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Introducing myself and “Gene” the drum machine
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Introducing myself and “Gene” the drum machine
Hello all,
I’ve been reading on this site for a while and set up this account a long time ago, but I’ve finally made some time in my life for synths and DIY It's peanut butter jelly time! so I’d like to say hello and introduce a project I’m working on.

I’ve been refining an original design for a drum synthesizer / sequencer and wanted to hear your thoughts on it.

It’s all analog, with a sequencer that lets you assign individual swing for each beat, up to 32 steps, switchable patterns and a choice of time signatures. The sound generation comes from my own circuit designs that I’ve been making in my spare time over the last year. Each drum sound offers six parameters to mess with, and I’m thinking of making the drum circuits interchangeable so you can choose your own preferred sounds and I can keep making updated sounds for the machine. Also trigger / clock in out interface is an option.

I've attached some clean samples (the processing you can hear on some of the drums is included in the circuitry). The rhythms were all recorded straight out of the machine onto handheld recorder.

I’ve improved the sounds since recording that and i’m working on more sounds that I feel would be useful additions.

I find the prototype seriously fun and inspiring to use (my avatar is a pic of the first version i made, it's been rebuilt a few times since then), my aim is to make it more of an explorational device rather than a polished standard sounding drum machine.

I’m working on a small feature-packed desktop version (and maybe some modular spin offs?) and I wondered how much interest there would be for something like this if I were to make a run of these instruments?

Here’s a rough early version of the front panel with the empty synthesis sections where the plug in circuits would go top left.

Any feedback (good/bad) would be very much appreciated, and if you’re doing something similar or have any questions, hit me up.


Uploaded it to soundcloud for easier listening:
Hey snercle!

Looks really cool - will give the mp3 a spin tomorrow when I can listen loud!
Keep up the good work!
Anything like this certainly piques my interest.
I'll have a proper listen to the demo in the studio 2moro, certainly sounds snappy on the iPad.

L C R outputs, 6 track, clock + stop/start.
How about reset?
Individual track lengths?
Can you elaborate on the clock div & X/Y axis?
What price point are you thinking of?

Ultimately for me it comes down to the sound, that's why I reluctantly got rid of the RYTM.
Thanks mckenic and BlueWolfSe7en,

Yes I agree, I think many drum machines are limited in the scope of their sounds and I also find trawling through samples can be mind numbing at times.
I built the early version of this machine out of necessity. I've had many years of experience as a musician and producer and carefully studied how drum sounds work in mixes and what variations are important in order to adapt the drums to the music you want to make. I also like to 'reverse engineer' complex acoustic sounds and try to find circuitry tricks that can produce really good emulations, but also have the option of morphing that into something unrecognisable. The idea of "warmth" is very important so I use discrete components wherever possible and always make sure nothing is lost in the signal path.

I forgot to mention the 6 tracks yes! The X Y selection / alternation is perhaps misleading if it makes you think of a 2 dimensional aspect, it's actually my labelling of 2 alternate patterns that you'd create and then switch between or have them play in an alternating fashion. A and B were already taken by the track labels, and Y and Z doesn't have the same ring to it. If this is too confusing I could label them 1 and 2 I suppose?

Reset is something I've been working on. It's quite tricky to do with this sequencer design as it runs off an analog LFO (the strength of this design being the ability to place beats anywhere in the cycle). But I believe it's possible, and I like the idea of resetting from a selected step for example.

I haven't figured out the price point yet but I'd like to do it for under $450, include 6 standard sounds and offer extra sound "cards" for under $50 each.

Sounds designed and tested so far include:

Bass drum with two sections, a discrete resonator which provides the impact of the sound and an op amp based resonator for the body with tuning, decay and volume controls for each section.

Snare with two sections, a discrete resonator for the body and a noise shaper circuit consisting of an envelope generator, vca and a resonant filter with controls for tuning on both sections and controls for the EG of the noise section.

More info to come!

Here's a shot of the prototype

The sliders were fun but it took a long time to dial in usable rhythms, so I'm going with "tuneable" steps on the next version.
I would be very interested in a PCB/Panel option - looks and sounds terrific

Yep I think I could do panel, pcbs and maybe full kit kind of things. Oh would that be standalone or eurorack format?
I'd prefer standalone personally. SlayerBadger!
Oooh! Nice sounds. I'd be in for a standalone. Either kit or pcb+panel.
Wow, this sounds very good! All these sounds will work well in a busy mix.
This looks and sounds really great, well done on your work so far. I'd definitely be interested in a PCB + Panel option applause

I also think standalone would work best, unless you are thinking of CV control over the drum sound parameters (or maybe a CV expander)?
Sounds great. I think stand alone too. If you were going to do s modular version it might make sense to separate the sequencer ans sound sources.
Thanks everyone SlayerBadger!

Well I'm happy you all said stand alone Mr. Green

I'll get to work then...

Here's a list the sound modules/cards i've been working on for it, in no particular order:

1. bass drum with two sections
2. snare drum with tone and noise sections
3. bongo/conga with 3 tuneable tone parts
4. crackle / clap sound with bias, decay and filter controls
5. tom with decay, tuning and another tone layer
6. hi hat with mix of metal and noise, filter, envelope
7. multi-trigger with sub freq t bridge to comparator used as trig for other t bridge
8. synth drum with oscillator and noise interference
9. freq shifted / fm drums
10. super high freq version of bongo/conga for click and clack sounds
11. a sound with control of mix between clean and crossover distorted sound
12. zappy sound with control of pitch mod up or down
13. cymbal, mainly ride cymbal but a bit of a crashiness control
14. hi hat with sustain and option of no release for ohh
15. low tom with modulations for floor tom sounds
Great job thumbs up this definitely has my interest, I too prefer the standalone
woah SlayerBadger!

Standalone please.
If you could make a usable panel in 17" x 7", that would be super convenient for the Serge owners among us. Mr. Green
Sounds good man, I'd be in for a panel/pcb. Standalone as well, and the serge format option would be amazing. hihi

Also, I like the sound cards, for me the more esoteric sounds the better. You can get standard sounds anywhere, I want percussion that is unique but not corny or over-emulated.
Sounds fantastic, and I love the card idea. Definitely interested in pcbs/panel.
The sound cards option is a great idea!
Paranormal Patroler
Can I please have a standalone version with (all) the sliders? It looks and sounds great. I presume the $450 price is for DIY, right ? Do you plan on offering this prebuild?
Hey everyone,
Thanks for all your replies, the love and enthusiasm for this project has me Trampoline

So I'll be testing and finalising the new sequencer and layout over the next month few weeks, in that time I'll get some quotes and work out pricing and what options to do.

Looks like I'll focus on the standalone unit and do a panel+pcb or whole diy kit as well as prebuilt options.

My panel size will be 36cm w, 23cm h or around 14 x 9 inches, so for a serge compatible option width is good but I'd have to do something to work it to that height, perhaps configuring the synths sections horizontally above the sequencer and having just 4 spaces for them. If there's enough interest I could work something out.

I'll put some videos up and share progress in April and I reckon if things go generally I'll have the goods ready to deliver in May or early June.

If you send me an email at I'll add you to a list and that way I'll know everyone who wants a machine gets a heads up.

Drums! nanners
woah love we're not worthy

sounds amazing.
Wow... That's far way better then i expected, when hitting the play button.

Absolutely great job and the idea to Keep it as an "open system" with additional cards is really interesting.

thumbs up
the bad producer
Amazing and inspiring project snercle!

+1 from me for 4U compatible PCB's too... But, yeah standalone would be super cool too!
I'd like to know if Gene Gene the Dancing Machine was the inspiration for this project?

It's motherfucking bacon yo It's peanut butter jelly time! It's motherfucking bacon yo
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