Thursday, 19 February 2015

Korg (Keio) MiniPops 1

This is a odd one to categorize as it has no official name.
She looks like a minipops 5 (MP5). It's shape indicates that it was meant to sit under an organ or piano.
The MP5 was manufactured in 1966 as was the MP 7

Prior to the Mini Pops, Korg or Keio as it was known then, were famous for their Donca Matics.
So maybe this this could be called the Keio - Doncamatic Minipops. ???
Or shall it just be named "The Unnumbered MiniPop".????

And to make matters more confusing the MiniPop numbering system was not cronological.
The MP 5 & 7 came out in 1966.
The MP3 was manufactured in 1967.

Anyway, I think it's safe to assume that this drum was the first in the line of MiniPops, and was produced
in 1966 or before.

Temp, Cymbal & Switch-Volume dials. The Cymbal dial sets the volume level of the cymbal .... so you can cancel this sound completely if you like.

I really like the preset buttons which look like fake toy piano keys.
We have 16 patterns:
Waltz, Samba, Cha-Cha, Mambo, Rumba, Beguine, Habanera, Tango, Blues, Rock-Beat, Bossanova, Rock-a-Ballard, Swing, Six Eight, Fox Trot & March-Polka.

And you can combine up to 3 patterns at the one time.... creating some crazy rhythms

 The bottom cover slides off to reveal the inner PCBs.

We have 3 separate PCBs. The top is for the power supply.
The second (lower) PCB is the pattern generator. Notice the diodes.
The 3rd & largest PCB holds the voice circuits.

Well what does it sound like. It sounds nothing like a real drum. It's distorted . That bass drum is malformed beyond recognition. The snare and toms ... are they really toms ??? OMG.....well everything is twisted & misshaped. In other words I love this drum.

What was probably considered a mistake my the manufacturer makes this one a real find.

I'm seriously tempted to mod this one. The pattern board is at the top. I love the layout of these Japanese boards. They are logical & well thought out. It should be very easy to bypass the pattern PCB and trigger the voices directly.

I'll sit on that thought for a while. This drum is uber rare. It is good to sometimes leave things in virgin condition.

Modding ??? would be nice but maybe if I found a second one ....

For more info on the history of Korg Drum Machines Click Here


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  2. Hey there, I have one of these as well! Mine is a bit different though (mine is a bit more industrial looking and has a black body and a machine stamped serial that starts with 70 and is 100V). My question is have you found out any other info about this drum machine since you post? I have been looking for years trying to get a label for this drum machine, and have had little luck. From my research this predates the typical Mini Pops series, including the MP2 and up. My thought after talking to some vintage gear experts about this unit is that this is likely a very limited production model that was a prototype that would later become the stand alone MP series. If that isn't true, there is certainly no evidence to deny this claim. You are correct, these were made to be attached to organs. In an odd twist, mine came from an old Yamaha organ which predated the early-mid 70's that the MP5 showed up. I have been trying to find out 1) How much this thing is actually worth (so maybe I'll stop playing with it, haha), and 2) What the model is actually called. Have you found out anything else about this thing?

  3. Hello, Thanks for your valuable comments. I have heard that these did sometimes come with Yamaha organs. Do you know what model number?
    I'd love to see some pics of it. if you have uploaded any I'd be happy to place links from this page to yours. The more info we can find the better. I'm sure Korg knows. I'll see if I can ask my local retailer.
    My model is also 100V
    You are probably right that this model is a prototype. Thus the lack of an official name. If I learn more I will certainly update this page.
    Cheers Jono

  4. I found one of these in a second hand shop yesterday. Never heart of it and just bought it out of curiosity.

    Photo's and a video @ my facebookpage:

    Mine looks even more like a prototype than yours. The body can not be adjusted in height and there are no switch and fuse at the back. Even the PCB's look a bit more crude. The serial no is 2282.

  5. Cool.
    Yes the PCB looks different.

  6. Hi Jon,
    I also found one, near Ottawa (Canada).
    It was also on an old Yamaha Electone, a rudimentary one (can't recall the model number but it was a very basic one.)

    Took it apart and inspected it all. Mine looks like yours. But my Ser# label is longer than yours. It goes all the way to the fuse socket (same socket as yours). The extra portion says:

    My Ser# is : 711761
    So, I guess the official name of it is... MiniPops-1 ?

    Back Label also says:
    AC 100~240V, 3VA
    Serial No.

    Sadly, my Volume/On-Off Pot/Switch is broken.
    So I have to find a decent replacement pot and repair it.
    Tried finding a vintage part for over a year, but no success, so it seems impossible. Might have to go modern. :-(
    It's an ALPS, 12- 50K(ohm)A.

    I also have another weird old drum machine:
    An NDK Rhythm Maker 16, which I found to be a clone of the Ace Tone FR-2L (Rhythm Ace), except for the looks and the NDK having [Cymbal, Claves, CowBell and BassDrum] cancels, while the AceTone has [Cymbal, Claves, Snare]
    I found it in a garbage bin so it is a bit beaten up (has suffered one big hit on the front, bent metal, but repaired it and now it works fine, but still looks beaten)

    I also found that NDK also made a RHYTHM MAKER-12, looking very similar to mine, but only 12 beats and NO cancels.

    I will eventually make a blog or website of all my synth and drum machine stuff and repairs. I'll upload pics of these drums and let you know when it's up, if you want.


  7. So I have mine posted for sale online. There are pictures included in the listing and I can certainly take more.

    From everything I have read very very few of these units are left in existence, and not many were made to begin with. They are considered to be quite the collector's item by those who collect vintage drum machines. They are significantly rarer than the other MP series, however not many people know about them as they were never really a mass produced item but more of a rare dealer demo sort of deal that was to introduce the idea of playing with an "electric drumming musician." Nobody at KORG knows a thing about this unit, those who would have known about this project have since long retired according to the conversation I had with different KORG employees. Similar to the Lync LN-1 keytar which was never officially part of the product lineup and more of a working prototype, these machines never made it on any official product listing from the company and thus is the "forgotten model" MP1. I got mine off an old and rare Yamaha organ that was supposed to be a direct B3 competitor, however it never happened. It was a very odd model as it featured a unique built in "Leslie" simulator that had a bizarrely asymmetrically shaped 28" speaker that was mostly built from styrofoam that would rotate around a belt and the organ itself featured a large rolling top that covered the keys. I foolishly didn't look at the model number once before tossing the organ (it had a dead generator), otherwise I could tell you exactly what it was. I can say, however, I have never seen another Yamaha organ like it since, it was absolutely massive.