Inspired by one of leftaroundabout's answers, I got a Monotron and I love the wicked tones it can make.

I have the dual-oscillator version so I tune by pressing the 'G' (or whatever note) and adjust the left oscillator to be roughly the base pitch that I want; then adjust the right oscillator to be in harmony with the first (the cross-mod knob makes it easy to fine-tune this relationship). Then adjust the 'peak' for gain, and use the filter like a wah-wah. I've been able to simulate most of my favorite incidental sound-effects from Doctor Who, like descending space ships and throbbing computers.

But, the ribbon only goes 1 octave (+ minor third, if you do everything in B-flat, but that high D-flat is hard to hit with my manly fingers).

Is there any way to get more 'length' out of the ribbon? I can adjust the primary pitch, and the second oscillator stays relative so the tone doesn't go wonky, but it's very difficult to tweak the knob exactly 1 octave.

Are there any simple mods to extend the coverage of the ribbon, or install a larger ribbon, or maybe glue a long lever on the pitch knob for more precise tweakage? One octave of melody-making feels really limiting.


Well, one way to do it is to bypass the internal sound generation and only use the ribbon as a “master keyboard” to an external digital synth. I did a video on this ages ago...

A cooler solution would be to replace the pitch control with a digital potentiometer, e.g. controlled by an Arduino. This would allow you to keep the monotron's own sound generation.

  • I like this answer, but I'm not very skilled with hardware hacking. I need something very simple, like the potentiometer idea. But is there something simpler than that? Like an octave switch? Or more generally, a tunable register key? I've learned from videos that the patch points are clearly labeled on the board. Is there a device I can solder-in to do this? Dec 22 '15 at 1:16
  • 1
    The problem if you try to make it too simple: the monotron's analogue oscillator is highly non-linear and also depends a lot on temperature. So with a mechanical octave switch, most of the time the tuning reference will not be right, you'd need an additional fine-tuner. — If you'd like to avoid hardware hacking, your best bet is likely to play the monotron though a standard guitar pitch shifter / whammy pedal, using that as a range selector. Dec 22 '15 at 11:47

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