Recently I copped the Native Instruments Maschine. Not that I was in the market for a new drum machine, but it seems that the deep discount offered by NI in order to clear inventory for the new generation Maschine MK2 caught my attention. Admittedly, I’ve not been a fan boy of the Maschine but for such a great discount I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.
Subsequently, it made sense to customize it as well. I mean let’s keep it 100, that little black plastic box is not the most appealing in appearance. To be fair, not many pieces of gear are good lookers right out of the box but it gives me good reason to keep customizing them and writing articles about it.
- NI Maschine Thick Fat Pads – Standard Clear ( Native Instruments )
- NI Maschine Pad Corx Sensitivity Upgrade Kit Corks
- NI Maschine Elevated Wood Side Panels ( Native Instruments )
- Native Instruments Maschine Faceplate Skin – White
- 8 mahogany knobs and 3 pearl inlay mahogany knobs
In preparation for dis-assembly of the Native Instruments Maschine, I primed a spot on a large table where I laid out all of the parts and tools. I gathered a couple of plastic cups for the purpose of keeping screws in a safe place. I placed a towel, large enough to place under the Native Instruments Maschine so the table would be protected. Undoubtedly, the towel was not the greatest idea because if possible static electricity but I planned to be very careful so I went for it. I would exercise caution if you choose to do the same.
Now that we’re all prepped let’s get this Native Instruments Maschine disassembled. The first order of business is to remove the 11 knobs from the top of the casing. Next, we have to remove the bottom panel, which means removing 12 screws from the bottom of the casing. With the Maschine turned over with its face down, there are 4 screws towards the front panel, 4 screws towards the back panel, two screws along the left side and a center screw. With all of the aforementioned screws removed you would think that the bottom panel would come right off pretty easily. No dice. That’s because there is a hidden screw towards the front center beneath the ‘fcc rules’ sticker. Tricky indeed. So what you need to do here is grab your screw driver and find the hollow spot beneath the sticker to remove the screw (hint: it’s right about where these words are on the sticker… “This device complies with part 15 of the FCC rules.”).
Be forewarned, this hidden screw is beneath the sticker by design. It serves the purpose of allowing Native Instruments a way to know if the Maschine was disassembled at any point. Why? You may ask. Because breaking that seal to remove that screw voids your warranty. So be mindful that you are voiding your warranty when you break that seal to remove that final screw.
Once the last screw has been removed you should be able to separate the bottom panel from the top to expose the main board of the Maschine.
Installation (internal parts)
Once inside of the Maschine there are no less than one million silver colored screws holding the main board in place. Every single one of these screws have to be removed in order to remove the main board from the top panel which gives access to the pads and the sensor sheet.
When attempting to lift the main board up off of the top panel, be sure to pay close attention to the USB and MIDI ports. These ports protrude through the backside of the top panel. You will have to give it a bit of a gentle nudge back into the panel from the outside in order to lift the main board off of the top panel. Once the main board is removed the sensor sheet will be exposed.
Before lifting the sensor sheet off of the pads, pay close attention to the surface that is facing up. It has a dull matte sort of finish. This is the side that will come in contact with the main board. The bottom side of the sensor sheet has a more shiny finish. This is the side that comes in contact with the pads. This is also the side to which the NI Maschine Pad Corx Sensitivity Upgrade Kit Corks will be affixed.
At this point, replacing the thin Maschine pads is easy enough. Once the NI Maschine Thick Fat Pads have been swapped in, we can proceed to affix the NI Maschine Pad Corx Sensitivity Upgrade Kit Corks to the sensor sheet. Remember, the shiny side of the sensor sheet gets the corks and will face the pads while the dull side faces up towards the main board.
Now that the Thick Fat Pads are installed and the Pad Corx are affixed to the sensor sheet, lets reassemble the Maschine. The layering should go something like this; pads, then sensor sheet with corks attached to the shiny side facing the pads, then main board. Finally, be sure that the main board is perfectly aligned and that the USB and MIDI ports click into place. The knob pots should fit right into the top panel as it was before dis-assembly.
Now, lets attach the main board by screwing in all one million silver screws as they were prior to dis-assembly. Next, lets attach the bottom panel with the 12 black screws.
Watch the MPCStuff.com corx installation video for a great visual aide of what I’ve described above.
Installation (external parts)
Now for the installation of the external parts, we’ll start with the Native Instruments Maschine Faceplate Skin. First things first, the installation instructions ask that you have the following available to you during installation.
- Microfiber cloth
The faceplate skin is a 5-piece set of skins. There are two side panel skins, one front panel skin, one back panel skin and one top panel skin. The instructions included with the Faceplate Skins are very thorough. Follow these instructions very carefully. Pay close attention to the part about scoring or perforating the backing paper of the skins. Don’t make the mistake that I made in cutting too deep on one portion of the top panel skin resulting in a small cut into the skin itself.
Next, lets move on to the NI Maschine Elevated Wood Side Panels. MPCStuff.com did a great job on these wood side panels. The wood is a nice thickness. The angle of the cut on the wood gives the Maschine a much-needed elevation. The Maschine’s lack of tilted screens makes this elevation the perfect update. It also provides a huge ergonomic benefit for the operator.
Initially I was a bit perplexed as to how the wood side panels would attach to the frame of the Maschine. I assumed that the three metal rods would some how go through the frame of the Maschine. At closer look, I realized that the wood side panels are actually meant to fit directly onto the existing indent in the Maschine’s plastic side panels. The metal rods would then be attached to the wood side panels beneath the Maschine.
Once the metal rods were in place I tightened the screws on either side while holding the rods in place until the wood side panels were nice and snug on the Maschine.
Now that the Face Plate skins and wood side panels are installed, the Maschine is taking shape and we are almost home free.
Next, lets do away with those itty bitty black plastic knobs. I was able to score some really cool mahogany wooden knobs to compliment the mahogany wood side panels. I searched high and low for these knobs. I eventually stumbled into a really cool shop on the Internet that makes custom guitar knobs. The name of the shop is ArchipelagoGlass.com. The site has an incredibly wide selection of wood knobs with various types beautiful designs and metal and / or pearl inlays.
Although I found a good number of knobs I would have loved to purchase for the Maschine project I wasn’t sure if the shop would be willing to make and odd number of knobs. I needed 11 knobs and the more I browsed the more I took a liking to the idea of using 8 standard wood knobs for the pots beneath the two Maschine screens while using 3 wood knobs with white pearl inlays for the tempo, volume and swing pots. I thought the white pearl inlays would pick up the white faceplate skins nicely.
So I reached out to Clayton Corrello, owner of ArchipelagoGlass.com. I explained what I was looking for and Clayton assured me that making a set of 8 and 3 knobs to my specs was not an issue.
When the wood knobs arrived I was so pleased with the turn out. The white pearl inlays turned out better than I imaged. The installation was simple enough. The knobs come with their own little Allen wrench for tightening onto the pots securely. As Clayton says “I use a stainless steel set screw on all my knobs – a bit oversize since a lot of my customers are either guitar builders or serious performers – nobody wants their knobs to be knocked off during a performance.” Indeed, these knobs weren’t going anywhere once tightened on. Not to mention they gave the Maschine a highly customized, fancy finish.
In conclusion, this Native Instruments Maschine customization project turned out to be pretty extensive. I changed out the thin standard pads for nice thick pads. I added pad corks for the much needed sensitivity upgrade. The dull black finish received a facelift with a nice white faceplate skin. Wood side panels were added for a bit of nostalgia and the addition of the wood side panel’s elevation provided a really nice ergonomic touch. Finally the contrasting wood knobs blew this one out of the water. This Native Instruments Maschine is truly next level.
As one of the forum member in MPC-Forums.com put it “That Maschine belongs in a museum.” I totally agree. The outcome of this customization is priceless. I have to say that now it looks and feels like a real drum machine. I’m inspired to create on my new, one of a kind, BBoy Tech Report custom Native Instruments Maschine.