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Keys Backline Biz #3005734 08/30/19 12:52 PM
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WesG Offline OP
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Hey, Folks!

I started an organ backline business about three years ago, and am doing okay at that. I'm still building inventory, but I have a couple of good A100s and Leslies on the go right now. My rebuild queue includes a '58 B3, a '62ish C3 and a '69 D152 with incredible manuals that I'm going to stuff into a basket case BC....hoping to finish at least one of those over the Christmas-March period next year.

My business got a recent boost when I had to rescue the incumbent organ rental guy who supplied a non-working organ for a very high-profile show at the local Bluesfest where the star of the night was a seriously bad-ass organ player....the player called me and I happened to be in the audience with my van parked four blocks away...production company told me it was the fastest Hammond load-in they had ever seen and are happy as heck to know they have an option in my area now. Now I have contacts with those guys, the local theatre, the festival, etc. Yay me, lol. I'm quite confident this will turn in a bunch more business over the next few years. I have wanted that festival as a customer for some time.

Chatting with some of these folks, I also discovered there is literally nobody doing backline keys for a hundred mile radius (or more). The population density here is low, so there isn't a /ton/ of demand, but there is some. (Huge shows, with significant backline requirements, are generally fed from large production companies in a nearby major city). The local music store will also supply out of their own inventory pretty cheap on occasion, but I think there is room for a dedicated company doing this.

I have a CP4 and an RD800 (and a VR09 and a DX7 etc), which I guess could be the start of an inventory.

What else would a small keys backline company own? I know I'd need a red one, but which one? How about things like Motifs? What's typically on riders these days?

Wes


Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3
Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H
Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85
Roland: VR-09
KC Island
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005739 08/30/19 01:37 PM
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Some flavor of Kronos seems like a no-brainer. I suspect that even though they're years out of production, a lot of guys still have a Fantom X of some kind in their rig, and smart cards loaded up with their samples and combi's ready to plug into one. Sure, a Yamaha workstation or two like Motif, MOXF or MOXD, those would all be pretty commonly requested I'd imagine. And a clonewheel organ.


Rich Forman
Yamaha MOXF8, Korg Kronos 2-61, Roland Fantom X7, Ferrofish B4000+ organ module, Roland VR-09, EV ZLX12P, K&M Spider Pro stand,
Yamaha S80, Korg Trinity Plus

Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005741 08/30/19 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by WesG
What else would a small keys backline company own? I know I'd need a red one, but which one?


Nord Lead! w00t


When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005744 08/30/19 02:10 PM
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Over six years of touring the US and the keyboard I see supplied the most is a Motif. I think I saw a Fantom once. Kronos never.

Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005745 08/30/19 02:28 PM
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WesG Offline OP
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Thanks, Reeze - Which Motif? Mo8? XS8? Ever seen a MOX?

Rich - ironically, yeah, clonewheel organ would get requested a lot. I'm not sure I have the heart to buy one, though. LOL. I guess if I buy a Nord I'd have one, though.


Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3
Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H
Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85
Roland: VR-09
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005746 08/30/19 02:38 PM
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Some kind of rack mount submixer, in a rack. I would say Radial KL8, but getting up to 4 mic pres In your submixer for your Leslies might be attractive. I’m predicting most FOH sound companies do not routinely have keyboard submixers, while having a pile of DIs.

I wonder how soon the CP88 might replace CP4 as a back line staple.

Put a “Hammond” sticker on a Mojo61. laugh


Barry

Home: Steinway L, Montage 8

Gigs: Yamaha CP4, Crumar Mojo 61, A&H SQ5 mixer, ME1 IEM, MiPro 909 IEMs
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005747 08/30/19 02:43 PM
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Kronos Wes for sure. Maybe a Mojo, Hammond or Legend clone. I did backline for awhile and it's hard to price it sometimes. I have been to where Wes lives and I can account for his Leslie inventory. We have worked together a few times.

Last edited by Outkaster; 08/30/19 05:09 PM.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"


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Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005748 08/30/19 02:49 PM
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Delaware Dave Offline
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Wes, what do you charge for gigs in Delaware??? laugh


57 Hammond B3; 69 Hammond L100P; 68 Leslie 122; Kurzweil PC3; GEM Equinox; Voce V5+; Neo Vent; EV ELX112P; GSI Gemini Desktop Module; http://www.dyinbreedband.com www.facebook.com/acoustaxx/
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005751 08/30/19 02:55 PM
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This is actually a great topic from the other end of the transaction. I recently joined a band and they often request backlined instruments for the shows. They typically backline Nords. If it were an Electro I think I could figure it all out fairly easily. I do get concerned though if the backline ends up being a Yamaha or Korg (or actually anything non-Kurz) since that is what I have been using the past 8 years. Before that it was 10 years of General Music. I'm not even sure that I could quickly navigate through a Nord Stage. As these gigs pop up I'm not sure what to expect other than to bring my own keyboard. If it's a fly-in gig that could be problematic because I don't have a flight case for my Kurz; and if I'm doing a gig like that I need a backup keyboard in case the Kurz were to go south on me; so two flight cases. How do others deal with unfamiliar keyboards on backlines? Is it a RTFM crash course?


57 Hammond B3; 69 Hammond L100P; 68 Leslie 122; Kurzweil PC3; GEM Equinox; Voce V5+; Neo Vent; EV ELX112P; GSI Gemini Desktop Module; http://www.dyinbreedband.com www.facebook.com/acoustaxx/
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005754 08/30/19 03:08 PM
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Wes, when I’ve needed backline I’ve been offered Nord Stage, Nord Electro, Kronos, CP4.

Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: Delaware Dave] #3005756 08/30/19 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Delaware Dave
How do others deal with unfamiliar keyboards on backlines? Is it a RTFM crash course?

For me, yes. I find using unfamiliar keyboards quite stressful and try to do as much homework as possible beforehand.

I used a backlined Kronos late last year and posted here asking for a few tips, which were generously provided by many. Nursers even went the extra mile and offered a real time support service. Which I needed!

Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005769 08/30/19 04:08 PM
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Delaware Dave, the backline keyboard shouldn't come as a surprise, don't you use a contract rider specifying what you need? That's what I've always gotten to do on the small handful of flyaway gigs I've done. At least giving the opportunity to plan ahead, so if they can't get what you requested specifically, can give you options of what they can provide, so you can work it out with them and do some research ahead of time on whatever keyboard you'll be working with to figure out your strategy and know your way around it for your purposes.


Rich Forman
Yamaha MOXF8, Korg Kronos 2-61, Roland Fantom X7, Ferrofish B4000+ organ module, Roland VR-09, EV ZLX12P, K&M Spider Pro stand,
Yamaha S80, Korg Trinity Plus

Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: Outkaster] #3005782 08/30/19 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Outkaster
Maybe a Mojo, Hammond or Legend clone.

I'd avoid boutique stuff like Mojo or Legend. You'll never see that on a rider. Sure, some people would jump for joy, but no one getting a backline expects anything but the big names, the staples that everyone recognizes. Heck, provide a current Hammond or Nord clone, and people will be thrilled to not be getting a ~20 year old Roland VK7/VK8 or Korg CX3.


Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our new video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out!
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005783 08/30/19 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by WesG
Thanks, Reeze - Which Motif? Mo8? XS8? Ever seen a MOX?

For backline, I think you probably need to avoid the plastic chassis stuff. A Motif XS would be fine. I think the older ones may be a bit long in the tooth now. Though you never know... Kronos would be the Korg workstation of choice, but some people may still request a Triton.


Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our new video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out!
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005837 08/31/19 03:01 AM
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WesG Offline OP
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Good thinking on the plastic chassis avoidance. I got my CP4 the year it came out. It's on it's third chassis....yes, I'm hard on stuff.....I guess I'm a good test case.

A local used market survey was interesting. Not a whole lot of Nord or Kronos on the used market, but a fair number of affordable Motif XS8s (and older Motif 8s also). I see an XS8 in my future this year....If I pick up an XS8, a Nord something, and a Kronos, one a year or so, I think I can be reasonably legit.

Can somebody educate me re. Nords? I played one recently, a 6 something, that was really good. It has pianos, organ, and a lot of buttons so I'm guessing synth. Was that a Stage? Is there a point to owning an Electro (that's just pianos, right?) if I have a CP4?

Dave - gigs in Delaware out of the question, I don't have a green card. smile

Barry - good thinking on submixer. Something will pop up someday and I'll snag it. I can probably get by with a non-rackmount unit if pressed before then. I have a Mackie ProFX8, Soundcraft Spirit E16 and an X32 Producer. Actually, my Behringer MMX-8 would fit the bill, too, except it doesn't have any mic pres.

Wes


Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3
Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H
Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85
Roland: VR-09
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005839 08/31/19 03:03 AM
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WesG Offline OP
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I also see riders that list KC-series amps. I don't really need to buy one, do I? I own a bunch of powered speakers.


Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3
Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H
Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85
Roland: VR-09
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005844 08/31/19 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by WesG
I also see riders that list KC-series amps. I don't really need to buy one, do I? .


nono


A reason why I collect old keyboards is that I feel partly responsible for doing it, responsible for preserving history and being a custodian for these things
Plus, old gear has a story. I like that.
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005845 08/31/19 05:20 AM
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I imagine that if you want to be prepared to offer exactly what people list, you'll have to have a KC and (eventually) both Nords. The 6 you played was an Electro. I would likely take the plunge and go for the Stage first, however. It's better in this case to be offering the flagship to those who don't need it than the other way around.


Eric
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Rhodes Mk 1 Stage 73; Hammond M3; Kurzweil SP-6; Roland FP-4, Juno-106; Nord E3-73; Studiologic Sledge; DSI Mopho KB; Moog Minitaur; Stuff
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005846 08/31/19 05:29 AM
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No. Bands that are backlining equipment are going to a venue with a full sound system. Keys player runs through a house monitor for stage sound. Have a PPA at the ready, if they ask for a KC just bring the PPA and tell em you did him favor


The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: richforman] #3005847 08/31/19 05:34 AM
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I flew from San Diego to St Louis for a show, our rider called for a Motif XF7. I showed up with a USB stick and my flash board of samples and the guy showed up at the venue with a Motif XS7 and said “what?” You’d be surprised.

I fly in with my keys now, i bought a lightweight board just for it. I’m now flying with a MODX7 in an SKB molded ATA case - total weight is about 35 lbs, under length limits for airlines. We usually fly SW as guitar players bring 2 guitars, so it flies free. I have status on Delta so it flies free there too. Other airlines its just standard luggage rate, no oversize/weight fees.

OP - might as well get a Motif XF vs XS. Anyone with an XS can load their file into an XF, but you can’t go backwards from XF to XS (not without 3rd party software to convert it). I have a Motif XF7 i’ll Sell cheap if you’re interested.


The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005851 08/31/19 07:23 AM
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Wes, Electros have pianos (AP+EP), organs (B3, farf, vox) and rompler samples. The current one is the 6, but 2, 3, 4, and 5 are all pretty common. For backline, I'd say don't buy anything earlier than a 5. Stages have all that plus a synth. The Stage 2 was pretty much everywhere for a long time, the Stage 3 is basically the same but with an overhauled synth section (it uses the Nord Lead A1 synth engine).

I would say, someone who just wants basic electromechanical emulations and some strings etc would be fine with an Electro - so a 5 or 6. You can give them a little idiot's guide and they'll be away. Someone who's asking for a Stage most likely already knows how to use one, and will probably bring their own sounds to upload onto the backline one. If they are Stage novices, and do want to use the Stage's synth, your idiot's guide will be a bit longer, but it's doable. If you could get a used Stage 2 cheap it would be worthwhile, otherwise I'd say a Stage 3 would be the go.

The next question is action. I would say a semi weighted would probably be most versatile - covering organ, EP and synthy stuff nicely, while compromising on AP. That means an Electro 5d or 6d, or a Stage compact model.

Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005876 08/31/19 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by WesG
I also see riders that list KC-series amps. I don't really need to buy one, do I? I own a bunch of powered speakers.


If you stock KC, You’ll also have to stock a chainsaw. laugh


Barry

Home: Steinway L, Montage 8

Gigs: Yamaha CP4, Crumar Mojo 61, A&H SQ5 mixer, ME1 IEM, MiPro 909 IEMs
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005893 08/31/19 03:59 PM
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If I could give a backline company two pieces of keyboard-centric advice, gained from my experiences:

1: Have a few spare sustain and expression pedals on hand. Have them be "universal." Many times I've gotten a Yam FC7 to use with my Roland controller. I carry an Ashby adapter so I can make it work but the angle of the pedal is weird, I much prefer a Roland or M-Audio pedal.

2: TEST the sustain & expression pedals once in a while! I get non-functioning pedals a good percentage of the time. My last gig was a big drag, playing left hand bass (our bass player out of action with medical issues). The pedal failed in the first tune, our tech guy went looking for a spare from the backline co. (SIR San Fran), there was none. It was a rough 60 minutes.

Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005904 08/31/19 04:20 PM
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I see Motif and Nord Stage supplied frequently as backline.

Cheers, Mike


AX48.PM351.FC7.VFP2
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Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005918 08/31/19 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by WesG
ironically, yeah, clonewheel organ would get requested a lot. I'm not sure I have the heart to buy one, though. LOL. I guess if I buy a Nord I'd have one, though.

If your Nord is going to do double duty as what you supply when someone asks for a clonewheel, I'd look for one of the ones with drawbars rather than the drawbuttons. And for simplicity's sake, I'd probably go with an Electro 4D. Which brings me to...

The discussions about Kronos, Motif, and I think even Nord Stage--as popular as these are--I think ignores another big component of backline, which is boards that are simple, which gets back to Delaware Dave's comments about unfamiliar keyboards. Kronos and Motif are great for the players who have one at home, and may even come with a USB stick with their programs. But some people just need a board with instant access to the bread-and-butter stuff. Last I checked, backlines always offer something like a Yamaha CP300. So I'd say don't neglect the basics, not everyone wants to figure out how to find sounds on a Kronos. One or more of a Yamaha CP-something, a Roland RD-something, and a Korg SV1 might be worth having.

Not mentioned yet... I wonder how much Kurzweils are backlined? I certainly see them on stage with some frequency, I don't know how often they are backline-supplied.


Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our new video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out!
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3005926 08/31/19 07:05 PM
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I agree with Scott's comment. There's the generic backline requirment for e.g. a "Stage Piano and a 2-manual Clonewheel" or even specify brand e.g. Yamaha and Hammond - but still relatively broad. If you can't supply a CP33 but you can get a CP4, then that's probably good enough.

By contrast, there's the specific requirement (Yamaha Motif XF8, Nord Stage 3/88 are ones I often see backlined) for a player that needs to load their specific sounds in from a computer or USB stick. That latter group can be hard to please (look at the recent thread about a keyboard player who didn't deign to tailor his requirements to backline supplies) and I imagine you need a large inventory.

Good luck with your venture Wes.

Cheers, Mike.


AX48.PM351.FC7.VFP2
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Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3006287 09/03/19 03:21 PM
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WesG Offline OP
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Thanks, folks. So many great comments in here. I am feeling more and more positive about taking this on every day.

The "stage piano" requirement is nice and easy for me, given that I already own an RD800 and a CP4. Both count.

Two manual clonewheel is a funny one...I don't think the business in my area would ever warrant that, and if it did, I suspect most players would be satisfied with a Hammond in its place.

Great advice re. Motifs and Nords. The takeaway I get is to buy an XF7 unless an XS7/8 comes up locally really cheap. MotiDave - I'm not buying yet. Still have two organs to finish before I have enough room on the ol' credit card to indulge my GAS....er I mean capital acquisitions for the business.

Reeze - re testing - I can't believe there are companies that bring broken stuff, but I am starting to see this more and more regularly! Generally, when I rent an organ, I'll play a gig or two on it to make sure it's ready, AND I'll set the entire rig up in my shop a few days in advance and play it, just to make sure it's ready to go. I actually own both an FC7 and an EV5, although I haven't seen the EV5 in a year....I hate it...should start locating stuff like this.

BTW if you are electronically inclined, I can give you instructions for a better-than-ashby adapter for that FC7/Roland setup. You'll get a more usable mid-range out of it, rather than all the express being at one end of the travel.


Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3
Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H
Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85
Roland: VR-09
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3006292 09/03/19 04:13 PM
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Keep the boards simple, avoid menu interfaces wherever possible. Korg SV1 doesn't require studying the owners manual to find your way around. I had a K2500 from backline and had to download the manual to figure out where the bread-n-butter sounds were. Many performers on the road don't have that luxury.

As a piano player into APs and EPs, the Nord Piano 3 is a real winner. Played it at NAMM in 2016 - it was a pleasure to play and the interface was intuitive, I didn't need a manual to run it.

Think about good sturdy keyboard stands to go with the boards, include in your contract that performers are NOT to use their own stands. That's your security clause against damage. Prevents them from using a flimsy X-stand which can dump your rental board to the floor.

Avoid wallwarts, PERIOD.

Definitely be cautious with plastic components - especially controls with plastic shafts. Include a clause in the contract covering damage of controls. Remember the commercial with the Gorilla throwing around the Samsonite suitcase? Be prepared for that kind of customer.

I'd stay away from renting out compact stuff like the Radial products. Too easy for things like that to "grow legs".

Invest in identity badges that cannot be easily removed or defaced. Include another badge in an inconspicuous place under the hood as a backup, somewhere they will never look.

Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: The Creepy MC] #3006335 09/03/19 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by The Real MC
Avoid wallwarts, PERIOD.
+110 there's really good advice.

Definitely be cautious with plastic components - especially controls with plastic shafts. Include a clause in the contract covering damage of controls. Remember the commercial with the Gorilla throwing around the Samsonite suitcase? Be prepared for that kind of customer.

Originally Posted by The Real MC
I'd stay away from renting out compact stuff like the Radial products. Too easy for things like that to "grow legs".
Use a deposit as protection against that eventuality.[/quote]

Cheers, Mike.


AX48.PM351.FC7.VFP2
One or two keyboards.
Re: Keys Backline Biz [Re: WesG] #3006348 09/03/19 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by WesG
Reeze - re testing - I can't believe there are companies that bring broken stuff, but I am starting to see this more and more regularly! Generally, when I rent an organ, I'll play a gig or two on it to make sure it's ready, AND I'll set the entire rig up in my shop a few days in advance and play it, just to make sure it's ready to go. I actually own both an FC7 and an EV5, although I haven't seen the EV5 in a year....I hate it...should start locating stuff like this.

I don't think they knowingly bring broken stuff, but things like pedals get broken very easily. They're often tossed into the big accessory bag with the cables and thrown around quite a bit. The biggest threat to backline gear is, imo, the staff at some of the venues! When you show up with gear, do you or your people set it up? Or do you leave it to the techs at the venue? The crew at the Hollywood Bowl ruined my Roland A800 Pro by quickly ripping the USB cable out when we finished our set. My take is that to them it's all "rental stuff", made to be abused! I don't mean to dissuade you from your plans but I would be a little wary of this, especially in a festival or multi-band situation where techs rush the stage to do as fast a changeover as possible.

Originally Posted by WesG
BTW if you are electronically inclined, I can give you instructions for a better-than-ashby adapter for that FC7/Roland setup. You'll get a more usable mid-range out of it, rather than all the express being at one end of the travel.

I would definitely be interested, thanks! That's my main complaint when I get an FC7 for my Roland board.

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