MY FAVORITE SYNTH with Umphrey’s McGee

by | May 24, 2023 | Best Music Keyboards & Synth Pads

I play keyboards for progressive improv rock band Umphrey’s McGee. My arsenal includes a Roland V Piano, MiniMoog Voyager, Hammond B3, Sequential Prophet 6, Fender Rhodes and Mellotron M4000d. I’m based in Los Angeles and hail from Chicago.


2005 MiniMoog Voyager


The MiniMoog Voyager is my lead synth and creative voice, with its wide array of tones and sounds. It’s a monophonic synth which means it only produces one note at a time. It’s an analog synth at heart and the quality of all of its components are what makes its three oscillators really shine. From sounds that can compete with guitars to avant-garde bleeps and bloops, the Voyager does it all.


The Voyager has a digital interface but the guts are all analog, giving you the best of both worlds. For a live setting, the Voyager is incredibly user-friendly. You can toggle all of the controls and variable settings right on the panel, without endless menus to scroll through. It also has plenty of onboard memory so it’s easy to save sounds and create sounds with small variations depending on your needs. A couple features I really enjoy doing live: 1) flipping the octave switches on the oscillators while holding a note to create a very glitchy vibe as the pitches quickly shift up and down and 2) the assignable pathways of the LFOs and VCAs give you a ton of flexibility when creating a sound so that it really feels alive.


Add a guitar tuner to the output chain for a couple reasons… as an analog instrument, the overall pitch of the instrument can vary pretty wildly depending on conditions and temperature. I’m always making subtle shifts with the fine tuning on the instrument throughout our shows to make sure I’m in tune. The added bonus is that you can then use the pitch bend to slowly approach notes and confidently play them to create as much tension as you’d like.


Staircase – recent UM single, Small Strides – Asking For a Friend, Escape Goat – Asking For a Friend, Can’t Rock My Dream Face – Zonkey, Red Tape – Mantis