It’s catchy, its groovy its synthy……… The iconic synth part to Jump by Eddie van Halen is probably one of the most iconic synth lines and intros of all time. The synth line was written by Eddie himself but it was apparently refused by the other members of the band. The story goes as Ted Templeman(Producer) asked Roth (eddie’s friend and band mate) to take a listen to the unused song idea. Riding around in the back of his car, with band roadie Larry Hostler driving, Roth listened repeatedly to the song. To come up with a lyric for it, he remembered seeing a television news report the night before about a man who was threatening to commit suicide and killing himself by jumping off of a high building. Roth thought that one of the onlookers of such a scene would probably shout “go ahead and jump”. Roth bounced this suggestion off Hostler who agreed it was good. Instead of being about a threatened suicide, the words were written as an invitation to love. Roth also mentions in an interview with Musician magazine that Hostler the roadie was probably the most responsible for the song came out.
This iconic line was written by Eddie on a complete analogue synth know as the OB-Xa, The OB-Xa is a massive analog synthesizer with a very familiar and classic Oberheim sound. This synth has up to 8 voices which can be split and layered. The OB-Xa was a synth that comes in four, six or eight voice polyphonic models. They all featured patch memories with a minimum of 32 patches which were available on early models (4 banks of 8). The maximum amount of patch memory storage found on many OB-Xa’s is 120 patch memories. All models of OB-Xa, however, featured the new Curtis chips which offered great stability for an analog synth and they are attributed to its great filters and sounds. The synth originally comes with two Saw Tooth Oscillators, two Pulse Oscillators one Low frequency oscillator and for filters there are two polo and 4 pole low pass filters with ADSR.
This legendary synth plays a legendary part in the hit record. It’s pretty much the drive and backbone of the song and is played pretty much start to end making this track a classic example for a 80’s song that uses synthesis.