Turn A Junk Keyboard Into Bass Pedals (Synth DIY Project)


Reader Ville Aho, aka Electronic Melodist, wanted a way to play bass synthesizer while playing electric guitar, so he came up with a DIY way to non-destructively mod an old keyboard into bass pedals.

“I was interested to try using bass pedals while playing my electric guitar,” explains Aho. “Many rock groups such as The Police and Rush have used bass pedals (in power trio context). They used the legendary Moog Taurus – the most famous foot-operated synthesizer. The Taurus 3 is a dream machine but it’s like 2000 dollars! And it has only one octave keyboard.”

Aho’s solution was to take an old keyboard and mod it, with giant plastic keys and some MDI translation, so it would work as bass pedals. Here’s a demo of his ‘one evening’ Easy MIDI Bass Pedal project in action:

Aho notes that, while hacking old organ pedals is good approach, “They are not so common here in Finland.”

Aho has extensive details on his hack at his site. Aho is also the creator of the awesome MonoTrondes project, which replaces the somewhat finicky Monotron ribbon controller with an expressive Ondes Martenot style controller.

14 thoughts on “Turn A Junk Keyboard Into Bass Pedals (Synth DIY Project)

  1. I weep for that poor SY35 which is actually quite a capable little synth and a good “poor mans” wavestation / vector synth in the right hands. Not quite my definition of junk but I digress.

  2. […] so he came up with a DIY way to non-destructively mod […]
    I’m not quite shure if it is so “non-destructively” to hit a normally hand-operated synth with feet. It’s something like non-destructively mod your iPad into hammer.

  3. Wow! 😀 SY35 was my first synth and I love it. We have a long history together. It’s chassis is partly made of metal. It’s a rugged design. I’m playing without shoes. 😀
    And I’m not kicking or hitting it. I think 3 keys covered with plastic sheet is more rugged button than plastic buttons in many guitar multi fx units. So everyone who are interested trying this project don’t hesitate. Make it and make some music! 🙂

  4. Yea, I would rather be sitting so I didn’t lose my balance and crush the rig. Removal of shoes is probably a must.

    I could envision a much more elaborate rig that uses a separate foot pedal contraption that indirectly plays the keys using either direct contact (perhaps with rods, etc.) or indirect through levers or pulleys. However, it is likely it would take several attempts before a workable version was arrived at.

  5. Doepfer actually builts kits for people that would like to DIY a Taurus bass pedal synth or you could go with basic switches and an Arduino / Raspberry Pi combi.

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