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:

 

Roland HS-60 / SynthPlus 60 / Juno-106 :: Obliq Museum

Roland Home Series Synth Plus 60

Roland Home Series Synth Plus 60

I found this locally from a really cool guy near town this week. Ended up heading up during a blizzard and was stopped on the interstate due to multiple wrecks…ended up getting led off the interstate by turning around and going the wrong way to the nearest on-ramp…I thought the synth was gone as the seller said there were other interested parties…but the next day it was available and I went to pick it up.

The synth overall was in wonderful shape; there were only two real issues with it:
1) The rate slider was broken off; thus missing the slider cap too.
2) The Bender plate/mechanism is pretty loose.
3) The sheet music holder is missing
4) There is a screened on logo of the keyboard store in Omaha front/center of the unit (I would never have bought this new with that on it!)

Great shape except the broken slider, and screened logo of the original seller!

Great shape except the broken slider, and screened logo of the original seller!

So, I pulled out the schematic from the internet and saw that all but the HPF sliders are 50K so I found one (with a Juno slider cap!) and have it on order. I should have this early next week and will pull this apart and fix that slider and tighten the Bender plate! I’m going to not worry about the other two issues.

Close up of the Control Panel...

Close up of the Control Panel...

The HS stood for Home Series and Roland had several in this line during the mid-80s. The thought I think was to give these to aspiring musicians and people taking piano lessons at home or school. To make it more “home” friendly they stripped the colors of the Juno-106 and added speakers–which sound very nice in my opinion!

The interface of this synth!  MIDI In/Out/Thru and program protect are not shown

The interface of this synth! MIDI In/Out/Thru and program protect are not shown

Even though there is only one DCO per voice; this 6 voice machine has classic, wonderful sounds.  You can stack all 6 DCOs at once which has a really thick and aggressive sound!  You can also add one of the two Chorus features which also thickens the sound…the Chorus functions are really sweet!  I have owned several Juno-106s in the past; but for whatever reason I got rid of them (trades, etc) and lately I have been wanting back that “classic” Roland sound back in my studio! That occurred this week!  I also got a hefty anvil case with this synth, although its a pretty tight fit…

The heavy duty Anvil case

The heavy duty Anvil case

Both kids like it as well!  I look forward to plugging it into the genoQs Octopus sequencer and having some fun!  I’ve also picked up the Roland JX-3P lately so I think I’ll have a dueling Roland session with the Octopus soon!

RESTORATION UPDATE:  4/27/2013

I purchased a 50k slider on eBay that had a slider cap (unfortunately white) and finally got around to taking the HS-60 apart and replacing that slider.  Pulling off the 5 screws per side in the plastic siding, and then the 2 screws per PCB (main PCB and MIDI) on the back, and finally the 6 or 7 screws from the panel PCB.

HS-60 encased speakers

HS-60 encased speakers

These speakers get REALLY loud; I usually have the volume at 3 or 4.  The inside of the synthesizer was VERY clean!

Juno 106 and HS 60 are the same beast!

Juno 106 and HS 60 Jack PCB.

The boards and assembly are really professional in the HS-60.  The panel in on a taught hinge which made it really easy to work on.

The Panel Board - 50K rate slider Fixed!

The Panel Board - 50K rate slider Fixed!

The LFO rate slider is all the way on the left.  This 50k slider was super quick to replace once I got to it.  I had to take off the Panel PCB, MIDI Jack PCB and Jack PCB.  Overall, this took about 45 minutes to complete.

Cool HS Shadows

Cool HS Shadows

 

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