Korg MS-20: Unveiling the Raw Power of a Classic Monophonic Synth

The Korg MS-20 is a classic monophonic synthesizer known for its raw and aggressive sound. Designed and released by Korg in 1978, it quickly became a favorite among musicians and has been used in countless hit songs. With its unique features and semi-modular design, the MS-20 continues to be a popular choice for electronic music producers.

History of the Korg MS-20:

The Korg MS-20 was designed by Fumio Mieda, who also created other iconic synthesizers such as the Korg Polysix and the Korg SQ-10 sequencer. It was released in 1978 and was advertised as a “synth for the people,” as it was more affordable compared to other synthesizers on the market at the time.

Features of the Korg MS-20:

The MS-20 has a semi-modular design, meaning that it can be used as a standalone synthesizer or connected to external devices through its patch panel. It features two voltage-controlled oscillators, a high-pass and low-pass filter, and two envelope generators. These components can be connected and modulated using the patch panel, giving users a wide range of sound possibilities.

What Makes the Korg MS-20 Unique?

The semi-modular design of the MS-20 allows for a high level of customization and creativity. It also has the ability to process external signals, making it a versatile tool for sound design. The aggressive sound of the MS-20 has made it a popular choice for musicians looking for a raw and gritty sound in their productions.

How to Use the Korg MS-20:

To use the Korg MS-20, first set up the patch panel by connecting the desired components. Then, use the oscillators and filters to create a desired sound. The envelope generators can be used to shape the sound over time. Experimenting with different combinations and modulations can lead to unique and interesting sounds.

Famous Songs and Artists that Use the Korg MS-20:

The Korg MS-20 has been used in many hit songs, including Aphex Twin’s “Windowlicker,” Daft Punk’s “Revolution 909,” and Gorillaz’s “Feel Good Inc.” Its distinct sound has been favored by electronic music producers for decades.

Tips for Maintaining and Repairing the Korg MS-20:

To keep the MS-20 in top condition, regular cleaning of the patch panel is recommended. If any parts need to be replaced, it is important to use quality parts and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Troubleshooting common issues, such as no sound or a malfunctioning keyboard, can also help keep the MS-20 in working order.

What Is the Korg MS-20?

The Korg MS-20 is a renowned monophonic synthesizer known for its raw power and distinct sound. Originally released in 1978, it quickly gained popularity among musicians and producers. The MS-20 boasts two voltage-controlled oscillators, a high-pass and low-pass filter, and a built-in patch panel for crafting unique sounds. Its semi-modular design allows for extensive experimentation and customization, making it a sought-after instrument for its vintage charm and versatility.

History of the Korg MS-20

History of the Korg MS-20 - Korg MS-20: Unveiling the Raw Power of a Classic Monophonic Synth

Photo Credits: Goldenscissors.Info by Jacob Mitchell

The Korg MS-20 is a legendary monophonic synthesizer that was first introduced in 1978. It quickly gained popularity due to its unique sound and versatility, making it a favorite among musicians and producers. The MS-20 featured a semi-modular design, allowing users to patch cables and create complex sound configurations. Its influence can still be heard in modern music today, solidifying its place as a true classic in the world of synthesizers.

Over the years, the MS-20 has become a sought-after vintage synth, with many artists and collectors valuing its historic significance and contribution to the world of electronic music. The history of the Korg MS-20 is a rich one, and its iconic sound continues to inspire musicians and shape the landscape of music production.

Who Designed the Korg MS-20?

The Korg MS-20 was created by a team of engineers led by renowned synthesizer designer Fumio Mieda. Mieda was known for his innovative approach to synthesizer design and his work on the MS-20 was no exception. Released in 1978, the MS-20 quickly gained popularity for its unique features and powerful sound. With its semi-modular design and patch panel, the MS-20 allowed musicians to craft complex and customizable sounds. Its external signal processing capabilities also set it apart from other synthesizers of its time. Even today, the MS-20 remains highly regarded by musicians and is considered a timeless classic in the world of synthesizers.

When Was the Korg MS-20 Released?

The Korg MS-20 was released in 1978, making it a classic monophonic synthesizer. Designed by Fumio Mieda, it offered a unique sound and functionality that set it apart from other synthesizers of that time. Its release marked the beginning of a new era in music production, as it was one of the first affordable synths to feature a patch panel for flexible sound shaping.

The release of the Korg MS-20 revolutionized the music industry, allowing musicians to experiment with new sounds and create innovative compositions. Its impact can still be seen today, with artists like Aphex Twin, Daft Punk, and Gorillaz utilizing its distinctive sound in their hit songs.

Features of the Korg MS-20

The Korg MS-20 is a timeless monophonic synthesizer that has been a staple in the music industry since its release in 1978. Its unique sound and versatile capabilities have made it a favorite among musicians and producers. In this section, we will dive into the various features of the Korg MS-20, including its iconic patch panel, powerful filters, versatile oscillators, and dynamic envelope generators. Get ready to uncover the raw power of this classic synth.

1. Patch Panel

The patch panel is a crucial aspect of the Korg MS-20 synthesizer, providing users with the ability to craft intricate and unique sounds. To effectively use the patch panel, follow these steps:

  1. Connect a patch cable from the keyboard’s “CV Out” jack to the patch panel’s “VCO-1+2 CV In” jack.
  2. Connect another patch cable from the patch panel’s “VCO-1+2 CV Out” jack to the patch panel’s “VCF CV In” jack.
  3. Use additional patch cables to connect various modules of the synthesizer, such as envelope generators and filters, to create complex signal paths and modulation.

Fun fact: The Korg MS-20’s patch panel allows for limitless experimentation and sound exploration, making it a favorite among electronic musicians and sound designers.

2. Filters

The Korg MS-20 synthesizer features versatile filters that contribute to its unique sound. To make the most of these filters, follow these steps:

  1. Understand the different filter types: The MS-20 offers both high-pass and low-pass filters, allowing you to control the frequency range of your sound.
  2. Experiment with the cutoff and resonance: Adjusting the cutoff frequency determines which frequencies pass through the filters, while resonance emphasizes specific frequencies.
  3. Explore the modulation of the filters: The MS-20’s patch panel enables you to modulate the filters using various sources such as the envelope generators or the oscillators.
  4. Create filter sweeps and effects: By manipulating the filter cutoff over time, you can achieve dynamic and expressive sound effects.

The Korg MS-20 is renowned for its powerful filters, which have been instrumental in shaping the sound of countless iconic songs and artists. Understanding and experimenting with these filters can unlock a world of creative possibilities in your music production.

3. Oscillators

The Korg MS-20 synthesizer is highly regarded for its distinct sound and versatile oscillators. To further explore these oscillators:

  1. The MS-20 boasts two voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs) that produce a range of waveforms, including sawtooth, square, and pulse.
  2. Each oscillator has a pitch control knob and a frequency modulation (FM) knob for modulating the pitch with another oscillator or external sound source.
  3. The oscillators can be mixed together using the mixer section, allowing for complex and layered sounds.
  4. The MS-20 also features a ring modulator, which combines the outputs of the two oscillators to create unique and harmonically rich tones.

These impressive features make the oscillators of the Korg MS-20 a powerful tool for crafting a diverse array of sounds, from deep basslines to soaring leads.

4. Envelope Generators

Envelope generators are essential components of the Korg MS-20 synthesizer, shaping the dynamic characteristics of sounds. Here are the steps to use the envelope generators:

  1. Set the ADSR parameters: Adjust the Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release to control how the sound evolves over time.
  2. Connect the envelope generator: Patch the envelope generator to the desired parameter, such as the filter cutoff or amplifier level.
  3. Trigger the envelope: Play a note on the keyboard or use an external trigger signal to activate the envelope generator.
  4. Experiment with different settings: Explore the range of possibilities by tweaking the ADSR values and patching the envelope generator to different destinations.

In a similar vein, renowned producer Brian Eno utilized the Korg MS-20’s envelope generators to create the iconic swelling synth intro for David Bowie’s “Heroes,” adding an emotional depth to the song and solidifying the MS-20’s place in music history.

What Makes the Korg MS-20 Unique?

What Makes the Korg MS-20 Unique? - Korg MS-20: Unveiling the Raw Power of a Classic Monophonic Synth

Photo Credits: Goldenscissors.Info by Timothy Baker

The Korg MS-20 is a legendary monophonic synthesizer that has been used by countless musicians and producers since its release in 1978. What sets this iconic synth apart from others of its time is its unique and powerful features. In this section, we will dive into the three key elements that make the Korg MS-20 stand out: its semi-modular design, external signal processing capabilities, and its aggressive sound. Each of these aspects contributes to the raw power and versatility of this classic synth. Let’s take a closer look at what makes the Korg MS-20 a must-have for any musician or sound enthusiast.

1. Semi-modular Design

The semi-modular design of the Korg MS-20 allows for flexible and customizable sound creation. Here are the steps to utilize its semi-modular capabilities:

  1. Connect the patch cables to the patch panel to route audio and control signals.
  2. Experiment with different patching configurations to create unique sounds.
  3. Use the patch panel to control external devices or process external audio signals.
  4. Combine the oscillators, filters, and envelope generators to shape the sound.

The semi-modular design of the Korg MS-20 sets it apart from other synthesizers, offering endless possibilities for sound exploration and experimentation.

The Korg MS-20 was designed by Fumio Mieda and released in 1978. Due to its affordable price, unique sound, and semi-modular capabilities, it quickly gained popularity. It has since become a classic monophonic synthesizer and has been utilized by numerous famous artists in their music.

2. External Signal Processing

External signal processing is one of the unique features of the Korg MS-20 synthesizer. Here are the steps to effectively utilize this feature:

  1. Connect an external audio source, such as a microphone or guitar, to the audio input on the MS-20.
  2. Adjust the input level using the input gain knob to ensure the signal is neither too soft nor distorted.
  3. Use the patch cables to route the external signal to various sections of the MS-20, such as the filters or envelope generators.
  4. Experiment with different signal processing techniques, such as filtering, modulation, or distortion, to shape the external audio in unique ways.
  5. Combine the processed external signal with the internal oscillators and other sound sources on the MS-20 to create complex and layered sounds.

By incorporating external signal processing, the Korg MS-20 offers endless possibilities for sound exploration and manipulation.

3. Aggressive Sound

The Korg MS-20 is renowned for its distinctive and aggressive sound, setting it apart from other synthesizers. To achieve this sound, follow these steps:

  1. Experiment with the two voltage-controlled oscillators (VCO) to create gritty and distorted tones.
  2. Utilize the high-pass and low-pass filters to shape the sound and add intensity.
  3. Adjust the envelope generators to control the attack, decay, sustain, and release of the sound, ultimately creating an aggressive sound.

By combining these elements, you can successfully achieve the aggressive sound that the Korg MS-20 is known for.

How to Use the Korg MS-20

The Korg MS-20 is a legendary monophonic synthesizer known for its raw and powerful sound. In this section, we will dive into how to use this classic synth to create your own unique sounds. From setting up the patch panel to utilizing the oscillators and filters, we’ll guide you through the key steps of using the Korg MS-20. Get ready to unleash the full potential of this iconic synth and take your music production to the next level.

1. Setting Up the Patch Panel

Setting up the patch panel of the Korg MS-20 is an essential step in utilizing the synth’s modular capabilities. Here’s a simple guide to get started:

  1. Begin by connecting the audio output of the MS-20 to your audio interface or mixer.
  2. Power on the MS-20 and ensure all cables are disconnected from the patch panel.
  3. Next, determine the desired sound and patch configuration.
  4. Using patch cables, connect the output of the desired modulation source to the input of the desired modulation destination.
  5. Explore different patch configurations to create unique sounds.
  6. Adjust the knobs and settings on the MS-20 to further shape your sound.
  7. Test the sound by playing the MS-20’s keyboard or using an external MIDI controller.

By following these steps, you can effectively set up the patch panel of the Korg MS-20 and discover its vast sound shaping possibilities.

2. Creating Sounds with the Oscillators and Filters

To create sounds with the oscillators and filters on the Korg MS-20, follow these steps:

  1. Begin by selecting the desired waveform on each of the two voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs).
  2. Adjust the frequency and pitch of each oscillator to achieve the desired tone.
  3. Use the high-pass and low-pass filters to further shape the sound. The high-pass filter allows higher frequencies to pass through, while the low-pass filter allows lower frequencies.
  4. Experiment with different filter cutoff and resonance settings to achieve unique timbres.
  5. Activate the modulation generators to add movement and dynamics to the sound. The MS-20 features two envelope generators and a modulation generator.
  6. Connect the patch cables from the modulation generators to the desired parameters to modulate them.
  7. Combine and layer multiple oscillator and filter settings to create complex and layered sounds.
  8. Experiment with the patch panel to introduce external audio sources or apply modulation from external devices.
  9. Explore the various parameters and settings on the MS-20 to discover new and unique sounds.

3. Using the Envelope Generators

Using the envelope generators on the Korg MS-20 is an essential aspect of creating dynamic and expressive sounds. Here are three steps to effectively use the envelope generators:

  1. Set the attack time: Adjust the attack time to control how quickly the sound reaches its peak level. A longer attack time creates a gradual rise in volume, while a shorter attack time results in a more immediate sound.
  2. Adjust the decay time: The decay time determines how long it takes for the sound to decrease from its peak level to the sustain level. Experiment with different decay times to find the desired level of sustain for your sound.
  3. Set the release time: The release time controls how long it takes for the sound to fade away after releasing the keys. Longer release times create a smoother, more sustained sound, while shorter release times result in a quicker fade-out.

Famous Songs and Artists that Use the Korg MS-20

Famous Songs and Artists that Use the Korg MS-20 - Korg MS-20: Unveiling the Raw Power of a Classic Monophonic Synth

Photo Credits: Goldenscissors.Info by Henry Jackson

The Korg MS-20 is a legendary monophonic synthesizer that has been a staple in the music industry since its release in 1978. Its raw and powerful sound has been used by countless artists and featured in numerous songs. In this section, we will delve into the famous songs and artists that have utilized the Korg MS-20, including Aphex Twin’s “Windowlicker”, Daft Punk’s “Revolution 909”, and Gorillaz’s “Feel Good Inc.” Get ready to discover the signature sounds of this iconic synth in some of the most iconic songs of our time.

1. Aphex Twin – Windowlicker

Aphex Twin’s track “Windowlicker” showcases the unique sound of the Korg MS-20 monophonic synth. If you want to recreate some of the iconic sounds from this track, here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Start with a basic sawtooth wave on Oscillator 1.
  2. Use the high-pass filter to shape the sound and add resonance for a sharper tone.
  3. Apply the envelope generator to shape the attack, decay, sustain, and release of the sound.
  4. Experiment with modulating the frequency and intensity of the LFO to create evolving and pulsating effects.
  5. Layer multiple instances of the synth to create rich and complex sounds.

Pro-tip: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings and effects to add your own unique touch to the sound.

2. Daft Punk – Revolution 909

“Revolution 909” is a track by Daft Punk that prominently features the Korg MS-20 synthesizer. Released in 1997, this energetic song showcases the unique capabilities of the MS-20. The aggressive sound of the synth, combined with its versatile patch panel and powerful filters, adds a distinctive flavor to the track. With the MS-20, Daft Punk was able to create the driving basslines and intricate synth melodies that have become synonymous with their music. This iconic song, known as “Revolution 909”, serves as a testament to the enduring influence and creative potential of the Korg MS-20.

3. Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc.

Gorillaz’s “Feel Good Inc.” is a song that prominently features the Korg MS-20 synthesizer.

  • Start by selecting a basic sound on the MS-20, such as a lead or bass patch.
  • Experiment with the filter settings to achieve the desired tone. Try adjusting the cutoff and resonance for different effects.
  • Use the envelope generators to shape the sound. Adjust the attack, decay, sustain, and release settings to create dynamic changes.
  • Layer multiple sounds from the MS-20 to create a fuller, more textured sound. You can use different oscillators and filters for each layer.
  • Play with the modulation options. The MS-20 has a versatile patch panel that allows you to connect different modules and create unique modulation effects.
  • Experiment with the external signal processing feature. You can feed external audio sources into the MS-20 and manipulate them using the filters and modulation options.

Tips for Maintaining and Repairing the Korg MS-20

Tips for Maintaining and Repairing the Korg MS-20 - Korg MS-20: Unveiling the Raw Power of a Classic Monophonic Synth

Photo Credits: Goldenscissors.Info by Charles Young

Maintaining and repairing the Korg MS-20 is crucial for ensuring its longevity and optimal performance. Follow these tips to keep your synth in top shape:

  1. Clean regularly: Dust and debris can affect the sound and functionality of the MS-20. Use a soft cloth to wipe the surface and a can of compressed air to remove dust from the knobs and switches.
  2. Check connections: It is important to periodically inspect cables and connectors for any signs of wear or damage. Replace any faulty cables to avoid signal loss or intermittent connections.
  3. Calibrate: Proper calibration is essential for accurate pitch and tuning. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult a professional technician for the correct calibration procedures.
  4. Protect from moisture: To prevent moisture damage, keep the MS-20 in a dry environment. Consider using a dehumidifier in areas with high humidity.
  5. Handle with care: To avoid internal damage or broken components, handle the synth with care and avoid dropping or mishandling it. It is also recommended to use a protective case when transporting the MS-20.

True story: A musician was disappointed when their MS-20 suddenly stopped producing sound during a live performance. After troubleshooting, they discovered a loose cable inside the synth. They quickly tightened the connection and were able to resume playing, realizing the importance of regular maintenance and thorough checks before gigs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Korg MS-20 mini?

The Korg MS-20 mini is a smaller version of the original MS-20 monophonic synthesizer, first introduced in 1978. It is known for its thick, robust sound, powerful analog filter, and versatile patching options.

What are some notable features of the MS-20 mini?

The MS-20 mini has a 2VCO/2VCA/2VCF/2EG/1LFO structure and self-oscillating high-pass/low-pass filters with distinctive distortion. It also has an external signal processor (ESP) and an extremely flexible patching system.

What is the limited edition white monotone color?

The limited edition white monotone color is a new color option for the MS-20 mini, the first new color in nearly 40 years. It features a clean front panel and knobs while retaining the faithful circuitry and MIDI capabilities.

Can I build my own MS-20 instrument?

Yes, Korg has released the MS-20 Kit, which allows users to build their own full-sized version of the original MS-20 using genuine components and analog circuit technology. The engineers who developed the original MS-20 have overseen this kit to ensure a faithful recreation.

What is the difference between the MS-20 mini and the MS-20 Kit?

The MS-20 mini is a smaller, pre-built version of the original MS-20, while the MS-20 Kit allows users to build their own full-sized version using genuine components and analog circuit technology. The MS-20 Kit also includes both the early and late versions of the filter, allowing users to switch between them.

What other related products are available for the MS-20?

Korg also offers the MS-20ic USB controller, which allows users to control the MS-20 mini or MS-20 Kit from their computer, and the MS20 patch book, which provides patching examples and tips for getting the most out of the MS-20. Additionally, Korg offers various accessories such as effect pedals and music software to enhance the MS-20 experience.