I’m saddened to learn that John Simonton, synthesizer kit pioneer and founder of synth kit maker PAiA Electronics, has died. Simonton broke ground by bringing synthesis to the tinkerer, in an affordable, kit form. He’s considered by some to be the “Godfather of DIY synths.” There’s already a blog devoted to memories of Mr. Simonton and his creations. To his friends, family, and colleagues, our condolences.


For more on John Simonton and PAiA, see:


Music thing’s memorial tribute, ode to the greatness of PAiA, and DIY reader report


Brilliant and wacky creations in the PAiA hall of fame


Craig Anderton’s extensive Interview with John Simonton for Synapse Magazine (now-defunct publication, via the folks at Cyndustries; image above by Rhonda Fleming for Synapse)


PAiA at the Synthmuseum


In the Synapse interview, Simonton says he built the PAiA for the “experimenter.” In the age of Make Magazine and the new DIY renaissance, his vision seems especially apt.

  • carmen

    and quite possibly the godfather of electronic/synth/digital/diy music journalism as well, via PAiA's magazine "Polyphony" subsequently renamed to "Electronic Musician"..and while i havent subscribed since 1995 or so (nee gopher/mosaic) was a great redad in the pre-blog era.

    thanks for mentioning this, if somewhat morbid story – i certainly wouldnt have heard about this seeing as Simonton didnt have the same cachet as Bob Moog…maybe his name just didnt have the same ring to it ;)

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  • Jackson Moon

    Moog made commercial instruments with “a” sound.

    Simonton gave you the keys to the kingdom to expand your consciousness into anything you could imagine.

    An apt, if trite, comparison is Moog was Edison. Simonton was Tesla.

    I built 8 racks of Simonton/PAIA gear from his designs and parts as well as kits, my own designs and toys. It’s midi interfaced (via John’s PAIA).

    I am still amazed at the almost singular knack John had to break away all the crap and nonsense and tell you exactly how simple an idea was to realize.

    There won’t be another like him.

    IF you want to participate, get the schematic for his “EGG” (encephalo gratification generator) and patch it into your modular rack. I have had many ask me what the hell that sound was and how I got it. I give them a Chershire cat and say “Oh, that John’s EGG!”

    Jackson Moon