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Synth engineer accidentally gets high after touching old LSD on a 1960s synthesizer


Eliot Curtis, the Broadcast Operations Manager for KPIX Television, had a trip he’ll never forget will restoring an iconic ’60s era synthesizer.

Curtis had found a vintage Buchla Model 100 modular synthesizer sitting unused in a dark, cold room hidden away in a corner of Cal State University East Bay. Apparently, the synth had been sitting unused since the 1960s and, being a fan of the instrument, Curtis volunteered to take it home and get to work on its restoration.

What Curtis wasn’t aware of, however, was the urban myth that claimed versions of the instrument hidden away had been dipped in the psychedelic drug LSD back in the 1960s. The story claimed that musicians of the time would turn up to sessions, lick their finger, stroke the synth and get to work while tripping.

This particular model was created by Don Buchla, a man who was close friends with the Grateful Dead‘s notorious sound engineer Owsley Stanley, a man who became infamous in the synth counter-culture of the time and was known for creating some of the purest LSD on the streets.

Curtis, after lugging the synth back to his workshop, began picking away at what he called “a crust or a crystalline residue on it” after opening the red-panelled module. Continuing his work for around 45 minutes, Curtis then started to feel the effects of what would become a nine-hour acid trip in the company of his wife.

“It was… felt like I was tripping on LSD,” Curtis told KPIX 5. “I think it’s super wild. I think this whole situation is a nice chapter in the history of the counter culture,” Curtis’ wife Holly added.

Many scientists have claimed over the years that particularly potent LSD was able to be ingested through the skin and, through the accidental taking of the 50-year-old dose of LSD, Curtis proved that to be possible. Because the instrument had been stored in a cold, dark place for this amount of time, the LSD maintained its strength.

After the trip subsided, Curtis completed his restoration of the instrument (while wearing gloves) and thoroughly cleaned it of all LSD before returning it to the university for students to use.