Way before the Minimoog – even before his first modular synths – the teenage Bob Moog was a passionate amateur electronics enthusiast. Having built his first theremin in the late 1940s, Moog went on to design his own version and offer do-it-yourself kits in the 1950s. This first business venture would set the stage for his later work in the field of electronic musical instruments.
You can’t help but feel that Bob (who sadly passed away in 2005) would have loved the Werkstatt, which seems like a direct continuation of that spirit of experimentation. This is a Moog instrument unlike any other. Originally developed for a competition as part of the 2014 Moogfest, popular demand saw it added to Moog’s range.
Essentially, the Werkstatt is about as simple as you can get: one VCO, a VCF, an LFO, basic envelope generator and VCA. But the unit was always intended to be hacked, so there are also 20 patch points, offering access to a good selection of the most important CV inputs and outputs. Join them together to create semi-modular patches, or add the optional CV expander to interface with other modular gear. Invest in the additional mod kit and the possibilities are multiplied even further.
The enclosure might be utilitarian and the controls simple Volca-style affairs rather than Moog’s iconic fluted knobs, but what the Werkstatt lacks in frills it more than makes up for in sound and potential. The only significant weaknesses are the very basic keyboard along the bottom of the front panel and the absence of MIDI, but think of it as more of a CV-controlled module and that’s not such a big deal.
Is it a proper Moog? Let your ears be the judge; there’s no doubt its got a similar character to its more famous stablemates. But perhaps the main point isn’t how much it sounds like a Minimoog out of the box, but how much you can do with it once you start exploring its broader potential. Log onto the Werkstatt Workshop for inspiration, explore the range of mod ideas on offer and get your teeth into one of the most affordable Moog synths ever made.