Frank Zappa’s Guitar Amplifiers- Want to take a peek inside?

Frank Zappa was many things to many people: an outspoken critic, a cunning songwriter, a skilled performer, a voice for free speech in music, a family member. Our focus today is on Frank Zappa, the guitarist and sculptor of some amazing guitar tones across his storied career.

Image courtesy of Zappa Family Trust

Frank knew a lot about guitar tone, he had a sharp focus on how to achieve the sound he was seeking.  From his days with Captain Beefheart and the Mothers of Invention through decades of albums and touring, his guitar tones were always bespoke and articulate. His effects and amplifier system grew and changed over the years to accommodate his broad musical landscape and thirst for the perfect sound. His application of studio effects was also ever-changing, his “Ma Bell” effects rack was refrigerator-sized and loaded with tons of studio-grade gear that he would use to create his unique sound palette.

Zappa Amps4. (3 of 4)
Frank Zappa’s Vox and Marshall amplifiers

He used a lot of gear, but one thing stayed true from the mid-1970s onward: Frank loved his Vox Super Beatle system tied-in with two Marshall half-stacks. One head was a Marshall Major, the other was a 100 watt JMP.  Frank used the Vox Super Beatle in his earlier years, the Marshalls began their duty beginning in the early 1970s. You can see this rig in action in the video below, shot at The Palladium in New York in 1977.

We had to make certain that this rig was operating properly for an upcoming recording session, so we removed this venerable artifact from the exhibit and rolled it into the workshop for a good look and road test. The goal of the recording session was to collect impulse responses through Frank Zappa’s rig, giving his son, Dweezil, the opportunity to recreate Frank’s tone live on stage. This Vox and Marshall rig was a huge part of his sound and Dweezil wanted to bring it to the world.

Frank Zappa’s rig in our workshop

We determined that the whole rig was in very good condition considering its age and touring history. A few of the JBL K120 12” alnico drivers were blown, so we replaced them with other K120s from our Zappa collection, tightened up some screws, and the cabinets were good to go. The heads required some special focus, but we safely fired them up and looked forward to hearing the outcome.

Aaaaand the outcome was freaking awesome!

Dweezil stepped up and took each of the amp rigs for a spin, the wall of sound they created sent an off-the-charts energy through our live room. Each amp sounded totally different but equally awesome, Frank’s guitar sound must’ve been epic in a live scenario. Check out the video clip below, you can get a good idea of how it sounded!

The recording session went off without a hitch, it was a top-shelf studio geekfest. Fractal Audio Systems was in the house to help dial-in the tones and collect the impulse responses. We ended up using Freddie Mercury’s Neumann U67 tube mic through a Helios mic pre/eq from the early Rollings Stones Mobile Studio. The session went so well that Dweezil was able to use the impulse responses to bring Frank’s “Hot Rats” album to his live audiences, complete with a tone befitting Frank himself.

We invited amp-guy Bryan Parnell of Retro Sound Works to take a deep dive inside Frank’s guitar system and give us a technical analysis. He took a good look at the gear and submitted this report.

Zappa’s unique live tone consisted of a combination of speakers, amplifiers, unconventional settings, and ultimately skill. Taking a somewhat deeper technical look into his amplification, we can see a few things that might have contributed to this.


For starters, we cannot help but gravitate towards the Marshall Major. This amp, with the 200 Watt Lead “Canada” circuit, has a test date of December 9th, 1972. Interestingly enough, the amp has newer Marshall 100 watt JMP spec transformers installed with new mounts, while retaining its massive GE 6550A output tubes, just as later US-spec 100 Watt JMP’s would have had. This may have been due to failure of the notoriously fragile original transformers, or in an effort to better match the sound output of his 1971 100 Watt JMP. The preamp was fitted with Ruby 12AX7A’s, known for low-microphonics. Marked settings can be seen on the faceplate in red marker, showing some unconventional choices such as the Bass control being set to 10, along with conservative volume settings of 3 and 4 for each respective control.


The large original power supply choke was retained, as was the original impedance selector switch. Some of the filter capacitors have been changed. All tube sockets are US-made ceramic units, possibly to prevent arcing. One externally visible mod is what appears to be a pre-phase-inverter “master gain”, functioning as a somewhat crude master-volume, allowing for strictly preamp distortion, without driving the phase inverter. This results in a sharper breakup, with less warmth, and less even-order harmonics, unlike the sound of cranked up power tubes. If you have played a mid-70’s master-volume equipped Fender, you are familiar with pre-phase-inverter master-volume circuits.


Accompanying the Major, we find an early 1971 Marshall JMP MK2 100W Lead amp. This amp is mostly original, with the exception of Czech (JJ or Tesla produced) Ruby EL34 power tubes, Ruby 12AX7A, and a “Master Gain” installed in 1978, as noted on the service tag on top of the amp. The amp appears to retain its original filter capacitors, and also shows two sets of settings marked on the faceplate. One of these shows once again the Bass control set to 10, and a high setting of 8 on the Volume I control.


Both of these heads were run through a variety of cabinets, including two pre-1969 Marshall 1960 cabinets front-clip-loaded with high-efficiency alnico-magnet JBL K120 drivers. Not to mention the cabinets were recovered with iconic red carpet, with the grills replaced with expanded mesh, likely to protect the speakers, as the cabinets were never cased. The JBL K120 was one of the loudest musical instrument speakers available in its day, and had extended frequency response. They also were easily capable of handling the hundreds of watts a cranked JMP can put out.


Finally, we encounter the oddball in the room, a solid-state Vox Super Reverb Beatle amplifier, with its accompanying 4×12. This amplifier shows no signs of modification, besides a quarter-inch input jack located on the right side of the control panel, with no indicated function. The amplifier has relatively conventional control settings, and features various affects, blendable reverb which is channel assignable, and a frequency generator for tuning use. 

Its accompanying cabinet features four more JBL J120’s, in two ported 2×12 sections. Each section is relatively large for a 2×12, and the rectangular port is formed by where a tweeter would have once sat. The rear of the cabinets are lined with 1 inch dense insulation. I can only imagine this cabinet has a deep percussive tone, with plenty of bass and treble to spare. It has its original trolly cart, and is also covered in red carpet.

You can find more intel on Bryan Parnell at

Keith Emerson Exhibit at the Met

We had the rare opportunity to get involved with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the United States. Normally, their focus is on classical antiquities, historical paintings and ancient statuary, so why would they be interested in EMEAPP?

It ends up that The MET had an unusual idea in mind: A retrospective exhibit chock full of historical rock and roll guitars, keyboards, amps, posters and more. It was to be a perfect fit for us, because that’s our thing.

The museum was interested in gaining access to Keith Emerson’s famous modular Moog synthesizer to be put under the spotlight as a part of this amazing exhibit. We were apprehensive about making the commitment, but after much discussion we decided to begin negotiations to hash out an agreement.  

The Emerson Moog Modular, at EMEAPP, Spring 2019. To learn more about this instrument, see our Step by Step Introduction to the Emerson Moog.

After many phone conversations and emails, we invited the curator of the Musical Instrument department down to EMEAPP for a tour, thinking it would make us feel more comfortable about shipping this epic monster to New York and making it disappear for eight months. This was a frustrating idea for us, as we would only have the Moog in-house for a few weeks before sending it off for an extended period of time. This visit also gave us the opportunity to convince them to display Keith’s custom Hammond “Tarkus” C3 organ, which is just as epic as his Moog synth.

With the meeting going well, we agreed to loan The MET Keith’s Moog and Tarkus C3 organ for the run of the NYC show.  We did not agree, however, to allow Keith’s gear to go to the final location for this exhibit, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. It may sound ridiculous, but the RRHoF never inducted Keith or Emerson, Lake and Palmer, or shown the appreciation of progressive rock in general, so we did not feel it appropriate to support their exhibit.

A few weeks later, we read that The MET might be adding instruments that had been destroyed by musical artists on stage. We certainly know something about this as well, so we re-approached The MET indicating that we also had one of Keith’s Hammond L-100 organs. Ever the showman, Keith would toss these organs around onstage, pull it on top of himself and stab it with daggers. Our Emerson L-100 even caught fire on stage in Boston. The audience thought that is was part of the show, but it actually wasn’t. (Nevertheless, it was awesome.) The MET agreed to display Keith’s L-100 right next to his synth, daggers and all. Smart move on their part, it was icing on the prog rock cake! To learn more about what happened to this L-100, and the history of Keith’s L-100 organs in general, see our Interview with Al Goff (requires website membership).

In honor of this opportunity to bring his instruments into the public eye, we threw a huge Keith Emerson legacy soiree, dubbed “The Keith Emerson Experience,” which allowed his family, friends, technicians and associates to lay their eyes on these beautiful instruments before the send off. In addition to Keith’s Moog and two Hammond organs, we displayed his Korg Triton Extreme (serial #001!), GEM ProMega 3, his synth and effects rack, his on-stage monitoring rig and wardrobe case filled with Keith’s personal and Emerson, Lake and Palmer memorabilia. To gild the lilly, we also displayed our uber-rare Yamaha GX-1 synth, just like the one Keith used throughout his career. It was a fitting keyboard tribute to the legacy of this amazing musician.

In the days after the event, we broke down the stage setup, put everything back in its cases and rolled the MET-bound items to one of our loading docks in preparation for packing.  

Gently, gently carrying the Moog out, for transport to the loading dock.
Truck loaded up with Emerson Gear

If you’ve ever wondered how priceless items get safely to a major art museum, it was pretty basic and logical. The biggest difference was the amount of focus and detail due to the rarity and value of the items. We began with a few phone and email conversations followed by a site survey from the packing/moving specialty company. A few weeks later, a crew of young and focused individuals arrived with a good amount of specialty packing equipment and a custom-made crate for the L-100. They meticulously packed, padded and shrink wrapped everything to make certain all would arrive in perfect condition.

In most situations, a well-built touring road case would be sufficient to transport gear. But this time, even the road cases were of high value. For instance, just the case for Keith’s Moog could fetch over $50,000 at auction. Therefore, his road cases were padded and shrink wrapped for transport as well. We even discussed whether the wheels of the road cases should be used or if the cases would require the use of a forklift or pallet jack. We chose to allow the use of the wheels, as the floor surfaces of both EMEAPP and The MET are smooth. The crew rolled everything onto the moving truck and strapped it down for the journey north. We bid the moving truck farewell as it left EMEAPP’s loading dock #5 and rolled directly to the end destination in New York City.

Two days later, EMEAPPers Drew and Vince Jr. arrived at The MET ready to lift and assemble Keith’s gear into the exhibit for the world to behold. The process went like clockwork with a team to open the crates, another to unpack them, someone to inventory items and check the condition along with a crew of people to assist in erecting the objects into the exhibit. It took the better part of the day, but we all got the job done. The challenge was to keep focused on our responsibilities and to fight the urge to peer inside all the sexy, old guitar and bass cases. The urge won, we got to see some of the good stuff up close.

Setting up the Moog at the Met.

We then had the honor of attending the opening gala, which given the provenance of the gear at this exhibit was as exciting as you might think. The main lobby was lit like a rock concert, a huge stage stood on our left as we entered. The welcome desk was set up for bar service, butlered hors d’oeuvres appeared out of nowhere.

Opening Gala, in full swing.

In time, Philly homeboys, The Roots, took the stage and lit the place up. Vince Sr, Drew and Vince Jr. had a blast chatting with industry folks like Don Felder from The Eagles, legendary singer/guitarist Steve Miller and Kate Pierson from the B52s.

The Roots, rockin’ the Gala.

But the real excitement was around the corner. After passing through a Greco-Roman art exhibit, we stumbled upon an archway that looked out of place; it was the entrance to a rock and roll heaven. The juxtaposition of Greco-Roman art and Chuck Berry’s guitar was clear, it was like jumping forward a few millennia and ending up in the golden years of rock and roll.

Entering the portal, we were surrounded by rock and roll gems that glistened under the spotlights. Pianos, guitars, basses, drums, amps and more, all historically significant to say the least. Highlights included the gold grand piano from Jerry Lee Lewis, one of Elvis Presley’s Gibson acoustic guitars, Eric Clapton’s ‘Blackie’ Fender Stratocaster and Eddie Van Halen’s ‘Frankenstein’ custom guitar.

Turning the corner, it was hard to hold our excitement as the Moog came into our view. The huge Tarkus C3 organ was nestled beneath the synth creating a 10 foot tall monument to legacy of Keith Emerson. Keith’s L-100 sat proudly to the left with two of Keith’s daggers jutting out from the upper keyboard just like old times.


And then something epic happened. Jimmy Page from the band Led Zeppelin walked into the room. Even better, he chose to spend some time with us to discuss how impactful the music of Keith Emerson was. It was a proud moment when Jimmy said that “Keith Emerson was the Jimi Hendrix of the keyboards”.  Keith likely would have shied away from a testimonial like that, but it was great to hear someone the likes of Jimmy Page praising his life’s work in such genuine and honest form.

Jimmy Page with Vince Pupillo Sr.
Led Zeppelin Gear!

Moments later, hit maker Steve Miller enters the gallery to take a gander at his own exhibit, the Roland synth and red Echoplex tape delay he used to create his 1977 hit, “Fly Like An Eagle”. He thoughtfully spent some time with us talking about Keith Emerson’s influence as well.  We look forward to a future visit from Steve; he’s a perfect match for EMEAPP.

Steve Miller, chatting with Vince Pupillo Sr.

It was a proud moment for us to be able to bring this special set of instruments to the public, especially in such a grand way. What a travesty it would have been if these valuable instruments were snagged up by some rich person, stashed in their basement and kept from view for generations.

Steve Miller Gear from “Fly Like an Eagle,” the gear that produced
those great synthesizer lines and effects in that song.

As we look back on the process, none of this would have happened without the involvement of Michelle Moog-Koussa. Michelle is the daughter of legendary synth maker, Dr. Robert Moog, the creator of Keith’s synthesizer.  Not only did she play a major role in making this happen, she was also one of the players who helped land Keith’s Moog at EMEAPP. We must also tip our hats to Brian Kehew and Gene Stopp, the team who rebuilt the instrument for Keith late in his career.

All in all this whole process was challenging, complex, fulfilling and certainly worth the effort. Jayson Kerr Dobney, the curator of the Musical Instrument Department at The MET, took great care of us and we thank him for his efforts in making this event happen and bringing us on board.

We encourage you to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to see this exhibit which runs until October 1, 2019. You’ll be glad you did!


We are proud to have had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural run of Synthplex in late March of 2019. It was billed as “All Things Synthesizer” and it really hit the mark! The Burbank Marriott skillfully dealt with a wide range of rock stars, modular folk, tech heads, curious onlookers, dweebs and nerds, vintage synth aficionados, collectors, builders, composers, manufacturers and otherwise very colorful people wearing mostly black.

Yes, the event was in Los Angeles, but the crowd was from all over. We chatted with like-minded folk from Brazil, Japan, Portugal, England, Canada and beyond. The attendees filled exhibit halls that were packed with a tasty blend of synth modules, controllers, stunning vintage synths, production software and tons more.

Synthplex founders, Michael Boddiker and Michael Learmouth, did a great job of designing and creating a fulfilling three-dimensional event, packed with much more than just the exhibits. Educational and technical seminars, Q&A sessions with industry legends, DIY synth building workshop, live synth concerts and the Pop Up Synth Museum where you could actually spend time tweaking the knobs of epic mono and polysynths.

EMEAPP Booth at SYNTHPLEX 2019: Ready to Roll!
Checking out the many excellent exhibits at the event.

We were honored to be visited by Keith Emerson’s long-term partner, Mari Kawaguchi, who brought us the vertical banner that Keith would use when making personal appearances. We set it up right next to our banner of his legendary Moog synthesizer, it looked great!

Drew Raison, Mari Kawaguchi, and Vince Pupillo Jr.

But the most exciting part for us was showcasing the Godfather of synths, the Moog Model A Minimoog prototype. Next in line were the Model B, C and the Model D, which finally went into production and became the go-to lead performance synthesizer. Last in line was an enigma of the Minimoog family, what is ultimately a Minimoog with 20 presets. This quintet of tone raised quite a few eyebrows to say the least.

Mark Doty at the EMEAPP Booth
Question & Answer Session

We hope to participate in Synthplex 2020 and hope to see you there!

Highlights of “The Keith Emerson Experience”

On Saturday, March 9, 2019, EMEAPP held a VIP event commemorating the reunification of Keith Emerson’s iconic stage gear – a major milestone for EMEAPP – and a gathering that brought together a community of people that surrounded Keith Emerson’s life and work.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is KEE_Logo_cropped.jpeg

The first presentation of the event, as depicted in the video just below, featured EMEAPP’s Associate Director and resident synthesizer programmer Vince Pupillo Jr., who opened the formal festivities by performing a tribute on Keith’s Moog Modular, expertly demonstrating each of the famous presets with short quotations of famous Emerson keyboard lines:

In keeping with the legacy of Keith Emerson’s work, the guests entering the Performance Hall Atrium were greeted by . . .

This event also served as a fitting send-off for some of Keith’s Gear that will soon be on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC for a sixth month long show called “PLAY IT LOUD INSTRUMENTS OF ROCK & ROLL,” which opens April 8th, 2019. Be sure to attend this exhibit if you would like to see this gear in person, along with many other fantastic rock ‘n roll exhibits!

The Gear

The EMEAPP gear presented included:

  • Keith’s iconic Moog Modular Synthesizer, arguably the most famous and musically influential synthesizer in the world, now a deeply treasured part of the EMEAPP Collection.
  • Keith’s Hammond Goff C-3 organ – the organ known as the “Tarkus Organ”.
  • Keith’s Twin Goff Custom Leslie Cabinets.
  • One of the L-100 Hammond organs Keith used in his famous onstage antics, complete with knife stabs wounds to the keyboard, as used for example at the “ELP Live at Montreux 1997 Concert”, among others. Displayed along with this organ were two of Keith’s ELP-Logo enscribed knives, which he used on the Black Moon Tour.
  • Keith’s Bag End Stage Monitoring System and his Stage Mixer Rack filled with synths and effects.
  • Keith’s Korg Triton Extreme (serial #1!) sampling keyboard workstation.
  • An Alesis QS8.1 Sampling Synthesizer, with samples of Keith’s original instruments, including samples from his Yamaha GX-1, his Moog Modular, and his Hammond C-3.
  • Keith’s GEM ProMega 3, a board that utilizes both samples and physical modeling to produce highly realistic sounds.
  • Our rare Yamaha GX-1 synthesizer, one of the first analog polyphonic synthesizers ever produced, of the same production series used by Keith Emerson.
  • A collection of Keith’s Stage wardrobe and his wardrobe flight case.
  • Also utilized at the event was a Hammond B-3 from the EMEAPP Collection, used during the cocktail hour by various guests. This Hammond B-3 was the last one ever shipped by the Hammond organ company in 1975!
  • Vintage amps used: Leslie 147, Fender silver-faced Twin Reverb & Ampeg B-18N.
  • Vintage Slingerland 80N Jazz Kit
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_4670B-1024x768.jpg

Also displayed at the event were:

  • A photo gallery of rarely and never before seen photos by Keith Emerson photographer Mary Ann Burns.
  • A slideshow of photos documenting Keith Emerson’s entire career.
  • A video image slideshow that was to be utilized by Keith for the LCD display on his restored Moog Modular.
  • A mounted wall gallery of Keith’s discography.
  • The Moog Showcase: A comprehensive exhibit of the Moog Synthesizers in the EMEAPP Collection, including a full array of historically important Minimoog prototypes & early production models; prototypes of the Micromoog, Equalizer (Liberation), and SL-8 synthesizers; several Moog Modular systems; various Moog effects; and virtually all of the other synthesizers produced by Moog Music Inc, including the Micromoog, Multimoog, Polymoog, Prodigy, Satellite, etc.
  • A sampling of EMEAPP’s vast collection, including keyboards, effects, guitar pedals and amplifiers, including gear utilized by Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Steve Howe, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, and many others.
  • The Emerson Hammond L-100 Organ, Photos of the L-100 in use, and the Welcoming Banner

Attendees experiencing the Gear:

  • Brian Kehew and Gene Stopp reuniting with the Moog Modular.


The Keith Emerson Experience took many months of planning – and not just the usual event planning sort of arrangements (invitations, travel & lodging, etc) – but much meticulous equipment restoration work and testing, musical practice and rehearsals, etc. The following images show some of this preparatory work:

  • Painting the Performance Hall

The People

Invited guests at the Keith Emerson Experience numbered well over one hundred – far too many to list here. Many signed the Event Door:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Signed_Door-890x1024.jpg

Some of the attendees most closely related to Keith’s life and work included Keith Emerson’s son, Aaron, and his spouse Jo and sons Ethan and Zach; Keith’s fiancé Mari Kawaguchi; Moog Foundation President Michelle Moog-Koussa and other representatives of the Foundation; Keith Emerson Photographer Mary Ann Burns; Keith’s former organ tech, Al Goff; One of Keith’s synthesis coaches at Moog Music, Dr. Tom Rhea; and the restorationists of Keith’s Moog Modular, Brian Kehew and Gene Stopp.

Special images of some of the guests:

  • The Emerson Family and Mari Kawaguchi

The Presentations

As seen in the video posted above, EMEAPP’s Associate Director and resident synthesizer programmer Vince Pupillo Jr. opened the formal festivities by performing a tribute on Keith’s Moog Modular, expertly demonstrating each of the famous presets with short quotations of famous Emerson keyboard lines.

EMEAPP’s Founder and President Vince Pupillo Sr. then introduced and honored the Emerson Family. Vince presented the EMEAPP Legends Award to Keith’s son and keyboardist Aaron Emerson, a posthumous award recognizing the achievements of his father, which Aaron received with visible emotion.

Vince Sr. then introduced Keith Emerson’s fiance Mari Kawaguchi, and then Moog Foundation President Michelle Moog-Koussa. Mari both spoke movingly about Keith’s life and work, and Michelle spoke passionately about the amazing and intertwined legacy of Keith’s and her father’s work.

Vince Sr. then also presented Brian Kehew with the EMEAPP’s Preservation Award for his decades-long efforts at saving the hardware of electronic music, work that has played an important role in the development of the EMEAPP Collection. Brian Kehew and Gene Stopp then also received the EMEAPP Restoration Award from Vince for their extensive joint work a decade ago restoring the Emerson Moog Modular – work that Keith Emerson himself greatly appreciated.

Vince Sr. then introduced Tom Lamb, former Marketing Director of Moog Music Inc., who described Keith Emerson’s early interactions with the Moog Company, interactions that included instruction on synthesis techniques by Dr. Tom Rhea, who was in attendance at the event, as was Jim Scott, who had prepared the original shipment of Keith’s Moog to him from R.A. Moog Inc.

EMEAPP’s Research Director and Webmaster Ben Luce then gave a presentation describing EMEAPP’s nonprofit structure and mission, and emphatically invited attendees to become ambassadors for EMEAPP, to assist the organization’s ability to sustain itself and fulfill its mission over the long term.

Emerson Hammond Organ Technician Al Goff then wrapped up the presentations by regaling the audience with stories about his and his father’s first encounter with Keith’s L-100 organ antics – which to the delight of the audience he revealed had initially caught them quite off guard after they had delivered an L-100 to Keith for the first time for his use one evening!

Images of the presentations:

  • Vince Pupillo Jr. demonstrates the Moog Modular in a tribute to Keith

The Performers

Throughout the evening a number of performers wowed the audience with demonstrations of Keith’s instruments and other instruments at EMEAPP. These performers included:

  • During the opening reception organist Joe Patano entertained the crowd with his expert Hammond organ stylings on the Hammond B-3. Joe was then joined by keyboardist George Mandrin on Korg Triton Extreme (piano voicing), and the two furiously traded jazz licks to the delight of the audience.
  • This was followed by Ben Luce playing ELP compositions “Trilogy”, “Jeremy Bender”, “Benny the Bouncer”, and “The Sheriff” using Keith’s GEM ProMega 3 (for piano sounds) and Alesis QS8.1 (for synthesizer voices).
  • Wally DeBacker then performed the beginning of ELP’s “Karn Evil 9” with Rachel, and sang “Lucky Man,” backed by the “EMEAPP Band,” consisting of EMEAPPer’s Doug Salvas on guitar, Ben Luce on the Moog Modular and backing vocals, Tim Warneck on backing vocals, Vince Pupillo Jr. on drums, and Drew Raison on bass.
  • Keyboardist Rachel Flowers, among her other performances at the event rocked the crowd with an amazing solo rendition of “Tarkus”on the Emerson C-3 and the Moog Modular, with Vince Pupillo Jr. assisting Rachel with programming changes. Rachel also played excerpts of “Pirates” on the GX-1 and played many of the other keyboards at EMEAPP throughout the event, wowing the attendees till the wee hours of the morning. Keith Emerson’s son Aaron Emerson and EMEAPPer Ben Luce performed ELP’s version of “Fanfare for a Common Man,” with Aaron on the Yamaha GX-1 and Ben on the Alesis QS8.1, and Wally DeBacker accompanying on drums.
  • Keith Emerson’s grandson Ethan Emerson then played two of his grandfather’s piano pieces – “Close to Home” and “Ballad for a Common Man” – on Keith’s GEM ProMega 3, demonstrating uniquivocally that he is following steadily along in his grandfather’s footsteps.
  • The after party saw bartender Eric Sirianni mount the drums, and along with (Quiet Riot) bass player Chuck Wright laid down the rhythm while keyboardists Joe Patano, George Mandrin, Ben Luce, and Eddie Jobson (a recent Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductee!) all joined in the jam.

Images of the performances:

  • Joe Patano warms up the room with his Hammond organ stylings

The Festivities

Throughout the event the attendees enjoyed a cocktail party atmosphere with Gourmet Butler style hors d’oeuvre with Eric and Jill Siriani tending the bar filled with cheer.

A look at some of the fun:

Response From Emerson Family


“Hi Vince,
First let me thank you for the amazing week-end at EMEAPP.  Seeing the collection you have saved to date is truly mind blowing.  Seeing friends …whom I haven’t seen in over 40 years, all together in one place was truly special. I am pleased to know you, Vince Jr., Drew, and the rest of the EMEAPP team as the champions carrying forward vital work to preserve the history of EM.  I will be honored to be an “Ambassador” for EMEAPP.”

-Greg Hockman

“Dear Vince,
Wow just wow. Thank you very much for such an amazing event.  It was perfect. I am so honored to have been included as a guest. There are not enough superlatives to say how wonderful and well presented the event was.  The museum was amazing and nostalgic. I hope to visit again.”

-George Mandrin

“Dear Vince,
I just wanted to convey my heartfelt appreciation to the three of you and your staff, not only for your gracious hospitality, but also for conceiving and bringing EMEAPP and the Keith Emerson Experience to fruition. It was sheer joy to see so many historically significant instruments and so much gear all under one roof. The music was extraordinary, the camaraderie was outstanding, and the food and drink were superb, but your generosity was most remarkable of all. I can’t thank you enough for what was absolutely one the most enjoyable gatherings I’ve ever been part of.”

-Geary Yelton

“Hello Vince,
Wow another one of your many unbelievable accomplishments!! It is so rewarding when the dream, becomes a goal and then reality!! Hats off to the master chef, Vince Jr. and all the sous chefs at EMEAPP!!”

-God bless, Roger Rumble

“Dear Vince,
You really did yourself proud this weekend.  Pam and I had a great time, and from an attendee point of view, everything was perfect.  (I know how hard it is to plan and execute this kind of event. You’re probably exhausted, but you all ought to take a deep bow.)

It was great to finally meet all of you and see your breathtaking collection. Rachel was incredible.  (Great idea to have her there!) But what made the greatest impression on me was the sincere appreciation and gratitude you earned from the Emerson family and the Moog folks.  In a very short period of time, you’ve transformed your collection into a significant historical and educational asset for the music community.” 
-Alan Lenhoff

“Dear Vince,
Thank you for your incredible hospitality at EMEAPP this weekend. I would like to help out in any way I can, bringing my skills and years of experience as an editor, writer, and content creator to the table.”

-Stephen Fortner

“Dear Vince,
Thank you for inviting Juliana and me to this fun and special night.  I know that building inside and out, but last night gave me a new appreciation for it and how really great it will be as we work our way through the upcoming phases.  I talked to some folks who were truly blown away by the facility as it exists…all I could think of is how they’ll react as it continues to transition into your total vision.  Another thing that impressed me last night…you and I work on building projects together, I appreciate your enthusiasm for what we’re doing…but last night I saw it in a much bigger way.  This thing that is your interest and passion is the passion for a large group of people, and for some it is their entire life.  The experience I had last night really energizes my understanding of what we’re creating…and that makes what I’m doing so much more significant and enjoyable.  Now I fully understand your enthusiasm for the facility and for EMEAPP.  Thanks again for the invitation, it was a very special event to be a part of.”

-Rich Kapusta (EMEAPP Architect)

Rhodes Piano Bass

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHarold Rhodes originally created his “Army Air Corps” electric piano to provide music and physical therapy to recovering WWII soldiers. Unable to source enough acoustic pianos, he created his own portable instrument that became the Rhodes electric piano that we all know and love. Ray Manzarek of The Doors was a popular user, his Piano Bass was always propped up on top of his Gibson G-101 or Vox Continental combo organ.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Piano Bass was basically the lower 32 keys of the Rhodes electric piano. A physical hammer would strike a thin metal tine causing it to vibrate, the tone bar above it helped give it more fullness and resonance. A transducer would pick up the vibration in the same way a guitar pickup would hear string vibrations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe tone bars on earlier units were thick, square bars that created a ‘thud’-type dynamic. Later ones used the more standard Fender Rhodes type tines that were flat and bent into a curved unit.

The Rhodes Piano Bass has become quite the collectible that sells well into the thousands. We have quite a few units here at EMEAPP, including a rare Extended Range 54 key piano bass in silver sparkle.

Written by Drew Raison, photography by EMEAPP

A Crusty, Old, Awesome Tape Echo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA big part of the inventive sound of the band YES, was their use of echo and delay on vocals and guitar. As the guitarist for the band, Steve Howe brought fresh sounds and a unique playing style. Singer, John Anderson, did the same with his upper-range, etherial vocal style.

Why is this particular rusty tape echo unit of importance to EMEAPP? Because it helped make musical history, both on stage and in the studio. It is a vintage Maestro EM-1 Groupmaster analog tape delay that has been ridden hard by years of touring with YES.

Many people ask us how we authenticate historically significant artifacts. Sometimes it can be quite difficult, as we search through the interwebs machine looking for an ancient photo of a performer on stage or in the studio with the item in question.

Here’s a shot of the Echoplex in question, sitting right behind Steve on stage with Yes back in the early 1970s. Is this proof that ours is the band’s original unit? Probably not, but it certainly indicates that he was using a Groupmaster back in the day.

Howe Groupmaster

Here’s the kind of proof that we appreciate, a snap of Steve with his arm on the actual delay, along with a certificate of authenticity.  Now, go put on “Fragile” and crank it up like you should. 🙂


Written by Drew Raison, photos by EMEAPP and Tom Cox