A visit to Asheville wouldn’t be complete without a tour of Moog Music (located right off the interstate in the downtown area). Bob Moog moved from New York to North Carolina in the late 70’s (see timeline). He had visited friends in Asheville previously and fell in love with the area. Moog Music is a relatively small synthesizer company of around 50 people very focused on their core competency: building high quality analog synthesizers (and related components) based around the iconic Minimoog platform. All design, assembly, testing, packaging, etc are done on-site. Most PC boards are fabricated and stuffed nearby. All wood used in the cases is sourced in the US too.
The tour started in the assembly/test area. We saw how rigorous Moog’s quality system is through the various assembly steps and burn-in (an extended powered quality control test to check for marginal components). Moog Music’s production quality system minimizes their service/RMA needs, allowing 3 people (when we were there) to handle all servicing/calibrations, since they have very few returns.
There are no machines in the assembly area, since the job is done completely by hand, reminiscent of craftsmanship usually reserved for the best acoustic instruments. Other features that emphasize the hand crafted nature of the Voyagers were the various woods and finishes used, along with a striking all white edition. We also got to see some of the limited edition (only 30 made) gold plated 10th Anniversary Voyagers.
After the service department, we proceeded to shipping/receiving. Since most Moog products are built-to-order, they are usually shipped as soon as they are completed. So, there was little to see there, except incoming packaging material. We then went to the Moog Sound Lab (and photography studio), which contains various demo products, along with a striking wall of rack mounted Moog products.
The tour ended in the store, which is a great analog synth playground, filled with Voyagers, MoogerFoogers, Phattys, and an Etherwave Theremin (along with the usual assortment of Moog themed swag). The next time you’re in the area (west NC, east TN), be sure to take a trip to Moog Music, but leave plenty of time to play with the toys. We look forward to returning to Asheville for the next MoogFest.