Yamaha TG77 / SY77: The Most Powerful FM Synths?

It took me awhile to get my hands on a Yamaha TG77. These days, they are highly sought after and (frankly) often overpriced. But finally during one of my eBay trawls I found one with the typical TG77 problem of a burnt-out backlight on the display. So I grabbed it. Where we're going, we don't need backlights: the TG77 and its sibling the Yamaha SY77 are now supported in Patch Base.

I feel like a broken record, but I have to say: these were some of the most complex editors I've ever made. And the reason for the complexity is also the reason why these synths are so powerful: they offer unparalleled flexibility in FM programming. Like its ancestor the great DX7, the TG77 offers 6-operator FM synthesis. But then it goes much, much further: each operator can use 1 of 16 different waveforms (rather than just the old sine wave). And, you get 45 algorithms (the connections of the operators) instead of the DX7's 32. But really, you get so much more than 45 algorithms, because you can also arbitrarily add additional connections between operators! And you can quickly tweak the output levels of each of these connections. So really you can do anything that your FM dreams can come up with... you can even route noise or samples into your FM network.

And alllll of that combines to form 1 element in a TG77 sound. But each sound can have up to 4 elements! So you can make a single patch that plays 4 different FM elements at once. It. Is. Insane. Even my beloved FS1R can't really go as FM-deep as this thing. And in addition to the FM capabilities, you also get samples that you can layer into your sounds as well. Personally I'm not as excited about that aspect, but it does expand the sonic possibilities of this synth quite a bit.

Each of these elements then gets routed through 2 filters(!) for further sound shaping. And the envelopes can loop! The more I got to know the TG77 and SY77, the more I felt like Yamaha perfectly nailed FM with this synth. It's a DX7 with filters, more routing flexibility, better envelopes and a ton of horsepower.

And then there are Multis, which is another way of saying "Performances". You can have 16 different patches loaded at once, on 16 different channels. So you've got your own FM orchestra in a black box. There are also 4 different effects units to route your sounds through.

And panning! A weird and wild feature of these synths are their Pan Tables, where you can create envelopes to control the panning of a sound. There are a bunch of preset Pan Tables, but you can also create your own. Each element in a sound can use a different Pan Table, so when you press a single key on your keyboard, sounds go in all directions at once. 

That, in a nutshell, is what the TG77 and SY77 can do. And everything they can do, you can now do better in Patch Base. Quickly edit every aspect of these powerful synths, and manage your voice/multi/pan banks as well. Enjoy.



Omar's picture

Soooo stoked...!!!

Marco's picture

Great work! It’s even for 99?

Chadwick Wood's picture

No support for the SY99 yet. It has some significant enough differences that it will take some more work, and I'll need to get my hands on one.

BillB's picture

Marco, the differences between SY99 and SY77 are listed on pp308-309 of the SY99 Manual. Some compatibility, but enough differences (wave Rom, fx) that any SY77 editor won’t quite cut it. I’m sure that if Chadwick can get his hands on an SY99 though.....
Chadwick - SY77 Editor - stunning. I was one of those asking for this, so thanks, Christmas has come very early.

BillB's picture

Oops, Chadwick beat me to it!

Andrew 's picture

You just made my day, Chadwick! Thank you.

Marco's picture

Ok, I’ll look forward ;) Thanks again!!

Marco's picture

You are right Bill, thanks so much! :)

Brian Handscomb's picture

Whilst some say the SY99 is the pinnacle of that "era" of Yamaha synths the "77s" hold a special place in my brain space as was teased by the loan of a manual via a friend of a friend that was rumoured to be looking to sell one on. Every once in a while I look to see if a TG is available without a stupidly high price tag...

transfixer's picture

wow! as i was drooling down on my leptop, reading about how incredibly powerful tg77 can be (so incredibly underrated!), i made a sudden decision to change my tx802, for a tg77 with this editor!
thanks, you made my day, mate!

Niels Dettenbach's picture

Sorry, but no. The SY/TG77 FM synths are not the "most powerful FM synths". This was the (bit younger) Yamaha FS1R which as the last real FM synth from Yamaha and is even much more complex as powerful (4x FM synth with complex socillators and even more operators plus a Format Synthesis engine). The only "thing" is: it sound's a bit more "clean" then the older ones while the (bit older) *77ers sound bitmore "vintage".

just to add...
but have fun with the *77ers which are nice too.

I have such a nice synth kid here - so if you want to try., you are welcome...ß)

Austin Holden's picture

I know this may be a long shot, but how about the Yamaha SY85?
Is there a chance it may be able to edit it?

Chadwick Wood's picture

Hi Austin, I'm pretty sure the SY85 has a significantly different sysex format, so I don't think these editors would work with it. It's on the voting form though! ;)

Jeff Bruestle's picture

Please, please, please, one more vote for the SY99! It IS the ultimate classic FM synth. 25+ years later, mine sounds as good as new. Thanks in advance for extending the SY77 editor to the max.

Rory Blake's picture

I've got an SY 99. I'm not dumping it! ...but I am now looking for a TG 77.

Thanks again!