monotribe, in limited silver and gold. Photo by Marsha Vdovin for CDM.

It’s a beautiful thing when music hardware improves with age. And lately, that’s been what’s happening to Korg’s monotribe and monotron. Over the past few months, we’ve seen a major update from Korg for the monotribe that makes its sequencing functions easier and more useful. To save you the trouble of navigating the Korg Japan site – a difficulty for those of us who don’t speak Japanese – here on CDM, we’ve got a number of downloads for saving monotron patches, and the Japan-exclusive overlay for the monotribe update. And, courtesy enterprising hackers in Brazil unassociated with Korg, a monotribe MIDI update gives the hardware the feature it sorely lacks.

And how many videos do we have of all of this? Too many videos.

Grab some downloads, and see what’s new:

The monotron update: Over the new year, Korg updated their monotribe drum machine/synth, with expanded steps up to (at last) 16, volume automation, easier sequencing, drum rolls, gate time hold, and sample and hold, along with sync. Oddly, you update the monotribe by playing it an audio file. (Better hope it doesn’t contain a Cylon virus.)

More on the System Version 2 update (in English):

And in Japanese:

And some words of wisdom in mangled English translation, courtesy Google Translate:

Monotribe stuck to the analog sound, even how to update the analog stick to technique. Past, as had been loaded by the cassette tape to PC data, has adopted a voice in how to update using monotribe.

(Real translation: because there aren’t any ports on the monotribe, the hack is playing it an audio file.)

And on the availability of the overlays, see if you can make sense of this:

Get in the music stores nationwide !
Reversal from heavy image of monotribe so far, has started distribution of the national musical instrument dealers in sequential overlay of vivid yellow color, such as the intensity of the synth sounds tell. Because there is limited number of people you want to soon.

(Real translation: if you don’t live in Japan, or simply missed out, print out this PDF.)

Get your circuit diagrams, patch storage sheets, and overlays. [monotron/monotribe] Thanks to reader Mutis Mayfield, we’ve got a whole bundle of PDFs for monotribe and monotron owners to enjoy. You can get your own overlays – otherwise available only apparently in dealers in Japan – provided you can work out how to print them so they look nice. And you get some terrific other additions, including the latest circuit schematics (in case you’ve missed their intentional appearance on the Interwebs), and even patch sheets. (Prior to the MeeBlip’s recent addition of patch storage, we referred to these cheekily as Hipster Patch Storage. You need a marker.)

Via Scribd, we’ve got all those downloads for you, so enjoy.

KORG monotron and monotribe goodies [cdmblogs @Scribd]

Updated: Seems Scribd couldn’t handle the complexity of those schematics. (What, no one taught their plug-in Electrical Engineering?) So here they are, switfly downloading from our servers:

monotron DELAY schematic [PDF]

monotron DUO schematic [PDF]

(Please link to this page on CDM and not to these files directly, unless you hate us.)

These PDFs are marked for public distribution, courtesy Korg. Speaking of which, it’s really nice to see Korg releasing that overlay under a Creative Commons license. (I suppose that means you could translate it and release the translated version, too, if you’re an especially big, multi-lingual monotribe fan!)

Adding MIDI to the monotribe

From Brazil, Amazing Machines have done a clever MIDI input and output mod for the monotribe. Now, some of us (cough, cough) think this should have been on the hardware in the first place, but the mod really is quite clever, so lovers of the monotribe get something that they should really love.

Even though it’s a mod, you just plug the thing in – no soldering required. And while you may have seen this mod before, the Brazilians have been busy working on improving it. New features, introduced late in February and shipping now:

  • MIDI output: MIDI clock, arpeggiator from the synth section, trigger info from the rhythm section, and even the ability to use the ribbon controller as note, volume controller, and gate time.
  • CC output.
  • Using sync I/O on the monotribe, converts MIDI clock to sync pulse or the other way around.
  • Improved DIN connectors.

All of this is now pre-assembled at US$64. You can even get US$10 off if you ordered the previous version.

Owners’ manual, more info:

Videos: monotribe v2

Korg Japan shows off those new features:

Videos: monotribe + MIDITRIBE

A look at what’s new in the revised hardware:

And from our friend Nick at Sonic State, a video review of the unit:

  • Gbsr

    i know what i’m getting for my birthday. wahu.

  • Mutis Mayfield


  • Byrnework
  • Krellmusician

    The schematics have been deleted.  What gives?

    • Mutis Mayfield

       From Scribd o from Korg Japan?

    • Peter Kirn

      Yeah, it was just an issue with our Scribd upload. Sorry, new to the service.

    • Travis Cleary
    • Peter Kirn

      Apologies – “deleted” is apparently Scribd’s way of saying “something’s wrong.” (It also claims on some screens that the PDFs are password-protected.)

      It seems the real problem is that the level of detail on a schematic drawing PDF is such that Scribd’s PDF parser freaks out.

      I’ve added hard links above, so download away!

  • Jamie

    i personally am put off by the fact that $250 later and it STILL does not have a midi interface! 

  • Aaron

    Awesome. I made my own midi input (only takes a couple resistors and a midi cable.. total of 5$’s maybe), but it recently came off again. I ordered this because I’m lazy. 370 dollars for a midi’d up monotribe is well worth the cost when you compare it to similar products… so I didn’t feel too bad dropping the cash.

    • Aaron

      More like 330 usd..(if you paid full MSRP for the Monotribe)… not 370.

  • cassiel

    I would hope that true retro musicians are, at this very moment, updating the OS on their Monotribes by playing the audio file from a cassette tape.

    • Eric Morello

       LOL, so true, the port was always called Cassette on synths

  • Adam

    The sounds these things can produce are endless. Combined with some effects, you can make any kind of synth- keyboard- guitar- theremin- bass sound you can imagine. I’ve been messing around with the monotribe, kaoss pad quad, and a multitrack recorder for about a year now. It’s always fun and direct.

    • gigglekey

      There’s a reason why the KP3 still sells for more than the kaos pad quad. KPQuad is to the KP3 as the Monotribe is to the Electribe.

  • gigglekey

    This is a kickass little synth. I was looking for a Rubberduck/303 device, and this little mono synth fits the bill, especially with the miditribe upgrade. Audio in is farking useless without gain staging before the input, but other than that, the sound itself is great.