Evan Pfeifer

Evan Pfeifer keyboard rig 2010

This website I created for my son Evan Pfeifer.  Synthesizers have been part of my life for over 40 years. When I was a kid some fifty years ago my dad bought a Wollensak 3M reel to reel tape recorder. I remember us recording music from the radio and us splicing the tape together to create reels for Christmas, dance and jazz. Then my dad purchased a few sound effects records to splice together and that is what fueled me later with synthesizers.

Evan Pfeifer - PAIA Synthesizer

Evan Pfeifer – PAIA Synthesizer

When I was 11 I heard Lucky Man, by ELP and heard that ‘Ending’ and thought like so many others thinking at the time where did that sound come from, what was that. I was at the library when I was 14, I was always into electronics and came across the article in Radio Electronics magazine about the PAIA synthesizer and thought I really wanted one of my own so I went to work cutting lawns to make money. Since I could not afford the PAIA kits, I etched my own pc boards from the Radio Electronics articles and bought parts from Allied and DigiKey. For the keyboard he saved enough money for one from a surplus store and built his own contacts for it, which was pretty ingenious for the time. After about nine months, I had a full 2700 series. I watched Emerson Lake & Palmer on ABC’s California Jam and saw Keith Emerson’s Moog. I thought I really wanted one similar to Emerson’s (sure at age 15) so I built more kits and bought a used Minimoog. I built a cabinet for the whole thing, including a portable keyboard with a speaker built in it on the bottom to get feedback. Only problem was, I never knew how to play keyboards. My friends at the time would borrow it to play at bars and gigs, and they even showed me a few simple riffs to play. Then after high school I found other things to keep me amused so it sat in the basement collecting dust at my parent’s house. I cut up the cabinet but always wanted to put it back together for my children one day.

Evan was four and half years old and started asking me about the “cabinet with wires” in the basement, I let him bang away on the Minimoog as it was the only keyboard in the house. Evan played for about 2 months on it so I bought a piano for him. So on and off Evan would ask me about the broken synthesizer downstairs. The following year I took Evan to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. We came home and Evan put on ELP’s version of Pictures. Evan asked if I would put the broken synthesizer back together so he could play it. A deal was made where if Evan would start playing and practicing again I would rebuild it. Immediately Evan started playing and practicing on his own and asked when he could start taking lessons again. So I had to live up to his end of the deal. I started to research Analog Synthesizers on the internet and found the Synthersizers.com website. Of course, I fell in love with the systems because of that Moog look and the rest is history.

So the pictures tell the story of building the synthesizer for Evan, performing at various school events and concerts.

All came full circle for me as my father started me with sound effect records, to me building the synthesizer for Evan, and then meeting my childhood hero Keith Emerson with my son.

How beautiful life can be, even when people try to bring things down!
Always persevere, as Churchill said “Never, never, never give up.”

  Evan Pfeifer