Don’t call it a comeback: for these Berliners, old-school formats like vinyl, film and tape never went away in the first place. Now they cater to a niche but growing crowd of enthusiasts. For analogue synth lovers, Schneidersladen isn’t just a music store – it’s a playground.
A crowd of rapt Berliners, some holding beers, stands in front of a wall-sized machine resembling a telephone switchboard. The man next to it flips one switch, and the machine emits a low, barely audible hum. A few more switches, and the hum turns into a pulse. A couple of knobs turned and a cable patched in, and it’s suddenly the kind of minimal beat you’re more used to hearing at 3am on a Saturday night than 6pm on a Thursday. That’s the magic of modular synthesis, as demonstrated at Schneidersladen.
Tucked above Rewe on the bustling Kotti roundabout, Andreas Schneider’s synth shop is staffed by some 20 employees and patronised by just about every DJ and producer in the city. From a small telephone sales programme that started almost 20 years ago, the ex-musician’s “Büro” has grown to house the largest collection of modular equipment in Berlin. From basic A-100 systems to oscillators and sequencers to the famous Delptronics Thunderclap handclap machine, it’s all here – and the best part is, even if you don’t have €1500 for a high-end drum sequencer like the Jomox Alpha Base, you’re still welcome to walk in, grab a bench and play for five hours straight.
“Nowhere else in Berlin has a space where you can touch everything and experiment without having to buy the thing straight away,” ex-regular and newest employee Timm says proudly. Every second Thursday of the month is a free beginners’ workshop, while every fourth Thursday caters to more advanced synth servants. Just be sure to get in there quick – these events get busy! Regular customers are already getting excited for Schneider’s third annual Superbooth festival in May 2018, where you’ll be able to engage with your favourite analogue manufacturers and check out new kit.