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Wurlitzer EP on a ROMpler


allan_evett

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Looking for some guidance from those more experienced with the real, electromechanical instrument. I've played a real Wurli' a few times on sessions, and managed to borrow one for a couple of weeks back in the 80's; but it's not an instrument on which I've had steady, day-in, day-out experience.

 

While I have the Scarbee Wurli, and a couple other options in software, what I'm looking for is way to improve the sound on my main, live piano: an S90XS. That amped Wurli Voice - which was also in the S90ES, and the Motifs I've owned - sounds like ten foot wide, mashed potatoes. Even the more basic Wurli tones - both GM and otherwise - still don't quite get there. To my ears the raw, real sound has a very direct, centered, even slightly thin tone. Stripping out amp and modulation effects (which I can add back later), how would those experienced with the real thing - or having programmed ROMpler Wurli patches - go about tweaking a basic Wurli tone on a sample playback keyboard ?

 

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

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I've played a variety of Wurlis and I'm surprised to hear you don't like the ones in the S90XS. For basic tone, I strongly prefer them to all other ROMpler offerings, even Kronos, except for the ones in the Kurzweil PC3 series. I even like them more than Nord's Wurli.
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Those Yamaha Wurlis, as is, tend to get a little lost in the mix - both on stage, and out front. And that's even with the insert effects, reverb, etc. being shut off. But from playing them alone, I believe the raw material is solid. So what I'm looking for is input from you experienced Wurli folks. What is it - both on recordings, and live - that brings the sound of the instrument out ? Favorite EQ, effects settings, and so forth. My best guess is that the Yamaha Voice needs to be slightly thinned, then focused. While there are some basic effects tricks I could try to accomplished that, I thought perhaps some experienced Wurli-meisters could bypass my guesses and offer some concrete sound-shaping tricks.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I've posted this here before. Years ago when I owned the S90 Classic I did a pretty high end national jingle for Starbucks . It paid well, they got some name players on the date (what was I doing there ?! :laugh: ) and they were very particular about how the Wurli sounded. It was playing a sort of pseudo-Montuno for the hook throughout the jingle. Very out front.

 

They rented a Wurli from S.I.R. (don't remember the exact year/model) and were set to use it. I mentined to my friend who was the writer and producer on the date (ah, now I remember...that's how I got called :D ) --you know you should check out the Wurli sound on my Yamaha, it's pretty darn good. He said..ok bring it along, we'll give it a listen.

 

So I hooked it up and we recorded a 15 second solo pass with both keyboards. I swear they spent an hour A/B ing the two in the playback room. The engineer, my friend and the Starbucks suit guys. Who obviously can't hear diddly, but my friend wanted to look like he was including them in the decision process since it was their dough.

 

We were outside, all of us shooting the breeze, but in background I can hear them playing these two clips over & over ad nauseam. Finally they say...ok we're ready in here to start tracking. I think we're gonna go with the Yamaha keyboard. It's cleaner and overall more clear.

 

So that's my S90 Wurli story fwiw.. :cool:

https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

 

NY Steinway D

Yamaha AvantGrand N3X, P-515

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great story, Dave.. S90 classic. Hmm, looks like I may want to dig back into the original Motif sound set as a basis from which to start.

But as you were in the studio, I'm guessing that both instruments were EQ'd and effected in a manner that was optimal for a classic Wurli tone. That's what I'm curious about.

Hopefully Mr. RedKey will jump in, and Mr. Nathan's perspective would be most welcome :D . I also suspect that Kanker might have some ideas on the subject :thu:

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I know Redkey has a little tube amp he likes to run his wurli through - he brought it to the hang we had at Tony's last year, but I don't remember what it was. I suspect a little OD from a Vent or Burn would do the trick.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Looking for some guidance from those more experienced with the real, electromechanical instrument. I've played a real Wurli' a few times on sessions, and managed to borrow one for a couple of weeks back in the 80's; but it's not an instrument on which I've had steady, day-in, day-out experience.

 

While I have the Scarbee Wurli, and a couple other options in software, what I'm looking for is way to improve the sound on my main, live piano: an S90XS. That amped Wurli Voice - which was also in the S90ES, and the Motifs I've owned - sounds like ten foot wide, mashed potatoes. Even the more basic Wurli tones - both GM and otherwise - still don't quite get there. To my ears the raw, real sound has a very direct, centered, even slightly thin tone. Stripping out amp and modulation effects (which I can add back later), how would those experienced with the real thing - or having programmed ROMpler Wurli patches - go about tweaking a basic Wurli tone on a sample playback keyboard ?

 

 

I agree with your description "very direct, centered, even slightly thin tone".

 

When I designed the Wurly presets for the Kurz PC3 sound set, I spent time with a real one plus a ton of time listening to classic recordings of Wurlies. In order to match the sounds of iconic Wurly recordings, I usually had to cut out the low frequencies, rolled off the highs and boosted the mids. I did this in both the synth engine and in the amp effects. Certain presets called for more drastic EQ measures than others. Then, depending on the preset I added all manner of randomized mechanical noises and release squeaks/thumps.

 

The set includes a variety of presets EQ'd to drop into a dense mix, plus ones from iconic songs/artists - Joni Mitchell's Woodstock, Supertramp's Logical Song, Ray Charles What'd I say, Van Halen's Cradle Will Rock, Floyd's Money, etc.

There are also a few of the variety that I'm not as crazy about - ones that sound like a very clean sample of direct line out of a pristine, restored Wurly - lots of highs, lots of lows little or no amp. It's not a sound that "occurs in nature" very often but we felt to compelled to include a few in order to provide the widest variety possible.

 

Programming tip - one thing that quickly increase the realism of a Wurly preset (or most EPs for that matter) is to tighten up the release time. For some reason, some boards out there use samples that have a tiny little release trail-off that gives the sound away as an obvious sample. Even the old Kurz PC2 Wurlies had this issue, which we corrected with the PC2 ROM2 Classic Keys expansion.

 

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I know Redkey has a little tube amp he likes to run his wurli through - he brought it to the hang we had at Tony's last year, but I don't remember what it was. I suspect a little OD from a Vent or Burn would do the trick.
Lunchbox guitar amplifier LBG2.

 

(I took a picture so I could look it up later)

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Allan, are you judging the sound based on how it sounds on stage or out front?

 

Mostly from a stage mix (minus keys) coming through my DXR12 that is combined with my keyboard mix, But on at least two occasions an experienced FOH engineer concurred with my findings.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Allan, I dismissed the ES class Wurli pretty early telling myself it didn't have the responsiveness of the Rhodes sounds which are pretty good. The Wurli just didn't work for me.

 

Then I saw a video of George Duke performing in a trio with that Wurli sound ... turns out I just needed to give it a second chance. To improve it, I would increase the velocity sensitivity (of volume) and run it through a nice sounding amp.

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Thanks Tusker, for that suggestion. Also thanks to Dave Weiser for the suggestion to tighten up the release time. I'll try both of those.

 

The separate amp idea would definitely help, though for live work I'm trying to take out less gear - if possible. The Vent' / Burn idea has merit - though I usually have the Burn dedicated to organ. Still, for a one keyboard gig it could be a flexible solution. I may also snag a currently unused tube-pre from my church gig and see if that helps.

 

If there are any more 'bag of tricks' ideas out there that would be great, e.g. - onboard tone shaping (besides envelopes, as that's been covered). Thanks !

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Allan, the "taking out less gear" is the problem. I did a series of shows this summer where the bandleader/guitarist had me play my PC3 through an open back Fender Custom with what he called three "blues", those are three 10" speakers painted bright blue and I asked him what brand they were and he didn't know he just said they're known as blues. Obvously that's a big deal to some guitarists. He had another bigger Fender for himself. This was on Catalina so I didn't bring anything on the boat except my PC3. I used one of his EV SXa 360's for the first set and I thought it sounded good but he hated it.

 

This was a very loud band (I was using ear plugs) and I said I'm going to blow that little amp up with organ and he simply said "No you won't". He was right, that thing was LOUD with power to spare. This was a classic old school 60's and 70's rock band and the Wurlie and my Big Leslie KB3 patch sounded awesome through it. We were doing some Alvin Lee blues, the Doors, the Allman's as well as some Woodstock tunes including InnaGaddaDaVida and Born To Be Wild. These guys can't even spell word jazz. They no nothing about that. On a break I noodled around with some of my jazz/R&B tunes and they sounded like crap through that amp but for that rock stuff? I have to say that amp was the secret sauce. It just had that grit and tone from lots of old classic records and if I were to do those kinds of gigs on a regular basis I just might have to pick one of those up. Not very big but heavy as hell because of those speakers.

 

If you only need your Wurlie sound for one or two gigs then it's not worth it but if you're doing a fair amount of rock stuff I would look into an amp like his, it really made the difference.

 

Bob

Hammond SK1, Mojo 61, Kurzweil PC3, Korg Pa3x, Roland FA06, Band in a Box, Real Band, Studio One, too much stuff...
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Great story, Dave.. S90 classic. Hmm, looks like I may want to dig back into the original Motif sound set as a basis from which to start.

 

Allan -

 

Daryl Hall uses an original Motif 88 for his Wurli sound on more than several of the "Live at Daryl's House" episodes. I can only remember one episode where a vintage Wurli is rented. Worked for him, maybe it can work for you? :idk

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Motifs (and I'm assuming Yamaha's "S" series keyboards) have a parametric EQ for each element at the end of their edit chain (F6 on my ES7). I found them very helpful in accentuating or attenuating mids for Motif aounds, and it always sounded more natural doing it there than adding EQ later as an effect.

 

I can't remember how I tweaked the Wurlie sounds on my Motif (it's been too many years ago). Probably used them though. I was using them a lot when I originally custom programmed my sounds for that board.

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Great story, Dave.. S90 classic. Hmm, looks like I may want to dig back into the original Motif sound set as a basis from which to start.

 

Allan -

 

Daryl Hall uses an original Motif 88 for his Wurli sound on more than several of the "Live at Daryl's House" episodes. I can only remember one episode where a vintage Wurli is rented. Worked for him, maybe it can work for you? :idk

 

I've seen Daryl using both an original Motif 8, and what appears to be an ES8 - both on his show, and at live gigs; the one I recall from a New Orleans fest was likely backlined. I suspect that he's tweaked the core, Wurli Voice, or has the effects shut off and the tone needed is dialed in at the board. Never had a doubt that the Motif soundset could produce the 'sound' - as both the Rhodes and Wurli Voices I've heard from Daryl were solid.

 

From the amp envelope suggestions, and tube amp / cabinet ideas - real and onboard fx based - received, I have some good, quick ideas to try dialing-in on tomorrow night's gig. I'm playing phone tag today with my Chicago bud RedKey; he left a message with some additional ideas for getting the 200A cabinet speaker tone, plus some EQ thoughts; so I'll mess with those as well. While the Wurlis in the Stage 2 and newer CP series seem to be more happening right out-of-the-box, the S90XS should be able to easily rise to the same level. Was certainly doable with the acoustic pianos; but that's something with which I have much more experience. And having a couple of great, third-party piano Voices to build upon didn't hurt either.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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That is why I still carry the XV-5050 after switching to the S90XS. The Roland Wurlis have more balls. XV's COSM Leslie simulator I would not use for organ but it works well on the Wurlie stuff if you want to go for that old Three Dog Night vibe.

 

The man that sold me the XV did a great job of setting up those Wurli patches on that synth. They rock.

 

I like the Rhodes' on the S90XS but the internal phaser sort of sucks.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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How are the wurlitzers on the vr09?

 

Agitato, you can hear me doodling around with the various VR-09 EP's on my soundcloud page.. On this quick demo I'm just trying various programs and various different combinations of effects..

 

 

They're OK sounding to me... they actually cut pretty well in the mix. That said, from what I can gather there is just one Rhodes sample and Wurly sample, and you use the live effects to change the tone/OD/compression etc.. but there is a lot you can do with those effects.

Craig MacDonald

Hammond BV, Franken-B (A100 in a BV cabinet), Leslies 122/147/44W, Crumar Mojo, HX3 module, Korg Kronos, VR-09, Roland GAIA, Burn, Ventilator

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It's been a real long time since I played a true Wurli, but for live use, both the Nord and Yamaha versions are useful. I prefer the Nord because it cuts and you have the amp sim options at your fingertips. Been using a ton if it on the Floyd band I'm in.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

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