MicroKORG XL reborn as a keytar

I made a keytar. (Update: Pitch bend demo video)

I started with a MicroKORG XL.

Unscrewed the back.

Unplugged the battery holder so I could take the back off completely.

IMPORTANT: I unplugged the pitch-bend and modulation wheels from the rest of the board. I’m going to solder the pitch wheel later, and heat could travel up these wires and mess up something important.

Got to work taking out all of the components, making a note of everything’s location and screws.

The fragile LCD sandwich. Be really careful with this and make a note of its orientation in the casing!

The front casing, devoid of all components and ready to be painted. I made sure to tape off the clear plastic of the LCD screen.

I also took apart the keys and painted the black keys blue.

Looking good! I also painted the pitch and mod wheels white, and the buttons under the screen blue.

Soldered three extra wires to the terminals on the pitch-bend wheel. This is why it was important to disconnect it from the main board.

The extra wires lead to a stereo quarter-inch audio jack.

Drilled a hole in the corner of the cover to mount the jack (I did this before it was painted.)

This will have a use.

A guitar neck that lost its body.

Some guitar frets need to be heated up with a soldering iron to melt the glue, but these ones came out with just pliers.

Filled in the fret grooves with wood putty.

Sanded it down.

Spraypainted the flat front white, and the rest of it blue.

I mounted the base of the neck to a piece of hard maple wood.

Drilled four holes. The fifth one in the middle was a mistake— I didn’t realize there’s a metal pole running through the center of the guitar neck.

Sawed the corners of the wooden mount so that it wouldn’t be wider than the guitar neck.

Sanded it all down nice and smooth.

Painted the mount black and screwed it in to the neck nice and secure.

Drilled through the mount and the keyboard’s back cover and bolted them together.

I glued the nuts to the inside, so the mount can be bolted and unbolted even when the keyboard is all screwed together.

I made sure to use very short bolts. They can’t touch any of the electronics.

This is a spectrasymbol SoftPot. I bought a 400mm version that would fit along most of the guitar neck. The back is adhesive, thankfully.

With the SoftPot stuck on the neck, and created a little cord to plug it in to the pitch-bend jack I added. It took some trial and error figuring out which terminals should connect to which, and I did a horrible job soldering and just covered it all up with hot glue. I’m gonna redo this connection later and hide it with a wooden or plastic cover. Once again, never solder when it’s connected to the main board.

Satisfying to plug in.

I also bolted on some straplocks to the corner and middle of the ends of the keyboard.

These bolts don’t do anything.

Here’s the whole thing. Kind of hard to see the SoftPot strip, but it basically acts as a touch-sensitive pitch-bend. I can slide my finger up or down, whammy-style. The regular pitch-bend wheel works too.

The screws and bolts can be easily removed for travel or studio use.

Now I just need a color coordinated guitar strap. I mean keytar strap.

Special thanks to Alora, my brother and my dad for tons of help and ideas!

  1. blueguitar reblogged this from neilcicierega and added:
    and so cute, too. someone should submit him to sexy men and synthesizers!
  2. theschwawashere reblogged this from neilcicierega and added:
    Best thing I’ve seen today, by far
  3. silkscreen reblogged this from neilcicierega and added:
  4. looparama reblogged this from neilcicierega
  5. silverfoxrun reblogged this from neilcicierega
  6. iambecomebrody reblogged this from neilcicierega
  7. brett38 reblogged this from neilcicierega
  8. helixthree reblogged this from neilcicierega and added:
    I love this guide, very helpful. Great work!
  9. neo-prince reblogged this from neilcicierega and added:
    Hey, remember when Neil Ciecerega made a keytar out of a MicroKorg XL? Yeah, that was cool.
  10. deadah reblogged this from neilcicierega
  11. phonogeek reblogged this from neilcicierega
  12. samlofosho reblogged this from neilcicierega
  13. doctorcolossalman reblogged this from neilcicierega and added:
    I think I just found a new project for myself.
  14. buritdukowski reblogged this from neilcicierega and added:
    this is still awesome
  15. thatcrazycircusfreak reblogged this from unlacedgentlefighter
  16. unlacedgentlefighter reblogged this from neilcicierega