Sunday, August 31, 2014

MaxiKorg DV800 Restoration Diary (and bits of my life story)

My Story

Hi folks,

I am a Kitaro fan since I was 9 years old.

I played a fair bit of electone music back in the 1980s and my Dad was the one who introduced me to the music of the grand master of synthesizer music.

My first Kitaro cassette was the "Asia Live Tour" (1983). As I couldn't read a note, I started playing back note for note all the famous hits of Kitaro using on the cassette tape on our small family radio, namely "Silk Road" and "Caravansary". We had a Yamaha HS-7 then and the transposition button made it easy for me to copy note for note and chords of these songs...oh yes, the deep bass of moog with the progressive rock riffs drove mum and dad with heavy bass they always complained.

Since then, I have been fascinated with the signature sound of Kitaro...I tried all ways and means to replicate them on the Yamaha HS-8...but none came close. A sweet harmonica lead sound was the closest I could get. There weren't any details of the instruments used by Kitaro featured in the linear notes of his cassettes and CDs. There were vague pictures on covers that's all and later Laser Discs and DVDs of Kitaro (Live in America) came along... but I had lost touch with Synthesizer music then...

My musical journey- A brief career in music making

I side-tracked and went into playing live band while studying in University, mostly playing blues and smooth Jazz. Then I progressed (and tried to) play acoustic Jazz piano...for a good 5-8 years well into my adulthood. My first girlfriend has a sister, who returned from the States in 2000 and she recommended me into the music training business after I left my government desk job. Lo and behold, little did I know, I actually spent a good 5 years "in the music line". I picked-up midi sequencing and taught MIDI in MOE schools. Eventually, I started teaching on my own partnership with a local company and several of my music programmes (dubbed as Musical Discovery Series) many of my music programmes went on national TV for their innovative value in "music" education (film-scoring, musical dice game, Digital DJ, bio-acoustics and even machine-ma) and mostly for publicity stint. I was also writing music for a local director in my one point, I scored the music for 2 hr documentary "Lion of the Sea" (by Singapore Director Eric Lim) which was released overseas to promote launch of HD TV programmes. Sadly, I do not own a copy of the documentary now, as I threw the only copy into the sea as my life went spiraling downwards at 35. I was mostly using M-audio equipment and Steinberg software and simple VSTi.

I gave up music at 33 for my family and in-exchange for stability, I turned 180 degrees and became a primary school teacher...not a music teacher.

Departure from acoustic piano music, to Korg Synthesizers

I shan't bore you anymore now, I was an acoustic piano purist when I chanced upon website on the Synthersizers where some chap talked about the synthesizers Kitaro uses.

In mid 2014, I bought a pre-owned MiniKorg 700s from France for 1K. It took me a few hours to get the lead sound (the synth was not in perfect condition, but near perfect- it vibrated and produced no sounds initially). I took the offending modulator unit out from its aluminum casing and fixed everything back. The problem was the old I had to make sure there is some clearance from the transformer and modulator unit. It took me a week and some help from a kind Japanese You-Tuber to get the "Kitaro signature sound" after putting the minikorg through some cheap delay and reverb stomp boxes.

Yes, I became crazier afterwards, I bought a MaxiKorg DV800 later for well, I should say, over-priced. The unit was in bad shape for that crazy price (as I lost buying another cheaper but more pristine unit in Japan to a guy in Norway because I hesitated).

Well, I just want to document and share my story of restoring this DV 800 before anything happens to me and I should die (either by "accident" or suicide).

Week 1- The Exterior Aesthetics

Back panel

The DV800 looks okay from the top, but the side panels and back was in bad shape. The wire compartment could not close shut and had plaster clothe stuck to it and the stain was horrible (as if the DV800 had had a road  traffic accident and ended up in A&E).

No self-respecting synth guy should live with such stains on his I slowly scraped away the plaster cloth away but I wasn't too worried if I scraped off the paint...I am an avid minature modeler for 15 years. I had tools and airbrushed the entire back panel with Tamiya flat black.

I may consider replacing the missing handle for the hatch much later if I manage to replicate it copying my MiniKorg. But mostly likely, I will use velcro inside to secure the hatch from inside.

The ID pate was also gummed with plaster. I clean up the stains and scraped off the plaster with wet wipes. So, the DV800 was the nos 411 from the Univox factory (also called the K3 in Univox terms). I am no Restoration Kings, so I do not have the means to replicate the metal ID plate.

I touched-up the screws with Tamiya black paint marker.

Missing Slider Caps etc..

I used 2 part resin from my model-making days to cast replicas of the missing fader caps...They look grubby compared to the original ones (I used plasticine instead of professional RTV rubber moulds for starters)...I had forgotten to create holes when I cast the resin, so they pron to splitting when inserted. I fixed the cracks slider with super biggie...I thought installing these grubby resin replicas still beat having the bare metal parts.

I may try the RTV rubber mould if I have spare cash to spend. But these are the ones for the time being.

 Re-fabricating the plywood Side panels 

I am considering re-fabricating the side panels from plywood. I will have to ask my dad (trained carpenter) for help or I may have to spend more $$$ to get professionals to cut from plywood and drill holes copying the originals..

I have yet to remove the innards of the synth...I know I MAY have to recap the synth...drifting notes... (bad). Still waiting for recommendations from the chaps in the Vintage Synth Forums.

So much for tonight.

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