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Nord for jazz piano and organ?


Coker

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I am trying to decide if I should buy my bucket list keyboard, a Nord Stage. I play primarily jazz piano in small and large groups, and occasionally I am asked to comp with a B3 sound a la Jerrod Gold. When I owned an FP-4, I was able to do this fairly effectively due to the combination of decent organ patches and (I think) a cooperative keybed. Piano sounds were so-so. I now play a CP4, with great acoustic piano sounds and action for playing them, but patches and action are not good for organ. Will one of the Nord Stages be better for me than the CP4? Also, I prefer not to add a second keyboard to my setup, as will undoubtedly be one suggestion. Any help out there?
CA93, MODX8, YC88, K8.2
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I assume you would be buying a Stage (2 or 3) 88 since piano is the primary use. There is no question that the organs will be better. However, it is likely you find the action for PIANO purposes on the Nord to be inferior to the action on the CP4. The consensus view is that the CP4 action is among the best for stage pianos (probably second to the Kawai models which are significantly heavier.) For organ, the action on the Nord might be a little better (i.e. lighter) for organ...but neither is really amenable to idiomatic Hammond playing.

 

Piano sound is a subjective thing but you will have more choices with the Nord.

 

Of course the Stage will have a synth section which may of interest to you. If not, you might think about other options for augmenting the CP4 (e.g. ipad running a Hammond emulation).

Nord Stage 3 88, Korg Kronos 2 61, Moog Sub 37, Yamaha U1 Upright, Casio CT-S500, Spacestation V.3, QSC K10.2

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Will one of the Nord Stages be better for me than the CP4?

For organ, yes; for piano, debatable.

 

I prefer not to add a second keyboard to my setup

The hammer-action boards that I have found reasonably playable for organ have been the Nord (HA models), Kawai MP7, and Kurzweil (TP40 models, like the Forte).

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 am using an HX3 organ module in conjunction with a Roland RD300GX ( a lot like your FP-4 ) with good results when I want to take just one board. It's pretty easy to put all of this into a mixer. I only do it when I am not really going to play a lot of organ solos.

 

I work with just presets on the HX3, which works fine to keep it simple.

 

Those Nord Stage boards are just too damn much money for me. Plus the acoustic piano sounds have never been my cup of tea.

 

If you are just going to comp organ, a module should be a no brainer.Plus when or if you need to sell, you will get most if not all of your money back.

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Yes, you can add a module to get a great organ sound on the CP4, but the action will still be the action...

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 just wondered if one of the lighter actions might be a better compromise. Ill take a look at the modules, though. If I could just figure out how to trigger the organ with the first sensor on the keys...
CA93, MODX8, YC88, K8.2
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If I could just figure out how to trigger the organ with the first sensor on the keys...

generally not possible, as the boards simply don't send MIDI out until the lower sensor is triggered. But that's not the only (nor, IMO, even the biggest) thing that makes some weighted actions more suitable for organ playing than others... quick return and the lack of sharp edges between keys make a big difference.

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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Will one of the Nord Stages be better for me than the CP4?

For organ, yes; for piano, debatable.

 

I prefer not to add a second keyboard to my setup

The hammer-action boards that I have found reasonably playable for organ have been the Nord (HA models), Kawai MP7, and Kurzweil (TP40 models, like the Forte).

+1

www.alquinn.com
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I have a nord Stage 3 88. Action is pretty firm, more so than a forte or the Yamaha boards. Closest to true piano action of any of my current or formmer boards. For just pure piano I find the feel of the Nord superior. Pianos are comparable to the Forte. I think it would just really come down to a difference in preference between those. They're both great.

 

For organ, I find the Stage 3 88 board a little heavier and sharp ended than I'd like but it's doable. It's organ and leslie sounds and GUI for organ is superior to the Forte but it's definitely like playing organ on a piano keyboard.

 

Never tried the smaller Nord boards with their different keybeds and drawbars.

 

The Nord is exceptional for showing up at a gig not knowing what you're going to play. It's so simple and geered toweards live performance that you can put it into "live" mode and real time build 5 good patches carry you through a gig. That would be a challenge in the Forte. Really a killer instrument for just showing up to a jam.

 

Nord is a simple creature, but it's got good bones. No doubt you can do more with a Forte, Montage or S90, but could you get it tweaked up usable as quick as the Nord. That's the question. My Forte has features they never even dreamed of in Nord land, more than I can even remember at times. But you will be spending some time setting all your stuff up in to the right locations with the right volumes.

 

Nord does no kidding seamless patch changes now. Forte does patch changes with one minor hiccup after the change. Almost unnoticeable.

 

It's a tough choice..both great instruments for what they do. Nord is much more immediate, Forte is more accurate and with all the bells and whistles. They both sound great.

 

For controlling external instruments Forte is better equipped.

 

You really can't go wrong. That's why I have one of each.

You want me to start this song too slow or too fast?

 

Forte7, Nord Stage 3, XK3c, OB-6, Arturia Collection, Mainstage, MotionSound KBR3D. A bunch of MusicMan Guitars, Line6 stuff

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You have already ruled out the ideal option of a second board - an Electro or Numa Organ above your CP4 makes a lovely rig. As mentioned before a single action for both is a compromise. Dave Weiser recently posted about his love for the TP40L action, because it's so versatile. It's used in the Forte, which you might wish to consider, as well as other Kurz boards.

 

Nord use the TP40M in their 88s iirc, which might be too heavy for organ. The 76s use the TP100, which you would need to try - I played one in an Electro and thought it "ok, a bit meh", then in an Acuna and thought "what the **** is this - I can't play it at all!"

 

Would you consider a Nord (or Kurz) hammer-action with a lightweight 61-key controller above? That's hardly any more shlep, setup or stage space than a module.

 

Cheers, Mike.

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Well, I guess the Stage 3 88 wont do it unless I add a non weighted controller on top.

I don't think you should rule it out based on one opinion. But don't expect something great, either. There's no doubt that using a non-hammer action for organ is preferable to using any hammer action for organ. No one is going to say the Stage 3 88 action (or any hammer action) is great for organ playing, but if you don't want to use two boards, you've already ruled out great, and now you're just looking for most acceptable (or "least bad"). So I wouldn't rule out the NS3 until you play it personally, it's still one of the better of a less-than-ideal bunch. But the Kurz and Kawai are probably both better. Of course, you may also find that whatever you think is better for organ could easily be one you think is less good for piano, so be prepared for the possibility of further compromise no matter what you do. (BTW, I haven't acually played the NS3, but I have played the similar NS2 and, briefly, original Nord Stage EX. Surprisingly, I actually thought the older one felt a bit better! But I wouldn't swear by it, as memories can be deceiving, and they weren't played next to each other.)

 

Maybe the new Kurzweil SP6 action will provide a compromise similar to the TP40. Has anyone tried one, yet?
SP6 is supposed to use same action as KA90, not similar to TP40, not more organ-friendly than average.

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 bought a Nord Stage 3 Compact and the waterfall keyboard is great for organ and synth. I didn't even buy it for piano as I already have a Kurzweil MP10 with 88 weighted keys.

 

However lately I've been composing a song around a Nord patch that is dry until you use aftertouch when it suddenly sounds like it's in an auditorium.

 

To me using a waterfall keyboard for piano is the lesser of two evils compared to using a weighted keyboard for organ and synth; but how much you use piano matters. You might be using piano more because that's what you have. As the saying goes, when all you have is a hammer everything starts looking like a nail.

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BuckW, Im primarily a piano player, I think, so I need to lean toward an action that supports piano playing. Jeffinpghpa, I havent ruled out 76 keys; I have used them before, although I occasionally found myself jamming my finger into the piano case when I tried to hit that high C. I suspect it just takes used to it.

 

Most frustrating is the fact that its not easy to test drive all of these options. I know of no retailer that has Nords or Kurzweils on the floor in the northeast US.

CA93, MODX8, YC88, K8.2
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That is why I asked. If you're looking for a 76 key size, I would not recommend the Nord Stage for organ on the TP/100 action of their HP. It's very poor for organ. The Kurzweil Forte uses the TP/40L.

 

88 keys is a different matter. Both Nord and Kurzweil have a similar TP/40 action for the 88's, the Kurzweil is a tad lighter.

Yamaha U1 Upright, Roland Fantom 8, Yamaha YC88, Nord Stage 3C, Nord Wave 2, Viscount Legend Live, Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61 Mk2, Arturia V Collection 8, Komplete 13 Ultimate

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I agree with most of what has been offered here. Super smart folks here, definitely worth listening to.

 

I'd give the CP4 the nod for the tad more AP-like action, but would give it demerits in a few other categories: sound palette, real-time tweakability, etc.

 

Ditto the comment about showing up to a jam, and bringing an open canvas. Without too much effort, you'll be dialing up great stuff in real time. That's what Nords are especially good at. Vs. sitting at home for hours trying to program stuff ahead of time.

 

If I wasn't playing Nord for APs, I'd certainly be playing a CP4. My Nord Piano 2 is a joy to play in terms of action. I guess I've just adapted to it. At some point, I'll cave and step up to a NP3. I'm holding out for a NP4, btw.

 

I find it curious that you have no interest in the synth/samples section of the Nord Stage 3. It's one of the big differentiators vs. say, a Nord Electro 5. Which you might be interested in?

 

Maybe the NS3 is not your thing now, but -- down the road? I'm enjoying working its talents into songs, a bit at a time. A cool flute or horn part. A bit of 80s synth in the background. Cool morph effects that catch people by surprise. A freaking amazing live performance board if you like to adjust on the fly.

 

Which is sort of my thing, as I tend to do a lot of pickup gigs with jam bands.

 

I've played both the 73 key weighted variants (Nord Electro 5 HP) as well as the 76 key variants (Nord Stage 2). A tad behind the 88 key versions in terms of action, but it's not like it sucks or anything.

 

As far as organ playing on Nord weighted keybeds, the "top trigger" option helps a lot, but doesn't seal the deal. There's a whole bunch of organ stuff I just can't do (smears, fast trills, percussive riffs, etc.) on a weighted keybed, period. It all gets down to how much you want to lean into the organ stuff. It sounds like it's a side dish vs. the main meal. OK, fine.

 

If you're serious about B3 sounds, get a keyboard that's optimized for it (even if it MIDIs to the Nord), and -- for gawds sake -- check out the Vent. Pure ear candy, especially in stereo. Oh, BTW, real drawbar sliders are a thing. Who knew?

 

I fully accept that I'm a two keyboard guy, except for the most casual pickup gigs where nobody really cares, including me. Weighted for pianos, unweighted for everything else.

 

Everything else is just a compromise.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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The Nord is exceptional for showing up at a gig not knowing what you're going to play. It's so simple and geered toweards live performance that you can put it into "live" mode and real time build 5 good patches carry you through a gig. That would be a challenge in the Forte.

Though really, you could set up the Forte "Favorite" buttons with more than 5 good patches that would carry you through pretty much any kind of jam/pickup gig if need be. It may not be as easy to tweak the sounds in real time, but I don't think that's always so essential. For that kind of gig, you may need quick access to a Rhodes sound, but you don't necessarily need "the" Rhodes sound for a particular song.

 

I find it curious that you have no interest in the synth/samples section of the Nord Stage 3. It's one of the big differentiators vs. say, a Nord Electro 5. Which you might be interested in?

I think the problem there is that the weighted action available for the NE5 is less amenable to organ playing than the 88 of the NS3. Probably no better than his already unsatisfactory CP4, possibly worse.

 

There's a whole bunch of organ stuff I just can't do (smears, fast trills, percussive riffs, etc.) on a weighted keybed, period.

and that's possibly where the Kurz TP40L models or Kawai MP7 might outperform the NS3, even while still lagging a proper organ action (though also where I think an NS3 would still let you get closer than a CP4 or TP100-based Nord).

 

But I think everyone agrees, if you're happy with the CP4 except for needing more organ facility, the best thing to do would be to add a proper organ board above the CP4... the CP4 even has some panel space you could rest the front of the organ on, with the proper stand. So yeah, a Nord Electro 5D, or Numa Organ 2, or Mojo61... heck, even a Roland VR-09.

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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  • 2 weeks later...
Actually, I wonder if the Electro 5D 73 might be a good compromise for gigs that might be split between organ and acoustic, particularly if synth patches arent as important. Has anyone had any luck playing acoustics on a NE5D 73?
CA93, MODX8, YC88, K8.2
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I play my E5D 73 in a duo with a drummer mainly epiano and with local brass band for additional keys.Works all if AP is not prime. Background piano licks for Minnie the Moocher using Bright Grand are no problem. Going solo for piano and small venues I'd prefer an 88 with speakers like CP300 (still!). It is less how it sounds for the audience but how it feels for you playing AP. Of course you can pair E5D with a weighted controller but then the controller should at least have good AP, some ok EP and some emergency organ patches in case E5 has a live breakdown (which is very unlikely but fallback solutions are always good to have).
One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. - Bob Marley
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I agree with the comments about adding a second board. Since you already have an excellent digital stage piano with the CP4, I think the ideal second board would be the Mojo61. CP4 / Mojo would be a killer rig. Note that the Mojo can be plugged into the CP4 external audio jack thereby negating the need for a mixer.

 

But, for the OPs request (i.e., single board, primary piano, occasional organ) Nord with weighted action is a good choice. I gigged for a few years with just a Nord Stage 2 HA88. The pianos sounded great and I was able to play decent organ on the weighted action (which surprised me). There's something about the HA88 keyboard that allowed me to do smears without any blood.

 

I posted this video a while back of Nord B3, weighted action (HA88), and smears without scrapes, scratches, or blood. Organ solo begins at 0:58. Smears at 2:07. The Nord is plugged into a direct box and then the PA (i.e., no external effects).

 

Organ solo on Nord Stage HA88 with weighted action

 

 

www.alquinn.com
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I know you are interested in a one-board setup if possible, but considering your needs: piano and organ, not much else (no need for heavy sample layers and basically no interest in a real synth section).

 

You already have arguably the best portable piano available today. Exchanging it for something else is either overkill, a waste of money, and/or a downgrade in the piano section.

 

A new or used Electro 4-5, SK1, XK1C, Numa, Mojo61, Viscount Legend Solo, would all give you great organ sound on a no-compromise action, for very little weight and 1/3-1/4 of the price of a Stage or Forte.

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Actually, I wonder if the Electro 5D 73 might be a good compromise for gigs that might be split between organ and acoustic, particularly if synth patches arent as important. Has anyone had any luck playing acoustics on a NE5D 73?
As non-hammer actions go, NE5D is not awful... for some reason I find it more playable for piano than my earlier SW Nords had been (NS2, NE3). Not the best of the non-hammer boards, but above average. But a big step down from your CP4. If you want to keep cost and travel weight low, I'd still rather add even just a VR-09 to your CP4. Unless your motivation is that even the CP4 is feeling too heavy to carry around.

 

But if you're absolutely committed to a single board for piano and organ, this would be my short list:

 

If piano is more central than organ: Kawai MP7, Nord Stage 3-88, Kurzweil Forte/Forte 7. Maybe Kurzweil SP6, not sure how that action will feel for organ, but if acceptable, would be the lightest weight option.

 

If organ is more central than piano: Nord Electro 5D-73, Kurzweil Artis7, Vox Continental, Roland VR-730, Korg Kronos LS, Hammond SK1 (esp. the 88 which has a more piano-friendly action than the 73) would probably be worth consideration (I haven't played them all myself).

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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