Obliq Museum: Korg Triton Restoration

I have been wanting a Korg Triton synthesizer since they were released in 1999.  At that time I had a Korg Trinity which we used heavily, as you may have heard in our Multicast tracks.  The Triton has a built in sampler and expansion available for MOSS functionality (Korg Prophecy engine), which I’m now on the market for! 

I found a Triton on Craigslist but it had some issues.  The price was right so I went ahead and took the challenge of hopefully being able to find the issue and then fix it.  I know that Triton parts are getting hard to find since it was discontinued.  It has the two memory cards and also the EXB-PCM04 Dance Extreme expansion board.  So an awesome setup once I get it fixed!

More restoration stories can be found here

Korg Triton

Korg Triton as it was when I brought it home, you can see the issue with the one “E” key

Korg Triton Power

Here is the sketchy power. The whole assembly was broken and the power button was gone.

The person I bought it from was a vet and this synth had seen the desert and likely many other places upon this earth!  It likely brought joy to many, so the karma is good!  The plastic buttons and modulation joystick assembly were all heavily discolored, likely due to sitting in intense sunlight for a long period of time. There is no way to fix the plastic discoloration issue without replacing all those pieces, which would be very expensive (if you could find the parts) and given that is cosmetic I’m not overly concerned.  Part of the character of buying a used synthesizer!

Here were the problems that I diagnosed that needed fixed:

  1. Power assembly was completely broken, but still worked
  2. E Key was broken
  3. Something in the I/O boards were broken causing the touchscreen to now work properly
  4. Several screws were missing and/or were not seated properly (cosmetic)

The big issue was the touchscreen issue.  You couldn’t choose the drop-down menu (upper right) which rendered the synth very unusable.  Upon troubleshooting this I found that it was a slider issue.  The likely culprit was the Value slider.  I found a replacement slider online but I wasn’t sure it was just the slider.  I cleaned the slider but it still didn’t work, so I assumed it was the slider but I wanted to find a replacement of the 2085 control board if possible.

I found all the parts for the power assembly new at Keyboard Kountry (check them out, they have a great stock of replacement parts for Tritons and other keyboards).  I also bought a replacement set of screws since some were missing and others were slightly stripped.  Nice that they offered this!  They also had the “E” key for a great price.

The 2085 board was a different story…there were no boards available on the internet that I could find, except one I found in Austria on eBay.  I’ve had mixed results buying used parts on eBay in the past, but the seller had a good feedback rating and said it was 100% working, so I took a chance and purchased the board.  It took 2 weeks to arrive.

Here are the boards after I removed them. The upper right is the jack board, the upper center is the 2085 human interface board and the lower tray holds the CPUs.

The keyboard assembly, the bottom (with floppy drive attached) and main control board still attached to the chassis.

Reference photos showing the headphone jack connection (there are two small sockets on the jack board that are the same, so I wanted to be sure to remember what went where)

Reference photo showing the wiring of the jacks and wiring harnesses

Triton motherboard wiring

Reference photo of the main motherboard wiring

The parts came in within a couple of weeks, and I started to do the repair and reassembly work.  The power assembly was simple, two screws and a simple plug into the power supply PCB.  That took 5 minutes and now works like a charm!

Triton Power Supply Assembly

Power assembly showing the jack into the PCB. Simple replacement; nice to find a full assembly with button at Keyboard Kountry!

Triton Power

Power looks much better and is safe!

To replace the broken key, you have to remove the keyboard assembly entirely, which is a bit of effort!  At the top of the keys there is a plastic clip that sits along the entire assembly. Sliding this off, you now have room to slide the key upwards and it will pop right out. Putting the new key in is the same, in reverse.  Then re-position the clip and you’re good to go!  

Replacing Keys

Most keyboards are similar to this, there is a plastic “clip” that sits on the back edge of the keyboard assembly, removing this provides a small amount of space that allows enough room to slide the keys back and they will pop out

Triton broken key

This shows the broken key from the back, the plastic guides should be showing like the other white keys; those were busted off and the key needed replaced

Broken vs New "E" Key

If you are missing a key entirely, you MUST make sure you get that metal insert–this replacement key didn’t come with one so I got lucky that I already had it!  Without this metal piece the key will not work properly. If you are replacing the key like I am, you transfer this metal to the new key. Notice the broken plastic guides that render the key useless

The most difficult part of the reassembly was the wiring.  I noted this and added some tape with reference letters to help me remember where the harnesses attached to.  Note that the wiring is “just long enough” to reach its destinations, so that also helps with reassembly, as does the different amounts of wires in the sockets/jacks–only a couple were the same size and coupled with the wire length being exact it made it easier to know what went where.  But given there are a lot of wiring, reference shots and labeling as you disassemble are always a good idea!  

Headphone Jack

There are two small audio connectors on this jack board. I highlighted here (in red) the headphones jack that runs to the front, lower left, of the unit.

Now the Korg Triton is fully functional!  Awesome!  The sounds are killer and I’m just starting to play with the synthesis engine!  The unit was pretty dirty so i scrubbed it down and was able to pull off some of the grime; but unfortunately there are many scratches that are more than skin deep and again that is the “character” you get when buying synthesizers second hand!  

Overall this restoration project consumed about 8 hours of time and parts cost a little over $100.  Parts are getting difficult to find, however, and so even if the synth isn’t “vintage” it may still be a difficult restoration project…note to self!  I got lucky on this one that I was able to procure all the parts immediately without having to put together repetitive web searches like I’ve done for other classic synthesizers in the past!

Here are some great resources for the Korg Triton:

 

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