The Moog Rogue Analogue Mono Synthesizer
The Moog RogueClick thumbnail to view full-size
Moog Bass, Overdrive and Creativity
The Moog Rogue or the Rogue Moog to give it it proper name was a monophonic analogue synth that came out in 1981 during the peak of the post-punk synth-pop era. It was designed to be an affordable version of the Moog Prodigy, which itself was a cut-down version of the legendary 3 oscillator MiniMoog. It was the late Dr Robert Moog's answer to the ARP Axxe which was available from around the mid '70's. It also gives us a clue to the correct pronunciation of the famous Moog name.
As with a lot of vintage synthesizers, It currently has a massive cult following and has been used by Peter Gabriel, 808 State and Mr Oizo and many other producers and recording artists.
At the time, analogue synthesizers were extremely expensive to design and manufacture so these entry level machines were a great way for mere mortals (like me) to get their hands on that Moog sound, or something similar. Remember that these machines were made with real analogue components and are not to be confused with modern digital imitations.
Moog Music inc. even licensed the design to Radioshack who built their own, even cheaper version. The famous Moog Taurus bass pedals also used the guts from the Rogue and it too is extremely sought-after.
The Rogue Moog is a classic 2 oscillator design and is fairly unremarkable on paper. It was, however, an improvement on the majority of rubbish 1 oscillator machines doing the rounds at the time.
It's more about what you can't do with it and what's missing than what you can do. For example, you can't combine waveforms and the envelope generator is quite basic. It's obviously pre MIDI but has the proprietary S-Trig interface so you can use it with modern sequencing packages via a converter.
Doepfer, Kenton, and Philip Rees all make MIDI to CV converters capable of triggering the Rogue. You have to use stereo jacks rather than the more traditional mono CV & Gate type plugs. This was always a strange idiosyncratic feature of all Moog synthesizers.
The Rogue was always criticized for its construction. The build quality is a bit dicey compared to other Moog synthesizers. Having said that, mine is still going strong after 30 years so it can't be that bad I guess. I actually quite like the big clunky metal rocker-switches and none of the pots crackle, which is unusual for a machine of this age.
Fun With Filters
The filter section is pretty basic. It just your vanilla flavour 24dB per octave lowpass with cutoff, emphasis (resonance), and envelope amount which is why I don't really bother with it. I prefer to run it through an external high-order filter bank which gives me high-pass, and band pass filters and clock it to my sequencer for extra weirdness. Trust me, it sounds out of this world. I've owned and used many expensive and exotic synths over the years, and still do, but this combination gets me every time, and I use it to death.
So why do I love it so much?
Where it gets interesting is the mysterious 'overdrive' slider on the right-hand side of the panel. Whack it up and it saturates the filter to produce a distinctively rich sound which is perfect for bass or screaming lead sounds. It's not quite as appealing as the overdrive circuit on the Mini-Moog but it still sounds wonderfully organic.
Check out some of my tunes which are covered in Rogue as I use it on pretty much all of my recordings these days. I also use it for drum and percussion sounds.
To moan about the 'cheapness' of this machine (and many users do) and its lack of features misses the point. Sure It does have a limited sound palette but what it does, it does extremely well. Stick it through a proper filter and it will blow your socks off.
If you want nasty over-driven 'hoover' type sounds, or a deep warm bass then I guarantee that this machine will always come up with the goods.
Hear it for yourself...