Long ago when I was a kid I always had a dream about owning the big three 80’s Keyboards which in my mind were the Yamaha DX7, Roland D-50, and the Korg M1. All are classics and superb keyboards in their own colorful way. Today I finally broke down and picked up the Korg M1 which completes the trio for me and it’s wonderful to finally have them all to work with. Granted these are not the latest and greatest synths, but in their time they were very popular. As a kid growing up listening to music created by these machines, I knew quite a bit about them but they were of course quite expensive. The only one I did happen to buy in the 80’s was the Yamaha DX7 for a couple of grand. I later sold it after University only to find another here in Japan not too long ago. The Roland D-50 I found in Yokohama about 10 years ago and still have it with me to this day.
In my previous article I wrote about the Korg M1 for sale which is the one I went back and purchased. I got it at a lower price because I mentioned that the LCD backlight had almost completely faded. I also noticed that a couple of the red LED lights were not working brightly either so I walked out of the store with the Korg M1 and a sizable discount. When I got home I started up the M1 and right away noticed that the LCD was bright and that the red LEDs were now showing. I figured what must have happened was that the power supply in the old music shop was not working well or the power cord they used was not correct. They did give me the original M1 power cord but it was in another bag. So I’m thinking I lucked out and discovered simply that the power supply was low in the shop.
The Korg M1 is absolutely in mint shape. Apparently a girl from Canada owned it before in Nagano here and she really took great care of the workstation. The keys, joystick, LCD, buttons, sliders, and M1 casing are all in scratch free condition. I probably paid a tiny bit more than I usually do for a set of used keys, but I honestly don’t think I would have been able to find another Korg M1 in such great condition. This particular Korg M1 is not the EX version but rather the original stock model. I’m ok with that as the original presets were part of what I wanted. I see the M1 cards quite a bit in Japan and so likely I’ll pick up a few at cheap prices eventually. I also like having the keys because I like to play keyboards like this rather than having the rack module. It’s just fun for me I think and so I’m excited to have the keyboard version.
Currently I have the Korg M1 setup with my Korg X3 side by side. They are both a lot of fun to play and the sounds on the M1 are still gorgeous sounding in my opinion. Some sounds may be dated to others but for me they are brand new to my fingers. Piano 16′ and Organ 2 are house classics. I also like all of the E. Pianos and even the basses are pretty good. Of course the pads, choir, and ambient sort of sounds are excellent with the M1 as well. One of the main attractions for me to the M1 is the sequencer. I prefer to work with patterns and I love the add/remove ability on both the M1 and X3. It’s just super easy to lay down tracks instantly and groove or solo on top of them. The key bed is also really great on the M1 and it’s quite easy to quickly do runs up and down the keyboard.
For editors and librarians, I am currently using Midi Sound Quest XL 10 with my Apple iBook G4. It works perfect for transferring sounds and sequences to and from the Korg M1 and X3. There are a ton of sounds out there on the Internet and it’s going to be fun this weekend combing through all that’s out there. Finally having the Korg M1, Roland D-50, and Yamaha DX7 is a dream come true for me. I graduated from high school in 1986. When I left for University never did I think I’d be able to acquire such gear because at that time it was hard to find any used keyboards at a reasonable price for a kid in college. Nowadays there is a lot of old gear out there and they sure are a lot of fun to learn about and play.