Synth Guru Tatsuya Takahashi Leaving His Role At Korg

Synth Guru Tatsuya Takahashi announced today that he is leaving his existing role at Korg.

In his role as Chief Engineer of Analog Synthesizers at Korg, Takahashi has helped create a wide range of popular synths and electronic music gear, including the Monotrons, Volcas, Korg’s ARP and MS-20 reissues, the Minilogue and more.

Takahashi is moving on to a new role within Korg, to ‘explore new areas where sound and technology can have positive social implications.’

Here’s the full text of his message:

It’s been a good ten years at Korg!

A few years after starting at the office, Tada and I, over a cigarette break, started shooting ideas around for a battery powered pocket analog synth. The monotron was the humble beginnings of what became a mission to make synthesizers fun, exciting and accessible again. To give synthesizers back to the people. To make synthesizers less snobby. To open up creative opportunities. To get people interested in electronic sound and see some kind of light in creating their own sound using technology amidst a world that is inundated with it.

monotrons, monotribe, volcas, minilogue, monologue, some reissues, SQ-1, littleBits synth kit – we put out a lot of gear.

After a blur of 21 products we released over seven years, I look at the world of synthesizers and it’s a pretty cool place. I see kids getting their first taste of synths with the volcas. I meet people who have their dormant synth passion rekindled by the minilogue. And it’s not just Korg. The whole industry has set out to achieve this common goal.

The name volca comes from the German word Volk: “the people” or “crowd”. Like Volkswagen “the people’s car”, the volcas are “the people’s synth”. I have fond memories of meeting Mike Banks and being told how the volcas reached poverty-stricken youths in Detroit. That manufacturers have to take responsibility for the social implications of putting out gear.

On the 17th of February I will be leaving my full time position at Korg and will sidestep to advisor. I will also be moving out of Tokyo to Cologne to explore new areas where sound and technology can have positive social implications. I won’t be going to any of the competition, but rather will be shifting direction of my main line of work while at the same time guiding the now super team at Korg venture into the future.

I am hugely indebted to everyone in engineering (my super duper team will keep designing the best of the best), production (love you all in Vietnam we did this together!), sales (job well done), marketing (fun times making those movies), distribution / dealers (essential work the world over), media (you guys got the word out) and most of all the musicians out there who are creating music with our synths – without you our work is meaningless.


it’s been a ton of fun. more to come.



49 thoughts on “Synth Guru Tatsuya Takahashi Leaving His Role At Korg

  1. Tats really left an impression, both with Korg and the industry. Whether for better or worse, regardless of how you look at it, he certainly made his vision a reality and put some powerful sounds into the hands of a lot of people. Mad props. I wish him the best of luck with and look forward to hearing about his future endeavors.

  2. ‘explore new areas where sound and technology can have positive social implications.’
    he’s going to make a variable white noise generator that can real – time mute everything that comes out of trump’s mouth.

    1. Does every platform have to be a substitute for something related to Trump? Are you people that mental? Just because you don’t like something in politics doesn’t mean it belongs in every place. What the hell is going on? I come here to read news about synths, but instead I get ridiculous whining about something completely unrelated in politics.

  3. Thanks Tatsuya! Best of luck in your future endeavors. I lost count how many recent Korg products i now have. Plus i still have money in my pocket! :p

  4. I like him! The volca sample i bought thinking it would be a cheap thrill and did not expect it to light a fire and get me back into writing songs again. I filled up two full cassettes yes 60 minute cassettes not Cd’s. Listened to them running errands today. It’s limitations are like a brutal push to move forward and stop analyzing. Hes not to be underestimated!

      1. he is probably joining or founding another company based on saying “more to come”. Hopefully the best ideas and secret projects are around the corner 😀

  5. i appreciated the volca name anecdote. finally put to rest the speculations.

    in the short time he and his team really pretty much changed the game and this is no hyperbole.
    very grateful for all the wonderful and affordable product they concieved.
    the new role sounds lofty but does not sound like “more analog synths to come”.
    im being very selfish here but i wish he would´ve stayed at his current position.

    good luck takahashi san!

  6. Tats’ work will literally define a generation of electronic musicians, he made me able to buy new gear in hard times and the reissues have pleased the older synth crowd. I hope the current team there will continue his stellar work and put out interesting and sonically powerful gear at budget prices. He’ll be missed but I’m curious what his new role will bring.

  7. Nnnooooooooooooo! Does this mean Korg is done with analogue? Will we still see this impact of tats’ work on our personal music lives?!

  8. Tats is a great designer, and will be recognized as legendary.

    Sometimes it’s just time for a change, and going out on top isn’t so bad.

    I really hope he achieves a similar level of success along his new path.

  9. Thank you so much Tatsuya. Your instruments have opened a whole world of music to me. Being able to buy synths, drum machines and samplers that sound great, are affordable and super fun to use has been a god send. Thank you. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

  10. I wonder how voluntary this change in position is. It strikes me as just the thing that a Japanese company would do to someone who has pissed of the management in some way. In any case I hope it works out for him and he can in some sense reap the benefits of very productive an successful years.

    1. I highly doubt korg would treat someone they’ve made so high profile that way. It’s more likely they don’t want to go in the direction he does, he initiated that relationship with little bits, and I’d think that’s the kind of thing he wants to move toward.
      On the other hand the analogue Odyssey etc weren’t the immediate hits expected. So perhaps they want to step back their analogue section. Or tats has found he can’t get a full 6 voice polyphonic done within the constraints given. They may have just agreed to go separate ways.

  11. Tatsuya. Please make a Maxilogue before you leave. Or if you are only Advisor,,,,,, Advise someone in your team how to do it!!!!! Don`t leave us this way….

  12. I think Korg are going to miss him. I wonder if the higher-ups started pushing back on some of his ideas, or resented the way he became the public face of the company to synth lovers. I’m totally guessing, but his increasing profile might not have gone well with the bosses.

    1. It’s possible, but based on what we’ve both read (and the fact that he’s still being kept on as an advisor) makes me think it’s totally what he said about wanting to change and do different things. I don’t think they’d keep him on as an advisor if management wasn’t happy with him, and honestly how could they be? He’s done great things for their business and like you said I’m sure they’re sad to see him go.

  13. Tats had a great passion for his job and synthesizers in general. That alone is something Korg will miss and find hard to replace. Whatever Tats goes on to do you can almost bet it will be successful because he does have a good idea of how to connect products to people.

  14. Tats has been an analog synth ambassador. Hopefully his successor at Korg will keep the analog synths coming.

    How about a full-size, three oscillator successor to the Poly Six?

  15. ‘explore new areas where sound and technology can have positive social implications.’

    Sounds pretty boring to me. But this may be because he is a nicer person than I am, lol.

    Good luck, Tats, thanks for all your work.

  16. Thank you for the MS-20 family of synths and the kits, and the SQ-1. To bad we won’t see a Karp 2600.
    PS thanks also for the 1/4″ cables as well.

  17. Thanks to him Korg got a chunk of my money they wouldn’t have otherwise, and I have no regrets. And since people are still throwing out suggestions even though he’ll be an advisor now, I’d like an EDP Wasp equivalent of the KARP Odyssey module please (crazy that you can get a remarkably faithful producer of the sounds of three different classic Odysseys for 600 bucks).

  18. I wonder if he was behind the head scratching ideas that Korg botched, like watered-down tribes, monologue with less features than minilogue (solo’s needs complexity, only 1 envelope?), mini keys on Odyssey, USB-less Volcas, 1 Volt/per octave missing on MS-20?

  19. O man, I feel gutted….I was looking forward in the next few months, to a new “Tats-designed” Korg analog polysynth as a “more voices/features” successor to the Minilogue. 🙁 Seeing as Tats was the passionate and talented spearhead and visionary at Korg with their analog efforts, I’m fearful for their future efforts in that area. Damn!

    I’m sure Dave Smith and Behringer are thrilled tho!

    1. Hopefully Tada will continue that direction, the only reason we didn’t hear from Tada was that the only spoke Japanese, I assume he’s staying with korg. They were promoted as a duo in Japan and worked closely on every project.

    1. I also idolize his amazing hipster nerd chic. I don’t know whether it’s simply his natural style or something that he cultivated, but it’s brilliant regardless and should be an inspiration to us all. 😀

  20. The gear he designed got me back into hardware synths! I own almost everything he was involved with! I really hope Korg doesn’t go to shit! Lol

  21. Bummer! I would say Mr. Takahashi seems to have played a key role in the amazing Korg Analog(ue) Renaissance™ of the past 7 years or so! His fluent English has undoubtedly helped evangelize it as well to many folks who don’t necessarily speak Japanese – and it’s exciting to hear directly from someone who actually works in the mothership on the actual products vs. some foreign marketing spokesperson.

    Thanks to everyone at Korg who helped to make this happen – presumably many of his colleagues are still working to bring us the amazing future of synthesis (including analog) at Korg.

    I have to also congratulate Korg on their brilliant app team – I have purchased every Korg app on iOS I could get my hands on, and I’m a huge fan of all of them, notably Gadget, iWavestation, and Odyssei. Not to mention the brilliant DS-10(+) on the Nintendo DS/3DS (and the M1 eShop app!)

    Those things being said……… each of the previously almost unthinkably affordable, and genuinely delightful, new instruments also seems to come with some really annoying limitations. For example, why does the Volca FM only have 3 voices (when a Raspberry Pi or an iPhone can do 8 or more?!!) What’s up with the snare on the Volca beats? Why no swing/shuffle? Why don’t all of the ribbon-keyboard gadgets have a pitch-lock/latch switch? Can’t we get rid of some of the hiss? Why isn’t there a minilog-style polysynth with more than 4 voices, even at a higher price point? Or maybe a voice expander/desktop module? Can we get a nice little Volca mixer too? These wonderful gadgets seem so tantalizing close to something breathtakingly amazing – it really seems like version(s) 2.0 could address many of the limitations.

    Nonetheless, I wish him much success in creating positive social-musical impact and benefit to humanity, hopefully by bringing even more awesome analog (and digital) synth power to the people! 😀

  22. p.s. I also am almost certain that Korg has led other companies like Yamaha and Roland to step up their game, even though they haven’t done as well yet. But they showed there is a market for this sort of thing, and we can always hope!

  23. He did some good things, brought analog back. Now, hopefully his replacement will start putting 61 full size keys with 6 or 8 voices on Korg analog synths again….

  24. Moddable, toneful, hands-on, compatible, updatable plus tons of fun and that’s takes some doing with fm.and best of all affordable. Been a pleasure to support your work. Keep Korg similary focussed in the future, they’ve learnt from the best.

  25. I love my volca sample and I am currently on holiday in Japan, might grab the volca bass before I leave 🙂

    Thanks Tatsuya Takahashi for the great work!

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