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Best amp for BOTH keyboard & guitar?


JpScoey

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One of my mates has a 16 year-old son who is learning both guitar & keyboard.

 

What he's looking for is a combo amp that will do the best job for each purpose, and he's asked me for advice.

 

(it doesn't have to be mega-loud!)

 

His budget is about £250 UKP (approx $400 USD/ 300 Euros).

 

Any suggestions?

.

John.

 

some stuff on myspace

 

Nord: StageEX-88, Electro2-73, Hammond: XK-1, Yamaha: XS7

Korg: M3-73 EXpanded, M50-88, X50, Roland: Juno D, Kurzweil: K2000vp.

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That is somewhat akin to asking what's the best car for racing at the Indy 500 then the Paris-Dakar offroad race.

 

For keys, you would ideally want a perfect flat response across the entire frequency range. For guitar, here's a chart showing two different guitar amps (a Marshall and a Fender, models unknown):

 

http://users.chariot.net.au/~gmarts/pix/a_toneboth.gif

 

Hardly flat, but exactly what you want for the job.

 

So he's likely to be disappointed in one direction or the other, regardless of which direction he goes; either the pianos will sound like shite, or the guitar will.

 

This doesn't even begin to factor in the style of music he'll be learning/practicing.

 

So... yeah, tough shoes to fill, this.

 

If push came to shove, though, I'd buy a Fender combo amp of some sort, as the best 'middle of the road' solution, as long as he knows that he won't be recreating the sound of a Steinway grand piano in any real fashion, no matter how good the keyboard he's plugging in.

 

Best of luck. :)

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I've had a look at the Roland KC-60 (40W)... it comes in under budget at approx £230 UKP (I have a KC-350 myself - 120W).

 

What I was thinking is that if you want the 'colour' a guitar amp provides, you could get that by using a foot pedal/pedal board etc for the guitar.

 

What you don't get from a guitar amp (using a keyboard) is the frequency range that a keyboard covers.

 

Am I thinking along the right line here?

 

.

John.

 

some stuff on myspace

 

Nord: StageEX-88, Electro2-73, Hammond: XK-1, Yamaha: XS7

Korg: M3-73 EXpanded, M50-88, X50, Roland: Juno D, Kurzweil: K2000vp.

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I've had a look at the Roland KC-60 (40W)... it comes in under budget

 

...and "under" everything else. Sorry, Roland makes great keyboards, but they really need to pile practically every amp they've ever put their name on and have a huge ear-saving bonfire. :(

 

What I was thinking is that if you want the 'colour' a guitar amp provides, you could get that by using a foot pedal/pedal board etc for the guitar.

 

What you don't get from a guitar amp (using a keyboard) is the frequency range that a keyboard covers.

 

Am I thinking along the right line here?

 

That's the comprimise you're facing, yes.

 

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The KC series will make keyboards and guitar sound equally bad.

 

You'd be better off trying to find a JC 70 or something, not that I'd be replacing any of my gear with that. But at least it's somewhat useful for both.

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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...and "under" everything else. Sorry, Roland makes great keyboards, but they really need to pile practically every amp they've ever put their name on and have a huge ear-saving bonfire. :(

 

The KC series will make keyboards and guitar sound equally bad.

 

Can someone enlighten me? Why are the roland kc's bad? I was not aware of this. I have the 550, and other than some ground noise, which ive easily cured, it sounds pretty good to my ears. I curious to hears the negatives from you guys.

 

Or is it just the mono amp you guys are player hating?

-Greg

Motif XS8, MOXF8, Hammond XK1c, Vent

Rhodes Mark II 88 suitcase, Yamaha P255

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Some time ago, I contacted Korg about Vox amps, they bought the rights and are the manufacturer these days. I told them that I wanted to play guitar through one of their amps (probably a 4 x 12 cabinet) and also play some keyboards through it so I could take that function away from my PA system. Korg responded by saying something like "Guitar amps and speakers are not really voiced to handle the frequencies keyboards require". Korg USA discouraged me from purchasing ANY of their guitar amps if it was my intention to put keyboards in addition to guitars through their amps. A very honest answer if you ask me. Less reputable companies might not put the customer's interests before their bottom line.

 

Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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Knowwhat?

 

This is a compromise, but it might work...

 

Go to Craigslist and buy a used POD.

 

http://www.jbsmusic.co.uk/middle/line6_podXT.jpg

 

Then find a couple of small powered speakers and a little mixer.

 

There ya go.

 

Best solution for sound. Best solution for budget (because you don't have to buy all of that stuff at one time).

 

Yeah... I'm a freakin' genus. :laugh:

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Can someone enlighten me? Why are the roland kc's bad? I was not aware of this. I have the 550, and other than some ground noise, which ive easily cured, it sounds pretty good to my ears. I curious to hears the negatives from you guys.

 

Or is it just the mono amp you guys are player hating?

 

It has nothing to do with mono vs. stereo.

 

The analogy is this, and forgive me if this sounds too trite. Imagine you've been driving around all your life in a 1985 Toyota Celica. It gets you where you're going, and you can tell friends that you have a car, and it's pretty darn good.

 

Then one day you borrow your friend's BMW 5 series.

 

You're in the same boat, only you've never borrowed your friend's car (errr.... amp).

 

:)

 

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Toyota? Bmw? I'll humor you because your canadian (im canadian as well) even though you have a huge ford plant a few miles away in oakville, you choose foriegn cars in your analogy... Its ok i forgive you this time.

 

Anyways, one brand is better than the other, that all I got from that. Such as?

-Greg

Motif XS8, MOXF8, Hammond XK1c, Vent

Rhodes Mark II 88 suitcase, Yamaha P255

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Imagine you've been driving around all your life in this:

 

http://sathyasaibaba.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/susan-boyle-thumbs-up1.jpg

 

It gets you where you're going, and you can tell friends that you have a nmnmbcgn, and it's pretty darn good. :thu:

 

 

Then one day you borrow your friend's nmnmbcgn:

 

http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/03_03/amandaLIVE2103_468x575.jpg

 

You're in the same boat, only you've never borrowed your friend's nmnmbcgn (errr.... amp).

 

Thasrite. :D:thu:

 

Is There Gas in the Car? :cool:

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Toyota? Bmw? I'll humor you because your canadian (im canadian as well) even though you have a huge ford plant a few miles away in oakville, you choose foriegn cars in your analogy... Its ok i forgive you this time.

 

Point out for me (1) a domestic vehicle made in 1985 that is still on the road, and (2) a current domestic vehicle that you rate as high as the BMW 5 series. I'll gladly change my analogy.

 

Anyways, one brand is better than the other, that all I got from that. Such as?

 

Sigh. Okay, you have no idea what a good amp sounds like, because you've been listening to your boards through a piece of shit all this time. Better? :rolleyes:

 

Oh, and if you're truly Canadian, you should know it's spelled humour. Cheers. :wave:

 

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Toyota

 

http://www.phototravels.net/kyoto/geisha-n/geisha-kyoto-n-031.3.jpg

 

Bmw

 

http://www.oaksparkoktoberfest.com/oktoberfest/images/germangirl.jpg

 

Thats all i got from that analogy

-Greg

Motif XS8, MOXF8, Hammond XK1c, Vent

Rhodes Mark II 88 suitcase, Yamaha P255

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Sigh. Okay, you have no idea what a good amp sounds like, because you've been listening to your boards through a piece of shit all this time. Better? :rolleyes:

Okay fair enough... i have no idea..... brand that is good is?

-Greg

Motif XS8, MOXF8, Hammond XK1c, Vent

Rhodes Mark II 88 suitcase, Yamaha P255

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Or maybe this will help even more: Imagine you've been spending all your life eating McDonalds, and drinking Busch Light. It gets you where you're going, and you can tell friends that you have food and beer, and it's pretty darn good. Then one day you friend takes you to Mortons, buys you a steak, and then takes you out to enjoy a couple Sleemans Honey Brews (or insert your favorite Canadian brew here).

 

You're in the same boat, only your friend hasnt taken you to Mortons or let you have a good Sleemans (errr.... amp).

 

The KC amps are a couple steps below a Happy Meal.

 

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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Try ANY full-range speaker, like the EV SX series, or JBL's PRX series, or just about anything with a speaker and a horn.

 

The bad news is, there's a lot of choices out there; the good news is, almost everything is better than the KC.

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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Mogut if you look at powered speakers threads and whatnot on this forum, generally you will find that people here don't like combo amps in general, they instead opt for powered speakers (JBL eon, EV Sxa-360, sometimes Mackie, QSC, etc.) or 3-way bass cabs with a power amp (Accugroove Tri-112 or Acme-B1 with various power amps, either QSC or Crown or whatever).

 

The only combo amps I know of that people don't hate are the Traynor K4 and the Motion Sound amps, and for those, Motion Sound is better for piano but is underpowered, and Traynor K4 is good for rhodes, organ, basically everything but piano.

 

I used to use a Roland Cube-60 that likely has a blown tweeter, and while I knew it sounded bad, I didn't know until I bought the Traynor K4. I'm also aware that the Traynor K4 doesn't sound as good as a pair of powered monitors, as I auditioned some Tapco thumps (which at about $350 per, is bottom-of-the-line), so yeah I'm in a similar boat where I just haven't heard the top-of-the-line powered speakers, but there you go.

 

Oh and I was only using the Cube while I was researching what amp to get, it was given to me free. You get what you pay for haha.

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Snobs. KC 350 and 550 sound quite good for the price; they're just a far cry from more expensive solutions. They sound way better than any guitar amp, and not as good as a small PA, which is what most of us prefer.

 

If there are significantly better keyboard combo amps at that price point, please say which, rather than just dissing the KCs.

 

I agree with the above that you don't want to play most keyboards through a guitar amp. There are notable exceptions; vintage keyboards like Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and clavinet can sound great through a good clean tube guitar amp like an old Fender Twin. Likewise, even a fairly poor synth's imitation of a Hammond can sound great through a tube amp cranked up to get a bit of distortion. But things like strings and especially piano suck when played that way.

 

The best compromise is the best clean, powerful keyboard combo amp you can afford (and don't go low-wattage: keyboards really do need the power), and also get a guitar amp modeler. For example, for $60 right now you can get a Johnson J-Station on ebay, and they're great -- probably cheaper if you do an auction. There are lots of others; my favorite are the Line 6 POD series (though what I have is a Digitech Genesis 3, which I like for its "warp" knob even though it's not the best sounding).

 

And, yes, it's a compromise. The world's current best guitar modeling sounds like crap when you set it side-by-side with a good tube amp. Regardless, they sound great and better than a lot of popular cheap guitar amps.

 

As a keyboard player who doubles on guitar, a guitar modeler works great for me. If I were primarily a guitar player, I'd have to bring my Fender tube amp, and no doubt I'd have a simpler rig for doubling on keys.

 

There's no ideal solution that's perfect for both. But there are a range of reasonable compromises, considerably cheaper and easier to carry than two complete rigs.

 

One disadvantage of the J-station is that it's a table-top unit; for performance a pedal unit is better, but they're not as cheap.

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Can someone enlighten me? Why are the roland kc's bad? I was not aware of this. I have the 550, and other than some ground noise, which ive easily cured, it sounds pretty good to my ears. I curious to hears the negatives from you guys.

 

Or is it just the mono amp you guys are player hating?

 

It has nothing to do with mono vs. stereo.

 

The analogy is this, and forgive me if this sounds too trite. Imagine you've been driving around all your life in a 1985 Toyota Celica. It gets you where you're going, and you can tell friends that you have a car, and it's pretty darn good.

 

Then one day you borrow your friend's BMW 5 series.

 

You're in the same boat, only you've never borrowed your friend's car (errr.... amp).

 

:)

Exactly. But that damn Celica will get you where you're going, without having to sacrifice your kid's college tuition. My opinion: any 16-yr-old who turns up his nose at a KC-350 or KC-550 doesn't deserve anything better. Just like one who turns up his nose at a Celica and gazes at the BMW.

 

Also, anyone who can't make good music with a KC-350 can't make good music with the world's best gear.

 

Now, I haven't heard the Traynor mentioned above. It may be better. But I have heard and played a number of times a friend's KC-550 & 350 rig, and while it did NOT sound as good as a small PA, it was inexpensive, versatile, easy to move, and worked great. If the Traynor sounds better at a similar price, go for it! Any of the other solutions cost quite a bit more.

 

If you can up the ante a bit, ITGITC's solution is the best approach, and as he says, you can start smallish and add as you get money or more serious. But you can't do it at the price of a KC.

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You can always go with one of these:

 

...it looks great on stage....especially if you play at church.

:)

 

Just saw the picture... :laugh:

 

You MUST SEE the HiRez photo of this amp.

 

WARNING it is definitely NSFW!

 

Go ahead.. Click here... Do it! :evil:

 

Folks, I am on the floor, rolling all 'round, laughing my big ol' Suthun BUTT off over here...

 

(and it ain't pretty.) :rolleyes::D

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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One of my favorite guitarists uses a full-range powered speaker and a very modest collection of processors for his sound. The specific processors and speakers have changed over the years, as he's been doing it this way for a long time. But that's always been his approach, and it works great for him. Admittedly the kinds of sounds he likes are not terribly "typical," as he generally dislikes "guitar stuff." But as a general concept, it can definitely work.
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What you don't get from a guitar amp (using a keyboard) is the frequency range that a keyboard covers.

 

Am I thinking along the right line here?

 

Yes, that is true. Another difference to consider is keyboards require more power in order to be heard, without unwanted distortion, at typical rock band sound levels, because they are typically going through solid state amps.

 

Like you, I own a Roland KC-350, using it to amplify my synths and guitar. With the volume set at a level matching that of the lead guitarist and drummer, the synths were distorted. The KC-350's power (well under 200W) was simply inadequate. The problem went away when I added my Electro-Voice SXA 360 Powered Speaker, which is 600W.

 

For your budget and needs, I would suggest a used Fender Twin silverface combo. Because it's a silverface, not a blackface, it's not considered "desirable" by amp snobs and tends to be affordable in the used market. It's 100W of tube power should deliver sufficient volume for both keyboard and guitar (tube amps are louder than equivalent wattage solid state amps). If it's in proper shape, it will sound good with just about any overdrive/distortion pedal on the guitar end, and should be reasonably flat for keyboards. This combo should buy you and your son enough time to save up for a quality powered speaker (sometimes listed in stores as "powered cabinet") by JBL, Electro-Voice, etc. Fender Twins do tend to be heavy though.

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I don't have time to read the thread right now, so hope this isn't redundant:

 

I just want to point out that the needs of keyboard amplification and guitar amplification are at polar ends of the spectrum -- except for low-output 60's electromechanical keyboards (like most clavinets).

 

Keyboard amplificaction has more in common with bass guitar amplification. Both benefit from transparent full-range neutral reproduction (for multi-genre work and for studio work in particular), and it makes sense to combine.

 

You can use a single setup (I don't use traditional amps at all anymore, so that terminology) for both guitar and keyboards, if this is necessitated by economics. In this case, bias towards the keyboards needs, and supplement that with some sort of preamp or "SansAmp device" for the guitar that gives some capacity for shaping the sound to your liking as well as matching levels.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Don't do tube amp for keyboards... tube amps become overdriven at high volumes and when the tubes have been warmed (i.e. the amp has been on for 1/2 hour or so). Overdriven is slight distortion... a good sound for guitar, an undesirable sound for piano.
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