MATRIXSYNTH: MFB's Manfred Fricke Has Passed Away

Monday, June 28, 2021

MFB's Manfred Fricke Has Passed Away

Left: Manfred Fricke (via back in the day with his first creations, the MFB-501 drum machine (right), and MFB-601 digital sequencer (left).

2nd image is Manfred Fricke with the MFB SYNTH II at SUPERBOOTH (unknown source).

We lost another legend in the synth world. Sad news in via STROMKULT: "'On June, 17th around 11am Manfred Fricke from Berlin alias MFB sadly passed away after having had a hard time with cancer for a while already. He left his wife Gloria and his son Jean-Marcel behind, we are all very sad having lost this partner, friend and father.'

Manfred Fricke was one of Berlins pioneers of analog synth and drum machine makers. He has been the weapon of choice for many (not only) starting musicians. Let’s be honest, who didn’t have one of his creations early in his or hers journey into electronic musical instruments – or at least thought about getting one – and why shouldn’t you? Manfred Fricke's machines always brought something unique to the table, they were mostly analog, affordable, in small plastic housings and just did the job. Manfred always focused on keeping his products affordable for his clients and the instruments quite often made their way to professional use later on, and the musicians often kept their first units as something almost holy, because it were these machines that paved the way into analog electronic music making.

But it would be too short-sighted to associate MFB only with budget entry-level products. Especially the drum machines Tanzbär and Tanzbär II, or the great Dominion 1 show that Manfred Fricke also built machines that met higher demands. The Tanzbär, in particular, is considered by many to be their favorite drum machine of the last few years, especially in terms of its amazing sound.

We hope that MFB will continue to exist and that it will continue to make it easier for many generations of musicians to enter the world of electronic sound production.

We wish Manfred Fricke's son Jean-Marcel continued success for the future of MFB and extend our condolences to him and his family. And lets hope that Manfred will finally meet up with all the other good guys on the other side.

Rest In Peace."


video upload by 7V-STUDIO

MFB's Manfred Fricke's first procuct, the Fricke MFB-501 drum machine.

Description via this video:
"This little analog beatbox was developed in 1980 1979 by Manfred Fricke. It was offered at 380 DM. As a low-cost model on the market for analog rhythm generators the small black and white "Switch Box" quickly found a lot of friends, because its configuration could be compared to its expensive far east competitors: 64 patterns and as many fill-ins switchable via micro switches, speed ​​control via potentiometer, 10 analog percussion instruments (activated by means of micro switches), combined mono/stereo outputs (jack), In & Out (5 Vss) and trigger footswitch inputs (jack) for start and fill-in
(retail price for the switch at 16 DM). An external wall power supply provides 12 volts.

Approx. 5000 units of the MFB-501 had been sold. Not so bad for a one-man company. So this drum machine is one of the top-selling devices in the history of the Berlin engineer offices M. Fricke . If you're lucky, this iconic device can still be found on the relevant internet sales platforms.

Today, maintenance of this tiny noise machine is still easily feasible, because Fricke employed only commercially available components. Therefore, 'presumedly dead 501's' can be reanimated without major problems."

MFB 601 Vintage Digital Sequencer, Teardown, Repair and partial analysis

Published on Feb 2, 2015 FPV Electronics

Note this video is FPV Electronics of course, and not Manfred Fricke.
"This device is exclusively built from 7400 and 4000 series basic logic ICs. Making it must have been so much more difficult than just programming a generic µController as we would do today."

Timeline via

1976: MFB was founded by engineer Manfred Fricke. So far there were more than some hundred products constructed and distributed. The first developments and products were primarly video games for industrial playmachines.

1979: A lowcost drummachine was introduced in 1979. (98 DM for the self construction kit). The legendary drumcomputer MFB-501 was finished and sold. Although it was not the most prominent drumcomputer of that time it surely was one of the best selling drum units in Germany. Some shops sold ten times more MFB-501s than Roland TR-808s. More products for the musician followed, such as the Digital-Sequencer MFB-601 and the digital drum machine MFB-512. All of these featured rich products were offered at exceptional low prices.

1984: The E-Drum module series 1000 and 2000 followed with corresponding pads.

1986: A new construction period started in 1986 with product launches of the MIDI-CV converter MFB-201 and the MIDI drummer MFB-SYNTH was finished in 1997, although its development dates back to the eighties. The machine never went into production since 2001, the year of the company´s 25th anniversary because of decreased interest in analogue synthesizer technology especially in the sales channels.

From 1986 Manfred Fricke specialized in products for video applications. Alone 20 different framegrabbers for the Apple II, C-64 und IBM compatible PCs were constructed. A very high percentage of these framegrabbers were and are still in use for special industrial purposes. Custom development is still done here, so these specialized tools are not available for other customers.

1994: MFB introduced the world´s first videomixer below 1.000 DM, the MFB-901. Its successor MFB-902 was available in 1995. Another important development in the video section was the model MFB-912, a digital video memory. This 1998 product was highly acclaimed by the press.

1999: The successor MFB-915 added sound and higher picture resolution. It´s available since October 1999. Another successor is the model MFB-920 with an integrated harddrive offering better options for nonlinear cutting and post processing of the recorded material.

2001: During this year, Manfred Fricke also developed another new MIDI drum-module. MFB-KULT, includes most of the famous sounds of the older machines. Both MFB-SYNTH and MFB-KULT are availabale since December 2001. Because of constant requests for the digital sequencer MFB-601 a successor MFB-602. was introduced in May 2002.

2002: Since August 2002 there´s also a little brother of the MFB-SYNTH, the MFB-SYNTH LITE

And of course the MFB DOMINION series and the MFB SYNTH PRO.

There have been 1747 MFB posts on the site prior to this one. MFB has been a mainstay on the site and Manfred Fricke will be greatly missed.


  1. Hey, the man is named Manfred Fricke not Frickes. TY

    1. Thank you for letting me know. The post is fixed. I initially misread the STROMKULT post. I actually thought the name seemed off, but I pressed on anyway. My mistake. Apologies to everyone.

    2. No worries. Thank you for the fix.


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