Type: Monophonic / Subtractive / Analogue
One of the most famous & iconic synths ever made, the Minimoog was the first keyboard based portable synthesizer and was immediately successful at launch. Over 14,000 were made between 1970 and 1980, with the Moog company moving locations from Trumansburg to Williamsville over the duration and changing hands several times.
The instrument was immediately popular at launch with keyboard players of all genres – rock, prog, jazz, and the burgeoning electronic styles – as a more affordable and easier to use version of the preceding modular synthesizers, and introduced the now standard ‘pitch wheel’. The list of verified tracks using the Minimoog is likely to extend to 1,000s long – and that’ll just be the well known songs!
Apart from its powerful three oscillator sound and over-driven filter circuits, one of the keys to its success was the inclusion of a built in keyboard, something not previously seen on portable self-contained synthesizers, such as the EMS VCS 3 (1969). This enabled it to be taken up by electric organ and electric piano players with ease…and it was.
Full Song table here: Moog Minimoog Song List
Parliament, ‘Flashlight’ (1976) Bassline
Bernie Worrell claims to have used four Minimoogs to create this fatter than fat bassline. Here he is playing that bassline in 2016 (Still got it!):
First Ever Minimoog Track
Mother Mallard's portable Masterpiece Company, 'Easter' (1970)
David Borden was an in house musician at Moog’s HQ and had early access to the Minimoog. The original performance of this piece on Easter Sunday, 1970, made use of it – though the occasion was not recorded. Electronic Sound Magazine, Nov 2021
There are many artists closely associated with the Minimoog, here are some of those notable musicians.
“I looked to what they (Kraftwerk) were doing. A shining light to how music could be put together, completely different…When I found the Minimoog and pressed the key, the whole room shook with the power of it, I thought ‘that’s it, that’s exactly what I’m after’.
Kraftwerk: We Are the Robots, 6Music documentary, Mark Riley, 2007
Although well known for their custom instruments and tin-foil drum kits, Kraftwerk used a Minimoog for the bassline on their seminal track, Autobahn (1974), as can be seen in this clip from US TV in 1975.
Rick Wakeman is one of the most virtuosic keyboard players of the analogue era. He famously acquired his Minimoog from actor Jack Wild who was dissatisfied with it’s ‘limited’ monophonic capabilities.
Electronic Sound, November 2021 Can’t embed here, but here’s Rick soloing in 1972: https://youtu.be/bRfxSLcmx7s?t=255
Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s
Played by James Brown himself, Blow Your Head features a damn funky Minimoog lead line from bar 1.
“At the same time [Dre and I] were like, ‘We need to do some P-Funk-sounding shit.’ We wanted to make a real Parliament-Funkadelic album.,” Wolfe said in a 2014 interview with Wax Poetics magazine. “Take “Fuck wit Dre Day,” for instance. I was thinking of Bernie Worrell when I was doing those kind of sounds. And that’s why the Moog is so predominant on The Chronic.”
Jan Hammer was famed for his virtuosic Minimoog performances. Here he is in his pomp with Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1973
Table Minimoog tracks
Go here to see full song list: