synth it yourself

How to Build Your Own DIY Analogue and Hybrid Synthesizers

Hi, I'm James. I’m from Australia. I like tinkering with analogue electronics and microcontrollers to make them go beep, chonk and woooosh!

As I've been figuring this out, it's been slowly dawning on me that a lot about this hobby is made to look harder than it really is.

I've written an introduction to building a breadboard synthesizer using Arduino and Raspberry Pi over at The Geek Pub. I hope to write more guides soon.

In the meantime, I've gathered together some of the most useful resources.

Old School Analogue

Hackaday's Logic Noise series is a guide to (ab)using cheap and widely available CMOS logic chips to make analogue beeps.

Music From Outer Space is by Ray Wilson, who literally wrote the book on building your own analogue synthesizer. There's just so much stuff on his website.

Schmitzbits by René Schmitz is another treasure chest of explainers and designs.

The Design of the Roland Juno oscillators by Stargirl Flowers is a super readable explanation of how analogue oscillators can be run from a digitally generated clock pulse.


The internet hosts an endless number of guides to the MIDI protocol, but it takes some digging to find resources catering to folks who want to make MIDI devices rather than just use them.

By far the most useful and thorough resource that I've found is this video series by Andrew Kilpatrick, a professional builder of music devices. The rest of his channel is good too.

The MIDI Association has some useful content also.

Kevin from Simple DIY Electronic Music Projects is also a bit of a MIDI buff. His website delves far into the protocol, and more besides.

Raspberry Pi and Python

Python and Raspberry Pi boards go together like butter and toast, so I've made this the one section.

If you’re yet to type your first line of code, get started with Automate the Boring Stuff With Python.

To access the GPIO pins, GPIO Zero. For more power and control there's RPi.GPIO and pigpio.

Raspberry Pi OS comes with a MIDI layer preinstalled as part of ALSA. If you want to connect to it using Python, Mido makes it easy.

To sequence MIDI, I like seq24.

Arduino and AVR Microcontrollers

The Arduino language is mostly just C and C++. You can learn about that with The C Beginner's Handbook

It does have its own pecularities too, which are well summarised here.

Once you get the hang of the Arduino IDE, you aren't only limited to using Arduino boards. You can use it to program other AVR microcontrollers too.

There are a range of synthesizer projects for Arduino boards that folks have kindly shared.

I've had some success using the_synth by DZL. Mozzi also has fans.

The echoTrek is a digital delay built from an Arduino Nano and a few passive components.

General Electronics

If you're totally new to electronics, Makerspaces publishes a good Introduction to Basic Electronics.

EEVblog is probably the biggest electronics engineering blog out there.

Youtube Channels Worth Following

For some really thorough and beginner-friendly explanations of DIY synthesizer circuits, subscribe to Moritz Klein

The Audiophool covers similar material, but in a more bite sized format.

Look Mum No Computer aims more at entertaining the audience, but there is still plenty to learn here too. The host Sam Battle is a natural showman with a rare gift for outlandish schemes.

Online Communities

Check out Muffwiggler and r/synthdiy.

Have fun!