The Solina String Ensemble, also marketed as the ARP String Ensemble, is a fully polyphonic multi-orchestral synthesizer with a 49-key keyboard, produced by Eminent BV (known for their Solina brand). It was distributed in the United States by ARP Instruments from 1974 to 1981. The sounds it incorporates are violin, viola, trumpet, horn, cello, and contrabass. The keyboard uses ‘organ style’ divide-down technology to make it polyphonic. The built-in chorus effect gives the instrument its distinctive sound.
The core technology is based on the string ensemble section of the Eminent 310 Unique electronic organ in 1972, manufactured by the Dutch company Eminent BV. The main oscillator consists of twelve discrete tone generators with octave divide-down to provide full polyphony; and the built-in chorus effect utilizes bucket-brigade devices (BBDs) controlled by two LFOs to create the characteristic vibrato.
The Solina String Ensemble was extensively used by pop, rock, jazz and disco artists of the 1970s, including Richard Wright of Pink Floyd, on albums such as Wish You Were Here and Animals, Herbie Hancock, Bernie Worrell, Billy Beck (of Ohio Players), Dennis DeYoung and Eumir Deodato. Elton John used a String Ensemble on his hit song “Someone Saved My Life Tonight“, the Rolling Stones in their hit “Fool to Cry“, KC & the Sunshine Band in their hit, “Please Don’t Go“, the Buggles in “Video Killed the Radio Star“, Hall & Oates in their cover version of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling“, and Rick James in “Mary Jane“. In 1975, George Harrison used the ARP on his song “You“, and the same year the Bee Gees played it on their hit “Nights on Broadway“. Stevie Wonder played the famous string line on Peter Frampton‘s 1977 ballad “I’m in You“. The Solina string sound has also been used by Kim and Ricky Wilde, Brian Eno, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, the Cure, Gorillaz, the Chameleons, the Carpenters, Joy Division, Neil Young, Air, Anthony Cedric Vuagniaux and Rikk Agnew. Fleetwood Mac keyboardist Christine McVie used it on the band’s Heroes Are Hard to Find album, most notably on her song “Come a Little Bit Closer.” Brian Wilson “Beach Boys Love You”, Charly Garcia on Pequeñas anécdotas sobre las institucionesand with Serú Girán.