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Korg Mono/Poly mods
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Author Korg Mono/Poly mods
zedius
Hi all. To help me handle the wait for my Minibrute, I picked up a Korg Mono/poly. I think I got it for a pretty good price ($700 CDN), and I'm really stoked on it. It is more or less the first actual piece of vintage analog hardware I've been able to put my hands on, let alone own and play on a daily basis SlayerBadger!

Has anyone here done any of the mods? I'm tempted to at least cut J1 so that the effects button doesn't cause the keyboard to automatically jump back into unison mode.
wavecircle
That is a ridiculous price in todays market. Wow.
empirix
wavecircle wrote:
That is a ridiculous price in todays market. Wow.


no its not! its a very good price, provided its in good condition etc
Klaus
I think he meant ridiculous cheap. Mono/Poly prop the vintage synth on top of my dream want list(together with MS-50 and Pro One)
BugBrand
I'd say to consider very carefully before performing mods - mainly because it is such a wonderful machine and badly done mods are ... not good!

Saying that, I'd not read about cutting J1 for the effects - that could be useful actually.

$700 CDN does seem a great price - well done.

In essence, enjoy the synth and don't rush into doing too much to it.

Oh, one good simple thing - for the Arp Trigger - Korg has short-to-ground trigger polarity (opposite to most other machines) - a year ago I made this simple circuit in a jack socket so I can trigger the arp. from my modular or roland tr606 - http://www.retrosynth.com/docs/trigger/triggermod.gif
(this is, of course, an external mod, so there's no chance to mess the machine itself)


EDIT - ok, I'd never looked at mods before, but googled and found Florian's webpage - http://fa.utfs.org/diy/korg_monopoly/modifications.html

Yeah, some of those on the LFOs etc could be useful, but, as I say, only go for it if you really feel confident.
chipaudette
Hi,

I have a Mono/Poly and I love it. I've had it for 4-5 years...got it off eBay and half the keys didn't work. Luckily, it was sold "as-is", so it was super-cheap (375 USD?). It was my first synth, though, so the broken keys made it a bit hard to learn what the heck was going on. It's a very versatile analog synth. Wow.

Mod: Fix Dead Keys. Well, it's not really a "mod", but I did need to fix my dead keys. I tried the "pencil eraser" trick with no luck. What really fixed my problem (and on my Polysix, too) was little CaiKote 44 on the key contacts...a little bit goes a long way....
http://store.caig.com/s.nl/sc.2/category.181/.f

Mod: Sample and Hold on MG1. After reading about the sample-and-hold mod from Old Crow (link below), I ordered the parts of DigiKey and gave it a try. I did not choose to make it switchable between MG1 and MG2...I'm simply on MG1, which simplified things a little bit. The mod is absolutely killer for making a bubbly resonant filter sound...wicked cool drone with tons of character.
http://www.oldcrows.net/~oldcrow/synth/korg/monopoly/shmod.html


Mod: Add Aftertouch. Oh, man. This one was really hard, but really awesome. After watching this guy's video about fitting aftertouch into his SCI Pro-One, I was so intrigued. There's good info in his video, but not complete info. I had to make a lot up. The key, though, is knowing about the existence of the force-sensing resistor strip. I bought one of those, I bought a PAIA dual VCA PCB, and I stitched together an interface board (op-amps and potentiometers) to go between the strip and the VCAs. The VCAs then act like either (or both!) the bend wheel and the mod wheel. So, anything you can do with the two wheels, you can now do by aftertouch. It's my first aftertouch keyboard I've ever played. Aftertouch makes it SO much more expressive.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajHvJ5HSxGY&feature=plcp

Mod: Ribbon Controller. I also made a ribbon controller out of a linear soft pot. It wasn't really a mod *to* the Mono/Poly, it was just an added controller that fit on the outside of the Mono/Poly and plugged into the Mono/Poly via the CV in and Gate in jacks. Tuning was uneven due to the soft pot's not-quite-linear taper, so I had to insert an Arduino to linearize the tuning. It was fun for a while, but too hard to play in anything other than a swooning theremin-like fashion. Because of the M/P's XMOD effect, you could add nice non-harmonic dark overtones to the theremin playing that was pretty compelling, but the ribbon was pretty much a one-trick pony. I don't really use it anymore.

I hope this interests you in some way, and maybe even inspires you! Do beware of damaging your M/P, though. It is worth quite a bit of money these days.
jessem
I paid 700$USD for mine two years ago on Craigslist. I think it's worth that and then some. Mine had some dead keys too but that was an easy fix.

I would recommend tuning it and playing with it for a bit before you do any mods. It's an amazing synth on its own. Probably my personal favorite monosynth.
Popski
my favourite synth of all time. I have used mine live and in the studio for 15 years. Got mine for $400 in 1998 or so.

I added a midi/cv kit to mine with semi-decent results.
zedius
This is all really great feedback, guys! Thanks.

Has anyone ever done a mod and had negative effects? Even with simply cutting the jumper I am concerned about where it is connected to. If I cut it, it will probably stop a control line from one chip from asserting a pin on another chip, and I don't think that will cause any issues, but I want to find it on the schematic first and make sure. I really have no interest in doing anything that can burn out components prematurely.

Thanks for the external adapter tip, BugBrand! So far I have only tried hooking up my TR-626 to trigger and it worked fine, but I will check my other equipment and see if I need to make that adapter.

Chipaudette, your mods sound intriguing. Especially the aftertouch one. Do you find that you have to put much pressure on the keys to trigger it? I know with most aftertouch I've used before I felt like I was going to break the keys to get it to work. But I think this was because they were Roland, and Roland can't get aftertouch right? (Had the same experience on my JX-8P as I had on my Fantom X6)
polyroy
You can get double speed LFO with the Mono/Poly if you set the knob between two of the modulation waveforms (I forget which ones off the top of my head).

Fantastic synth and I miss mine dearly. Will pick one up again without a doubt.
Michael O.
polyroy wrote:
You can get double speed LFO with the Mono/Poly if you set the knob between two of the modulation waveforms (I forget which ones off the top of my head).

Fantastic synth and I miss mine dearly. Will pick one up again without a doubt.


The double speed LFO trick can be done between any two of the waveforms, and the doubled frequency is really great when used with the "effects" section. And great avatar, hell yeah Bergman!

The main mod I would recommend is a simple and obvious one, to get a midi conversion kit. Aside from being generally handy in terms of freeing up midi->cv converters and whatnot, it opens up a lot of possibilities because with it you can sequence polyphonically, whereas with the cv sequencing it could only be sequenced monophonically. Also, it allows you to synch the arp with midi clock, if that sort of thing floats your boat.
Popski
Michael O. wrote:
polyroy wrote:
You can get double speed LFO with the Mono/Poly if you set the knob between two of the modulation waveforms (I forget which ones off the top of my head).

Fantastic synth and I miss mine dearly. Will pick one up again without a doubt.


The double speed LFO trick can be done between any two of the waveforms, and the doubled frequency is really great when used with the "effects" section. And great avatar, hell yeah Bergman!

The main mod I would recommend is a simple and obvious one, to get a midi conversion kit. Aside from being generally handy in terms of freeing up midi->cv converters and whatnot, it opens up a lot of possibilities because with it you can sequence polyphonically, whereas with the cv sequencing it could only be sequenced monophonically. Also, it allows you to synch the arp with midi clock, if that sort of thing floats your boat.

about the midi mod I used.. (not that anyone asked really but)

I used the CHD Elektroservice converter found here:
http://www.chd-el.cz/index.php?id=409&lngid=en
they delivered quickly and the mod works well. It is significantly cheaper than going the kenton route (http://www.kentonuk.com/products/items/sockets/korg/monopoly.shtml)

It is midi-in only (not a problem for me). Note on/off, pitch wheel and MG-2 (arpeggiator) control. It's pretty bare bones but does exactly what I needed.

The installation is really easy. Programming the settings is less so. Probably a snap if you have a PC or run Cakewalk but I'm a Mac guy so I had to fuck with the online sysex generator and hexedit / sysex librarian to edit the settings. Not a huge deal but a pain in the ass.

It may be possible to mod further, but, my one beef (ok.. two) is that the arpeggiator speed can't be controlled by the front panel anymore. it responds to CC msgs so you can change the divisions in real time but you can't flip back and forth between midi-sync'd and freeball MG speed. not surprisingly the arp in on the back panel is bypassed as is the cv/gate in. (although I think the cv/gate out still transmits)

Aaaand, to change the midi channel you also have to feed it either a CC or reprogram. it works pretty flawlessly though and it is a snap to remove it as well should you want to go revert.


I have never tried any of the other mods as I'm a huge chicken.
Popski
adding midi also means you can't do the classic trigger/signal to arp-in to fire the arpeggiator. one of my favourite tricks.

anyway.. I love the mono/poly!
chipaudette
zedius wrote:

Chipaudette, your mods sound intriguing. Especially the aftertouch one. Do you find that you have to put much pressure on the keys to trigger it? I know with most aftertouch I've used before I felt like I was going to break the keys to get it to work. But I think this was because they were Roland, and Roland can't get aftertouch right? (Had the same experience on my JX-8P as I had on my Fantom X6)


Regarding the aftertouch, the beauty of adding it yourself is that you can make it as sensitive (or insensitive) as you'd like. I've got mine set to be quite sensitive. So, when I choose to have aftertouch active, it's super responsive, which makes it super expressive.

This is not a mod that I'd recommend for a newbie, though. It's fairly challenging, both mechanically and electrically. Luckily, when you start, nothing is permanent or potentially-damaging starting this mod...it only becomes permanent once you decide that it works and choose to drill into the synth case to finally mount the switches. Until that point, you can just have the switches dangling free...which makes it (nearly) harmless to start down the road to see if you get anything working at all.

Chip
dubnspace
Didn't know about the S&H mod, may look into adding that to mine.

Also the guy behind the Minerva upgrade for the Juno 60 is coming out with one for the Mono/Poly:
Quote:
Midipoly is a new retrofit tuning kit for the Korg Monopoly.
Actually a CPU replacement with some nice controlling add-ons.
Highlights:
- No-drilling installation
- MIDI note In and Out
- Pitch bend controlling with MIDI
- Cutoff controlling with MIDI
- Portamento On/Off controlling with MIDI (emulating those 303-ish slides!)
- Arpeggio synced to MIDI
- Triggering the 4 oscillators independetly with MIDI velocity
Michael O.
Popski wrote:
adding midi also means you can't do the classic trigger/signal to arp-in to fire the arpeggiator. one of my favourite tricks.

anyway.. I love the mono/poly!


this isn't so, at least with the kit I have.
Popski
Michael O. wrote:
Popski wrote:
adding midi also means you can't do the classic trigger/signal to arp-in to fire the arpeggiator. one of my favourite tricks.

anyway.. I love the mono/poly!


this isn't so, at least with the kit I have.

whaaa?
is yours the CHD kit I linked to?
chipaudette
Adding a new mod to the list of Mono/Poly mods...

Sizzle Mod: I felt that my Mono/Poly didn't have quite enough "sizzle"...not quite enough in the highest frequencies. I like my sawtooth to have a lot of "buzz", and as rockin' as my Mono/Poly is, it needed a little more buzz. So, I found a nice easy mod for giving me just the little bit of boost that I need. One resistor and one cap If you're interested, check it out at:

http://synthhacker.blogspot.com/2013/03/monopoly-treble-boosting-sizzl e-mod.html

Chip
chipaudette
Following up on my own reply...

If you're interested, here's an audio comparison of the Sizzle Mod:

http://synthhacker.blogspot.com/2013/03/monopoly-audio-of-sizzle-mod.h tml

Chip
Liddlepud
Popski wrote:
adding midi also means you can't do the classic trigger/signal to arp-in to fire the arpeggiator.


Would you mind explaining that?
Popski
Liddlepud wrote:
Popski wrote:
adding midi also means you can't do the classic trigger/signal to arp-in to fire the arpeggiator.


Would you mind explaining that?

The Mono/Poly has an arpeggiator clock input on the back. The midi kit I added (I thought) defeats the external jack and syncs the arp to the midi clock. The arp divisions are still controllable via CC or sysex but you can no longer send a trigger to the external arp jack to step through the arpeggiator. (But, it seems I may be wrong about this. I'll need to check it again at some point.)

The mono/poly in poly mode, stepped through the arpeggiator with an 808 trigger output or piezo trigger was one of my favourite tricks with this synth.
Popski
chipaudette wrote:
Following up on my own reply...

If you're interested, here's an audio comparison of the Sizzle Mod:

http://synthhacker.blogspot.com/2013/03/monopoly-audio-of-sizzle-mod.h tml

Chip

yes! thanks for the audio clip. was curious to hear this before trying it out. seems like a pretty easy mod.
Liddlepud
Popski wrote:
Liddlepud wrote:
Popski wrote:
adding midi also means you can't do the classic trigger/signal to arp-in to fire the arpeggiator.


Would you mind explaining that?

The Mono/Poly has an arpeggiator clock input on the back. The midi kit I added (I thought) defeats the external jack and syncs the arp to the midi clock. The arp divisions are still controllable via CC or sysex but you can no longer send a trigger to the external arp jack to step through the arpeggiator. (But, it seems I may be wrong about this. I'll need to check it again at some point.)

The mono/poly in poly mode, stepped through the arpeggiator with an 808 trigger output or piezo trigger was one of my favourite tricks with this synth.


Thanks for that. I was thinking about having the CHD kit installed but if it bypasses the external arp jack then I won't bother.
Popski
Liddlepud wrote:
Popski wrote:
Liddlepud wrote:
Popski wrote:
adding midi also means you can't do the classic trigger/signal to arp-in to fire the arpeggiator.


Would you mind explaining that?

The Mono/Poly has an arpeggiator clock input on the back. The midi kit I added (I thought) defeats the external jack and syncs the arp to the midi clock. The arp divisions are still controllable via CC or sysex but you can no longer send a trigger to the external arp jack to step through the arpeggiator. (But, it seems I may be wrong about this. I'll need to check it again at some point.)

The mono/poly in poly mode, stepped through the arpeggiator with an 808 trigger output or piezo trigger was one of my favourite tricks with this synth.


Thanks for that. I was thinking about having the CHD kit installed but if it bypasses the external arp jack then I won't bother.

I'm going to test this again. check back here in a bit.

FWIW the CHD kit is easy to install and works as it should. Programming it took a bit of work as i'm on a mac, and dont use logic. I'd still recommend it though.
Popski
So regarding the CHD Midi kit and how it handles the arpeggiator.

The clock division is flexible and can be changed either via sysex or with CC#19. I have mine programmed to 16th notes for your run of the mill arp stuff.

The divisions are set with a cc value of 1-127. A setting of 0 will put the synth clock back to either rear jack arp-in or mg2 control.

boooom..
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