When I plan my trips, I make sure to include attractions that will speak directly to my boyfriend’s many interests. In the case of Asheville, this was the Moog Factory. Upon first visiting the store, I found the small space fun, but I wanted to leave after five minutes. However, the free tour we took of the facilities changed everything. Take note, you don’t have to be a hardcore music nerd to enjoy this 45 minute walk!
What is the Moog Factory & What to Expect?
Never heard of Moog? This high-end manufacturer made its start crafting the etherwave theremin, an instrument that was declared the hardest to play in the world. The tour started off with a brief demonstration and, while our guide admitted that he only knew the basics, it was fascinating to watch him produce various sounds from this device that seems fitting for sci-fi.
Next, we learned all about the history of modular musical devices and synthesizers, which Moog pioneered. Trust me, it’s not as boring as it sounds. We learned about how large and expensive these incredibly complex devices used to be, as well as how cutting edge the technology was for the time. Woven into the discussion are stories about the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, the Eagles, and more. However, the devices themselves are entertaining, as the range of possible sounds is fairly mind-blowing.
Participants will tour the actual factory in which each Moog device is made by hand. Here, you won’t find massive manufacturing machines that pump out the equipment by the hundreds, but rather skilled craftsmen that carefully piece together the high-quality components in a process that takes hours (sometimes up to a thousand hours depending on the device).
At one point during our tour, we talked in on two employees doing an impromptu performance just for the love of music. We then learned that one of these employees had both his wife and daughter working at the Moog Factory, and that they formed a family band in which they each played Moog instruments. The point is, these highly skilled technicians perform labors of love that are genuinely pleasurable to witness.
At the end of the tour, my boyfriend declared that the experience was “the coolest thing ever” and he was left in awe of what he had witnessed. As for me, a non-musician, the free experience was quite enjoyable and emblematic of Asheville itself. Here, there were talented individuals dressed like hippies that lovingly engineered high quality musical products unlike anything else you’ll find in the world. If that isn’t illustrative of Asheville’s down-to-earth yet cultured personality, I don’t know what is.