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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Moog: Multiple Personality Reorder

posted by on June 28 at 9:35 AM

moogrc4.jpgToday we talk Moog. Whatís your current Moog?

Moog synthesizers are loved, trusted, and original. The Moog sound is the Moog sound. When musicians, producers, and listeners want it, they must have it. There is no substitute.

The Moog synth is singular, yet everywhere. Multiple personalities it has. That rounded tone, proven enough for Comptonís sub-woof tweet hydraulics, and just as fitting over the ocean, in a car pumping German techno power grind. Bomb is bomb.

Robert Moog created the first subtractive synthesizer to utilize a keyboard as a controller in 1964. The Moog was not considered a performance instrument at first. It was more a complex studio tool.

The monophonic Minimoog Model D came out in 1971. It was portable, affordable, user friendly, and could stay in tune. Then there was the Taurus bass pedal synthesizer a la Rushís Geddy Lee. In 2006, the Little Phatty Moog was unveiled.

Dan Rapport, of Red Eye Flight, Blue Scholars Band, and One Family Incís Big World Breaks plays a Little Phatty. He is a child of the Moog.

Here he is with seventeen seconds of live Little Phatty Moog from Triple Doorís Musiquarium Lounge:

Rapport says:

The Little Phatty (Stage Edition) is a fully analog, dual oscillator synth with a digital interface to control presets. It’s sort of patterned after the Moog source of the early 80’s. The Moog is best known for its lead sound and its bass sound. A great example of the Moog bass sound is Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman.” To hear the Moog’s lead sound, listen to early 90’s Dr. Dre albums and from yesteryear, with George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Jan Hammer albums and such.

Moog synths are built solidly (unlike my Arp Odyssey or my Sequential Circuits Prophet 600). They sound insanely fat. It has something to do with the Moog 4 pole, 24db lowpass, ladder filter. I can’t tell you exactly what that means other than that’s the type of filter Moog uses and used back in the day and the ARP synth company copied it until Moog threatened to sue.


Rapport continues:

The Little Phatty is analog and analog = fat and funky. I have yet to play a digital synth that can fully replicate the sound of an analog synth. Also, with analog synths, you have much more real-time control over the shape and sound of the notes. It's a performance synthesizer for sure.

I like being able to reach up and grab a knob instead of staring at a tiny LCD screen to change sound. Little Phatty has PRESETS too, unlike most vintage analog synths. I can quickly change or save a patch and move on to a different one without having to twist all the knobs - great for live playing and capturing cool patches that you may never find or remember again.

Little Phatty holds its tune well. All analog synths are somewhat sensitive to temperature and you have to tune them regularly, like you would any other instrument. I used to have an old Moog Rogue that I loved the sound of but had a hell of time keeping the thing in tune.

It's important to note too that almost all the synths Moog used to make (except the Opus 3, the Polymoog and the Memorymoog), and both the synths Moog currently makes (The Little Phatty and the Voyager), are monophonic instruments only. Which means it's more like a horn or wind instrument than a keyboard instrument - it can only play one note at a time.

This gets back to why Moogs are good for some things and not others. A polyphonic synth gives you the ability to play chords. That's why I also use the Sequential Circuits Prophet 600 and a Roland Juno 6. They're both still analog synths but you can play chords on them.

RSS icon Comments


Yes! I love the Moogs. Also, great to hear some props for the Roland Juno 6. Probably the most underrated analog synth out there.

Posted by kiteboy | June 28, 2007 10:10 AM

very good post!

Posted by markel | June 28, 2007 10:18 AM

I like these posts. Please do one for the mellotron.

Posted by elswinger | June 28, 2007 10:50 AM

Yea, the Mellotron would be a great idea for a post...unfortunately a very rare and expensive keyboard!!

Posted by Dan R | June 28, 2007 11:11 AM

Check Jan Hammer. Note that shit. Knight Rider? Miami f'ing Vice? For real though.
Trent, will you write HIM a letter?

Posted by Robbatic | June 28, 2007 11:14 AM

Actually Trent, could you write Michael Knight a letter, not that Jan Hammer guy.

Posted by Robbatic | June 28, 2007 11:26 AM

Nice one, Trent! And let me geek out for a moment: While the Juno 60 does indeed have analog filters, it's oscillators are digitally controlled. This is awesome because it keeps the Juno from falling out of tune the way Rapport describes.

Posted by Eric Grandy | June 28, 2007 12:02 PM

Dear Michael, When you drove up into the back of that 18 wheeler, I never understood how you did it. Such ease and studado. I had a Knight Rider lunch box. The scene on the thermos was macho. I would eat Nutter Butters and talk to KITT on my plastic watch. The Pontiac Trans Am gave me hope. Some of my favorite episodes were the ones where Kitt's evil twin, KARR, appeared. But Kitt's super pursuit mode always won.

You always seemed torn, Michael. Battling inner demons? Were you on the blow? Or did it have to do with the release of your album, "Knight Lover" in 1989.

Recently, I saw a video of you shirtless, lying on the floor in a Las Vegas hotel room, drunkenly trying to focus on a Wendy's hamburger.

I know you've had some problems with the sauce. Who hasn't. Let's get you back in Kitt, asap. You can let him do all the driving and you can concentrate on Frosties and the hits.

Posted by trent moorman | June 28, 2007 12:22 PM

Moogs are dope because they put wood paneling on everything, even the pedals. i like moogs because i can obtain wicked sounds with the instrument and the power of my mind rather than my keyboard playing skills. i'm more of a technical knob turner type than i am an actual piano player, so their perfect for that.

There are other analog / modular synths that came out in the moog heyday, like the arps, sequential circuits, oberheim and others. moog seems to be the most popular one-- maybe great marketing?? bob moog was a baller.

On a totally different note--- have you seen the guy in fremont that builds stuff out of rocks? sculptures and stuff?? it sounds like something that's right up your alley. the guy is not all there in the head, and i think he was actually kicked off the street where he builds his stuff because he fucks with people walking by, throws tantrums and shit. for some reason he's back now, building shit that's crazier than ever. i drove by today and he has a pyramid built that's about 6 ft. tall, 4 ft wide ??? with a fucking hole in the middle. the sides are completely smooth. NO CEMENT OR GLUE. he's obviously super-skilled, and really artistic. sounds like something trance needs to check in on. he's directly across the st. from cafe ladro in fremont...

Posted by G.Markel | June 28, 2007 12:32 PM

The original Moogs are pure analog and all the faders, oscillators, filters, waveforms and envelopes can be adjusted with knobs and faders to create your own sounds. Whereas today's synths are mostly digitally preset with sounds that are pure, homogenous, Guitar Center.

Posted by Dizzave | June 28, 2007 12:43 PM

Graig, the Stranger actually ran a story on that guy. Check it out:

Posted by Eric Grandy | June 28, 2007 1:10 PM

#4 Tell me about it. I don't even play keyboards but once upon a time I had money and thought about buying one. Since 1963 there have been less than 2700 Mellotrons made. Of the model that the Beatles and Moody Blues would have used, only about 350 were made and most of them have been stripped for parts. Paul McCartney has one of the last surviving ones. I've seen fixer uppers of those models go for over $5,000.

RE: the Moog (from Wiki) "The Monkees bought one of the first three Moog synthesizers and the first commercial release to feature a Moog synthesizer was The Monkees' fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., in 1967, which also became the first album featuring a synthesizer to hit #1 on the charts." As a Monkees fan I think this is cool.

Posted by elswinger | June 28, 2007 1:49 PM

Yes, but can the Monkees balance rocks or drive a Trans Am into a moving 18 wheeler??

"Take the last Moog to Fremont, and I'll meet you at the Stalin."

Posted by T-stack | June 28, 2007 2:24 PM


I want one. Please tell Santa.

Posted by tANTE | June 28, 2007 2:24 PM

Like analog synths? try the Korg Mono/Poly.

Posted by gear nut | June 28, 2007 2:27 PM

jan hammer rocks

go to his discography and check the sample, from Melodies, of Dont' You Know.

that is one of the best chillin'-est songs from the 80's.

hmmmm... i feel a post a-brewin'.

Posted by terry miller | June 28, 2007 3:05 PM

Yes, Terry. Get in there. Hammer time. Lookin forward to it.

Posted by trent moorman | June 28, 2007 5:46 PM

Speaking of monophonic, I can simulate chords on my SH-101 by cranking the clock way up and putting it in arpeggiator mode. Punch a chord and it cycles through the notes fast enough to give you a proto-chord with somewhat of a vibrato sound. Major choiceness. Don't know if MOOGs arpeggiate.

Posted by Paulus | June 28, 2007 6:09 PM

Never eat Goobers when you play your Mooger. I have always wanted to say that. The chocolate would get all in the dials.

Quality post-age here, T. Wish I had one of them there Little Phatties.

Paulus, you should tradmark "Proto-chord choiceness."

Posted by Monty | June 28, 2007 7:42 PM

the moog source for sub zero bass. its unique flavor seems to last all night.

Posted by bosch | June 29, 2007 1:25 AM
Posted by john bosch | June 29, 2007 1:29 AM

Luv luv luv my Moog Source. BTW, "Boogie On Reggae Woman" was an ARP2600. Alan Pearlman made several with Braille labels for all the patch points and faders specifically for Stevie.

Posted by kelly minnis | July 2, 2007 7:54 AM

I have the Moog Voyager Electric Blue - and use a few Moogerfoogers in conjunction with it. I have to agree- there is no substitute.

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