Is it a 'fun' instrument, or a versatile band accessory?

Stylophone Model 350S

The model 350S was the 'big brother' of the standard Stylophones, and although working on the same basic principal, provided a much wider range of effects and sounds. What's more, it had two styli!.
There is no doubt that the sound quality and versatility of this instrument was, and still is, pretty impressive. Even today, when played through a decent amplifier and 'beefy' speaker set-up, the results can be quite amazing.

The reason is that a number of different voice and instrument affects could be used at the same time, as opposed to the single voice of the standard model. One of the most interesting aspects of the effects was the 'Photo Control' on the effects panel. This really is great fun to play with, and can give fantastic effect while playing.
It had the wood finish speaker grill, as seen earlier on some of the 'standards', and the same keyboard set-up, although this unit carried 44 keys as opposed to the usual 20.
Power consumption was much higher too, with 2 x large PP9 9v batteries needed to operate the instrument.
This made the 350S quite a heavy piece of equipment in comparison to its' smaller 'pocket-sized' counterpart.

Considerably larger than the standards, the 350S was a progression from a simple fun novelty to a seemingly fully fledged musical instrument. It was still basically a single note unit, despite the second stylus.

The left hand stylus was used as a 'reiteration' implement, and various effects could be made using both styli in tandem.
All the effects were available on the top of the panel; a tuning wheel was situated to the right of the voice rocker switches. Effects available to the user included Waa Waa, Vibrato, Reiteration, Decay, Woodwind, Brass, and Strings. The speed of the vibrato and the volume level could be controlled by the Photo Control.
This was in the form of a light sensitive photo-diode, covered with a plastic lens, located at the left of the panel. When used in adequate light, the hand could be passed over, or cupped around the sensor, allowing more, or less light to reach the sensor as a note was played. This would vary the volume, or the vibrato effect, whichever switch had been selected from the control panel. Someone watching you play while using this feature would probably question your sanity, as it does look very strange to say the least!. The effect however, is quite remarkable. This does of course mean you could not use the second stylus at the same time, with both hands in use, but more fun could be had using this little device than the second stylus anyway.

The main rotary volume control, located just below the 'photo control' sensor.

The sensor is just visible below the plastic window. Adequate lighting was needed to gain the full effect from this simple, but very effective device.

'Rocker' switches along the top of the 350S could be placed in three different positions to get the required voice or effect .
The 'flat' position is 'Off'.
The white dial seen here is the 'tuning control' adjuster.

As well as being the perfect 'home' instrument for the all the family to enjoy, it was also marketed as a band instrument in its' own right, as some of the colour illustrations from the instruction manual suggest. How many bands that actually did incorporate the 350S can only be guessed at, but there is no doubt it could have had a place as an additional piece in certain circumstances, and given very favourable results.

Although both styli are exactly the same as seen on the smaller standards, the leads are longer to accommodate the wider keyboard of the 350S.

The familiar Stylophone logo,
painted silver as on the standards.

Three accessory sockets on the left side the 350S case.

350S

It's very important to note however, that what is regarded to be the totally unique sound of the pocket version will not be found on the 350s. Its' sound is quite different - although similar in keyboard layout etc - it drifts from what the 'Stylophone-Sound' and 'Rolf Harris era' is all about.
You won't find anything close to the original 'Bowie ~ Space Oddity' sound on this instrument.

Reliability of the 350S

Generally, there are just a couple of areas where the 350S may need attention.
The first is the rocker switches - which can cause crackling and intermittent tonal variations. This can be put right in most cases, but be prepared for a BIG strip-down, with 30+ screws needing to be removed to get at the problem!. Great care has to be taken if attempting this, as other components could be damaged in the process. It may be better to put up with these annoyances than risk any damage.

The other area however, is of much greater concern...
The circuit board carries an IC which controls sound output, and this component (long since obsolete) is the single- most likely cause of the 350S to break down. If this happens -and it often does after all these years - the unit will only be heard if played through a separate amplifier, if at all. A tell-tale sign of this fault is when the stylus is applied to the keyboard, only a very feint sound is heard (if even audible at all), which fades away rapidly. This happens no matter which switch combination is used. Even with the volume control turned up to max, the sound will still be very low - then quickly fall away. The user will then be left with a 'dead' 350S.

The fact is that this component can fail at any time on these 30 year-old instruments, and it is most unlikely you will be able to get the 350S repaired at your local electronic service shop. Even if it were possible, it would be a very expensive affair. These components are as rare as the proverbial rocking horse droppings, and to our knowledge, the only people who now have these IC's are the Sales Corner at stylophones.com.

Unfortunately, due to very limited numbers, they are not available for general sale. They are instead used as a standard service replacement in their own reconditioned 350S units prior to sale, as a long-term guarantee to their own customers.