The SynTesla IV Grallophone is a steampunk fantasy come to life

Usually, ‘retro’ in the synth world means somewhere in the ’80s. The SynTesla IV Grallophone takes you back about a century further.

The aesthetics of synths usually tends towards the minimal, with clean and crisp lines. After all, as acknowledged electronic music icon Giorgio Moroder in that epic Daft Punk track, the synth is the sound of the future. But these rules do not apply when it comes to the SynTesla IV Grallophone, a steampunk-styled multi-engine synthesizer that looks like it came straight out of the industrial revolution.

As you may have guessed from the ‘IV’ in the name, this is not the first work by creator Pierre Jean Tardiveau. His previous projects involved repackaging Waldorf synths, adding new controls and changing the exterior design. The SynTesla IV Grallophone is a collaborative effort between Tardiveau and Olivier Grall.

Olivier Grall playing his Grallophone
Photo: Olivier Grall

While it is not known what synths have been used in building the IV, Tardiveau’s Instagram page states that it features several synths, including a string machine, a polysynth and monosynth, ribbon synth, synth diffusor, a multi-FX processor with 16 effects, and a mixer. This is all enclosed in a handmade wooden case with two keyboards and a ribbon controller, several large knobs and appropriately designed level indicators and dials.

The final product is an instrument with a wide range of capabilities that’s impossible to look away from. It’s not pretending to be a revolutionary new synth, but you’ll have a hard time not being completely absorbed by it. Check out Olivier Grall performing with the SynTesla IV Grallophone below.