Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dead Keys on an Old Korg? Try CaiKote 44!

My first synth was a Korg Mono/Poly and I still love it. I've had it for 4-5 years. I got it off eBay and half the keys didn't work. Luckily, since it was cheap, I didn't have too many qualms about diving in to try to "fix" (or possibly make more broken) all its broken parts. I didn't have much to lose!  And, once I did actually fix the broken parts, the success inspired me to keep going into the endless world of synth mods. So fun!

But that's not the point of today's post. Let's start simple. Let's fix the dead keys...

Out on the web, one can find a bunch of approaches to fixing dead keys on old keyboards. The best description of how to work specifically with these old Korgs is from Old Crow...his site is really should check it out...

His text and his pictures give you the confidence to dive right in, even if you (like me) might not have ever done anything like this before. Very inspiring.

Unfortunately, following his directions for simply cleaning the key contacts didn't fix my dead keys. Bummer.  After a bunch more internet searching, I came across a reference to this paint-on electrically conducting stuff...CaiKote 44. Oh man, this is where it's at...

A little of this stuff goes a *long* way, so all you need is the tiny little package shown on the left (not the bigger tub on the right). To use this stuff, simply: (1) follow Old Crow's description to get at the keyboard's rubber contact strips, (2) swab a very thin layer of this CaiKote stuff onto each rubber contact, (3) let it dry, (4) put your keyboard back together. Voila!

After applying this stuff, all the keys on my Mono/Poly worked. Outstanding.  After I got my Korg Polysix off eBay, I found that it had a few dead keys, too. I dug out my several-year-old tube of CaiKote 44, put a little bit on, et Viola encore! This stuff is great.

Oh yeah, for those of you on Muff Wiggler (an excellent discussion board), I discussed this fix in this thread:

And I just found this...another guy who used CaiKote on his PolySix.  He's got great pics:

Update: I just learned that LASynthCo is selling newly-manufactured key contacts for the Polysix and Mono/Poly.  They're not super-cheap, but it's a great option to have.

Update: As some of the keys on my Mono/Poly have stopped worked again (I guess the CaiKote is only good for a few years), I bought some new key contacts from LA Synth Co.  They work great!  You can check it out here.


  1. My first synth was a Korg Mono/Poly and I still love it. I've had it for 4-5 ...

  2. This is the most useful information I have been able to find regarding the fixing of keys of a Korg keyboard. I was about to purchase a number of contact strips when I came across this information and thought I would try this Caikote44 before I spent over $100 on strips.
    To my amazement this really is the only thing you need to fix loud keys or keys that have stopped working all together. Most of the black keys were no longer working on a keyboard that we purchased only two years ago and many white keys either didn't work or were very loud.
    I purchased the Caikote44 on ebay and after a couple of weeks the tiniest bottle of liquid "gold" (silver) arrived at my door. I coated my strips last night and this morning when I put the keyboard back together, every key is in working order and all at the same pitch. I was amazed at how little product I used, needless to say I probably only scraped the surface of the the contents in the bottle (I initially thought I hadn't purchased enough and was going to run out but as mentioned above a little really does go a long way).
    Thank you so much for posting this information. It really does work and I have two children who are now excited to practice what they have learnt at their lessons.

    1. Do you still have to clean the pcb to make it work? Or just put the caikote44 on the strip?