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Keyboardists have it easy

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I've played the RD2000. It's got a pleasant action not unlike the Kronos, meaning the keys are "hammer action" (a marketing white lie in almost all digital keyboards) with the weights heavier in the low end and lighter in the high end, in an attempt to simulate an acoustic piano action. It's also got that V thing going on, which gives you progressive velocities rather than discrete velocity layers.

Unfortunately, though lighter than the Kronos, at 48 lbs. it still falls short of satisfying my light weight requirement.  Plus iirc the organs and Leslie emulation were weak.

I've had a bunch of Roland keyboards over the years. All were good values for the money, but until recently I never cared for their keyboard action. Yamaha has always done that part well. IIRC, AKAI makes their keybeds.

My best setup so far was in fact a digital piano / synth (Yamaha MO8) alongside a Hammond XK-1. That way, you get the feel of a piano when playing piano and the feel of an organ when playing the organ. But it takes up too much space on stage if they're set up side-by-side and when stacked you can't see the controls on the lower instrument (and on high stages the audience can't see me at all, not that that's necessarily a bad thing).

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It always seems a compromise when choosing a keyboard.  I love the weight of my Casio PX5s but don't like the little display.  But I have to tell you when I used it in church a few times it was so nice that it was under 25lbs.  For my needs I would be checking out the Roland RD88 if I needed to in the future.

YMMV

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Remember:  If you don't want to damage your keyboard, avoid accidentals!  😜

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4 hours ago, craigb said:

Remember:  If you don't want to damage your keyboard, avoid accidentals!  😜

some times in music you need collisions to make it sound better 😏 but then it isn't an accidental is it :D

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Posted (edited)

Given your strict requirements for a keyboard I think it's going to be difficult to find one that checks all the boxes for you. If you are willing to compromise then maybe there are more choices. 

Like @InstrEd I bought the Casio PX-5S. It has a nice weighted key bed and great piano sounds. I am certain the organ part of it would not make you happy. The small screen and unintuitive menus mean it isn't the kind of a keyboard you would want to spend time with in the studio messing with programming, but that isn't the main draw for this board. In much the same way Behringer didn't do itself any favors when people see the name, I seen Casio similar. They have upped their game though in that segment of the market and the PX5 has some nice very usable sounds in it. I paid like 895.00 for it on sale and the vendor threw in a free pair of Samson monitors. If it falls off the stand and breaks, if someone spills a drink on it, if it gets stolen. I'm not out a lot of money compared to a Motif or higher end Korg. And surprisingly it is a fairly well made board. Casio made a few trade offs that didn't really hurt it if you're a stage player using bread and butter sounds, and at about 25 lbs I can throw it under one arm and walk out with it. Before that I was using the 88 key m-audio controllers with a laptop.

Adding a laptop to the PX-5 opens up a whole other world of sound. That keyboard has a space on top that you could velcro one. A small laptop would do it. I am cheap though and I never seen the need to go upper end on a keyboard, so I have controllers and a Roland.

As you probably know, playing to a crowd of half drunk bar patrons in a noisy environment, the only one who is going to hear the nuances of those sounds is you. You just need something that cuts in the PA and sounds sorta like a Hammond. The PX-5 is passable IMHO. Your bar is higher though, so maybe you demand more playing live. For me, recording in the studio is a different thing. I am more demanding there. Not as demanding playing live in noisy spaces with unconcerned people all around.

Edited by Tim Smith

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30 minutes ago, Tim Smith said:

As you probably know, playing to a crowd of half drunk bar patrons in a noisy environment, the only one who is going to hear the nuances of those sounds is you.

How true. On Saturday night I accidentally hit the "PFL" button on the mixer, which is perilously located immediately below each fader. It's also a grey push-button on a black background, making it hard to  tell its state without a flashlight. "PFL" means pre-fader, like selecting "Pre" on the Pre/Post option for sends in Cakewalk. As a consequence, the singer's mic had no EQ, no FX, and was piping into the monitor channel at full blast. Had to turn the monitors down to prevent feedback. We played several songs like that, while I tried to figure out what was going on, devoting half my brain to troubleshooting, half to playing and half to singing.

Yeh, that's three halves. If I'd been a DAW, my CPU meters would have been pegged and sound would have been crap, assuming the audio engine didn't just give up. Unlike a DAW, however, giving up with an "engine stopped" message isn't an option. You just have to muddle through as best you can.

Did the audience notice any of this? Apparently not. Everybody's dancing, plenty of applause, a few bucks dropping into the tip jar - all the usual indicators suggesting all was well.  But had I been in the audience, I would have walked out in disgust.

Alcohol really is the true "Musician's Friend".

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9 minutes ago, bitflipper said:

Alcohol really is the true "Musician's Friend".

I think you might have a one hit wonder with that title Dave :D

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Well, I've just about reached the reluctant conclusion that at this time nothing exists that has the power of the Kronos in a lighter package. 

The Nord Stage 3 is very appealing, as it's got a more ergonomic layout for live use. But after sales tax and the cost of a case it'd come to well over $6,000. At my current rate of pay in the band, it would take two years to break even on that investment.

Byron, thanks for reminding me that I have one of these, and should use it more often:

R12RT.jpg.auto.webp

 

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 I hate to admit I've done it numerous times, but mostly on a keyboard, although the Mackie mixer I once carried to play had very easy PFL buttons to accidentally push.

On Sunday I sometimes play modern worship music and this Sunday was one of those Sundays. The pre service music no one really hears so I guess maybe it's similar only hopefully those persons are not drunk. That was a good thing because  they handed me a hand written bunch of jumbled mess I was supposed to decipher. It was written in two different keys with one key in parentheses, only they had become confused and put the other key in parentheses occasionally. I was shooting glances at the mandolin player next to me and he was shaking his head. He's a mostly ear player so I think he groked it by ear. For me it was G#minor 7th, B, F#minor and E. I was supposed to play synth pads to it. I never heard the song before and in a few minutes 300 people would be there not including the live stream. I managed to squeak through that one providing the low end I hit a few stinkers but no one seemed to notice. I think they blended just in an odd way. The rest of the set wasn't too bad but I was playing melody with the right hand on the fly and base chords on the left hand. No notes written down. No one else there was carrying melody but the vocalists, so not much holding it down.

In that situation though people aren't really noticing musicians up front unless one of us does something really bad. They are looking at screens.On the stream we pick up the crowd singing so while we are not completely drowned out, we don't stick out. A few months ago I was playing next to a girl playing the violin. She went to exit the stage, tripped on a mic cord and fell. I was offering to help her up, but she jumped up as if nothing  ever happened. I seen a few grins. Must have looked funny. Yesterday I was wearing a button up shirt with no under shirt on. I happened to look down and the button right where my huge hairy belly button is was unbuttoned. I am so glad I caught that before I went up front.

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2 hours ago, bitflipper said:

What was the topic of this thread again?

Llamas? 🤔

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4 hours ago, bitflipper said:

What was the topic of this thread again?

Bapu. It's always Bapu.

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7 hours ago, Shane_B. said:

Bapu. It's always Bapu.

No, sometimes it is   Becan 🤣

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Another option to reduce weight is to use a laptop for the sounds and simple MIDI controller. I have seen this done more and more in the recent past with great results, but it also throws a lot of focus onto the laptop itself.

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10 hours ago, mettelus said:

Another option to reduce weight is to use a laptop for the sounds and simple MIDI controller. I have seen this done more and more in the recent past with great results, but it also throws a lot of focus onto the laptop itself.

Yeah. I agree. 😁

That's how I would do it if I ever got back in a band and was forced to play keys again. 99% of people there will not care about how 'real weighted'  your keys are. In fact I'd probably think most people would see a laptop/controller combo as the norm and think you're some old geezer not letting go of the past if you did haul a bunch of large gear up there. And there's nothing wrong with that either, unless you are in fact an old geezer and your back is starting to go out from hauling all that heavy equipment by yourself . . . 😁😘😜

But I'm not really a keyboard player so it's hard for me to suggest how to do it because I don't know the real world difference it can make between how the keys feel and the options and all that. I'm not sure how 'dynamic' you can or should be on the keys in a live band situation, but I don't know. I can fake it but that's it. It's hard to find good keyboard players. I used to get stuck doing some keyboard parts until I put my foot down and said no more. It was too stressful playing lead guitar and singing lead and backups and then throwing that in the mix for a few songs per set.

Imagine playing 2/3 of your first set then next up is Desperado and you haven't had a chance to dial in your volume, get warmed up, you still have your guitar around your neck and you're rushing in to it before everyone leaves the dance floor. That was the only time I ever said this thing goes or I go.

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On 4/24/2022 at 5:21 PM, craigb said:

Remember:  If you don't want to damage your keyboard, avoid accidentals!  😜

Like sharp objects!

  • Great Idea 1

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21 minutes ago, Shane_B. said:

Yeah. I agree. 😁

That's how I would do it if I ever got back in a band and was forced to play keys again. 99% of people there will not care about how 'real weighted'  your keys are. In fact I'd probably think most people would see a laptop/controller combo as the norm and think you're some old geezer not letting go of the past if you did haul a bunch of large gear up there. And there's nothing wrong with that either, unless you are in fact an old geezer and your back is starting to go out from hauling all that heavy equipment by yourself . . . 😁😘😜

But I'm not really a keyboard player so it's hard for me to suggest how to do it because I don't know the real world difference it can make between how the keys feel and the options and all that. I'm not sure how 'dynamic' you can or should be on the keys in a live band situation, but I don't know. I can fake it but that's it. It's hard to find good keyboard players. I used to get stuck doing some keyboard parts until I put my foot down and said no more. It was too stressful playing lead guitar and singing lead and backups and then throwing that in the mix for a few songs per set.

Imagine playing 2/3 of your first set then next up is Desperado and you haven't had a chance to dial in your volume, get warmed up, you still have your guitar around your neck and you're rushing in to it before everyone leaves the dance floor. That was the only time I ever said this thing goes or I go.

I find trying to play piano parts on a non-weighted keyboard unusually difficult... even the semi-weighted keyboards that have piano style keys just don't do it for me.  I used to use an old Yamaha PF80, which was a beast at 34Kg  (75lbs), and I'm pretty sure the keys were heavier than a real piano.  Although I miss the extra controls it had for transposing & changing MIDI channels, the StudioLogic SL990 at 20Kg ( 44 lbs) has a way better feel and is much better on my back!

I'm not brave enough to attempt to use a laptop on stage, as I don't trust computers in a live situation.  If I can get away with it, I'll stick to the sounds in my Korg X5D which sits on top of the SL990.  For anything more adventurous, I use an SMPro V-Machine with my old hardware synths & some VST's sampled on it. It's about the size of a VHS cassette.

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11 hours ago, mettelus said:

Another option to reduce weight is to use a laptop for the sounds and simple MIDI controller. I have seen this done more and more in the recent past with great results, but it also throws a lot of focus onto the laptop itself.

I actually tried that for a while. Mainly, I wanted a lighter-touch keyboard for organ so the plan was to run VB3 on a laptop and use my 49-key Axiom controller. Once I got that set up, I thought it would be super cool to also have Omnisphere, Keyscape and Kontakt available. And it was, sonically-speaking. Ergonomically, not so much. Then one night I bumped the laptop and sent it crashing to the floor. It was OK, but I realized that depending on a laptop had its own perils, as Mark noted above.

One thing I love about the Kronos is the 8" color touchscreen. Nobody else has that. I can create thousands of programs, e.g. a set list for a specific gig, or put my favorite pianos on one screen, or group programs for songs that use multiple patches. The Kronos is incredibly full-featured. It's 9 synths in 1. Got its own drum machine. Dozens of effects. Heck, it's a frickin' DAW, if you want it to be. 

Oh well, maybe it's true that you can't have it all. Or if you insist on having it all, you'd better have a strong back. Or a road crew.

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