Little. Simple. Different. Better. Or at least, 100 people sure think so.

… so I’ll make this a two-minute post. Yes, it seems the Monome 64, the cute, new, and improved 8×8 Monome, sold out its short initial run in one hundred twenty seconds and fried the order system. I’m guessing the low price, growing Web buzz, and attractive compact design with wooden edges all contributed. The Monome will be getting another 100 units soon, though, so I think if you’re looking for Monome love, you won’t be disappointed in the long run.

That raises an important question, though: with hunger for alternative music-making devices, why was so much new tech at the NAMM show (and elsewhere) so conservative — and, speaking of designs that do look different, can we dare to hope for a worldwide launch of Yamaha’s Tenori-On? (I promised I wouldn’t compare Tenori-On to Monome again, but let’s put it this way: creative designs sells, and both designs count as creative design.) Things you’ll notice the Monome doesn’t have: giant decals of its logo, or a logo, period, weird acronyms for included technology (OSC! VAST! V.LINK! AWSUM! MUSIQCK! MLFY039! is not tattooed anywhere), there’s no unreadable LED screen, no input for a mouse … I’ll stop. Apologies to the major music manufacturers, but you’ll notice even among the products from the Big 3 (Yamaha, Roland, Korg), it’s often the small and simple devices that people love over the long haul — things that are beloved rather than disposable. Sure, 100 units to those guys is nothing, but I think the point still holds.

So, let’s ask you: what’s the favorite music-making gadget you own that you can pick up in one hand? Tuners and metronomes count.

  • Thomas Cermak

    This is great news for indie dev everywhere. I'll be blogging about this for sure.

  • I have a few hand-held music-making gadgets.

    #1 my monome 128, I love it dearly (even though i might not be able to pick it up in one hand)

    #2 buddha machine, i loved the first one so much, i bought three more

    #3 am/fm/sw receiver, small and fun to play with, especially when chopping up sampled loops with my monome

  • Todd Fletcher

    Nord Lead 2x, which really is so light you can pick it up in one hand.

  • Thomas Cermak

    oh, to answer the question: my kaos pad (original) – old and corporate, but still an amazing midi controller.

  • My Fatman of course! Can't play catch with it though…not *that* confident in my soldering abilities.

  • Octavolt

    Apple Bluetooth Keyboard.

  • Fender acoustic guitar. 🙂

    Of course, to do anything useful with it, I have to get the other hand involved…

  • ben kessler

    Hard call, but probably either my pocket trumpet or my MAM ADX-1.

  • simon w

    Kaossilator. Baaadaaaass!

  • My black 15" MacBook.

  • yes the kaossilator is a great example. and congratulations to the guys at monome it seems like they have a winning product just on their sales alone here.

  • I for one, love my kazoo.

  • lematt

    a microphone and a md are always source of great pleasure

  • i love my monome 128!

    along with my Doepfer pocket fader, it is the perfect music making device.

    i can't wait to see what new applications the monome community comes up with as it grows.

  • velocipede

    Don't own it, but Korg's Kaossilator seemed like lots of fun when I tried one for a few minutes.

    Sooner or later, I will buy a new handheld recorder.

    After watching two pros demo the AKAI EWI4000S, I still want one even though I was intimidated!

    As far as something I own that can be picked up with on hand is concerned, a pair of drumsticks, a ukulele and a bottle of local beer can all be picked up in one hand and contribute to musical joy.

  • Damon

    Congrats to the guy who designed that thing. An excellent accomplishment.

  • Man… I can't believe no one's mentioned Elektroplankton! It's the cheapest aural therapy you can find.

    The Tenori-on is pretty much just a more developed version of what you can do in Elektroplankton presented in a new way.

  • samu

    monome 40h, destined to become a family heirloom

    Native Instruments 4Control

    Yamaha Al Foster Hipgig drumkit. Could pick it up in one hand, though not hold it for long. Not actually mine just yet, but nothing will stand in my way.


  • dead_red_eyes

    I was finally going to get myself a Monome, and I was really hoping for the 64. I'm SOL once again. Haha. No way in hell I'm gonna try and actually build one myself.

  • I wanted to buy a 128, but it seemed just a bit out of my price range… now the 64 is gone…

    I guess I'll be holding on to my 40h instead of selling it…

  • el paolo

    I just sold my 40h to build a new desktop. As much as I enjoyed it, I just don't use it enough for the music I make. Besides, this P4 2.8 Ghz isn't cutting it anymore.

    Anyhow, my picks…

    Hardware: Novation X-Station. It's my audio interface, MIDI controller, late-night visual ambience. (want to add a Nocturn)

    Software: Oddity.

  • dan s.

    My kalimba!.

    Bonus: Jens Lekman playing the kalimba and singing Arthur Russel's A Little Lost.

  • Zinoff

    I wish I could hold in one hand my Octopus sequencer (it's kind of light but you need two hands to operate anyway), until that day…


    Kurzweil Expressionmate (the ribbon part)

    Doepfer Drehbank

    Remote X station (Lately I like to perform gigs by sitting on a sofa holding this keyboard on my left arm (unless for parts where 2 hands are required)).

  • buffalo

    Mine's the RB-338! I know it's not hardware but otherwise it fits all requirements: Intuitive (takes 5 minutes to figure out all functions), simple, fun and sounds good. None really makes software like that anymore (at least for the Mac). I so wish they'd make an OSX version of it (won't happen though as end of life).

  • Jan

    Well my Etherwave Theremin is great fun…and you don't even have to touch it! 🙂

  • Sean

    Adrenalinn III – you can use the drum patterns and put them through the filter fx and delays even if you haven't plugged a guitar into it.

    Alesis Micron – small enough to pick up with one hand, can act as analogue drum machine, phrase sequencer and keyboard all at once.

    iRiver h140 (with RockBox firmware) – 40Gb of hard disk you can record WAV onto via optical input as well as line-in and built-in microphone. Oh, it's an MP3 player too.

    Boss small shiny 4-track, whatever that's called.

    Oh and my DSI Evolver.

  • now: gp2x/gameboy/pocketpod tie

    someday: touch eeepc running piggytracker..

  • My P3 Sequentix which is also an alternative music-making device and a truly innovative step sequencer. It's no more build but the price of the second hand's one goes crazy now !

    Hédi K.

  • GaryG

    my Harmonica.

    seriously, mic it properly and you'll get some of the most spine tinglingly emotive tones around.

  • teej

    Electroplankton or my Ashbory bass, both are little and righteous.

  • bizzaro lord zool

    my monome is the only way i can do a live show period

  • jay vaughan

    Easy answer: my brand new EEE PC! And guess what? Linux Audio on the EEE PC Just Plain Works. Within an hour of unboxing, I had amsynth, zynaddsubfx, alsa modular synth, puredata, audacity and OMsynth all working smoothly and easily .. it even recognized my Emagic MT4 midi box as soon as I'd plugged it in! Best Computer-music experience I've had in a long time, and I'm a Macbook Pro user (normally.. I might get rid of it now and replace it with an EEE PC version 2, when its available..)

  • max_headwound

    gameboy color for sure 🙂

  • Well, it's more of a music-recorder than a music making device, but I would definitely have to go with my EDIROL R-09 PORTABLE RECORDER.

    If not that, then probably my MELODICA.

  • negatek

    hr-16 drum machine. the calculator of doom.


    speak and spells.

    zvex fuzz factory.

  • Hm. My favorite hand percussion instruments are all big enough to require two hands to pick up, so that narrows it down to my padKontrol or my DS Lite.

    I don't have Electroplankton yet, but Jam Sessions is kinda fun if limited.

  • dead_red_eyes

    I've gotta vote for Electroplankton here. I love it so very much.

  • Cracklebox. It is a box and it crackles, beeps and screeches.

  • my monome 128

    my kaos KP3

    my devi ever pedals

    my frostwave resonator

    my frostwave sonic decimator

    my maxon ad999 delay

    all pickupable in one hand and all used practically daily.

  • cubestar

    Korg Pad Kontrol and Novation X-Station

    The BCR2000 is kind of nice too.

    Someone needs to make just a strip of 8 endless encoders with led feedback on the knob (Like BCR2000) as well as LCD readouts of what it's controlling.

    Metal would be nice, kind of like the Kenton Killamix Mini, but less $$$ and with the led feedback and LCD readouts.

    Select a rack in Live, see the macro settings and names.

    Then they should come up with one that just shows the launch state & name of a grid of clips, like lighted buttons with LCDs over them.

    Of course, the Lemur is the closest thing to being able to do that, but:

    1. Expensive

    2. Over Kill

    3. Virtual buttons

    4. No bus power

    5. Big

  • Ebow

    Monome 64

    Although Pete, I have to say that amongst the Monome's many qualities, I'm not sure that 'low price' ranks among them. $450 for a box of buttons? I mean, it's a VERY nice box of buttons, but it's not cheap.

  • wow, nice stuff all of you.

    i went digital, so its:

    1: Akai MPD-16 (simple, effectiv, cheap, mpc feel=awesome. its totally plug and play and not only good for drums. i programmed to in ableton to select clips. its drumsmashine, loopsequencer, sampleplayer,… i even use it for pianostuff). -> what about mpd-24? anyone? i find myself not using much of the knobs anyway.

    2: kaossilator (cheap, fun, getting one tomorrow)

    3: powerbook g4 (cheap, still good speed, runs ableton & reason)

  • cubestar

    BTW – I really like the look of the first Monomes better, what are the improvements in the new revs?

  • Mike

    my KP2, my friend's gourd piano, drumsticks, probably my monome 40h whenever the hell performance-pc's decides to get me my god damn LEDs I ordered

  • can these people just phone up a factory in china so they'll have enough/ I can afford one?

  • Zak

    my kaossilator for sure 😛

    i have it rigged in a kid beyond stlye multitrk

    with ableton.

  • John

    Yamaha QY 70, complete sequencer and tone module the size of a thin brick. That's been my favorite for years, now I like my Kaossilator (though it's pretty limited).

  • Wes

    My 128 monome

    Zvex Fuzz Factory


    Pocket Pod – not as good as the normal sized one but not bad.

    Korg Kaoss Pad 2 – although ive lost my power supply and im struggling like hell to find a replacement power supply! does anyone know here where i can a replacement one in the uk?

    good list so far though guys!

  • pss…come on guys..

    Dromm makchinz

    Boss DR-5, 660, 770

    battery powered and all you need is some headphones for the bus ride home…

    ghetto fabulous

  • ian

    a handful of 556 timers

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  • My Sony PSP! With PSPKick or PSPRhythm running, you could have some good beat-makin' fun. Unfortunately I've upgraded my firmware, so I don't have the option of using those two apps anymore….but there's still the commercially available Traxxpad. Not as good as the other two, but still fun.

  • Key

    I have 3:

    1. Harmonica 2. Korg Microkontrol on a long usb cable to my Macbook 3. Yamaha QY70 – My first real electronic instrument.

  • @Rhythmist:

    you can downgrade from nearly any firmware now. check or

    i use my psp on the road, sure fun! but to slow with gamecontrols. but still best mobile beatmaker (using own samples from memstick).

  • I'm surprised no one else has mentioned the Wiimote, so I will – doing filter sweeps with your arms is a blast.

  • Another vote for the Cracklebox. The dogs are crazy about it.

  • Without my M-Audio X-Session, I would be lost! So simple, yet so useful.

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  • Gogmagog


  • must agree here, this thing looks nice and all that, but its overpriced, no way would i in my sane mind pay more than 150$ for such thing.

  • ian

    Elektron MachineDrum. Freaking awesome.

  • emmett

    the longer i own things, the more and more i appreciate construction. monome is one of the sleekest musical (or otherwise) devices i have ever seen and looks like the type of product that won't lose it's value with time. there's a reason why no one owns a cellphone for more than a year or two and i personally feel a lot better investing real money into a real product.

    and, as far as hand held fun, there's my kaoss pad 2, my bcr2000 (in the mail!), and my nintendo wii controller

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  • stewart

    All of these are hand held

    and can be as professional

    as you make them:

    Casio VL-Tone

    (Trio's "Da Da Da" song)

    Casio SK-1

    (just about everyone

    started with this)

    Korg Electribe ES-1

    (sample anything

    and changing pitch

    to form different

    notes and beats)

    Korg MicroKorg

    (need I say more?)

    The rest are toys but no

    less an important part of

    music production…it's all

    in how you present it!):

    American Idol guitar

    (believe it or not…

    it's like a mini strat

    and pignose amp

    without the quality,

    of course)

    Synsonic Drums

    (an old favorite)

    V-tech Music Major

    (for those essential

    animal sounds)

    Guitar Synth

    (an okay instrument

    that you won't ever feel

    bad about destroying


    P.S. – I really enjoy the

    Monome look. Is there

    a DIY version?