1 – Moog Prodigy
Years of production: 1979-84
Spec: dual VCO analogue monosynth
Key features: classic Moog sound at a bargain price
Current second-hand price: from £350 (in full working order but poor condition) to £600 (mint)
By now we all know the cliches about Moogs. Legendary fat analogue monsters which cost a small fortune on the second-hand market, right? Nearly, but not quite. Whisper it quietly, but there is such a thing as a bargain Moog. The Minimoog righfully gets all the credit as the definitive classic, but some of the company’s lesser known synths are also well worth a look.
The Prodigy was designed and built in the era when Bob Moog was no longer employed by his own company. To some that might mean it’s not a ‘proper’ Moog. We say that’s nonsense. Compare the Prodigy side by side with a Minimoog and you’ll hear the obvious family resemblance.
The Prodigy was intended to be an affordable product and was a reasonable commercial success for Moog, going on to sell 11,000 units over the course of a five year lifespan (only slightly less than the total number of Minimoogs sold between 1970 and 1981). Since so many were sold, there are plenty out there on the second-hand market, ensuring that prices stay sensible.
The big difference is that while a Minimoog might cost you a couple of grand, a Prodigy can be picked up for under £400 if you’re lucky. To put it into context, that’s less than the Arturia Minibrute, a budget synth with a plastic case and absolutely none of the Prodigy’s heritage.
The Prodigy isn’t the only affordable Moog. You could also check out the disappointing Rogue or the capable but slightly more awkward Source. But the Prodigy is the closest thing to a proper poor man’s Minimoog. It may not quite be up to Minimoog or Source standards for bass, but it’s still criminally overlooked. Its amazing oscillator sync feature in particular makes it one of the best lead synths ever made. Somewhere in Essex in the early 1990s, a young punk named Liam Howlett liked the aggressive sound of his Prodigy so much he named his band after it.
There are plenty of options if you’re looking for a more affordable alternative to a Minimoog, but we think the Prodigy’s the most underrated of all. Buy one quickly before everyone else realises what they’re missing.
Image courtesy of retrosynthads.blogspot.co.uk