Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Font Of Uncertainty


I am planning to make a few Buchla format modules but what has been driving me a bit crazy is trying to work out which fonts were used on the 100 series (1960s) and 200 series (1970s) modules. I have spent a lot of time on forums and google trying to work out what the beautiful sans-serif font he used was, and I have come to the conclusion that it doesn't exist anymore! It is NOT a standard typeface that is currently available as a downloadable computer-based font (such as helvetica, folio, universe, akzidenz) it would have been type-set by hand to Don's specifications. Anyway, I have found what I think is the closest thing possible on a computer and it is a typeface called "Grotesque No. 9 SH Bold Condensed Italic OT". I actually had to BUY IT WITH MONEY! which surprised me. Have a look at the screenshots below. The first is of the Buchla 259 dual oscillator from the 1970s with its lovely blue typography. Below that is my test. In black is my attempt using Grotesque No. 9. I had to change the letter spacing and weight on to match it up. It's pretty close though isn't it?

14 comments:

  1. good detective work benge! spot on i think. and about paying for fonts. OF COURSE YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THEM. like music, many people don’t care and download them illegally for free, but also like music its often someones livelihood you are taking away as the pro ones take many months to develop!

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    1. hi jonathan. i know you are a font designer and must hate people like me assuming free use of your work, its just that so many fonts are out there that are good and free i have never been in a position where i actually had to buy one! i don't download illegally BTW...

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    2. jonathan barnbrook26 April 2012 at 22:56

      hi benge thanks for the clarification. actually it doesn’t bother me so much about people downloading fonts, i am fairly resigned to it and my capitals were not anger, just mimicking the way you wrote your message : ).

      there are some good fonts for free but many of them are copies of peoples existing work, commercial fonts outputted with a different name or don’t have good spacing or all of the characters you need. for decent work which is more than a few letters you are better of getting the pro ones.

      thanks also for the clarification about downloading illegally too…and hope to see you soon. by the way love this blog.

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    3. thanks J - BTW i'm so excited about getting the vinyl stuff back home and on the record player - thats going to be a dream come true for me in so many ways and your work on it is truly sublime

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  2. Check this out http://dl.dropbox.com/u/469198/synthfonts.png

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  3. It's close, but still not 100% you may need to pull in your kerning some. The lowercase g looks different but that could be fixed naturally by the process of ink bleed in the silk screening process. The word PROGRAM on top is definitely futura. Also... How do I get my hands on some of these modules once completed? Would love one.

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    1. josh - i know its not perfect but as i say i don't think its possible to get it perfect with a computer generated font - and i agree the ink / screen printing will be a factor - its all trial and error! i don't think the header / footer text is futura - the points on the n, a, m, z, etc are too pointy! they need modifying [cutting off] to look like the buchla ones. at least that is what i have found. i am working on these as prototypes for my system, but if i can figure out a way of making them in any quantity i will let you know

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  4. Hi a while back I found this:

    The Eardrill panels, which I think are a pretty good match to the Buchla panels, are .062" thick, brushed aluminum, vertical grain, clear anodized.

    I'm getting them screened with epoxy ink, to match Pantone 2935.

    I'm mostly using Arial Bold Italic, which seemed to match the Buchla panels best. I tried for a lighter look on my first module, but it came out a little on the think side.

    My panels are .062" Aluminum, I think it's a 6061 alloy. Vertical grain brush finish. It would be good to get a sample of a Buchla panel to give your machine shop for grain matching. And before anyone asks, the Pantone color for the blue is 2935.

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  5. And yes top front is Futura bold.
    And I also would love one of those modules if you ever have one ready please drop me a mail

    davidwurth@ymail.com or go to my blog and leave a comment there http://thewovengarden-technicolor.blogspot.com/

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  6. Check out this thread on Muffwigger:

    http://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=47734&start=0

    /ZooTooK

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  7. Please, do not use Arial on your Buchla panels (or anywhere else). The font is Microsoft's bastard child (an ugly hybrid of Helvetica and Univers) and didn't even exist in the 1960/70s. Use Helvetica.

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  8. Amen to that! I hate seeing Arial subbed for Helvetica, on Eardrill's products for example.

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