1. If you really and earnestly want one, then stop quibbling with yourself about the money. It will be expensive!
2. This is a long term investment and commitment. Be prepared to plan for the long term in terms of purchase, careful shipping, servicing and shipping for services.
3. The approach to take is:
- buy a restored one for lots of money (perhaps 10K or more) and lots of money for expert shipping.
- bye a rough and tumble CS80 and then have it serviced / restored by RL Music and Kent Spong. There's no other way in the UK - I believe there are exquisite restorers in France and the US too.
- be prepared to pay anywhere from high hundreds of pounds to thousands of pounds for that work, depending on how much needs to be done. But I'll say this about RL Music and Kent Spong having had one CS80 full service and two CS80s restored, one Prophet T8 restored and a VP330 serviced - they are the best in the business, and as costly as they may seem, they are incredibly efficient, incredibly cost effective and incredibly good value for money, incredibly committed to support for the long term and incredibly passionate about what they do. Let me put it this way - I will never buy a serious vintage synth again without it going through their hands for a service immediately after purchase - it comes out after that as if new (or better). As for the CS80s, a Kent Spong restore makes a CS80 more stable than even the original new one - he painstakingly places decoupling capacitors all over the electronics to remove susceptibility to static electricity, among many other upgrade features, rendering the CS80 more stable than ever before and completely usable in today’s world. So any excellent CS80 (or other vintage instrument) going through their hands is worth every penny asked for it and brings a vintage synth bang up to date and ready for use in the 21st century. They are amazing. I can’t say it any other way.
- When shipping a CS80, you need to be incredibly careful and be prepared to pay a lot. After my first restore, I hired a company who move Art pieces for Sotheby’s and Pianos - and paid a lot - yet they completely wrecked my CS80 on transit and I had to send it back to Kent for a complete new service. In fact, though I live in Dublin, I now drive to London personally with my CS80s for service - there's no other way for me. But once fully up to date, you’ll get three years or more before you even need to think about a retune. My trips to London are just the tail end of a ten +- year project of restoration that is nearing completion so I do not anticipate as many trips required once they are all stable.
- So overall the commitment to a CS80 is a big deal and requires constant attention, a long term view, lots of money(!) and lots of patience. In fact I should correct what I said above – I do not drive to London – my sister drives me as I can’t afford a car (because the money has gone into the CS80’s!).
- I should say that the original price of a CS80 was about £5000 in 1978 - which converts to £16,000 in today’s money. So when you see a pristine condition KSR CS80 for under that amount, it’s worth it IMO (and I'll never sell mine so I'm not saying this to bolster the price). Event he recent one for £9000 was not unreasonable IMO – that’s the price of a top of the range upright piano, and IMO owning a CS80 - a legendary synthesizer and one of perhaps about a 1000 or so still in active use world wide, is a fair price.
I expect them to hit the stratosphere in pricing within 5-10 years, so if you are really committed to ever getting one then you need to be thinking about it now and making serious plans.
I know many do not see it as worth it but it each to their own. I own mine to use - not to keep as collectors items (I have two music rooms with one in each and to date for various updates the third has usually been with Kent Spong, though that third one is 'coming home' this spring / early summer!!