Nils Frahm Gear Auction
WRITTEN BY: Tony Miln
UPLOADED: 9th Dec 2020
This week’s Nils Frahm Auction sees the remaining items from this year’s decluttering of his magnificent Saal 3 Studio in Funkhaus, Berlin go under the virtual hammer on the Soundgas site. It’s mostly smaller items with a few juicy curiosities, so very much of interest to fans as much as vintage gear lovers.
We were asked by Nils earlier this year to help him move a significant number of instruments and effects to make space for what would become his recording rig for the next studio album. In addition, we were excited to supply some of our favourite vintage drum machines and synths to replace some key pieces used in the recording and touring of All Melody which would help shape the future sound of Nils.
I first met Nils when Jo and I delivered a Roland SH-5 to him backstage at the Eventim Apollo in December of 2018 – see the video and photos from that visit. We’d taken a few key Soundgas pieces for him to check out and were invited onstage for a personal tour and demo of his live rig. It quickly became apparent that we shared a love of quality vintage instruments and recording gear. I was blown away by his live set up – no sonic compromises to make touring simpler! Nils’ immediate warmth and generosity was apparent from the start and we quickly became friends.
I was somewhat taken aback when, following the delivery of his early Minimoog before his gig at the Albert Hall in Manchester in February last year (the photo above is from that trip – more are at the end of this blog), he invited me to visit him at Funkhaus. So in April 2019 Gid and I flew to Berlin where we caught up with Frank Wiedemann and Shonky before joining Nils at Funkhaus where he kindly hosted a birthday party for me – read about our very own “Berlin Trilogy”. And so I found myself demoing a Lexicon Prime Time 93 to Richie Hawtin and Nils, jamming on Nils’ live rig (and his newly-arrived Moog System 55 modular) and listening to lots of unreleased music – old and new – in the Saal 3 control room. We were super excited to hear a new piece he’d created using just the 1973 Minimoog we’d delivered to him in Manchester – inspired one night in Funkhaus by a fungal discovery in the studio fridge. Little did we imagine then that some of the synths we’d admired on that trip would end up at Soundgas.
The original line up of Nils’ clear out was pretty special and many items disappeared quickly (a couple were gone between me saying ‘yes, please’ and us finalising the invoice/payment). When Nils told me he’d decided to sell his EMS VCS-3 and the DK-1 keyboard we’d found for him to go with it, that was the end of many years’ unrequited yearning for me. Other items included some 1950’s/60’s valve outboard, his Korg PS-3100 and VC-10, and Lintronics Memorymoog – you can see most of what was sold here.
At the time, I couldn’t bear to part with his stunning Elektor Formant synth either, having fallen for it at Funkhaus (the shot below is in situ), but I have come to the realisation (like Nils) that you can have too much of a good thing so it’s in the auction. Nils told me he’d used it on his recordings for many years.
Another part of the consignment we purchased was his custom-built modular synth rig as I’d been wanting to dip my toes into Eurorack. Nils advised that I might enjoy the selection, but I’ve not had the time and we are auctioning the component modules (tested by our resident synth tech and modular boffin, Chris). We decided to also keep Nils’ original Roland Jazz Chorus amp that he’d owned for many years – again as part of the studio collection.
From the All Melody tour rig, we bought Nils’ three Vermona DRM-1s and the iconic white Roland Juno 60 (aka Poland No-Go) that features extensively in his concert film and which we’d first admired on stage in London. That was bought for him by the Royal Albert Hall after one of his Juno 60s came to a sticky end at their hands. One of the DRM-1s has since gone to the USA and the second is in our studio – the third is available as part of the auction (it’s the top one in the image above). The Juno 60, complete with Nils’ live set notes and settings, remains with us and is available to hire as part of the Soundgas Studio. Nils also sent one of the diminutive red MFB drum synths that he used live (again you can see it above), as well as a few remaining bits and pieces – sadly one whole box of Nils’ gear went missing with DHL and has yet to surface.
And for people just looking for a smaller part of his set up there are plenty of small pieces of surplus kit in the sale. Highlights include a sustain pedal for one of his Junos, the volume pedal still labelled for use with his Mellotron, and even a DI box from the live rig.
The new concert film and live album, Tripping With Nils Frahm, was recorded at Funkhaus in December 2018 and produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment (turns out Mr. Pitt is a big Frahm fan – who knew?). The album is available on Erased Tapes and the film can be viewed on Mubi.
Tony Miln is the co-founder (& Head Gear Head) of Soundgas.
List of lots in the auction:
- AKG D190C Microphone x 3
- Ampex Model 2010 Amplifier
- Boss DR-55 Dr. Rhythm
- Clouds Hill Floppy Disc Delay (Non-working)
- DK Audio MSD100
- Elektor Formant “Studio 49” Modular Synth & Keyboard
- Ernie Ball VPJR Volume Pedal x 2
- Jam Pedals Red Muck
- Klemt Echolette M40 Power Amp
- Marantz CP430 Cassette Recorder
- Maxon PH-350 Rotary Phaser
- MFB Drumcomputer MFB-522
- Palmer Pan 02 Active DI Box
- RME Fireface 400 (Untested)
- Studio Logic VFP-1 Sustain Pedal
- Vermona DRM1 MkIII
Nils’ Eurorack Modules
- Cwejman BLD Bass-Lead & Drum Generator
- Cwejman RES-4 Quad VC Resonator
- Doepfer A-110-4 QZVCO
- Doepfer A-148 Dual S&H
- Doepfer A-160-2
- Doepfer A-180-2 Multiplier
- Endorphines Shuffle Control
- Epoch Modular Twinpeak
- Intelligel Quadra
- Intelligel Quadra Expander
- Jomox Modbase 09 Bass Drum Module
- Low Gain Electronics Submix 6
- Make Noise Optomix
- Make Noise STO
- Mutable Instruments Ripples
- Mutable Instruments Shades 1/2
- Mutable Instruments Shades 2/2
- Ring Modulator
- Vermona Fourmulator
- Vermona Twincussion
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