Monotribe Modding

A couple months ago I impulse-bought a Korg Monotribe synth. It proved even more fun than I expected to play, but its variety of sounds are necessarily limited.

After a lot of googling, planning, and testing, parts arrive tomorrow for a suite of modifications that will expand the Monotribe’s palette in some moderate but meaningful ways.

Enhancements include:

  • Hi-hat, Bass drum, and drum mix (snare when the other two are used) direct outputs
  • Hi-hat and snare noise decay toggle switches
  • Bass drum and snare frame decay knobs
  • Drum mix momentary mute button
  • VCA de-click trim pot and toggle switch (the Monotribe’s amp envelope is notoriously clicky)
  • VCO mute toggle switch
  • VCF touch-sensitive cutoff control

Together, I hope these mods will take the Monotribe from the top end of the “fun-to-mess-around-with” bracket into the lower end of “serious instrument” territory. I fully intend to make a Monotribe-focused Night Mode record or two, and make it the centerpiece of a travel/jam synth rig with a very small footprint (think briefcase).

My hat is off to Korg for this incredibly creative and inspiring design. There are a lot of features that may not be obvious from the front panel, but that make the Monotribe incredibly musical, including:

  • The various LFO modes
  • Per-part active step (polyrhythms!)
  • Gate length and amp level automation
  • Wide mode on the ribbon controller
  • Flux mode on/off on the VCO sequencer
  • The interaction of the sequencer and the VCO active steps, which allows some really distinct sequences to be made easily

I could go on. Nothing could replace the MS-20’s place in my heart of hearts, but for instant playability I don’t know what beats the Monotribe.

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