Percussion ribbon controller

Rory McDonald rmcdonald at
Thu Nov 11 01:27:03 CET 1999

I like the ribbon controller on my Yamaha CS-80; when you press anywhere on
the ribbon, it places a reference point, and then when you move up or down
from that reference it pitches up or down from that point.  It has quite a
bit of range too.  I can look and see if I have any schematics on it.
Someone on the list probably knows this ribbon technically a lot better than
-Rory Mc Donald

-----Original Message-----
From: Grant Richter [mailto:grichter at]
Sent: Wednesday, November 10, 1999 1:16 PM
To: dougt at; synth-diy at
Subject: Re: Percussion ribbon controller

Max Mathews had a design in the 70s that was
a drum controller that output the X and Y co-ordinates
of the drum strike in addition to force (and maybe velocity).

I found it in the University library in a series of booklets
titled "Proceedings of IRCAM" or something like that.
It may very well be on the IRCAM website.

Otherwise you want the S.T.E.I.M repository
(can't find the link) from the Netherlands. Those guys
have done more with alternate controllers than
anybody. Way cool stuff.

I have a roll of conductive tape that is used by
high voltage electricians to cover insulated joints for
static dissipation. Two feet of tape is about 300K
and it is a half inch wide, made by 3M (Scotch)
The trouble is it is sticky, you have to clean it and then
rub powdered graphite into it to get it to work for
ribbon controllers. I believe regular reel to reel audio
tape is conductive also.

The problem is what you put on TOP of it to act
as a slider for your linear potentiometer.
Aluminized mylar was recommended by Electronotes
by doesn't hold up well (thin and fragile).
Solder braid will work but rips the hell out of your finger.
The Moog units used custom woven metal tape
that was OK on the finger but kept breaking also.
I still haven't found a good solution.

> From: Doug Tymofichuk <dougt at>
> To: synth-diy at
> Subject: Percussion ribbon controller
> Date: Wednesday, November 10, 1999 12:40 PM
> Hello, everyone,
> Has anybody out there ever seen plans for a ribbon 
> controller that you operate like a drum, so that you get 
> different notes depending on where you hit it? I am 
> thinking of something about two feet long that covers maybe 
> two octaves of range. Absolute pitch is not an issue. Some 
> type of robust resistive element perhaps?
> ----------------------
> Doug Tymofichuk
> dougt at

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