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Korg MS-20




korg Ms20

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audio demo trend price : 1200-1500€
manual   schematic demo video comments

Korg Ms-20 (1978)

Monophonic Synthesizer MS a synthesizer family born just after the famous PS Polyphonic Synthesizer production.

Snubbed for years, today re-appreciated for its harsh unpredictable characters.

korg synthesizer

patch bay

info KEYBOARD (weight: 8 Kg) 37 keys, no velocity.
Main panel features 38 precise knobs, 35 patch connections with some hardwired sections.
On the left side a modulation wheel generating +/-5 voltage and a button switch for trigger or re-triggering some synthesis functions (generally modulation) on main patch panel.

edit VOICE
subtractive synthesis generates 1 voice.
A voice in composed by 2 oscillators named VCO1 and VCO2 that can be mixed to another white noise generator (must be patched)


edit OSCILLATORS let's deep the VCOs:

  VCO1 VCO2  
Volume gain yes yes  
Detune no +/-5  
Octaves 32' 16' 8' 4 16' 8 ' 4' 2'  
Waveforms tri /saw / noise / pulse saw/ sqr / 25 % pulse / ring mod  
Pulse width yes no  



filter FILTER multimode VCF with 2 serial filters:
- highpass 2-pole slopes
- lowpass 2-pole slopes
Both VCF offers independent resonance emphasis peak that reach self-oscillation with a resulting sinusoidal, in addition, filter cutoff can be also driven by patching CV section with CV IN VCF LP and CV IN VCF HP or Envelope 2 (EG2).
TECH: There are 2 filter hardware versions, depending on the production series: the first one is IC 35 filters and second one has a smaller board with custom integrated chips.

the ESP External Signal Processor processes external signal inputs can be filtered through the filter to a dedicated section complete with an envelope follower function (same featured in the Ms-03) and a pitch-to voltage tracker generator.


adsr ENVELOPE there are 2 EGs in total:
- EG1: 3 stages ADR
- EG2: 5 stages
ADSHR - Hold keeps sustain before release segment
ADSHR is also default EG for VCA (both OSC) amplitude, but you can also patch VCA initial gain with apposite CV patch and EG2 define also EG for both VCF Cutoff.


lfo LFO
single modulator MG with progressive waveform from rectangular to triangular.
LFO outputs 2 CV tensions with separate LFO triangle and rectangular sharing same frequency, in addition is possible to use an external one with TOTAL IN CV, but REMEMBER: to activate use MG T/EXT and not EG/EXT.
LFO modulates 3 destinations at the same time:
- VCF LP cutoff
- VCF HP cutoff
- VCO1 & VCO2 pitch
Special SAMPLE and HOLD section for random or stepped modulations: you have to patch it for yourself, usually plug white noise IN and do not forget S/H clock frequency or it will not work! LFO square clock CV out usually does the job.

PERFORMANCE some handy functions:
- mastetune affects both VCO
- portamento speed with variable time

CV GATE many parameters can be controlled by external tensions (at Hz/V scale) including pitch VCO1-2 and filter1-2 cutoff.


MS-01: foot pedal controller

MS-02: interface converterts CV to HZ/ V

MS-03: external signal processor

MS-04: modulation pedal

MS-10: the little brother: Just one single VCO

MS-50: basically a Ms10 with totally open structure with a LOT of patching routing Input/output.

SQ-10: dedicated MS sequencer, 12 steps, really on the fly pots.

VC-10: a vocoder with some CV interaction with MS family. Sounds like a big juicy frog!

MINI Ms-20 : a 2013 SMD remake from 2013, did not tried it yet.

ms20 family with ms10

korg ms20 blackboard educational version
SPECIAL MS-20 BLACKBOARD EDITION: a special huge Ms20 version for synthesis learning purposes, it is almost impossible find (it seems to be around 40 produced) but it has the same specs.
Only worth only if you are a rich collector because it is pretty awkward to use.


demo VST MS20 PLUGIN the Ms20 has been released has a virtual plugin the in the KORG LEGACY collection along with M1 - Polisyx - Monopoly - Wavestation
This virtual MS20 features 32 voices and same routing system.



korg ms20 and nice cat

effet Soundcloud Ms-20

track1 3 tracks track3


KORG MS-20 ESP DEMO Sounds of the Korg MS-20 Korg MS-20 01
ESP DEMO Sounds test

korg ms-20

original scan



korg ms-series


korg ms20 flyer


korg ms20 scan

korg ms20 brochure

frostwaveThe MS filter has been cloned many times, in particular in a wonderful filter box called Frostwave Resonator


korg ms20

original scan

original scan

Monkey Island Ms20
Monkey Island Ms20

weird mod!
weird mod!



behind side close up


- filter(s)!
- patching flexibility
-Signal processor


- expensive
- Osc not so fat
-panel not so obvious.


"Harsh machine, a cornucopia of electronic sounds and effects. It is essential to deepen patch bay capacity to open a brand new world. "



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all snapshots*, sounds, texts copyright Polynominal.com / Eric Pochesci
*mini- ms20 pictures from Korg website, custom ms20 from craiglist, ms20 merchandising from ebay, monkey island is a LucasFilm Games
frostwave resonator picture from ebay auction

korg ms20 4.5 out of 5 based on 17 ratings. price €1200