Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Professonally Restored Maxi Korg DV800

This is how my restored Maxikorg Dv800 looks like.

Internal electronics restored and serviced by Kaz of Urban Music, Tokyo.

Wood work by my dear father and myself

Body restoration and airbrush by me.

Total price SGD 4000.

Compare this to the unit in Korg museum And the one used by Kitaro.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Restoration of broken down minikorg700

Minikorg works suddenly on Sunday morning

My local PC tech replaced all the capacitors but to no avail...still droning sounds

So one Friday evening, I decided to clean the tuning pots with rubbing alcohol and cotton buds and tweaking them, making sure not to clean away the sharpie marker markings made by the factory. I made  sure I set the pots back to original positions after the maxikorg lesson.

I switched on the minikorg this morning and cranked the switches and did some LFO with traveler...

Suddenly the headphones went soft and the keyboard started working. Clean and in tune notes...

My non-professional conclusion, the pots are dirty and old pots are preventing the current from VCO to the output..

Here is a clip of the sound test

Replacement of missing sliders with maxikorg sliders

The seller of my maxikorg recommended me to a ebay seller in Holland who restores vintage synth

He sold me several original replacement sliders and also a Maxikorg VCO.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Replacing broken minikorg keys with moog prodigy keys

The keys from Puerto Rico arrived yesterday and I took minikorg from Colin's Echo computers repair shop to fix the broken F key
Like the maxikorg, we need to remove the keybed to fit the new replacement properly in to the slots. Alternatively, I have shave little bits to make it fit without having to remove the keybed..but do this at your own risk, I have ruined brand new keys before when I shaved off too much plastic.

Here are the pictures of the new moog keys and old broken korg keys and steps showong how I replaced the old korg with moog keys.
The moog keys behind the original korg keys with broken J 

The korg F key removed from slot

Replacing the moog keys

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Report on Repair Works done on Maxikorg by Urban Music

Repair Works by Urban Music Japan

To date, Urban Music and Kaz is the 1st full-time synthesizer/ organ technician I have worked with.

I must say I am impressed by the efficiency and no-nonsense approach of Japanese technicians. The fee, inclusive of shipping is very very affordable and reasonable.

They have listed the cost of repair of damaged components in Maxikorg. The CV buffer FETs have worn-out and damaged causing the single tone and they have added a resistor to stabilize the drifting pitch. They have even added an extra knob for me. I should have removed the homemade faders too.

The term "aging' sounds funny and ironical for a middle-aged synthesizer player. Both the musician and machine are both aging approximately at the same rate (both Maxi and I are 40 yrs of age when the blog is written)...Maxi has gone for her functional test, but her owner hasn't gone for his medical test for a long time :p

Now, I am waiting eagerly for Maxi to return to my arms before testing the repaired sounds again.

Urban Music has packed my beloved DV800 nicely before shipping out to SG again.

Now starts the waiting game.

MAXIKORG lands in SG!

4days later, I received maxikorg and these were the transistors that were spoilt.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Maxi korg lands in tokyo for repairs

Maxi Korg arrives in Japan, Setagaya-ku, Daita.

I took a BIG risk and sent Maxi korg to the nearest certified synthesizer/ organ technician in Japan, Tokyo. Daita. Its a one-man-show called Urban Music that services Hammond Organs.

Kaz Kawanse sent the pictures of Maxi as she landed and highlighted the conditions/ damages that were initially there with white tape.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Changing broken G key in maxikorg

I brought back my maxikorg from Randolf while he is away on tour.

I managed to change the broken G key using moog prodigy keys bought from Costa Rica via ebay.
They fit like glove. You will patience and much care to slowly shave and file the J hook to size to fit into the maxikorg slots.

Otherwise the size is identical to maxikorg orginal keys.

Here is the maxikorg with the Moog keys and closeup of the original broken key (glued using an ice-cream stick)...This Maxikorg is really a bad buy...for USD 2000, its really trashy.

OEM Korg IC chips? Possible? Yes for MiniKorgs, NO for Maxikorgs 

The facebook page korg maxikorg DV800 has a link to buy OEM reversed engineered chips at very  reasonable prices from EU. These chips were reversed engineered based on the original ones. Looks like I may have to order them soon for this maxikorg

After note: The seller of the chip is a nice chap by the name of Toni

His blog is

He has advised that he has to date only developed chips for Minikorgs 700/700s and traveller chips for Mini and MaxiKorgs.

His chip for Oscillator for DV800 Maxikorg is pending testing because he has no MaxiKorg to test out and will only be out in 2015/2016...

I have also taken the chance to take photos of the original korg chips VCO and traveller chips

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Brief maintenance of Minikorg 700s

TheI ordered a brand of synthesizer fader/ potentiometer grease.

It was kinda of waste of money. It didn't seem to make the sound better but it seems worse off...softer and weaker portemolo.

Here are the innards of my minikorg 700s.

This is a picture of the offending/vibrating oscillator panel...nope the grease didn't make it better...I was recommended to use electrical spray to clean it sir, I am not going I risk it...not on my only korg left (DV800 is almost gone to Synth heaven)

The birth certificate of the 700s 
It could a case of leaking chemical spray or water? The seal and date of manufacturer and testing are all blurred there is no way I determine the manufacturer late.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Everything falls to bits

DV800 Kaput!!

14 sept is a bad evening.

I was playing the maxikorg to Kitaro's 'Koi', everything came to bits at the chrous.

The drifty pitched upper deck VCO gave way and stopped sounding. My worse fears came stopped responding only to the keys and became a 1 note drone. I have spent so much time and money to only to finally come to terms I have secured a very bad deal..

I paid so much for a faulty maxikorg...
It's really bad, all is coming to bits.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cosmetically restored Maxikorg DV800

Here are the photos of the cosmetically restored DV800.

Paint job by my dear father, I did a relatively less than ideal patch job that resulted in less than ideal finishing for the side panels.

Depending on my remaining budget, I may get a carpenter to refabricate a new set of side panels.

That's all for now, I will update again after checking the synth with the technician next week.

Tuning the Maxi Korg Dv800

I unscrewed the top panel of the DV800 to access the tuning pots. I am a newbie and so I did some calculated risk and by trial and error as info my friends from vintage synth forum...

Warning- I do not accept any responsibilities for any mishap or loss of lives and equipment, I am not a professional, I am just documenting my findings here.

Take all precautionary measures while tuning. 

I used a test pen to do my adjustment and wore rubber slippers while tuning.

I located the VCO circuit board located on the left (upper deck sounds). The right controls I tested were for the right (lower deck sounds).

Use the test pen and I tuned the 2nd, 3rd and 4th pot. I tuned taking reference from the c key of my minikorg and also with an tuning app for my ukelele on myiPhone.  

Tuning the MaxiKorg

Tuning Pots Adjustment for Maxi Korg DV800

Warning: I do not accept any responsibilities over any damage to any of your equipment or loss of lives/ injury should you service your synth using my steps. 

I am just documenting what I have done, it does not represent any professional standpoint or advice.

Please take all precautions while servicing your synth, especially when it comes to live electricity.

Precautionary measures

I make sure I do not touch any electronics with my bare hands. All tuning is done using a test-pen and I made sure I wore rubber slippers while servicing the synth with live current.


I took apart the top panel of the DV800 and located the pots for VCO on the top left hand corner. I am a newbie so by trial and error and advise from friends from the vintage synth forums, I  adjusted the 2nd, 3rd and 4th pots on the left VCO circuit panel. I tested and noticed that the right VCO panel, which is identical is for the lower deck.

I tuned the pots and played the notes against my MiniKorg to tune, I also tested the tuning against my Ukelele tuning app on my Iphone.

The previous owner has marked with a sharpie pen the position of the pots. I tuned it all the way to the extreme end just to get the synth in tune.

I noticed that this helps to alleviate my out-of tune upper VCO deck, but does not solve the problem 100%, it still takes time to warm up to get in tune and some extreme low notes (low G and C) are still out of tune by a cent.

I have made an appointment with a local vintage sound gear technician to troubleshoot and service it next week.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sanding down the hardened putty

Here is a picture of sanded plywood ends. The plastic wood has harden and sanded down. This is it looks like before painting

Oh boy, sanding is hardwork 😞

Restoring the wooden end panels of Maxikorg

I decided to try restoring the original plywood ends, my last resort will be re-fabricating new ones using plywood or any wood I can find in the lumber merchants near me.

I searched the net on how to 'repair chipped plywood'. I stumbled upon a website where someone recommended using wood putty to restore chipped off edges of a hotel TV cabinet.

I made a trip to the local Home-fix. I showed the salesman the work out end panel and he recommended me 'plastic wood' to patch up the plywood, he also recommended me Ronsend woodstain.

Here are the pictures of the putty repair work. I used Tamiya plastic strips as shoring

Here is the Maxikorg without wooden panels.

You will need to remove the synth cover (2 screws on each side, under the wooden side panels) to remove the wooden panels on the keyboard section.

I took this opportunity to remove the cover to explore around the innards and more importantly tune the maxikorg

The chaps from vintage synth forums recommended me to open up the synth and tune the pots. By Trial and error, I managed to get the maxikorg a lot more in tune than before in one evening...not perfect but at least 98-99% in tune...maybe a couple of cents off. 

I will talk about the tuning in another post next time.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

MaxiKorg DV800 Restoration Diary (and bits of my life story)

My Story

Hi folks,

I am a Kitaro fan since I was 9 years old.

I played a fair bit of electone music back in the 1980s and my Dad was the one who introduced me to the music of the grand master of synthesizer music.

My first Kitaro cassette was the "Asia Live Tour" (1983). As I couldn't read a note, I started playing back note for note all the famous hits of Kitaro using on the cassette tape on our small family radio, namely "Silk Road" and "Caravansary". We had a Yamaha HS-7 then and the transposition button made it easy for me to copy note for note and chords of these songs...oh yes, the deep bass of moog with the progressive rock riffs drove mum and dad with heavy bass they always complained.

Since then, I have been fascinated with the signature sound of Kitaro...I tried all ways and means to replicate them on the Yamaha HS-8...but none came close. A sweet harmonica lead sound was the closest I could get. There weren't any details of the instruments used by Kitaro featured in the linear notes of his cassettes and CDs. There were vague pictures on covers that's all and later Laser Discs and DVDs of Kitaro (Live in America) came along... but I had lost touch with Synthesizer music then...

My musical journey- A brief career in music making

I side-tracked and went into playing live band while studying in University, mostly playing blues and smooth Jazz. Then I progressed (and tried to) play acoustic Jazz piano...for a good 5-8 years well into my adulthood. My first girlfriend has a sister, who returned from the States in 2000 and she recommended me into the music training business after I left my government desk job. Lo and behold, little did I know, I actually spent a good 5 years "in the music line". I picked-up midi sequencing and taught MIDI in MOE schools. Eventually, I started teaching on my own partnership with a local company and several of my music programmes (dubbed as Musical Discovery Series) many of my music programmes went on national TV for their innovative value in "music" education (film-scoring, musical dice game, Digital DJ, bio-acoustics and even machine-ma) and mostly for publicity stint. I was also writing music for a local director in my one point, I scored the music for 2 hr documentary "Lion of the Sea" (by Singapore Director Eric Lim) which was released overseas to promote launch of HD TV programmes. Sadly, I do not own a copy of the documentary now, as I threw the only copy into the sea as my life went spiraling downwards at 35. I was mostly using M-audio equipment and Steinberg software and simple VSTi.

I gave up music at 33 for my family and in-exchange for stability, I turned 180 degrees and became a primary school teacher...not a music teacher.

Departure from acoustic piano music, to Korg Synthesizers

I shan't bore you anymore now, I was an acoustic piano purist when I chanced upon website on the Synthersizers where some chap talked about the synthesizers Kitaro uses.

In mid 2014, I bought a pre-owned MiniKorg 700s from France for 1K. It took me a few hours to get the lead sound (the synth was not in perfect condition, but near perfect- it vibrated and produced no sounds initially). I took the offending modulator unit out from its aluminum casing and fixed everything back. The problem was the old I had to make sure there is some clearance from the transformer and modulator unit. It took me a week and some help from a kind Japanese You-Tuber to get the "Kitaro signature sound" after putting the minikorg through some cheap delay and reverb stomp boxes.

Yes, I became crazier afterwards, I bought a MaxiKorg DV800 later for well, I should say, over-priced. The unit was in bad shape for that crazy price (as I lost buying another cheaper but more pristine unit in Japan to a guy in Norway because I hesitated).

Well, I just want to document and share my story of restoring this DV 800 before anything happens to me and I should die (either by "accident" or suicide).

Week 1- The Exterior Aesthetics

Back panel

The DV800 looks okay from the top, but the side panels and back was in bad shape. The wire compartment could not close shut and had plaster clothe stuck to it and the stain was horrible (as if the DV800 had had a road  traffic accident and ended up in A&E).

No self-respecting synth guy should live with such stains on his I slowly scraped away the plaster cloth away but I wasn't too worried if I scraped off the paint...I am an avid minature modeler for 15 years. I had tools and airbrushed the entire back panel with Tamiya flat black.

I may consider replacing the missing handle for the hatch much later if I manage to replicate it copying my MiniKorg. But mostly likely, I will use velcro inside to secure the hatch from inside.

The ID pate was also gummed with plaster. I clean up the stains and scraped off the plaster with wet wipes. So, the DV800 was the nos 411 from the Univox factory (also called the K3 in Univox terms). I am no Restoration Kings, so I do not have the means to replicate the metal ID plate.

I touched-up the screws with Tamiya black paint marker.

Missing Slider Caps etc..

I used 2 part resin from my model-making days to cast replicas of the missing fader caps...They look grubby compared to the original ones (I used plasticine instead of professional RTV rubber moulds for starters)...I had forgotten to create holes when I cast the resin, so they pron to splitting when inserted. I fixed the cracks slider with super biggie...I thought installing these grubby resin replicas still beat having the bare metal parts.

I may try the RTV rubber mould if I have spare cash to spend. But these are the ones for the time being.

 Re-fabricating the plywood Side panels 

I am considering re-fabricating the side panels from plywood. I will have to ask my dad (trained carpenter) for help or I may have to spend more $$$ to get professionals to cut from plywood and drill holes copying the originals..

I have yet to remove the innards of the synth...I know I MAY have to recap the synth...drifting notes... (bad). Still waiting for recommendations from the chaps in the Vintage Synth Forums.

So much for tonight.