Korg: What Is This Company And What Did They Bring Music?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 25, 2022

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is a Japanese multinational corporation that manufactures electronic musical instruments, audio processors and guitar pedals, recording equipment, and electronic tuners. Under the Vox brand name, they also manufacture guitar amplifiers and electric guitars.

Korg logo


Korg is a Japanese musical instrument manufacturer founded in 1962 by Tsutomu Kato and Tadashi Osanai. Korg has provided some of the most iconic instruments in popular music today, such as their CX-3 organ, KAOSSilaor music production effects unit, and the classic MS-20 analog synthesizer. In recent years, they have innovated with cutting edge digital products such as Kaoss Pad controllers, Reface micro synths, and many more. From their humble beginnings to industry leading role today, there has been no shortage of contribution from Korg to the world of music production and creation.

Korg began with a focus on building electronic organs for the Japanese market. The company gradually shifted direction towards producing high quality keyboards that focused on pioneering digital technologies like automated play features with their CX-3 organ. After their success in the organ market, they released the world’s first rhythm machine—the “Mini Pops 7” in 1974. This was followed by their all-time classic—the MS-20 analog synthesizer in 1978. With this product, they introduced synthesis to a wide audience—cheaper than ever before possible and made it widely accessible to everyone!

Throughout the years—Korg produced many innovative products that allowed them to become one of leading companies in both hardware synthesizers and controllers for home recording studios around the world. They continued to grow throughout 1980’s releasing a number of groundbreaking sample playback keyboards such as Wavedrum series plus various MIDI production consoles such as M1 & T series workstations plus DSS 1 sampler/sequencers & VX machines stretching far into 90’s while also pioneering new technologies such as Distortion Synthesisers (“extreme filter sound” aimed at guitarists).

This brings us up until today where Korg still you strive remain relevant by continuing innovate—nearly 25 years after first releasing what is now one of world’s most beloved analog synthesisers: The MS-20 — which will go down history books as true classic!

History of Korg

Korg was founded in 1962 by Tsutomu Kato and Tadashi Osanai in Japan. Korg quickly rose to fame as one of the best-known manufacturers of electronic musical instruments and accessories. They were the first company to produce digital synthesizers and helped pioneer the now-standard music workstation format. Korg has also produced many of the industry standard products that are used by musicians worldwide.

Let’s take a look at the history of Korg and its lasting impact on music.

Early Years

Korg Corporation, established in 1962, is a Japanese manufacturer of electronic musical instruments. Korg was founded by Tsutomu Katoh and Tadashi Osanai in Tokyo, Japan. The two had met while working for Yamaha Corporation and decided to create an acoustic and electronic musical instrument business to expand their horizons.

Korg’s earliest products included traditional Japanese Taishogi organs and Hammond organ spin-offs as well as guitar effect devices. Their first big success came in 1967 when they released the MiniKorg 600 Organ. This was the first portable electro-mechanical organ that used transistors and ICs instead of vacuum tubes, making it very lightweight for its time – weighing only 3kg!

Not long after, Korg ventured into synthesizers with their very successful 770 Mono Synthesizer as well as the first programmable analog/digital combo synth called the PS-3200 Polyphonic Synthesizer. These synths were adopted by musicians around the world such as Bowie, Kraftwerk, and Devo amongst many other influential acts of the era including those rehearsing in a small room outside London some ten years later called Depeche Mode.

Expansion and Growth

Korg’s expansion and growth over the years has seen the company become one of the leading instruments and sound solution providers in much of Asia and around the world. With a large catalog of hardware keyboards, synthesisers, digital pianos, drum machines and guitar effects, Korg has become renowned for producing some of the most reliable, sought after and affordable products available on the global market today.

Korg release their first successful guitar pedal in 1972 – a transistor-based unit that greatly expanded their reach into other businesses outside music and away from Japan. From this point onwards Korg began to expand rapidly throughout Asia with their business operations finding great success in China, India, Phillipines & Singapore.

Throughout the 1980s & 90s Korg started to find international success beyond Asia with other music markets around the globe taking note of what they had to offer. In 1985 Korg released one of their most famous synthesizers – the M1, which would be widely used by artists across all genres. This was quickly followed up by other successful releases such as Wavestation (1990) and Triton (1999).

Today they are best known for their more recent releases such as Nano Series controllers (2007), Kaossilator Pro+ (2011), Volca Series microsynths (2013) and electribe Series drum machiens & hybrid grooveboxes (2014). These successes over years mean that Korg remains a dominant figures in modern music production despite rampant competition from other major brands.

Digital Revolution

The “Digital Revolution” is the term used to describe the massive advancement in technology throughout the 1980s and 90s that saw an explosive growth in nearly all forms of technology, including music and audio. Korg was one of the leading companies of this era, and their invention of highly successful digital instruments changed music on a global scale.

Korg began in Japan in 1962 when the company was founded by Tsutomu Katoh. It began as an organ repair shop but soon evolved into creating musical synthesizers, effect devices, rack mount sound modules and digital processors. In 1977 Korg released its first full-fledged synthesizer, the MS-10. This device was a two oscillator analogue mono synth that allowed artists to create new sounds with ease due to its user interface consisting of only two modulatable knobs.

In 1983 Korg release what would come to be known as one of their most well loved products – the M1 Digital Workstation Synthesiser. This powerful workstation employed 16 bit sampling technology which allowed users to create professional quality recordings at home for low cost. This innovation greatly impacted both home studios and professional recording studios around the world as it was (at that time) incredibly accessible for artists on a budget.

The success of both products saw Korg become a major player on a global scale throughout the 80s and 90s with many well known musicians utilizing Korg’s many innovative products not just for their live performances but also when producing their own music recordings at studio level too. It forced other manufacturers within this industry to up their game too which made it great for musicians everywhere ‘from aspiring hobbyists through to pro musicians.’ The wild success of Korg during this period is still being seen today with them still producing some incredible instruments both physical and virtual (software based).

Korg’s Innovations

Korg is a leading manufacturer in musical instruments, software, and audio production. They have changed the way we create music with groundbreaking products like the Korg Ms-20, a semi-modular synth, and the Korg Wavestation, a digital synth with vector synthesis capabilities.

In this section, we will look at some of the advances Korg has made in the music industry over the years:


Korg is a leader in the world of synthesizers and MIDI controllers. Starting from their 1973 release of the Donca-Matic DE-20 portable analog synthesizer, Korg has revolutionized the way we view and interact with modern music production. Korg’s products were initially designed to bring affordable, “professional-grade” musical instruments to the public, and many of today’s most popular Synthesizers are directly inspired from Korg’s early designs.

Some examples of Korg’s signature Synthesizers include:

  • The MS-10, a two oscillator mono synth released in 1978 that allowed users to control their keys with an expression pad.
  • The M1 released in 1988 was Korg’s first digital synth and featured 88 different waveforms to choose from as well as up to 8 digital tracks of its own memory.
  • The Wavestation, released in 1990 featured Wave Sequencing technology which allowed musicians to store multiple sounds they played on single keys in patterns up to 16 notes long. Through this innovation, musicians could easily create complex phrases that could be looped over themselves in tandem with other instruments playing along as well.
  • More recently, the Minilogue polyphonic synthesizer was released in early 2016 and offers users a vast array of real time controls for sound manipulation including an oscilloscope display for seeing how waveforms interact when mixed together.

Revered by professionals around the world for having some of the most groundbreaking synthesisers on the market today, Korg continues to release innovative products that enable musicians around the world unleash their creative potential like never before.

Digital Workstations

Korg’s digital music workstations redefined the modern synth and have been used on more than 300 million records. These instruments let musicians play, sample, edit and produce an entire song all in one controller. Korg’s workstations are designed for easy USB connectivity so that you can plug into your home setup or go mobile.

Korg was among the first to combine powerful sequencing software with digital synthesis to create some of the earliest digital workstations such as the KORG Triton and Trinity V3 series. The Triton was first released in 1999 and featured groundbreaking features such as a 16-track sequencer, 8 voices of polyphony, up to 192 programs per preset bank, 160Mb of internal sample ROMs plus 2Mb RAM allowing users to load their own samples.

More recently, KORG has released digital workstations like the Kronos – a 61-key synthesizer with 9 sound engines designed for both studio production and live performance use. It has intuitive touch-screen performance controls to make every facet of synthesis easy for producers to understand whilst providing controlled precise digitally motivated control over every nuance from side chained drums to intricate pad changes.

Drum Machines

Korg is a Japanese company known for their innovations in the music industry. Primarily, the company’s products are focused on electronic instruments and sound processing technologies. Their wide array of instruments based on synthesis technology keeps them in the spotlight and at the forefront of innovation.

One of Korg’s most popular inventions was their drum machines, which revolutionized electronic music production. The first machine they released was known as the Korg Rhythm Ace, which came out in 1974. It could create realistic drum instrument tones and patterns at an affordable price point. This made it popular among early hip-hop producers due to its cost efficiency in comparison to conventional acoustic drums.

Following their success with this first model, Korg continued to refine and develop new drum machines over the next few years – producing revolutionary devices such as electribe ES-1S (1999) and electribe EMX-1 (2004). These devices allowed users to create detailed rhythms through sequencing sounds from sample libraries, allowing for unparalleled accuracy and expression beyond anything conventional acoustic drums could do at that time.

Korg revolutionized modern production techniques by creating these iconic drum machines that are still used by many professionals today. With their attention to detail and quality engineering behind each device, they keep pushing musical boundaries even further – giving us innovative products that continue to benefit musicians around the world well into future generations.

Korg’s Impact on Music

Korg is an iconic brand for musicians and producers alike. This Japanese company has been producing high-quality musical instruments and innovative technologies since 1963. They have revolutionized music with their game-changing synthesizers, effects processors, and other electronic instruments. Korg has helped shape the sound of modern music, and while they are best known for their synthesizers, they have also made other key contributions to the world of music.

Let’s take a look at how Korg has shaped music:


Korg instruments has had a great impact on rock music since it was founded in 1963. Korg is responsible for some of the most iconic pieces of rock equipment, such as the original 1970s KR-55 drum machine and the 1970s model CX-3 organ.

The popularity of these instruments lead to Korg becoming an industry leader in providing reliable and effective musical solutions.

Korg synthesizers have been used by some of the most influential acts in rock music, including The Beatles and David Bowie. Korg’s synthesizers provided artists with access to new and creative sounds that allowed them to explore different types of music, helping define the soundscape of rock into what it is today.

Korg’s advancements in technology has also allowed artists more control over their music, such as its early adopters who realized the potential of its signature Kaoss Pad which allowed electronic manipulation while still remaining intuitively simple to use. Many guitarists have also taken advantage of Korg’s powerful multi-effects pedals, allowing them to combine various effects simultaneously.

The contribution that Korg has made to rock music cannot be understated; their products have shaped and reformed how musicians produce and create their art through introducing innovative technologies, inspiring people around the world with new ideas on how we can explore soundscapes through playing traditional instruments like guitar or sampling electronic software like Ableton Live or Logic Pro X, enabling people everywhere to create unique musical pieces from their own home studios using portable gear from Korg that can fit into any space.


Korg has had a major impact on the development of pop music over its fifty year history. From some of the earliest drum machines to synthesizers, loopers and vocoders, Korg has consistently been at the forefront in creating new instruments that revolutionized the sound of popular music.

Korg first gained industry recognition when they released their successful polyphonic synthesizer, the Polysix in 1981. This synth became popular with many early 80s artists such as now iconic bands like Duran Duran, ABC and Depeche Mode. The Polysix was known for its warm tones and soon became a favorite for studio musicians and producers alike.

During this time Korg was also innovating in electronic percussion as well as keyboards with products like their MRC rhythm machine and DDM-110 digital drum machine which provided accessible means for musicians to explore avant garde sounds. In 1984 Korg released a keyboard workstation that combined many different digital functions such as sample playback, sequencing and more, all into one intuitive instrument which was called the M1 which was wildly successful.

Korg continued to stay ahead of the technology trend with their development digital synths featuring intuitive user interfaces based around button pads that simplified electronic music production enabling users to put whole tracks together quickly with ease by pressing just a few buttons or by dragging-and-dropping samples or loops. Many of these instrument releases have become staples of modern pop culture – like their MS-20 synth modules being used by Nine Inch Nails on Pretty Hate Machine (1989).

More recently Korg’s Electribe product line has earned them renown among modern producers, DJs & performers while they are also renowned for classic products like their Wavedrum percussion synthesizers that enable you to mix your own sounds; this product was used by Björk on her much acclaimed Biophilia Tour (2011).

Korg’s rich history remains part of today’s modern music landscape as it continues to provide innovative new solutions every year for aspiring producers, performers & DJs from around the world seeking new ways perform & create music that kept pushing boundaries all over again!


Korg is known for its electronic music and equipment, which provide musicians around the world with powerful, versatile tools to create music. Korg synthesizers, better known as Korgs, were first introduced in 1963 and are among the most sought-after instruments by musicians. They have evolved over the years to include a range of analog and digital models that offer an endless array of sounds.

Korg’s gadgets are designed to be intuitive and easily tweakable so users can quickly turn their ideas into music. The company produces a variety of electronic products that can help any musician find the perfect sound or style they’re looking for. From

  • beat machines,
  • effects processors,
  • samplers
  • digital recorders

– Korg has something that caters to every producer.

The company also provides a wide selection of controllers – including

  • MIDI keyboards,
  • drum machines
  • foot pedals

– which allow users to control any synthesizer or external device in just about any way imaginable. By utilizing these controllers with their lineup of virtual synth plugins, users can full customize their setup for each recording session.

Over the years Korg has been at the forefront of synth-technology and continues developing cutting-edge electronic equipment in collaboration with some of world’s most renowned musicians. With their innovative range of products they have truly revolutionized the way producers create music today!


Korg has been an invaluable resource to the modern music community. Whether through their synthesisers, sequencers, or their stylish keyboards and stage pianos, Korg has provided musicians with quality gear and products at reasonable prices. They have made many technological advances over the years, such as Physical Modelling technology, which allows users to experience the sounds of real acoustic instruments in digital form.

Korg has also helped develop several new music genres such as Digital Hardcore and Industrial Metal. Its products were integral in the production of these new genres and allowed artists to create entirely new soundscapes that could never have been achieved with analog gear alone. Korg continues to produce innovative equipment for modern musicians today and is poised to continue its mission of innovating musical products for generations to come.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

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