Ken Stone is an over-enthusiastic synth hobbyist who started dabbling when modular synthesizers were both rare and expensive. His initial exposure to them was in 1974 when he heard the album "Popcorn" by Elektrik Cokernut. Not long after that, the travelling music teacher brought his newly acquired Minimoog to school.
It would be several years before Ken was able to get a synth of his own. In the mean time, DIY electronics was the only way he could produce any sound-makers. It wasn't until December 1980 that he was able to convince his father to buy him one, and even then, it was a very minimal system – modular, of course. That synthesizer was a Roland System 100M modular, specifically, one 110 VCO-VCF-VCA module, one 140 2 ENV-LFO, one 191J 5 module system rack, and the 181 49 keyboard controller. The only way to fill the gaps in the 191J was DIY. Unfortunately, back in those days, information was scarce and key parts were impossible to find.
Fast forwarding to the late 1990s, Ken discovered other modular synth fans on the internet, and was soon offering the fruits of his DIY hobby to others, in the form of a web site (CGS) that detailed his projects, and for those who were interested, PCBs for them as well. His intention was to help others build their own synths. As his own synth grew, so did his web site, and the number of designs available.
A number of times after designing what he thought was a new and innovative module he would discover it had already been done before, by Serge Tcherepnin. After that he looked closer at Serge Systems and liked what he saw, adopting the form factor for his own PCBs. Serge Tcherepnin was contacted, and soon, by agreement, Serge's designs were also being made available to DIYers again.
From the late 1990s until early 2016, Ken sold PCBs associated with his designs, under the flag CGS. CGS is short for Catgirl Synthesizer, which from a description of his work, by Grant Richter, reflecting the colorful images he used on his synthesizer panels at the time.
In 2016 Ken retired from selling PCBs, passing both his designs and those of Serge to Laurie Biddulph of Elby Designs.
While Ken is more often involved with the electronics in his synthesizers than actually producing music, he has been known to publicly share the occasional recording.
- Ken Stone's notes about electronic organs - archived.
- History. A little about how Ken Stone became involved with synthesizers, building and playing these entirely for enjoyment and the consequences of not being able to afford the expense of kits, 1999 - archived.
- "Modular Synth", the CGS web site on Archive.org
- "Modular Synth", the CGS web site on synthpanel.com
- Ken's historic Serge Modular web site
- Elby Designs
- Ken Stone on Bandcamp
- about how Ken Stone became involved with synthesizers, etc.
- on YouTube