Makey Awards 2011 Nominee 04: Korg Monotron, “Best Product Documentation”

Makey Awards 2011 Nominee 04: Korg Monotron, “Best Product Documentation”

Founded in Japan in 1962 by a nightclub owner and an accordionist, Korg has been designing, manufacturing, and selling electronic musical instruments since the beginning. Their products have introduced ground-breaking features into keyboards and synthesizers and many of their older models are considered “classics.”

In March 2010, Korg, keenly aware of the circuit-bending movement and its interest in hacking old analog synthesizers, released the Monotron—a modern analog synthesizer with a very accessible price point and a simple 16-key “ribbon” keyboard with no moving parts. The analog filter circuit is identical to that found in Korg’s “classic” MS-10 and MS-20 synthesizers. Early Monotron hackers came back with glowing reports of its thoroughly-commented circuit board, and then, in November 2010, Korg published the full Monotron schematic on its website. Even if they do make you fill out a waiver, first, that’s pretty cool. The DIY synth and electronics blogosphere resonated with “more companies should do this.”

Indeed they should. Which is why Korg was a shoe-in as the first of our four nominees for a 2011 Makey in “Best Product Documentation.” Congratulations!


If you have a suggestion for a company to be nominated for “Best Product Documentation,” or one of the other three 2011 Makey awards, please send an e-mail to or just leave a comment, below.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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