Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Comping Strategies for Multiple Keyboards


Electro Fan

Recommended Posts

I am looking for some feedback with regard to comping approaches when using multiple keyboards in a band setting. I recently added a second board to my rig and now find that I can often very spontaneously comp with both hands, one on each board. I often find that I tend to play organ parts with just one hand as to not get in the way of the bass player or muddy up the mix with my three guitar players, but I wonder about adding a Wurly or AP sound in my left hand to add some variety.

 

I guess my main questions for those who use multiple boards simultaneously would be the following:

 

1. What registers of the keyboard work best for left hand parts when combined with organ in the upper registers.

 

2. Are you typically playing a left hand bass part or comping chords when your right hand is on the top or using a sound like the organ.

 

3.If you are not asked to cover specific parts with each hand ( We do many originals and rarely attempt to play covers exactly like the recording), do you play two different instruments when comping, or stick primarily to one ( think classic rock and blues).

 

4. For those who cover piano/EP's and organ simultaneously, do you generally have your left hand on the organ or the piano/EP?

 

Thanks for any feedback you can offer. I really do enjoy the variety of sound using two different types of keyboards together adds to the mix, but wondered how bands that cover piano and organ with just one keyboard player choose to arrange their parts.

 

Bill

Nord Stage 3 Compact, Korg Kronos 61, Casio PX-5S, Yamaha DXR 10 (2)), Neo Vent, Yamaha MG82cx mixer and too many stands to name.
Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 31
  • Created
  • Last Reply

First thing that struck me reading your post:

 

Comping on two different KBs, with two hands, in a band with three guitar players.

 

Yikes. I would presume your largest challenge (besides sheer volume) is the cumulative bloat in the MR.

 

I don't typically comp on two different boards, in order to leave more negative space for the ensemble.

 

But my comping observations, which I'm sure you'e already considered:

 

- With a bass player, I rarely LH comp below C#3, or above Ab4. This doesn't change no matter what KB I'm playing, at least for typical comping behind a solo. Prescribed parts (say, on cover tunes) are a different story, but I'm presuming that's not what you're talking about.

 

- Different KBs attack differently. This provides different rhythmic textures in comping.

 

- And different keyboards sustain differently. Thus, held notes are different on B3 vs. Rhodes vs. AP (a real AP, that is). This provides different cumulative textures (and different challenges re: afore-mentioned MR bloat).

 

Rhodes, for instance, can provide a nice gentle bell to articulate the rhythmic component of your comping patterns, while holding the note provides a sustained pad effect in ways an acoustic piano cannot.

 

Finally, of course ranges on KBs bell differently - sometimes depending as much upon the amplification and the room than just the KB itself.

 

Besides the basic comping LH comping range mentioned above, I don't approach comping with hard and fast rules by KB other than to use my ears and 'salt to taste'.

 

I find I tend to comp more sparsely than many KB players. And I also find I've been getting more calls for gigs lately than many of them. Perhaps there's a correlation.

 

 

..
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, you are correct your assessment of my situation with our three guitar players and the MR. We only have recently added another guitar player to the group and it has been a real challenge to not step all over each other. Our lead signer plays rhythm on an acoustic guitar and the guitar player who had been in the band is very tasty, so it really has been the addition of the third man that has made this a challenge.

 

I appreciate your general recommendations. I think that the comping ranges for the left hand are about where I tend to land as well. Perhaps you are correct in that I would be better suited not trying to use the two boards that will be fighting for space in the mix and actually comp more sparsely.

 

I guess I have always been drawn to the sound of the piano/organ combination that I have heard on countless gospel, rock and blues albums, that drew me to ask what, if any, are typical arrangement techniques.

 

 

Nord Stage 3 Compact, Korg Kronos 61, Casio PX-5S, Yamaha DXR 10 (2)), Neo Vent, Yamaha MG82cx mixer and too many stands to name.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

+1 on much of what Timwat said--especially the Holy Cacophony Batman! of three guitars plus you. Two thoughts to add:

 

--I'd tend to sit out a LOT in this band. If I were in at all, my first impulse would be to "comp" for texture rather than rhythm--that is, to hold a one-drawbar organ pad, or a nice wide synth patch. On EP, I might spell the downbeats and sustain until a chord change. Similar for AP, though as I write this my ear is complaining at the thought of AP with all that midrangey guitar-vomit. MAYBE I'd find one of the three guitars each time to build a rhythm part around, but you'll really have to lock in tight to keep from making stew with that.

 

--In general, I do comp across two boards at times, but in the opposite manner from what you're describing: I'll set up similar patches on both and use the inherent differences as a color change. In a four-piece, I might use one board to establish a comping pattern, and a slightly brighter version of the patch to "comment" on that pattern. (This is an organ technique that works on non-organ patches as well.) But in your group, I might just do it to give the pads some variation across sections or behind different solos.

 

Good luck, and merry earplugs to you.

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
www.joshweinstein.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bill,

 

I find myself most comfortable and effective comping LH on organ (upper board - NE2) and RH on piano (lower board weighted 88).

 

On the Electro I have a patch that is octave shifted so I can play it with my left hand comfortably and it produces high, fast-Leslie, shimmering, Hammond goodness. My right hand on piano then naturally falls in the octaves above middle C, which is a good place to be underneath electric guitar leads. I use this on Ramblin' Man, Misunderstood, Can't You See, Simple Man, the end of Jealous etc... Fills it up nicely.

 

Edited to add: The organ part I play is usually a sustained chord.

 

Regards,

Joe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've played in both cover bands and an originals-only band, and I can't recall having any hard and fast rules about comping with two boards other than don't step on anybody else. I should qualify that by saying that I very rarely comped on both boards at the same time. But when I did, what I did varied from song to song depending on what the song needed and what everybody else was doing in it. Usually I'd stay in the mids. But occasionally I'd fatten up the bottom on slower tunes with thick stringy backing, as long as the bass player wasn't jumping around too much.

 

A few songs that kicked I'd have a B3-ish patch on the upper board with my left hand and bang out a more rhythmic higher end piano with my right on the lower board. I'd usually switch which hand was on what board depending on the complexity of what each board was doing (I confess, my left hand cannot do the same things my right can).

 

One of the things I learned quickly, especially in the originals band, is that less is sometimes more, especially if you've got three guitars in the mix. Better to find one good sound that will stand out and contribute to the song and not clutter it up with unnecessary noise. Big exception to that was with the cover band when we were messing with some RPWL, and I spent a lot of time with fat string and pad layers working on both boards. That was hella fun; but again, it was extremely rare.

 

 

 

D-10; M50; SP4-7; SP6

I'm a fairly accomplished hack.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I often play the B3 and Piano at the same time at church.

 

Primarily Padded chords in RH on B3, often quarter note chords in LH on piano. Sometimes a simple line on the piano.

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

https://bobbycressey.bandcamp.com/album/cali-native

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yikes, three guitar players. Most of the time one is too many.
I immediately think of Night Ranger when I hear three guitars :facepalm:

 

Night Ranger has 2 guitars

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing I'll sometimes do is to play one hand on each keyboard, but play rhythmic patterns where only one hand is playing at a time. So it's like you are playing one part, but with 2 different sounds. You can even do some call and response between the hands.

 

I don't envy you trying to play with 3 guitarists. And why is it always up to us keyboardists to stay out of the guitars way, why can't they stay out of our way for once?

Turn up the speaker

Hop, flop, squawk

It's a keeper

-Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream for Crow

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for your feedback. I can see that there is not a default two board comping approach. I am struggling to find my space now that we have a third, very loud guitar player. It may be in my best interest to take the less is more approach and limit my comping to smaller voicings in the registers where I will be out of the way.

 

Thanks again,

 

 

Bill

Nord Stage 3 Compact, Korg Kronos 61, Casio PX-5S, Yamaha DXR 10 (2)), Neo Vent, Yamaha MG82cx mixer and too many stands to name.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And why is it always up to us keyboardists to stay out of the guitars way, why can't they stay out of our way for once?

 

Nature of the genre, if you're playing rawk.

 

If you're playing jazz or funk, not at all the case. If you're playing guitar and you're not tasteful, you'll need to stay out of my way.

..
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even one guitarist who plays thick chords at a high volume level leaves no room for any subtle playing on the keys. I wouldn't play in a band with three guitarists unless it payed a lot. I couldn't imagine a keyboard player really enjoying playing in something like the E Street Band where there are usually four guitars. Sure the keys get an intro or quiet interlude once in a while but much of the time it is a wall of sound.
C3/122, M102A, Vox V301H, Farfisa Compact, Gibson G101, GEM P, RMI 300A, Piano Bass, Pianet , Prophet 5 rev. 2, Pro-One, Matrix 12, OB8, Korg MS20, Jupiter 6, Juno 60, PX-5S, Nord Stage 3 Compact
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bill,

 

I find myself most comfortable and effective comping LH on organ (upper board - NE2) and RH on piano (lower board weighted 88).

 

On the Electro I have a patch that is octave shifted so I can play it with my left hand comfortably and it produces high, fast-Leslie, shimmering, Hammond goodness. My right hand on piano then naturally falls in the octaves above middle C, which is a good place to be underneath electric guitar leads. I use this on Ramblin' Man, Misunderstood, Can't You See, Simple Man, the end of Jealous etc... Fills it up nicely.

 

Edited to add: The organ part I play is usually a sustained chord.

 

Regards,

Joe

 

This is exactly what I do as well!

'57 Hammond B-3, '60 Hammond A100, Leslie 251, Leslie 330, Leslie 770, Leslie 145, Hammond PR-40

Trek II UC-1A

Alesis QSR

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Who still tours 3 guitars, besides Skynyrd?

 

Foo Fighters, Wilco.

Wilco has two keyboard players. Are you counting one of them as one of the plank spankers? IIRC, there might be one guy who does keys or guitar depending on the tune.

"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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Who still tours 3 guitars, besides Skynyrd?

 

Foo Fighters, Wilco.

Wilco has two keyboard players. Are you counting one of them as one of the plank spankers? IIRC, there might be one guy who does keys or guitar depending on the tune.

 

Yeah, Pat Sansone goes back and forth....so 2.5 guitarists and 1.5 keyboard players in that band.

Yamaha CK88, Arturia Keylab 61 MkII, Moog Sub 37, Yamaha U1 Upright, Casio CT-S500, Mac Logic/Mainstage, iPad Camelot, Spacestation V.3, QSC K10.2, JBL EON One Compact

www.stickmanor.com

There's a thin white line between fear and fury - Stickman

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yikes, three guitar players. Most of the time one is too many.
I immediately think of Night Ranger when I hear three guitars :facepalm:

 

Night Ranger has 2 guitars

Sorry. I could of sworn I remember videos of them flaunting 3 out in front. Research time. Sorry to be OT but...was it Night Ranger who's lead singer was drummer?

AvantGrand N2 | ES520 | Gallien-Krueger MK & MP | https://soundcloud.com/pete36251

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... Sometimes a simple line on the piano.

Perhaps 'single note' centric lines. Even with B3, but with whatever keyboard. Inspiration from brass section style parts. You could even sometimes be "baritone sax". Finding or claiming spaces. Or, beefing up taken spots.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Night Ranger has 2 guitars
Sorry. I could of have sworn I remember videos of them flaunting 3 out in front. Research time. Sorry to be OT but...was it Night Ranger who's lead singer was drummer?
Fixed it for you. ;)

 

Maybe you were thinking of Damn Yankees? Jack Blades from Night Ranger was in that, but he's a bassist. They were two guitars and bass, though. However, there was something about the way Blades, Shaw, and Nugent ran around in the videos that could easily make you think they were three guitar players.

"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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I pretty much go by what the tune needs. Just because you have 2 keys doesn't mean you need to use them both at the same time. One of my band has 2 guitars and they have a big sound, so its finding what works for the song. Organ, piano, Rhodes, once in a while some of both.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Night Ranger has 2 guitars
Sorry. I could of have sworn I remember videos of them flaunting 3 out in front. Research time. Sorry to be OT but...was it Night Ranger who's lead singer was drummer?
Fixed it for you. ;)

 

Maybe you were thinking of Damn Yankees? Jack Blades from Night Ranger was in that, but he's a bassist. They were two guitars and bass, though. However, there was something about the way Blades, Shaw, and Nugent ran around in the videos that could easily make you think they were three guitar players.

thanks on too fronts (I know I used wrong two, just wanted to see if you noticed.) I guess it's their stage act. They would stack themselves out front - always hated that look, but if it sold albums and helped popularity good for them. That was a time MTV videos were king.

AvantGrand N2 | ES520 | Gallien-Krueger MK & MP | https://soundcloud.com/pete36251

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks on too fronts (I know I used wrong two, just wanted to see if you noticed.)
:D
I guess it's their stage act. They would stack themselves out front - always hated that look, but if it sold albums and helped popularity good for them. That was a time MTV videos were king.
I enjoyed that band for what it was, pure, stupid, guitar-driven rock and roll (ignoring that sappy ballad). Blades sang some tunes, so he was justifiably out front as much as the other two.

"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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've played with two guitars, never three. Comping advice would be the similar to the excellent advice you have already received:

 

- stay out of the mid-range if the guitars are chugging away there. Aim two octaves up for the B3 and one octave up for the piano. (mix things up though)

 

- however up there you don't really comp. You play lines.

 

- Consider Rick Wakeman's approach of staying out of the mix until the transitions and doing ornate little bits to earn your keep. And/or save your horsepower for the chorus.

 

If you are comping and the guitarists are on break, I would position one keyboard above the other if possible so that hands can switch roles. It can be quite an effective trick to have identical sounds on both keyboards and comp on them. (like two manuals of a B3 with identical registrations)

 

Adding 9ths and quartals above the guitar voicings can be something more subtle to do and most guitar players appreciate that you are complementing rather than competing.

 

Hoping this helps. :)

 

Jerry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I comp w octave organ on the left hand, piano on right, but only on a couple songs that use both. I usually play right hand and lh octave root low, but some songs I play 2 octaves low, whole/half notes as needed using a bass synth like rubber or other analog expressive sound to add to the bass.

Gene Maarkr

PX-5S, FA-06, XW-P1, Juno G, Lucina

http://genemaarkr.bandcamp.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...