The MOOG Taurus Appreciation Society

What are we doing here?

This www-site is under-construction but will be devoted to the use, abuse, care and feeding of the Moog Taurus pedal synthesizer. Although this synth is now regarded as a vintage piece, this page has been constructed for and by musicians who are interested in musical possibilities offered by this classic synth.

What is the Moog Taurus Pedal Synthesizer?

The Moog Taurus is a foot-controlled pedal synthesizer combining the features of a synthesizer -good sound and versality- with foot controlled sound modifiers and presets. This versatile muscial instrument offers the capability of producing traditional or new sounds, instantly selectable from the foot-controlled presets. One of these presets is fully programmable so that the player may set-up a "sound" and get to it instantly. To provide maximum protection, the unit is assembled in a rugged wood and metal housing.

From the owners and service manual.

What are the Moog Taurus and Moog Taurus IIs?

The Moog Taurus was the original one-box pedal synth with a one octave pedalboard, three fixed and one variable preset. Two large sliders on the front panel allow the volume and filter cut-off to be changed by foot-control. This unit is often refered to as the "original" taurus pedals or the Taurus I (the later designation was never used by the manufacturer).

The Moog Taurus II is a two-box pedal synth with a separate one-and-a-half octave pedalboard linked by a 5-pin DIN cable to a synth module. This module is essentially a Moog Rogue synth with a pedalboard controller. The synth module can be mounted on a metal tube (like a mic stand) which can be screwed into to the pedalboard, thus leaving the hands free to manipulate the parameters while your feet operate the keys.

What are the Sonic Differences Between The Moog Taurus and Taurus IIs?

The original Moog Taurus pedals produce the classic taurus sound used by many of the 70s progressive bands such as Rush, Genesis and Yes. Often, this sound is simply the fixed "taurus" preset operated in the low octave which produces the classic growl followed by sustained pumping bass. Occasionally, other taurus sounds can be heard in, for example, on the 9/8 and Eggs section of Supper's Ready by Genesis the "tuba" preset is used. Modern, progressive and neo-progressive bands also use taurus bass pedals extensively. Marillion's Pete Trewavas uses the classic taurus sound to good effect in songs such as White Russian, Script, Misplaced Childhood and more recently in the chorus of "Gazpacho" from the Afraid of Sunlight release. I'm not aware of any recorded examples of the Taurus II in action. Please e-mail me with your suggestions.

How Do I Obtain A Set Of Moog Taurus pedals?

Moog Taurus pedals ceased production over a decade ago and are available on the used market only. Owners of the original Taurus usually tell stories of a Grail-like search for a set in reasonable condition.

Although they are rare, the originals are available from vintage synth dealers and occasionally from private sales and music stores. Primary factors in determining the price are the overall condition of the pedals, and whether or not the seller/store is aware of the current value in the vintage synth market. The Taurus IIs seem to be less sought after and appear relatively often in music stores that have a used synth section.

How Much Can I Expect To Pay?

Given the current inflation in vintage synth prices, and the small number that are traded, it is difficult to give a definitive price for these sought after items. There is also an enormous variation in pricing between dealers, stores and individuals. One thing is for certain; the original Taurus pedals are significantly more expensive than the IIs.

Over the last two years, the asking price of the original taurus pedals in private sales has risen from about $350 to around $500-600 for a set in good condition. I have seen them advertised for $850 and as high as $1100 (!). As for many fashionable vintage instruments, what an item is worth and what someone is prepared to pay for it are two different numbers. Most musicians I know who have a set have paid somewhere around $350, but have paid an additional price in time spent searching for a reasonably priced set.

The Taurus IIs appear to go for around $250 from stores; I bought mine, in bad condition, for $150.

What Should I Look Out For When Buying A Set?

From a musicians' viewpoint, what matters is that they are in good working condition and are likely to stay working.

Start with the obvious: Does every pot and slider work as it should. Do the presets work? Do the LED indicators for each preset work? Do the loundness and filter foot-controls work smoothly? Do the glide, octave and decay buttons work as they should?

Does the synth sound right? This can be a difficult test because the oscillators and presets go out of tune fairly quickly. Most likely, if the unit has been sitting in someones basement for a couple of years, it will sound dreadful. Whilst the front panel tuning knob adjusts the overal frequency up and down, the relative frequencies of the oscillators are adjusted by internal trimpots. My suggestion is to switch to the taurus preset, open up the unit and find the "taurus" trimpot. Then adjust this trimpot until the oscillators produce almost no-beats. If you do'nt hear some semblance of the classic taurus sound then there may be some internal problem requiring expert attention.

While you have the case open check to see if there is any evidence of internal modification. Common, and relatively harmless mods, are installation of the balanced output and the replacement of the trimpots (this was a factory suggested modification).

Very carefully check the pedalboard contacts and switches. The switches are often a problem area and are rather unique and consequently difficult to replace. Check for rust, dirt and general degridation and/or abuse of the contacts. Check that all the pedals work. If they do'nt then the contacts could need cleaning or realigning or it could signal a more serious problem: to be sure, perform a visual inspection of the contacts.

The original brown bakelite pedals corresponding to the "white" keys are quite fragile and it is unusual to find a set of pedals with these items intact. It's easy to make wooden replacements that are more durable. The best way to stop the plastic pedals breaking is to use the synth on a carpet.