Bontempi ES 3000 (digital squarewave keyboard with drumpads & cheesy accompaniment)

This very rare Bontempi keyboard seems to be the small brother of the Elite MC2200; it is technically and soundwise very similar but has less features. The main voice is 2 note polyphonic squarewave and it features single finger chord accompaniment (even with simple chord sequencer) and 4 drumpads with low- res sample percussion. In unmodified state this tablehooter roars ear- tormenting loud out of its tinny speaker because the 5 step volume slider can only switch between silence, too loud and even louder. This instrument was also released as MC-2100 (by Medeli?) and Thompsonic TS-21 (seen on eBay).

(Note: This keyboard may sound nice, but don't buy one of these so far your only intention is to get a keyboard with faithfully imitated natural instrument sounds. Remember, this is a squarewave instrument and though many of its sounds sound not even remotely like what is written on its buttons, though bought with wrong expectation it may disappoint you.)

main features:


This instrument resembles very much the Elite MC2200 but has no key split sounds, no song bank, only 8 rhythms and instead of the custom drummer a rather useless chord sequencer. Interesting is that Bontempi here redistributed a piece of "MC" series hardware (manufactured by Medeli?) made in China. For reasonable use of this instrument, the far too loud volume switch urgently needs to be modified and a sound output should be added. (I haven't examined this hardware closer yet.)

The "violin", "clarinet", "cowbell" and "oboe" sound contain squarewave vibrato. The "mandolin" is ringing. The "clarinet" is harsher than "oboe" (possibly the manufacturer confused both). The "cowbell" is rather a high pitched vibraphone with quite long decay envelope (but shorter than the Elite MC2200 one). Unlike the MC2200, with this instrument all main voice sounds work properly and don't refuse polyphonic play - even the fast play polyphony  flaw is gone here because this keyboard does not mute the earliest note but ignores later notes when more than 2 keys are pressed.

The monophonic rhythms make no use of the cymbal sound and thus consist (like with the MC2200) of only 3 low- res percussion samples with audible start and end click, which gives them a fat and bassy, trashy timbre and is well suited to synchronize brain waves for meditative musics. The cymbal can be only played by its drumpad. The single finger accompaniment seems to play only 2 note polyphonic plain squarewave organ tones those alternatingly play duet and bass notes (i.e. no real 3 note polyphonic chords). It knows only 3 standard chords and with accompaniment only monophonic main voice play is possible, but at least it recognizes chord changes reasonable fast. The accompaniments have a cute and cheesy orchestrion or fairground organ appeal. Every button press makes a blip noise; strange is that the button press blip seems to use an own squarewave tone channel that works independently from the very limited (3 notes?) polyphony of the rest.

The chord sequencer is a bit awkward to use and was hard to figure out without a manual. To program it, select the desired rhythm and press "program", which begins the synchro start mode of the single finger accompaniment ("power" LED flashes => rhythm starts after any accompaniment section key press). Now repeat in a loop until all chords are entered:

Press "program" again to end. Press "1 beat" or "1 bar" to playback the chord sequence. You can now play a monophonic melody on the entire keyboard length while the sequencer repeats the entered chords in a loop. (The chord sequence always plays the rhythm it was recorded with; you can not choose a different rhythm later.)

Likely a midsize variant of this instrument was released as Thompsonic TS-37 (37 midsize keys, 2 speakers, seen on eBay). Regarding the CPU type label, also a variant of this instrument called "MC-21" may exist, which appears to be the genuine name of this hardware class. A very similar but more versatile 49 midsize keys instrument (with many rhythms and demo melodies) was released as Elite MC2200; unfortunately it suffers of annoying polyphony bugs. A similar looking instrument like the Bontempi ES3000 was released as Medeli MC-23 (seen on Medeli website), but this one had a record & playback sequencer and drumpads were switchable to animal voices (possibly a My Music Center variant).

 removal of these screws voids warranty...    
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