Synth Restoration Project: Korg DV-800 / K-3 / Maxi-Korg :: Obliq Museum

This synth has seen much better days.  I acquired this many years ago when purchasing a Roland Juno-106 from a guy out of the paper classifieds.  The Juno-106 had a broken slider but otherwise was in wonderful shape.  I told him that I didn’t mind as I planned to restore that slider; and he asked me if I was into “restoring” that I could have this other synth that needed a ton of work.  I said “let’s check it out”…

He proceeded to take me under his front porch crawlspace to acquire this beast from the earthen floor.  I asked if it worked and he said no; hasn’t worked in a long long time; but I was welcome to it; as a matter of fact I remember him somewhat begging me to take it with the Juno to get it out of his “storage”.  So what the heck; a good project for the future I thought!  I took it home and plugged it in…nothing; and given I had a new Juno to play with this ended up in the basement for another day.

Korg DV-800 ready for a cosmetic overhaul

Korg DV-800 ready for a cosmetic overhaul

Fast Forward about 17 years, and I remembered this thing was sitting in the basement.  Might as well check it out since I was working on restoring my Mini-Korg and Moog PolyMoog Synthesizer anyway.  I drug this thing from the basement and it looked better than I remembered it; but still it was pretty gross and banged up.  I again plugged it in and nothing…so I opened it up and it was full of mouse/rat poison…nice!

After cleaning it out I started looking around and noticed that the fuse was blown.  I replaced the fuse and the green light lit on the front of the keyboard!  Cool!  Upon checking it out everything seemed to work just fine; that was easy enough.  This thing is analog as hell and has some really neat features, so I have decided to restore it along side the Mini-Korg (see this post).  I’m looking forward to these projects.

Online Manuals:  Korg DV-800 Maxi-Korg Operation Manual ; Schematics

Here is my “to do” list for this project (Project Start Date, Jan 11, 2013)

1) Fix the 3 broken keys

2) Hope to find replacement sliders and toggle switch extensions to match; this is likely going to be difficult; I may try to use a 3dPrinter if that is cost effective… ???

3) Clean it up; not sure what to do about the faded screening around the Traveller section.

4) Add CV/Gate for both synths and the overall synth and perhaps audio inputs.

5) Redo the wooden sides and face plates.

If you have any experience restoring this synth; please drop me a line; I’d love to ask some questions…

UPDATE (1/25/2013): MISSING/BROKEN KEYS ON ORDER (Project total so far:  $24)

Found a good deal on eBay for early Moog/Korg keys so I purchased the ones needed.  I figured that would be the harder part; but keeping your eyes open (thanks to automated searches) and having good luck is “key” :).

I bought some cleaner that is supposed to take the old duct tape residue off of the metal and I’m going to test that out today.

UPDATE (2/6/2013): Deep cleaning and key replacement (Project total so far:  $24)

Did some deep cleaning on the unit.  Started with all the slider caps and knobs…I need to make two grey oval slider caps, one orange pointed knob, one red traveller knob and one orange tube slider cap.  I’m investigating using silicone rubber molds and resin or possibly 3d printing to do these…

Cleaned DV 800 Knobs/Slider Caps

Cleaned DV 800 Knobs/Slider Caps

I found it’s “born on” date as well as the original check list (I’m assuming) from the factory.  October 1976!

Born on date and factory checklist

Born on date and factory checklist

Here is the control panel all washed up.  I need to fix some of the wear with a black marker; a Sharpie didn’t do the trick; will check into an auto-body or hardware store for touch up markers soon.

Control Panel cleaned up

Control Panel cleaned up

Here is the Maxi-Korg as I was starting to clean the keyboard keys.  Someone dumped their Cola in there and it was a mess; the keys, the springs, and all the contacts…I can’t believe the contacts still worked!

Getting ready to clean and fix the keys

Getting ready to clean and fix the keys, already have the broken ones removed

The Moog keys that I purchased are very close to the Korg series keys.  I had to file down the curved hook that holds the key into the keyboard assembly.  As I was going through these; I noticed several keys that were also the Moog variety; it looks like someone else has done some keyboard repairs already.  I was able to fix 2 of the keys with superglue too.

Moog (top) vs Korg (bottom) key after I did a little shaving

Moog (top) vs Korg (bottom) key after I did a little shaving

As you can see, I didn’t file much away; but it sure made the keys much easier to install.  The several keys that were already installed that were Moog keys were very difficult to remove.  I filed those down too.

Moog keys before (bottom) and after (top) filing

Moog keys before (bottom) and after (top) filing

So, here is the Korg DV-800 after I did the deep cleaning today.  Looks already much nicer!  Note there are no wood faceplates or sides; I will get to those in probably another month or two.

Looking great after a deep cleanse.

Looking great after a deep cleanse.

Here is another restoration project.

Synthesizer Restoration Project: Korg 700 / Korg K-1 / Mini-Korg :: Obliq Museum

I have been spending some time as I find extra to refine my studio.  Having all my gear available and cabled has made the studio much more fun and enjoyable; something to be said about not having to deal with cabling and such each time I want to be creative.  My band partner Jeff Holland and I have had some great sessions recently in the studio and plan to have more soon!

Finalizing the studio layout has led me to think of how wonderful it would be to get some of the synthesizers I’ve collected over the years that have not been functional working again so they can be actually played with and enjoyed once again!  So from the bowels of my basement I drug out this old but classic synthesizer, the first Korg produced from 1975, the Korg K-1, aka Korg 700 aka MiniKorg!

The story on this synth was firstly it was a free acquisition.  I purchased my first Sequential Six-Trak from a fellow who used to be in a harder rock/punk band in the late 70s in Denver.  This was his favorite synth because he could throw it around on stage in angst and anger and it would “take a beating”.  It was actually his second Mini Korg; the first one he owned didn’t make it past “an epic show”.  Because of its shape (he said it wasn’t working) he just gave it to me as a parting gift…


Here is my to do list after reinspecting this synth after 17 years of sitting in my basements… (Project Start:  January 11, 2013)

1) Redo the wood sides.  The Mini-Korg plaque is in great shape.  I’m trying to determine the type of wood and color of stain; red would look nice, so would yellow, red and purple I think.  Decisions…decisions….I’m showing you the best parts of the existing wood; too bad the best looking wood is the “inside” part!  LOL!

2) Remove all the duct tape residue from the metal.  The original screen printing is in good shape.

3) The off/on switch is broken.  Need to fix the plastic so it stays on the switch.

4) The octave selector switch is missing.  This will be impossible to find, so I’m not 100% sure what to do.  I’m going to investigate a 3d printer and potentially chrome plating.

5) Missing 2 “A” keys, a “D” key and a “G” key.  These need to be replaced with NOS (or used) Korg MS-series keys available online.

6) Modify it for CV & Gate jacks for external control via Cykong’s great step-by-step site.

7) Modify for VCF Audio input via Cykong’s great site again

8) Add the two fuses around the power supply that someone replaced with wire.

I think that is all that needs to be done to get this back in near new condition.  Luckily it plays well; all the issues seem to be cosmetic.  Stay tuned for updates to this page as I progress in the project.

If you’ve worked on these or have leads on these parts; please contact me!

 UPDATE (1/25/2013): MISSING/BROKEN KEYS ON ORDER (Project total so far:  $31)

Found a good deal on eBay for early Moog/Korg keys so I purchased the ones needed.  I figured that would be the harder part; but keeping your eyes open (thanks to automated searches) and having good luck is “key” :).

I bought some cleaner that is supposed to take the old duct tape residue off of the metal and I’m going to test that out today.

UPDATE:  Mini Korg now finished…

Here is an updated picture of the before/after shots of this wonderful classic analog synth:

Korg Mini-Korg Restored

Using wood from my in-laws old table, and my dad’s C&C machine (he did a great job), and extra keys bought online, this is pretty much fully restored!

Here is the Mini Korg logo is PSD format

2012 Colorado Topaz

This year was a great year for topaz; my family and I had a couple of wonderful days with the Dorris family at the Topaz Mountain Gem mine.  See previous posts (1, 2) for details on these trips.  On May 5th I found a really nice (300 carat!) beautiful blue specimen topaz that Joe suggested I have his son professionally clean and seal some of the fractures using pressure treatment.  I went ahead and took advantage of this and the crystal came back just beautiful.  I’m not sure how many fractures were actually sealed as it is still fractured up; but the color is wonderful and crystal clean (probably where the term is derived?)!

Cleaned 300 carat blue topaz crystal cleaned, pressure treated and ready for the cabinent!

I am very happy with the results, well worth the investment!

I am also very pleased with the cut topaz that came back from Joe’s cutter in China.  These take a while to process, but well worth the wait.  This year was about 4 months quicker than last year as well; so I was pleasantly surprised to see these just after the new year!

I found a really nice sherry stone and had it cut.  Joe thought that for sure one nice stone could be cut; but potentially 2.  Was surprised to see three stones were cut from this!  Here is the original stone:

And here are the cut stones it produced:

Bi-color sherry stone.  Simply beautiful!


The right stone was the surprise; it had some inclusions which are really beautiful.  The left gem was from another clear stone I found in July; these will make a nice pair on some piece !!

The right stone with hematite or iron oxide inclusions is from the Sherry Stone

Back side!

And another smaller stone was cut from the large stone.  Here are a couple of other stones I received, a total of 30 carats for 2012!

Beautiful gem from 2012!

My daughter is in love with these stones and is now re-energized to spend the day digging for stones soon!  Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to go back several times again in 2013!  And I hope I finally dig an elusive stone at Devils head this upcoming year!