what's your take on modding gear?

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
User avatar
Christopher Winkels
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 690
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:52 am
Location: Burlington, Canada, eh.

Re: what's your take on modding gear?

Post by Christopher Winkels » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:48 am

My attitude is usually along the lines of "If's it's been done, it's been done". There's no point moaning about a mod if someone has performed it already. It might be executed brilliantly or atrociously; the only question I ask is does it affect whether I want to buy the instrument and how much I'm willing to pay?

Case in point is my Odyssey. Unmolested it would be an average whiteface version, but a previous owner had Phil at CMS add a patch point to damn near every function (over 30 of them), fitted the envelope turbo mod and inserted an LFO free-run switch. It now functions not unlike a baby 2600. All the holes that had been drilled line up straight and true, extra functions are clearly labelled, and tricks that were previously unavailable (like audio-rate FM of VCO2 by VCO1 while VCO2 is hard synced) are now a doddle. All this meant I paid several hundred more than what a stock Mk.1 would cost in the same condition, but was less than half the cost of a good condition 2600.

Those same mods attempted by an amateur who fancies himself a circuit bender, yet who barely knows which end of the soldering iron to grasp would destroy the value of the machine and would make me pay significantly less, or walk away from it entirely. It's all in the execution.

User avatar
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 3620
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:14 pm
Gear: more than 150 characters...
Location: zürich

Re: what's your take on modding gear?

Post by pflosi » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:58 am

Hey guys,

some interesting responses so far, thanks!

I might add that I don't intend to mod any of my gear ATM (besides repairing the stuff that doesnt work), I started this thread for the sake of discourse. None of my gear is modded so far, besides a midi retrofit for the juno 60 and a sync on/off switch for the tb 303 (it had to be done, this midi-jack-switch thing is horrible). I have tinkered with the idea of patching out my MS10 though...

I agree that mods have to be done carefully and professionally. The goal is to expand functionality, not to destroy the equipment. Still, the question whether to do it or not (just in general) provokes some cognitive dissonance for me.

Any more inputs are appreciated.

Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 294
Joined: Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:47 pm
Gear: sh-101, monomachine, nordmodular, esx1, nova, jx3p, jx8p, prophet vs, dx200
Location: Basel

Re: what's your take on modding gear?

Post by edfunction » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:42 pm

I don't see why not if you get it done properly of course.

I had the tone mods done on my 606 and it is a much more useful drum machine now. I am tempted to do the Nova mods for my 101, but I'll wait until someone can help me with the trickier bits.

My feeling is that these instruments were made to be used, to make music. Their purpose as a commodity is less important to me. Some mods, like the cr8000 mods above (looks awesome btw) and the oddysey mods really add a lot of possibilities and if it doesn't hamper the thing add value for sure.

Obviously most of us here really like old gear for whatever reasons and it's sad that these things won't last forever, but IMO we shouldn't fret too much and just use them in whatever way helps us make music...

Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 593
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2006 7:20 am
Gear: tin cans and rubber bands
Band: Me twiddling in the corner...
Location: CHICAGO-ish

Re: what's your take on modding gear?

Post by ColorForm2113 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:04 pm

I personally don't have a problem with modding as long as its done professionally and carefully, not just random switches and jacks all over the place. I have had my poly800 modded with the moog slayer, fm, and noise mods and I think it makes a world of difference for that synth to have more instant gratification rather than typing in numbers and then scrolling up or down to find the sound you want.

I also had my micromoog modded to replace the weird 3/16" modulation jack to a regular 1/4" so now I can actually use it. I have also contemplated modding it to make it more modular, but that's more of a financial dilema than a moral one
My modular so far: Q104, Q106, Q107, Q108, Q109 x2 , Q116, Q118, Q127 w/Q140, Q130, STG Wave Folder, playing with Moog Voyager, VX-351, CP-251, MF-104M (x2 STEREO!)

User avatar
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 2611
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2008 5:00 pm
Real name: bill
Gear: keepers:
Kurzweil K2500x
Ensoniq TS-12
Yamaha SY-99
Alesis QS-8
Roland JD-800
Roland JX-10
Akai AX-80
Ensoniq SQ-80
Korg DSS-1
Moog Mini
Location: kentucky hills

Re: what's your take on modding gear?

Post by rhino » Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:40 pm

I try not to think about modding anything that is "rare" or "classic", but sometimes ideas pop up:
--- filter rez, octave down and individual outs on an Arp Quartet.

--- cheap DanElectro echo and chorus pedals built into a Korg 707

--- the infamous LED end-caps on an Akai AX-80

on the other hand, I may make exceptions on my new Freeman stringer: The 'lid' is kluged onto the cabinet and cracks the fakewood the first time you pull it wrong. Think I'll use slip-hinges. Also, has an ancient round 2-pin power connector that I will change to a standard type.

Aside: I love old cars and trucks, but I am saddened when I see one cut up into a 'hot-rod'. Old car buff have a state we call "restify" (resotre/modify) that means keeping most original appearence and function, but updating things like safety and handling. ( 12-volt alternators, halogen lights, dual brakes, modern tires etc.)
When the wise man points to the stars, the fool looks at the finger.
- Confucius

User avatar
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1834
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:48 pm
Band: Cumulus

Re: what's your take on modding gear?

Post by Cumulus » Sat Apr 24, 2010 4:21 am

I love circuit bending but, as stated previously, only on cheap stuff that I won't get bent (no pun intended) out of shape over if I fry the thing.

As far as "real" synths, I would be hesitatnt to mod any of mine but if there was a proven mod that improved the functionality of an otherwise not particularly collectible piece of gear I would go for it.

User avatar
CZ Rider
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 265
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 12:31 am
Location: The Edge of Space

Re: what's your take on modding gear?

Post by CZ Rider » Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:12 pm

Some older gear can really benifit from a few small mods. I try to make my mods look as close to stock/factory. And most importantly try to modify in a modular approach, as in just adding a few sockets on the back to unlock more features.
A good example would be a Moog Opus 3 I modded. Just added an audio input to the filter, a CV input to the filter and trigger in for the envelope. Mod looks like it was always there?

By adding just three sockets, many new features can be added by using something like a Moog CP-251. Can use the noise through the filter, or modulate the filter with a square wave or sample and hold. The Opus has three sections, Brass, Organ, and Strings. The string section can now be looped back into the VCF section via the left/right outputs. Many possibilities and any extra knobs needed can be on an external unit like the CP-251 or a modular synthesizer.
Here is a sample of the Opus 3 with the filter modulated by an Oberheim 2-voice sample and hold, while synced up to the sequence on the Obie.

Still looks stock!

Did similar usefull mods to other synthesizers, but was never a big fan of seeing some one drill holes in front panels of classic vintage synthesizers just to add a switch or knob that could be done externally. Especially those old Moog modulars I've seen with extra jacks drilled in original panels. Just get a blank panel, put your mods on that and drill away.

User avatar
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 742
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2005 8:35 pm
Real name: Tomislav
Band: Nimbus Dei
Location: Zagreb, Croatia

Re: what's your take on modding gear?

Post by clusterchord » Mon Apr 26, 2010 12:02 am

as others mentioned i don't like to buy vintages with unprofessionally done mods, actually i dont think i ever bought a modded synth. hwoever, that being said, i do like to have some stuff i own modded by my trustworthy tech, who has been fixing and moddin stuff in my studio for last 2 yrs.. just recently we did two mods:

first, which kinda goes with the territory with modulars, is dividing my big 4vco2filt elektor formant into two separate 2vco1filt synths, each with 2envs and vca plus extras. then we added another module panel with inputs to cv and gate for both of these "synths", needed circuitry at the back to buffer incoming singlas , and change the gate signals that formant requires. white LEDs to show when gate signal is present etc.

second, was done just today - i had a filter CV in added to my Roland SH-2, but made to be used with a modern expression pedal (EV-5), so we took 5V out of the SH. what is nice is, we didnt even drill, but went out with a 6mm mogami cable thru GATE OUT socket that i don't use, and placed a stereo input jack on the other end where i connect the EV-5. so SH-2 is practically untouched. and it works phenomenal.

in general, i like mods that allow me to express myself better in live performance. for example, i always tweak the filter on SH-2 when i solo, as a part of its articulation. now i do it with my foot, and have the other hand free for pitch bend, or playing some other keyboard..

this is a temporary solution i might decide to actually drill a separate jack for filter cv, and add a small switch to decide destination.. with choice of pitchlfo/filter/pitch or something like that. also, since i decided to move into CV sequencing via Silent Way plugin (DC Audio), extra sockets for PWM and DECAY control would be awesome for 2nd or 3rd "rows".

i dont think about re-selling value - this synth ain't going nowhere.

jupiter · oberheim · prophet · sh · moog · andromeda · ppg wave · vs · waldorf · yamaha · eii · casio
rhodes · solina · acetone · eurorack · system100 · förster · lexicon · eventide · space echo · svc350 etc

Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2010 1:56 pm

Re: what's your take on modding gear?

Post by djstyleee » Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:46 am

Personally I prefer any synth I bought to be mod free, mainly because you have not got a clue who did it. However, I can see the benefits of some mod's, especailly wehn done to a professional standard.

Post Reply