trip

An engineer for a TV station was working on a vintage synth and found an unexpected surprise.
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Life can throw some crazy and odd things at you. This story is one of those times that things got exceptionally wild. Engineer for San Francisco CBS station KPIX, Eliot Curtis, offered to help restore an old Buchla Model 100 modular synth owned by the music department Cal State University East Bay. But after working on it in his garage for a while, he started to feel a little different. He soon was in for a nine hour LSD trip.

Synth pioneer Don Buchla created the piece of equipment. Buchla created some of the first modern synths in the 1960s and was a noted acid head. It isn’t known how the LSD got into the machine, but there is an urban legend that Buchla would dip certain components of his synths into LSD. It could be accidental, but some believe it was on purpose.

In this specific device, Curtis noticed a red component that was likely added after the initial build. He saw something stuck under the a knob.

“There was like a residue … a crust or a crystalline residue on it,” said Curtis to KPIX. After spraying it down with cleaning solvent, he tried to dislodge the residue and boom, found out he was dealing with LSD the old fashioned way. It took 45 minutes for the drug to hit, but then it lasted for nine hours.

According to KPIX, three chemical tests showed it was LSD (as if Curtis couldn’t tell you). The drug was likely maintained so well because it was stored in a cool, dark place. KPIX has an expert say he could have ingested it through his skin (something acid heads say isn’t a likely way to ingest the drug), but it is also possible he put his fingers in his mouth soon thereafter and triggered the trip.

Depending on how you view things, it is slightly tragic that the synth has been cleaned of all LSD after this trip.

As his wife says in the piece “this whole situation is just the next chapter in the history of the counterculture.”

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