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January 2, 2013

Moog Factory Tour: Slim Phatty, Little Phatty, and Moog Guitar

The next part in our Moog Factory Tour series takes us behind the scenes into the craftsmanship and history behind the popular Moog Slim Phatty and Moog Little Phatty monophonic, analog synthesizers. Jim also walks us through the history behind the innovative Moog Guitar and talks about why it is so different from a traditional guitar and electric stringed instruments. The point that Jim and Moog Music Inc. want to drive home is that they are crafting their instruments in the same ways they always have. They keep the construction of their instruments in house and continue to use analog signal paths in an era when many companies are moving towards digital. This should be no surprise to those loyal Moog customers, but it’s still great to hear that Moog Music Inc. is staying true to the legacy that their founder Bob Moog left behind.

While we have been using these posts to give you guys the latest news from Moog, there is nothing new to report at this time. This is probably because many companies including Moog are remaining very tight lipped from now until the end of the month when they will all converge on Anaheim, CA for Winter NAMM 2013. While we only have a vague idea of what Moog will be releasing at this years conference, you can expect that we will have plenty of photos, videos, and blog posts to give you the latest scoop on the new Moog gear as well as gear from every other company you guys care about.

Be sure to check out the other videos in this series:

SLAM!!

Transcript

Hey guys this is Kaitlin with UniqueSquared.com. We’re still here at the Moog factory where Jim is going to tell us how they handcraft the Moog products.

So this is where we build our Little Phatty and our Slim Phatty synthesizers. And just like the theremin, how that was part of a group or a family of instruments that were some of the last ones that Bob Moog designed, the Little Phatty is actually the last synthesizer completely designed by Bob Moog. Even to this day, we still have a filing cabinet upstairs in engineering that is full of all of Bob’s old notes, his old designs, his old schematics, and from time to time, when we are developing new instruments, we’ll pull inspiration from those designs. But there no longer exists any completed works from Bob Moog. The Little Phatty being representative of the last one. So when Bob passed in 2005, there was some concern within the industry about what would happen to the company moving forward. People were curious if we would still be building everything in the U.S. at a time when a lot of people weren’t anymore. If we would still be using an all analog signal path in our instruments at a time when a lot of people had long since moved away from that design. And really if we would be able to continue to come up with really innovative, unique ideas for new instruments. So our engineering team knew that they had some pretty big shoes to fill. Whatever we come out with next really needed to set the pace and set the tone, for this company moving forward, to remind people that yes, we are still doing everything exactly the same as we always have and that we are very much committed to continuing and preserving this legact that Bob created over so many decades. And so the next instrument that we came out with is what we build right behind us and that is the Moog Guitar.

So the electric guitar was an instrument that Bob Moog had been very interested in for a number of years. But it was always an issue of finding the right way for a company like Moog to get into that instrument. Obviously we would have to come to it with our own unique viewpoint. And so about four and a half years ago, our engineers found a way to do that. You can see inside this instrument that there is a very large analog circuit board with over three thousand analog components on it, and that circuit board allows our guitar to do something that no other electric guitar in the world can do. The Moog Guitar has the ability to achieve infinite, controllable sustain across all six strings. Now what that means is when you strum the strings on a normal guitar, they vibrate and they give off energy that comes off the sound and over time, maybe about five, six seconds, that energy and sound dissipate and eventually stop and become silent and you have to strum the strings again. With the Moog Guitar, you strum the strings, the electromagnets inside began emitting an electromagnetic pulse that beats against the strings and allows them to be controlled in such a way that they vibrate indefinitely. If you wanted to hold out a chord for a week straight, it would ring out at the same loudness and intensity for a week straight.

Now obviously people aren’t going to need to compose a song that lasts an entire month, but what happens is is that it begins to open up new playing styles, new techniques, and new colors, that aren’t available through any other stringed instrument. Also in addition to being able to sustain the strings, we’re able to use this same technology in reverse to pull the energy and to pull the sound out of the strings. Its part of mode we call mute mode that when you play the instrument, the strings suddenly become pizzicato. There’s no sustain, there’s just the initial attack and then the sound is sucked out so you are able to achieve this sound quality of some of the more percussive stringed instruments like the banjo or the mandolin. Overall it just allows this electric guitar to be incredibly versatile and allows you to explore new sonic possibilites that were never available before on any other instrument.