DIY or die. Sometimes the only answer is to take matters into your own hands. We’ve picked ten of our favourite synth mods, from minor tweaks all the way through to radical overhauls of vintage classics.
There’s a certain mindset that compels a small minority of people to get their hands dirty.
It’s what pushes nerds to upgrade their PCs with elaborate cooling systems and overclocked CPUs. It’s what makes Fast & The Furious wannabes bolt spoilers and giant exhaust pipes to what would otherwise be perfectly good cars. It’s what drives homeowners to obsess over extensions and renovations and remodelling.
In the world of electronic music, it manifests itself in the form of modified synths. Keyboards and modules get soldered and hacked, features get added, front panels get covered in knobs and sockets. As with computers, cars and houses, it doesn’t always work, but when it does, the results can be surprising.
Sometimes it’s purely a DIY thing, with keen amateurs wielding their soldering irons and getting their own hands dirty. Other times it might involve sending off a prized keyboard to a trusted expert and waiting, sweaty-palmed, for a knock on the door and a few hours in the studio checking out the fruits of their labour.
Believe it or not, both have contributed to the bigger picture in terms of synth technology’s never-ending march forward. Big brands certainly keep an eye on what the DIYers are doing, and plenty of DIYers go on to form their own companies and move into the big leagues.
Here we present ten of our favourite mods, from cheap and cheerful hacks to budget gear, all the way through to radical overhauls of vintage classics.