Mica Sonic Electric Conga/Bongo/Wood Block Drum Machine

OK, so this is a thing. We bought it because it was clearly an peculiar and uncommon bit of...

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OK, so this is a thing. We bought it because it was clearly an peculiar and uncommon bit of gear; we’d never seen one before and the gear geeks in us needed to get it even if it didn’t work. It has no manufacturer’s information but we are now certain that it was made in Japan in the late 60s or early 70s by Mica Sonic who made drum kits in that period.

It’s basic. It’s got plastic wood-effect laminate. It’s definitely pretty niche. Battery powered, it has two congas, two bongos and a woodblock with an on/off “mute” control for each (takes the basic reverb off the sound), and a master volume control. Each pad just has a simple piezo pick up but there is a a reasonable amount of sensitivity that allows a range of volume – it needs to be played with sticks, ideally rubber ended.

The only information we’ve found about it being used is allegedly on Anne Peebles’ version of “I Can’t Stand the Rain“, and certainly after playing with this set once we got it back from the tech, there is a definite sonic similarity.

UPDATE: We spotted a set of these on instagram being played by none other than Madlib in El Michel Affair’s studio…

Sound? Yes, it is basic, but like a lot of these odd, quirky pieces it has a certain “something”. And with it not coming from the 70s Acetone/Roland or Maestro 70s ranges you have sounds which are different to other electronic drums of the period. The congas have a pleasing boom to them, the woodblock is snappy, electronic and sharp, and if you hit pads together something overloads and you get a great electronic stab of sound.

We’re on the trail of more of these so if you are interested in one, or have one unused and needing a home, please get in touch.


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