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Instrument Registry: Other & Unknown

This page includes some Chromas, Expanders, and parts for which the data is unknown, uncertain, or questionable.


[no serial number]

Leonardo Ascarrunz

"I recently bought a dead Chroma at a used guitar shop. I have some experience repairing electronics, so i thought i might give this synth a shot." [June 2008]

For sale in June 2011: see "Halloween" Chroma on Craigslist Denver.

Brian McCully

"This Chroma was purchased along with an Expander (last spring?), and since it was broken at the time, it got 'thrown in' with the deal. So it has no price attached. I replaced the power supply that had had smoked with an SPSU and it worked again until recently. I also replaced the yellow keys and top panel that had a fan hole cut in it, with keys and panel from my 'parts' Chroma [21030449] - I'm not sure if the keys will stay in though, as they aren't in very straight, and I'm not quite sure how to align them.

"It is infamous as it is a non-factory dining room table assembly job (according to its maker) with no serial number. Originally it was Robb Witt's [screen printing guy at ARP; see Fwd: "Red Chroma's", November 2003] - who btw just emailed me about this unit wishing me luck in fixing it - which hopefully will be fixed this week as there may have been a problem with the relatively new SPSU's reset circuitry. It's kind of a pricey exercise getting these old dogs repaired..." [November 2013]

See "Haunted Chroma," October-November 2013.

[no serial number]

Mike Shea

"I worked for ARP and Fender till the end. I was the Musical Test Technician for ARP in Lexington for the last three and a half years of its life, and was lucky enough to be one of the seventeen taken to Fender, Rogers, Rhodes, for the last of its three years in Woburn Massachussetts. to 1981. In that time there were about seven techs and we built our own Chromas from the repair shelf. Mine was the first one done and is still working as good as new. I've just spoken to Phil Dodds, and we both agree: everything else we have done since, pales in comparison. I'm glad to see interest in the old keyboard. Who knows, Bob Moog is making a comeback. Anything's possible! My Chroma has no serial number. It would have been one of the first ten. I have a modified keyboard in it. It makes the action faster. I've connected a midi system to it for fun. I even lifted it up and used it on a gig recently. I also have all the boards to make another Chroma in a box, I use for spare parts. I've never needed them." [January 2003]


David Hillel Wilson, New England Synthesizer Museum

"I have Serial number 001A of the Rhodes Chroma Synthesizer. I was trying to get some of the old synths that schools had in their closets... Maybe a big modular Moog or Buchla (we still don't have either). Anyway, I contacted this school and it seemed that Phil Dodds, VP Engineering at ARP and the genius behind the Chroma, had donated one that was 'Not on the official serial number list' to his daughter's school. I got it for $100 not even knowing what the serial number was until I went to record it in the Musuem's catalog. I nearly messed my pants when I saw '001A'! as the serial number. It even works (sometimes)." [October 2004]

David passed away in August 2010.


Nobuya Tanaka

See serial # 0008 Chroma, July 2011.


David Hillel Wilson, New England Synthesizer Museum

"I have a Chroma whose serial number is between 40 and 49, the last digit being destroyed by a modification to ventilate the power supply. I am going to give this to Phil Dodds himself if he ever comes to visit the Museum (Alan R. Pearlman has already been here, but no Bob 'The Builder' Moog yet either)." [October 2004]


"Pre-Rhodes" ARP Chroma, for sale in May 2002. [May 2002]


Bob Wilson

"I was 22 years old had been out of electronic school for about two years and had worked (in the middle of the corn field) at Gulbransen for about a year. My life at that time was music I played in a band and had sense I was 14. I started working at Gulbransen as an electronic tech. I do have to defend the small plant in Hoopeston, IL at least a little we did manufacture arguably if not the most very close to the most advanced organs that existed at that point in time.

"I still remember the meeting when all of the employees were called to the break room. We walked in and there sat what was one of the original prototypes. I remember that the announcement was made that we would begin manufacturing the Chroma. The Chroma was then demonstrated (I don't remember who was playing it probably Phil) but as you can imagine it was one of the more memorable moments in my life. As you well know the sound of the Chroma is like no other. Also at that point in time there was nothing out there that could do what the Chroma could do.

"Anyway I remember all of the production problems the flux problems etc. [For more info see the Philip Dodds/Tony Williams Interview.] I was one of the final stage test/repair techs. We were also responsible of QC. I tested 2 or 3 a day. WHAT A JOB!!!

"I eventually was able to purchase a returned Chroma, 0046. Yep! one of the original prototypes. At one point in time I also owned 0001 Expander. The Expander was traded to the guy in California that made Chroma to Midi interfaces and the Chroma was donated to a museum out east. I was told by the museum owner (Dave) that he was going to fix it and give it to Phil (that was one of the only reasons that I was willing to give it up. If anyone deserved and could appreciate it, it was Phil). The Chroma was in bad need of repair as I had moved to New York for a period of time and had left the batteries in the computer board (they had leaked on the computer board, right side key switch board and most of the dual Chanel boards on the right side). I powered the unit up without thinking DA! Anyway the results were not good. I still had many spare parts from my days at CBS but it was never quite the same. Dave had the ability to bring it back. I played the Chromas for many years and to this day have a Love for this unique instrument that quite honestly still and always will hold a very dear place in my heart.

"It may seem hard for some people to understand this but it was just the circumstances and the instrument and time that all fell together to create a permanent warm felling for me. I also am very proud to have been involved in a small way with the Chroma. I do have to question one thing that Phil said is he sure that they didn't create the greatest synthesizer ever? I have talked to many Chrome owners and I'm not so sure that Phil didn't pull it off. Someday I hope to get another Chroma but they are hard to find (in the middle of a corn field)." [March 2000]


Malte Rogacki

See Chroma 21010091, about which Malte writes, "inside the machine there is another number written directly on the wood with a marker; it's a bit hard to read and it's either 21030458 [can't be, as that instrument is in the registry] or 21030958." [February 2009]


Mark W. Heckert

"I have a Chroma & a Chroma Expander both in very good condition except for some small finish scratches and dings in the wood (NOTHING MAJOR) and a couple missing screws. The Chroma is missing 1 slider cap. I bought the Chroma (#928) new from Gus Zoppi Music (Warren, MI) in 1983 and I bought the Expander (#0114) new from Gus Zoppi Music in 1984. I have owned them since purchase. Both have Syntech Midi Retrofits installed. I've also retrofitted the Chroma itself with basically a Dyno Rhodes action. I pulled out the original key centerpins and installed hollow pins that I fitted with sort of a J spring. This J spring provides added tension to the push down and Speeds the let up of the key or keys being played making the action very responsive and fast. I also have the anvil case for the Chroma and 2 real time controller pedals that came with it. I also have 2 different original cassettes with 3 libraries each on them and cassette conection cables." [January 2003] The Chroma has been sold. [April 2003]

This is almost certainly a model 2103 Chroma, as the other models do not seem to reach anywhere near the 900s.


Eirikur Hallgrimsson

"My first Chroma crashed spectacularly, blasting wild MIDI out of the Syntech box and driving my Yamaha TX-802 into sonic paroxysms, which were dutifully recorded and used. I think that unit was 21013005, but my memory is not reliable here." [May 1999] Eirikur has since sold this Chroma to "Johan something, in Scandinavia." [January 2002] See also 21030467.

This is an unlikely serial number; the highest reported number in the 2101 series is 21010299 (i.e., 0299 compared to 3005).


David Hillel Wilson, New England Synthesizer Museum

"It has a number painted onto the back near the power switch, but being smarter about chromas than I was, I now see that the real serial number tag has been removed. It was my first Chroma ($35 at a dealer in Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.A.) and looking back, I think it was a repair that noone wanted to pay for." [October 2004]


Steve Nolan

"Acquired via a colleague, which he picked up from a music fair with me in mind. The instrument had apparently been sitting (in its pack horse flight case) in someone's garage for about 20 years. He was also told that the instrument had been used by Spandau Ballet at the Band Aid concert at Wembley in [85] I have tried to get the machine working but halfway through the download process to stops with an error message." [March 2005] "I am pretty sure that there is no visible S/N on it." [August 2005] Sold on eBay in August 2005 (item 7342255542).

Mal Meehan

"Has its internal serial number erased, which is a little weird (this is the Spandau Ballet / Live Aid one supposedly)." [December 2005] See also Chromas 21010182 and 21030075.

"In the end I couldn't get this unit to work and it went off to my tech guy who basically wrote it off ... PSU unrepairable and computer board blown (at a time when there wasn't the CC+ or SPSU replacements). I sold it as spares to RLMusic along with my third Chroma (ex Martin Straw) [21010182] ... I know that RLMusic still have this non-serial unit and plan to get it working with said SPSU and CC+ kits ... look out for it on the website shortly." [March 2008]



Mark Smith

"Created in 1981 as a prototype ... Used for parts but still looks good." For a picture, see Chroma/Expander picture, August 2008. "Parted out and sould the case to someone in CA." [January 2010]

Mark owns Chroma 2103-PT-002.


Corley Brigman

"Well, thanks to the unbounded generosity of another Chroma list member [see free chroma & expander, ChromaTalk March 2005], I now am the proud owner of an (as-yet-unworking) Chroma and Expander pair :) I know I'm going to need a lot of help on these over the next few months. The Chroma is serial #21030386. The Expander does not appear to have a serial number. At least there's no serial number plate. The Expander has lights and responds to input some (that tapping-back is really weird at first!) but the display is not working and after pressing 'autotune' it goes into the void too." [March 2005]


Jerry Leonard

"There is no serial number on the expander, however I purchased it from M. Smith of Oklahoma in 2003." [January 2005] See also Chromas 21030100, 21030399, 21030402.


Big City Music

"I hadn't looked at this Chroma Expander for quite some time, but I just looked at it the other day. The serial number is somewhere around 135 or so." [This instrument was for sale in 2004. It can't be 16330135, as that is Dave Bradley's.] [June 2004]


Greg Hutchings

Greg, of Hutchings Keyboards, Bondi Junction, New South Wales, Australia, sent me these pictures of a "Halloween" panel set (see Chroma 21030620). He writes, "I've been rummaging around getting some of my old Chroma's together for repair and sale and found this unused Chroma membrane panel set. They sent it out to me to upgrade my personal demo unit but I never got around to it although I could have that wrong after all these years." [February 2007]

See also Expander 16310021.