Original Patches   Pedal/CV Jack   A Better Clav

Kirk Slinkard is back with what might be the last word on synthesizing the Hohner D6 Clavinet.  The technique in his article works equally well on all the flavors of the ESQ/SQ-80. Indeed the free sample patch at the bottom of the listing is compatible with all hardware and software versions of the synth.

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As Kirk mentions below, we have extensive coverage of clavinet patch programing and techniques elsewhere on this site. The Clav Shootout was a lot of fun to do, and even though the voting option is no longer available, you can still listen to the original samples and download the freeware patches.

But this new patch from Kirk just might outperform them all. And it’s right here on this page for free!

A Better ESQ-1* Clavinet Patch

(*or “ESQ-M” for Those People)

by Kirk of the Mountain People

This article is a warning to those musicians who would think of their ESQ-whatever or SQ-80 (and that guy who ended up with the SQ-80M) as basically doing only what is outlined in the owner's manual. The manual tells you what your basic tools are, and which buttons do what. But—like the factory patches—the manual never really hints at what the machine is ultimately capable of.

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both SYNC and AM, of resonance and keyboard tracking. You've just crossed over to the ESQ-1 zone.

Prior Art

A couple of authors—including me—have written articles about synthesizing the clavinet in the Transoniq Hacker. The main demo patch in mine depended mostly on the sampled CLAV wave in the SQ-80 to get it's sound, but the ESQ-1 version I came up with frankly didn't sound all that authentic. As can be seen in the "ESQ/SQ80 Clav Shootout" way over there on Mark Wynkoop's website: Score For Sale, other programmers had come up with better and worse using waveforms available on the ESQ-1. But in all cases, you would be doing good if you could just tell what instrument the patch was trying to imitate. Certainly none of them would fool anybody into thinking you were actually playing a real one. I believe a few of the aforementioned others use the PULSE waveform, which I would describe as having a nasally, gritty, lo-fi digital quality to it, sounding only vaguely like a clavinet.

A Better Basis for a Basic D6

But while experimenting, I found that if you use it in OSCILLATOR 2 and "AM" it with a SINE wave in OSCILLATOR 1 locked in at the same frequency and phase, PULSE suddenly becomes a lot more civilized and also sounds a lot more like a clavinet. Even better than the variable pulse wave described elsewhere.

Filter Fun

It actually turned out very bright, so there is a lot of filtering here. I recommend going to the FILTER page and increasing the FREQ value to taste if you want a brighter sound. That does an excellent job of sounding like a typical treble-boosted clavinet heard in recordings. You can also lower it as far as 000 and still be within the realm of the Hohner's tone switches.

Demo Patch Description

In this demo patch [ jump to patch listing at bottom of page ], the BASS wave in OSCILLATOR 3 combines in the lower registers to give the overall sound a little more body as well as detuning. Here is it set on "FINE = 01", so it doesn't sound like a chorus effect, but more like the slowly shifting waveform effect you hear on a sustained note from a real clavinet, as well as on pianos such as the Wurlitzer or Rhodes. For comparison, you can move the MOD WHEEL all the way forward to eliminate OSCILLATOR 3, so that you hear only PULSE in OSCILLATOR 2. You may even prefer to play it only that way. You could almost think of the MODWHEEL as the equivalent of one of those tone switches on the Hohner.

“A.M.”, I Said

Go over to the MODES page and switch off and on the AM function.  Do this a couple times to compare the straight and AM'd PULSE wave. It's not what I was expecting from AM. If you think it is just too quiet overall, either play it louder or go to ENVELOPE 4 and turn off the "LV" value. And if you don't have a mod pedal, this should be one of those times when you wish you did.

By using SYNC and AM, you actually have many hundreds (at least) of distinctively different static waveforms to work with out of OSCILLATOR 2 that are not on the lists in the owner's manuals. This is just one of those. If we start a list, maybe we should call this one the CLAV 2 waveform.


Keep your eye out for a Transoniq Hacker article on Rainer's site showing how to combine two SINE waves with the AM function to get a variety of different woodwind instrument waveforms. So far this is still mostly unexplored territory. Hope to hear more from players of these older Ensoniqs on their discoveries.

—Mod you later.

—Kirk Slinkard

Patch Name: CLVESQ

OSC1   -1, 00, 00, SINE, ENV2, +01, OFF, -
OSC2   -1, 00, 00, PULSE, ENV2, +01, OFF, -
OSC3   -1, 00, 01, BASS, ENV2, +01, OFF, -

DCA2   63, ON, OFF, -, OFF, -
DCA3   34, ON, WHEEL, -63, KBD2, -15

LFO1   27, ON, OFF, SAW, 00, 00, 00, PEDAL

ENV1   +46, +37, -63, 00, 00,   00, 17, 61, 63, 38
ENV2   +11, -06, +00, 35, 00,   00, 02, 03, 00, 17


ENV4   +63, +63, +00, 51, 00,   00, 00, 62, 03, 29

FILTER 007, 00, 31,   ENV1, +63, LFO1, -63

DCA4   08, 63, OFF, -

MODES  OF, ON, OF, 00,   OF, OF, ON, OF


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