Hohner String Performer

The Hohner String Performer is a quite sophisticated string machine that it is very hard to find information about. Apparently, it was one of the last string machines and was made in Germany in the beginning of 80's.

Similarly to the Logan String Melody, the basic sound alternatives are called "CELLO", "VIOLA" and "VIOLIN", which is basically the basic string sound in three adjacent octaves. Like most string machines, the keyboard is split in the middle so that you can adjust the volumes seperately for the lower and upper part of the keyboard. The sliders for adjusting the volume of each basic sound works upside-down, like drawbars, i.e. you pull the slider towards yourself for raising the volume of a sound. Also, each sound can be muted with a corresponding button. The Performer has a minimal amount of control for adjusting the sound: only the release (called "sustain" on the Performer) time can be controlled. Also, the ensemble effect is a part of the string sound and cannot be switched off or variated. Fortunately, the string sound is really good.

First CELLO, then adding VIOLA and VIOLIN with minimum sustain, last a chord with maximum sustain [593 KB, mp3]

To compensate for the lack of sound control, the Performer has a few more presets: BASS, PIANO, and CLAVICHORD for both parts, as well as a monophonic synth for the upper part, consisting of preset sounds called BRASS, STRING, CLARINET and PLANET, with an octave button for transposing the solo synth one octave down. Unfortunately, the solo synth section is currently not working on this unit, so I have not been able to test it yet.

BASS [214 KB, mp3]
PIANO [265 KB, mp3]
CLAVICHORD [270 KB, mp3]

The Performer has individual output for bass, strings, and piano/clav/solo section in addition to the mix output. It also has a volume control pedal input.

Although the features of the Performer are the most limited of the string machines tested, it has the most sophisticated string sound of the bunch. It is very balanced, rich in definition and definitely the fullest of the string machines tested. It is much warmer than the the Roland RS202 and more refined than the Logan String Melody. The Performer has also a high noise level, close to that of the Logan.

Example of the full string ensemble sound [434 KB, mp3]

Using the Performer together with a good phaser pedal sounds also lovely, but not as warm as the Logan sounds.

CELLO through an EHX Small Stone phaser [959 KB, mp3]

As most string machines, the Performer is built into a hard case to ease its transportation. The top lid is also built into the body, so you just flip the lid open when you want to start playing. However, the Performer weighs 20.4 kg and is one octave longer than most (portable) string machines, so it is a bit more difficult to transport.

Much of the string sounds on Vinyl Jam's Kino record was made using this Performer (check out "Mr. Mozzicone" and "Frozen Love").