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Happy 50th Anniversary To Korg!

Published: Fri February 01, 2013  News Feed

Happy 50th Anniversary To Korg!

Korg started out after nightclub owner Tsutomu Katoh convinced accordionist Tadashi Osanai that he should use a drum machine as accompaniment. Being an engineering graduate Tadashi decided he would manufacture it himself and with financial backing from Tsutomu the first Korg (the name is taken from the Keio railway line near the factory and ORGan) product was born. The Doncamatic was an electromechanical device and pretty rudimentary by modern standards. Korg have only gone from strength to strength since then creating legendary synths, drum machines, keyboards, samplers and effects.

Analogue Legend - Korg MS-20

Thanks to http://retrosynthads.blogspot.ca/ for this funky vintage pic!

One of the most popular analogue synths ever made, the MS-20 is very much loved for it's thick sound and iconic, screaming filter. More than that the MS-20 is a semi-modular synth, so it gives you control over the routing, audio and control voltage sources without overwhelming or complicating too much. Particularly the External Signal Processor could be used to trigger the MS-20 with an external source such as a guitar or your voice. This lead Aphex Twin to put it to use creating wild bubbling high tempo synth lines and Goldfrapp used it to great effect on their track Lovely Head, see how Alison Goldfrapp essentially "sings" the synth line with an alternative microphone.

Of course their are huge depths which you can get into while programming the MS-20, you could do a lot worse than watching Marc Doty's guide and getting a handle on just what it can do.

Korg MS-20 Mini

Now the good news is that Korg has reissued the MS-20 in the form of the MS-20 Mini, so you can get this classic analogue synth sound without trawling Ebay or car boot sales. The new MS-20 is even more portable at 86% the size of the original, it also has USB and MIDI connectivity to bring it up to date.

The KingKorg - Korg's New King Of Synths

Of course a company with a reputation for innovation like Korg wont sit on it's laurels, the KingKorg uses eXpanded Modeling Technology to push things even further. You can get true analog sounds alongside digital effects, huge banks of presets and real tube warmth. Interestingly the KingKorg also has a Control Voltage out so now you can control vintage synths with modern keyboards. All this doesn't mean much without hearing it in action, so take a gander at this great little demo from NAMM 2013.


The KingKorg is far from Korg's first virtual analogue synth, indeed the MicroKorg is a familiar face in studios, practices and venues worldwide. One of the earliest VA synths and still amongst the most affordable the MicroKorg is a classic. Until the end of April 2013 a promotion is running where you get a natty USB memory stick and a change to win a Korg Krome if you purchase an XL or Anniversary Edition MicroKorg.

Krome Keys

Speaking of the Krome series it wouldn't be a celebration of Korg keyboards without mentioning their range of workstations. The Kronos is their flagship model and with 9 synthesis models you can get the classic analogue sounds of yesteryear and so much more. Including 62GB of solid state memory you can get vast libraries of realistic sounds, then tweak all that with masses of included effects all played on realistic hammer action keys. It would almost be easier to say what you can't do with Kronos than what you can do.

The Krome series offers a lot of this high-end functionality at a lower price point, being a bit lighter it's perfect for gigging as it still gives you masses of tones and features.

And A Big Happy Anniversary...

You don't just have to take our word for it, the anniversary greetings have been flooding in for Korg. Herbie Hancock, Keith Emerson, Jordan Rudess and Rick Wakeman are several of the big name key wizards who have given their love to Korg. It doesn't stop their either, with genuis inventions like the Kaoss Pad, Kaossilator and Wavedrum Korg have fans in all genres of music as well as many DJ's and music producers. So may we add our names to the list and say thanks Korg and here's to another 50!
Korg 50th Keith Emerson

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