A synth integrated into a bass pedal, produced by Moog Music. The original Taurus was an offshoot of a Moog project called the Constellation, which envisioned a complete system of monophonic and polyphonic keyboard synths, bass pedals, and auxiliary performance controls. The Constellation was never manufactured as a complete system; of the proposed components, the Taurus was the only one that made it to production in near to its original form. In all, three versions of the Taurus have been produced by Moog. All are monophonic synths with a pedalboard integrated into a floor box, which also contains foot-operated switches for selecting patches, and a few other foot-operated controls for adjusting selected parameters.
The Taurus IEdit
The first model, now referred to as the "Taurus I" to distinguish it from the later models, first reached the market in 1975. it incorporated a two-VCO analog synthesizer into a 13-note (C to C) pedalboard which sat on the floor as a stand-alone unit. Four timbres were available, selected by foot-operated buttons: three presets, and a programmable sound determined by a set of slider controls hidden underneath a small plexiglass cover on top of the unit. There were also two large foot-operated sliders to control volume and filter cutoff frequency.
The original Taurus produced a unique and very pleasing bass sound, in part due to an unusual circuit design which integrated the VCF and VCA into one circuit. It became a mainstay of '70s progressive rock, used by practically every band in the genre. Interestingly, it was played more often by bass players who wished to double on guitar or keyboards, than by keyboard players per se; a representative example is Mike Rutherford of Genesis, who often played the Taurus with one foot while standing on the other foot, as he played guitar. It was also not uncommon for some performers (notably Geddy Lee) to get sets of Taurus pedals modified to act as controllers for other synths. Problems included the need to set the unit on a table to program it, or sit on the floor with it, and the fact that the Plexiglass control cover usually got stepped on and broken.
The Taurus I was a huge sales success, with thousands of units produced. Today, broken ones are relatively easy to find, but working units are fairly rare due to the abuse many were subject to, from touring and being stepped on.
The Taurus IIEdit
In 1981, Moog replaced the original model with the Taurus II. This appeared to be an improvement, with a 18-note pedalboard (C to E), more versatile synth architecture, and the programming controls removed to a separate panel mounted on a stand. (Because the Plexiglas cover on the original Taurus often became broken from being accidentally stepped on, the controls were exposed to dust and mechanical damage.) Additionally, the control box contained a pitch wheel and a mod wheel, and portamento could be switched in.
However, the synth architecture, based largely on the Rogue, didn't quite sound the same and lacked the presets from the Taurus I. And the panel controls were not that useful in performance, since performers who played bass pedals usually did so because their hands were busy doing something else, such as playing guitar, and they didn't have a hand free to operate the panel. As a result, the Taurus II was largely rejected. Collectors have since revisited this synth and uncovered its capabilities, but they are actually harder to find than Taurus I's, since relatively few were produced. It went out of production in 1983.
The Taurus III and MinitaurEdit
In 2008, Moog Music announced a revival of the original Taurus design, improved with MIDI and patch memory, but with a voice architecture based on the Taurus I, with additional capabilities (such as the ability to FM VCO1 with VCO2). After a few false starts, this finally appeared in 2010. To the original architecture, this added a LFO, and a clever arpeggiator that can memorize a sequence of played notes and then be made to trigger by playing a note which serves as the root note for the memorized pattern. The patch memory contains four presets and 48 RAM slots for user patches.
The packaging returns to the 13-note pedalboard span of the original, although the synth can respond to a five-octave range via MIDI input. Also, like the original, the entire unit is contained in the pedalboard box, so performers once again sit on the floor to program patches. The patch controls are similar to the Little Phatty. The volume and filter-cutoff foot sliders of the original are replaced with rollers, essentially overgrown thumbwheels; the filter cutoff roller is now actually a soft knob that can be set to control any of several parameters.
The Taurus III is said to be able to closely replicate the sounds of the original. (Three of the presets are intended to duplicate the three presets of the Taurus I.) The Taurus III begat another synth called the Minitaur, which is basically a Taurus III in a tabletop package, sans pedals. The Minitaur in turn served as the basis for the Sub Phatty, which replaced the Little Phatty. As of 2015, the Taurus III is out of production, but the Minitaur is in production and available.