Global Parts Shortage Kills Another Synth Company – WMD Announces Plan To Close

The global electronic parts shortage has claimed another victim.

After 17 years, Eurorack synth manufacturer William Mathewson Devices (WMD) – a Denver-based manufacturer of modular synthesizers, effects pedals and musical instruments – has announced that it will be closing at the end of 2020, because they can’t get the parts that they need to make synth modules.

“Our company is reliant on the development of new innovative products in the hardware realm,” they explain, “and we have watched our lead times for parts get pushed back from months to years, and there is no telling if some will actually come.”

WMD joins a growing list of synth makers that are being forced to delay products or shut down, because they can’t get parts. Other recent victims include the Bastl Instruments Thyme, boutique analog synth maker Future Retro and MU synth maker Synthesizers.com.

While WMD plans to close at the end of the year, they’ve released three new products that were already in the works: Legion, an analog oscillator; Orion, an analog phaser; and Subway, an 8-way cross-fading scanner. The modules are available now to pre-order. WMD says that they’ve secured enough parts to build limited runs of 600 modules of each product. Once these are sold, they will not be made again.

As the company winds down, it has also put all of its in-stock items on sale for 30% off.

While the closing of an important Eurorack manufacturer is a huge loss to synthesists, WMD’s influence has extended far beyond their own line of gear. They’ve acted as a catalyst and partner for many other Eurorack manufacturers; they’ve organized shared space for Eurorack manufacturers at NAMM to make it more affordable for small companies to attend; they’ve been active supporters of synth events around the country; and they’ve maintained an active WMD Youtube channel, where they’ve shared product info, tutorials and videos from a monthly live modular event that they host, Freq Boutique.

Here’s the full text of their announcement:

The WMD Monolith Eurorack system

“Hey fam,

We at WMD are so thankful for the support you have given us over the past 17 years. We’ve been making gear that has pushed the boundaries of electronic music, that’s made its way into the rigs of incredible people we respect, that has allowed them to make music that we cherish, that inspires us to make more gear. A beautiful circle of inspiration and gratitude. So, we thank you for helping us manifest our vision.

Times are tough for everyone. The state of the world has destroyed our sales numbers while operating costs continue to rise. We have many new designs in the pipe that unfortunately cannot be made due to the global parts shortage. Our company is reliant on the development of new innovative products in the hardware realm, and we have watched our lead times for parts get pushed back from months to years, and there is no telling if some will actually come. This makes planning for the future impossible, and new product development unfulfilling.

With the risk of going further in debt with no “end” in sight, we have concluded that the only option is to wind down our production facility, with the plan to close by the end of 2022. We wish that we could keep things going, that we could see another path, but the stress alone has been harmful to our mental health, and our lack of incoming cash is only making it worse.

We have three new products that we’re announcing as available for preorder today. They are all on our site now and can be purchased. Lead times for these new modules are 3-10 weeks. They are all currently in production with parts secured. Each module will be a limited run of 600. Once they are gone, they are gone. We are extremely proud of these modules and feel that each one is a valuable and useful tool for the eurorack ecosystem.

To keep cash flow moving and make this transition as smooth as possible for our employees, we are going to be liquidating all in-stock items starting today (excluding Performance Mixer, Metron, and our three newest products) at WMDevices.com at 30% until they are gone. If you have been waiting for a sale to buy a module, now is the time. Purchases made today will have a huge positive impact on our ability to keep our employees for the end of these production runs, helping in their transition on to what is next for them.

As for WMD, I don’t want to call this “goodbye”. Hopefully, it’s a “see ya later”. We’ll just have to see what the world has to offer down the road.

Thank you again. We value every relationship we’ve made through this journey more than you could ever know. We’ll be at Velocity and Knobcon showing off the new modules and hanging with old and new friends. Come say hey, and have a drink with us.

I know there will be questions, so I’ve tried to answer a few preemptively below. If I don’t answer yours, or if you’d like to send some positive vibes (we could use it), please reach out to us at [email protected]

Much love, WMD”

WMD says that they plan to continue to offer support for their products as long as they can, including offering repair/replacement service for all products covered under warranty.

In addition to the 30% off sale on in-stock products, they say that they will be selling miscellaneous items as they wind down, which they will be announcing via @wmdevices on instagram.