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keyboard rig suggestions for new wedding band keyboardist


ERC

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Hi All! I've been a classical pianist most of my life but I've recently begun rehearsing with a wedding band and need advice on upgrading my rig. The band covers 50's through current Top-40 hits and I've had great success using Mainstage and Omnisphere to cover all of the synth parts, controlled by my Kawai MP10. I freaking love that board but I'm looking for a new one for two main reasons: weight and redundancy. I'm paranoid of my laptop giving out for whatever reason during a gig and not having similar sounds available in the MP10 as a backup, and that thing is a beast and my back is complaining!

 

I'm hoping you all can share your opinions and experience. Please forgive me if I overlooked this being beaten to death already in a previous thread! :blush: I keep bouncing back and forth between the following three plans:

 

  • the new Kronos
  • Nord Stage 2
  • A light-weight MIDI controller + Receptor (in theory more stable than my macbook?)

 

I'll likely continue using Mainstage but I'd love to have an alternate setlist programmed into the keyboard itself if end up going either Nord or Kronos. Thanks!

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Since you're comfortably gigging with the laptop and the sounds in the board would then only be for backup, it seems like portability and action would be your focus. Something as inexpensive and light as a Casio PX-5S might do the trick for you. It still has enough sounds in it to carry you through a gig if need be.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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I know a hell of a lot of guys who cover wedding band stuff with a single Nord Stage 2, and they do it well (the guys who use the board to its full potential, anyways). I also know guys who only use the Kronos, and again, that does the job perfectly. Either board would be good enough to do the job, though I'd advise getting the 88 key version.

 

Since you're comfortably gigging with the laptop and the sounds in the board would then only be for backup, it seems like portability and action would be your focus. Something as inexpensive and light as a Casio PX-5S might do the trick for you. It still has enough sounds in it to carry you through a gig if need be.

 

+1

 

If you want to keep using your software and go down the receptor route, the px5s works as a great MIDI controller, and has v good sounds on board as well, in case you ever needed backup. It's generally a nice all rounder board and unbeatable at its price range. If you're after a MIDI controller (even though it isn't a dedicated controller) I'd go with that.

 

PS. Welcome to our little corner of the internet :2thu:

Nord E4 SW73

Yamaha MODX7

Mainstage 3

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I've done plenty of weddings, and there's no way I'd want to use a laptop in that environment.

 

In my humble opinion there is no finer rig possible for this sort of thing than a Kurzweil PC3K8 + a Roland Integra-7. These two pieces complement each other so well it's like they were each designed for this purpose.

 

The Integra-7 has phenomenal acoustic and electric pianos, tonewheel organs and literally thousands of workhorse synth sounds, but it is lacking in the number of available multis and general programming flexibility. The Kurzweil lets you chain together thousands of 16-zone Setups with extensive sequence and arpeggiator implementation, but it is lacking in terms of acoustic piano and organ sounds.

 

Together they are the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup of electronic music.

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I've done plenty of weddings, and there's no way I'd want to use a laptop in that environment.

 

that's what makes the world go round. I've done way too many weddings (don't do them any more). Never did one from the late 90's on without a laptop. I always had a spare, however. Weddings you have to plan for the worst, something wierd is bound to happen.

:nopity:
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The Integra-7 has phenomenal acoustic and electric pianos, tonewheel organs and literally thousands of workhorse synth sounds, but it is lacking in the number of available multis and general programming flexibility. The Kurzweil lets you chain together thousands of 16-zone Setups with extensive sequence and arpeggiator implementation, but it is lacking in terms of acoustic piano and organ sounds.

You find the Integra tonewheel organs to be better than the Kurz' KB3 mode? That's surprising.

 

The Yamaha MOXF (among others) is a nice controller fro an Integra too, with the ability to use its 16 buttons to independently address the 16 channels of an Integra studio set.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Thanks for the input so far folks, please keep it coming! I'm so glad I found this forum, I can already tell I'll be spending a lot of time here ;)

 

I should have noted in my original post that I've not actually played any gigs yet with this band (or any of this sort, really) and the thought of having my laptop perched on a music stand or otherwise terrifies me, especially after hearing that both our front man and lead guitarist have both been knocked over by drunk attendees on two separate occasions. I've been going this route because it is what I have on hand.

 

Do I understand correctly that I could sample a VST patch into both the Nord Stage and the Kronos? Could I in theory have two duplicate sets of patches, both in Mainstage and sampled into the keyboard (though at great effort, I imagine...)

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...the thought of having my laptop perched on a music stand or otherwise terrifies me, especially after hearing that both our front man and lead guitarist have both been knocked over by drunk attendees on two separate occasions.

There are ways of making a laptop ergonomically as robust as a hardware module. Use it mounted on something like a SKB Flyer Case:

 

http://www.purgatorycreek.com/img/rack2.jpg

 

Placed on the floor or a low-profile stool, there's no danger of toppling over. Even better, some of us actually play with the lid closed. It actually adds to the suspension of disbelief, that the sounds are coming from the instrument under your fingers and not a computer...! Also, a case like that allows you to pre-wire connections, including power strip, interface, etc. So your setup time becomes less than that of hardware, actually.

 

Do I understand correctly that I could sample a VST patch into both the Nord Stage and the Kronos? Could I in theory have two duplicate sets of patches, both in Mainstage and sampled into the keyboard (though at great effort, I imagine...)

Not a realistic option for the Nord, but doable for the Kronos - with caveats. The Nord editor can only load single-velocity layer samples. OTOH, you can sample any patch, even a multi-gig piano library into the Kronos. You will lose some articulations, though, and sampling some synth/organ VSTs sucks the life out of them. But for perhaps 80-90% of sounds, it should be doable.

 

However, in most cases, it might make sense to recreate the sounds internally within the Kronos itself. The multiple engines certainly is capable enough. The sampling option would be most useful for a small minority of patches, or AP sounds.

 

Welcome to the forum...!

 

- Guru

This is really what MIDI was originally about encouraging cooperation between companies that make the world a more creative place." - Dave Smith
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@OP: If redundancy is your primary concern... why not invest in a Mac Mini as backup to your laptop, and have it mounted inside the SKB Flyer case? Big advantages:

  1. You save tons of man-hours replicating patches in hardware. Not to mention the learning curve of a new workflow/interface.
  2. Your keyboard options explode, virtually. The entire keyboard market is now your oyster.
  3. You'll probably end up saving $$.

#2 is the most important one, IMO. It's really hard to be 100% satisfied with a hardware board with internal sounds. Action, form factor, weight, controls, aftertouch, pedal inputs, screen/UI - there's invariably a compromise with one or more of these. Especially when you're stuck with only 2-3 choices that fit your requirement.

 

Not so if you stick to software. Mainstage does the heavy lifting when it comes to patch complexity and sounds. Plus, you can always add a small USB control surface for changing patches + knobs/sliders. Or an iPad. Which means every keyboard in the market can be a controller - so go ahead and choose that perfect balance of weight, action and form factor. No other features matter, really.

 

So now you're free to choose, say, an elegant white Kawai ES100, or a Yamaha P-255 as your controller. You lose this freedom of choice when you go hardware.

 

In the event of a failure, switching to the Mac Mini should be as easy as swapping a USB/Thunderbolt connection from the laptop. Food for thought.

 

- Guru

 

P.S. I'll leave you with this very relevant and amusing post by my friend @Tusker: link. ;)

This is really what MIDI was originally about encouraging cooperation between companies that make the world a more creative place." - Dave Smith
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This is one of those questions where you ask 10 people and receive 11 opinions! So here's mine...

 

1. A wedding band rig needs to be reliable, lightweight, easy to set-up/tear down, and easy to control (patch changes etc)

2. I couldn't get by with just one board (could you?) but I would recommend a "sounds" board+controller

 

Personally I wouldn't gig with a laptop (extra setup, risk of crash, risk of a drunken reveller spilling beer etc). The Kronos 2 (with the Set List updates) looks ideal for this role - either a single 88 or a 61 with a lower board, such as your MP10. This gives you a simple set up with one audio source (no mixer), and a backup board in case the Kronos fails.

 

I use a NS2/73 as my main board with an Oberheim MC1000 controller for weddings. I love the sounds and the immediacy (and the quick setup), but patch selection is a bit awkward. I've made it work for me, but I'm close to hitting some limits. Kronos is much stronger here.

 

You haven't mentioned a budget, so I don't know if I'm off-beam.

 

And don't forget stand choices. Needs to be portable and quick to setup - mine's an Ultimate Apex.

 

Good luck!

 

Cheers, Mike.

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If you do go with a Kronos I suggest getting an uninterruptable power supply for it.

 

All it takes is one tipsy bridesmaid to pull out the most carefully configured power connections, and that two minute boot-up time is an eternity if it happens during the father-daughter dance or uncle Sid sitting in on "My Way".

 

By the way, there are club sandwiches for you guys in the kitchen.

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I'd get a 61 note board to sit on top of the Kawai. FA06, MOXF6, Kronos 61. Something multi timbral with a versatile engine. Then control some of it's sounds from the Kawai if you need to.

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

www.bksband.com

www.echoesrocks.com

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I think my Kurzweil pc3 (61 version) is a great all-around instrument. Decent organs (especially after some tweaking), good synths, pretty much a jack of all trades board at a much cheaper price if that matters...obviously the larger versions and the K models may be a bit more, but I got mine used at guitar center for $800 and change. 30-day return is nice at GC....
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I think the FA-06/08 is the perfect cover band keyboard nowadays.

 

Agreed, but I'd recommend using something like Setlist Maker to manage your library. There really isn't a great native way to manage a large library of setlists. Of course, the Kronos has this built in, so that's a plus.

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Based on what I have read in this thread, I suggest a Yamaha CP4 + Roland Integra. A slightly pricier option is CP4 + Kronos. I assume you have a decently sized band (something like 1-2 singers, a guitarist, one or more horns, bass and drums, all fairly proficient) I assume you are not integrating loops/sequences tightly into your performances. I also assume you have amplification (and redundancies for amplification) sorted out.

 

Reasoning:

1 You don't want to over-engineer your rig. Keep it simple.

2 You are classically trained. You will appreciate the CP4 keybed.

3 If your band mates are half decent, you will be able to get through a gig with substitute sounds should something fail completely. Wedding audiences are really not listening as critically as one might think. :D

4 The critical listeners will remember how accurately you tailored the sounds for some songs, and then how boldly and creatively you made a B3/piano/rhodes sound like (insert instrument here) for other songs. Practice this. Get your confidence up.

5 Good performers do mental programming. Remember that these bands you are covering have often done alternate renditions with different (sometimes stripped down) instrumentation. Give yourself the intention and hutzpa to make do, when something fails. You are not a clear channel radio station. You are a musician.

6 Integra handles the orchestration/synth stuff. CP4 handles the pianos. If you are minimalist, keep a controller in the car for when the CP4 fails. Otherwise, keep the controller onstage for the Integra. (Or use Kronos in place of Integra and controller.)

 

Remind yourself that throughout history and across all cultures, weddings are about the best reason that our beautiful human species has come up with to have a celebration. Have a blast. :)

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