Now Reading: The “Tats” That Won’t Wash Away: The Volca Series’ Mastermind

The “Tats” That Won’t Wash Away: The Volca Series’ Mastermind


This post is dedicated to Tatsuya “Tats” Takahashi, the engineer behind the people’s synth.

In a nutshell, he is the guy behind the Volca Series. Takahashi has a calming spirit in his marketing video from Korg, Inc. And he always seems to amaze us with his skills on the volcas.


Takahashi started at Korg back in 2010 with the release of the battery-powered Monotron in 2010, and culminated with the recent Monologue.

His designs were largely responsible for kickstarting a hardware synth renaissance thanks to affordable, accessible philosophy, which has been widely adopted by competitors Roland and Yamaha. –

“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. – Tatsuya Takahashi

“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.”

Speaking of the children, Tats made his first oscillator at the age of 15 year old!

Tatsuya has helped lead the resurgent interest in analog synthesis, much in the way that Lomography has rejuvenated film photography.


He up in London, earning nicknames such as Tats, Twix Bar, Tatty… most did not make it through to adulthood,  now he’s left with simply “Tats”.

Tatsuya’s design ethos centers a commitment to what he referred to as the “democratization of synthesis” during a presentation at this year’s Moogfest. As he explained this concept in a cheerful English accent, Tatsuya revealed himself as much a philosopher of music as he is a masterful engineer.

Tatsuya believes that analog synths – once synonymous with rock gods and research labs – should be available to everyone. –

His first project at Korg was the Monotron, and it was a personal project.

Tatsuya’s work shows a vision not just of new musical instruments, but a world where they land in the hands of as wide a population as possible.

This belief manifests in a synth design methodology that uses digital components to control analog circuits. This hybrid approach, while not uncommon nowadays, allows Korg to produce synths cheaply and quickly, distributing them through the entire world.


Tatsuya and Korg’s mission of widening the availability of quality synths outside the confines of gearheads in the know.

Tats feels his way about his Volca Series:

It fuels your creativity, and the Volcas are in that vein. A Volca is not a jack of all trades, they are each good at one thing, and this is something in common with the comeback of hardware in general. It’s simple machines doing simple things so your mind is free to enter a creative space. That’s at the root of the Volca concept: liberation through limitation. – Tatsuya Takahashi

I pray that Korg will continue the standard and tradition that Tatsuya Takahashi left behind. The products that he took part in creating are hands down amazing.

They echo the philosophy of their designer/engineer. I sincerely wish more people come to enjoy the collection of these 21 “Suya-Synths” at Korg.

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Written by

Eugene Batiste

Eugene is the webpage founder, and lover of all things volca synths.
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