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Good action for clavinet?


nickd
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I've always been a rank amateur when it comes to playing clavinet, but I've decided to invest some time in getting my playing up to scratch.

 

Some Googling has found plenty of advice (on this forum and elsewhere) on how and what to play, and there's some good videos on YouTube, so I'm happy I can start practicing and make some progress.

 

But I see many comments that a clavinet's action is important to really playing well, and no alternative/emulation really nails the light action that's needed.

 

How true is that? Are there any keyboards or controllers that would get me close? Or should I not worry too much until I reach a real virtuoso level?

 

At present, I've got a Kurzweil SP4-7, which has got some (IMHO) pretty good clavinet sounds, but I'm considering buying something else if need be. I've also got a Korg Kross I could use as a controller for the Kurz.

 

Thanks

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There's a discussion on the Nord User Forum related to this. General consensus there is that the tightly spring waterfall SW action of the Nord keyboards (TP-80) is pretty good for it.

 

I've never played the real deal so I can't comment myself. They say it's very unique however.

Nord E4 SW73

Yamaha MODX7

Mainstage 3

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It's been so many years since I've played a real one, but I briefly played a Kurzweil with the TP40L and from what I recall, that was the closest. So that would be Forte, Forte7, and the 88-key versions of the various PC3 variants, though only the Forte/Forte7 have Kurzweil's newest Clav samples (the others use the same samples as your SP4). I'd be curious to see if others agree about the TP40L. I didn't actually play any clav on it, I just thought the action was reminiscent.

 

As far as my actual clav playing on boards I've owned (and I'm no expert in clav-specific technique), I thought the Nord Electro 5D seemed particularly authentic in playing, because they did the clever trick of of triggering Release at the low trigger point instead of the high trigger point, making it just seem more snappy to play than most. I assume other Nords of at least that vintage and newer behave the same way; and more recently, I see Guido added that feature to the Mojo61. (I don't know whether Forte or any Kurz does that.)

 

Although I haven't played the Mojo61, I would guess it's probably better for clav than the NE5D. Although they both have the low release, I suspect the Mojo modeling is better than the Nord samples. Regardless of what you feel about modeling vs. sampling, Nord's clav samples are not state of the art... the entire sample set is only 5.6 mb, and includes no release samples; there's no implementation of the damping slider; the NE5 is missing the EQ adjustments (which earlier models had), though those were largely (but not completely) restored on the NE6 and NS3.

 

But do you need modeling or an extensive sample set to get authentically playable clav? Not necessarily, here's a great demo from a Nord Stage 2 (same Clav samples as all current Nords). I do not know off-hand whether the NS2 did or did not have the low release point, though it did have the full set of EQ parameters.

 

[video:youtube]

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I use 8DIO and PianoTeq Clavinet and adjust the velocity response on my Physis K4.

I can use AFT to decrease/increase mute for whammy bar KC & The Sunshine style, etc.

Action makes no difference to me since my ear and release samples need to be timed.

I use an SE-02 for a wah-wah and Zebra2 HZ Diva Filters.

Seem to get more compliments on Horn Section sounds and Clavinet than other instruments.

Magnus C350 + FMR RNP + Realistic Unisphere Mic
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my experience playing real clavinets is pretty minimal, but I have a similar feeling with them as I do with any of the vintage mechanical keyboards and the relationship between their action and how they play. What I mean by that is, when you finally put your hands on the real deal, you finally understand why they were played that way, and parts originally tracked on the real instrument often times ARE easier to play authentically on the real thing. That's not to say that you can't recreate the way you'd play on a different action, but certain actions absolutely lend themselves to particular styles of playing. The clavinet I played (A D6) had an extremely light action and extremely short key throw, ya barely had to touch the thing. Quick and precise rhythmic parts were a LOT easier to play than on my Nord, which is quite stiff in comparison. From what I recall, a cheap portable casio or yamaha beginner keyboard with diving board keys feels (in the action alone) more like a real clav than my Nord.

 

Put in short, different actions lend themselves to different approaches to playing the keyboard, chances are you can approximate that technique on a different action, but utilizing it on the action it was meant for will always feel better.

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Good points, scottasin. And short throw is probably another way to get a benefit similar to what I mentioned about low release point. Along those same lines, among weighted actions, I thought the Korg SV1 was above average for clav, because the SV1's normal release point is lower than average.

 

This kind of reminds me about the recent discussion about what constitutes noticeable latency, and whether you can notice a difference in playability even at latencies that are too short to actually perceive as audible latency. I don't know what the difference in time between a lower or higher release point is on the Nord (or Crumar, whatever), but when a note stops lower in its return, it is noticeable. I wonder what the difference is in milliseconds.

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 have owned many clavinets. The action is supremely important, and all other keybeds are poor substitutes. Hammer actions are the worst.

 

It is completely simple: a metal tangent directly connected to the key strikes the string directly below it and frets it. The dynamic response is astounding. Think fretting strings on a Chapman Stick with high gain pickups.

 

 

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

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Moe,

 

I've never played a real clav. I'm pleased with the clav on NE4 and especially Mojo61.

 

Now, I think the keyboard action on a vintage Hammond is clearly superior to even the Mojo61 because of the long fulcrum, I guess.

 

Are you saying that the superiority of a real clav action over the other keybeds is of the magnitude of the organ keybed difference?

Barry

 

Home: Steinway L, Montage 8

 

Gigs: Yamaha CP88, Crumar Mojo 61, A&H SQ5 mixer, ME1 IEM, MiPro 909 IEMs

 

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Are you saying that the superiority of a real clav action over the other keybeds is of the magnitude of the organ keybed difference?

 

Easily. There's nothing like it today. The throw is very short. You can do single note trills with easy. It's SO fast.

 

Busch.

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I had a Roland A-37 controller that came close to the action on my Clavinet C. It was kind of a rare bird made by Roland's Edirol division in Europe, and had an action that was completely different than what they were doing in Japan.

 

The main thing it was missing was the long fulcrum point. And that's important to the Clavinet's feel too - the combination of extremely short throw and extremely long fulcrum point is what makes it so slap-happy :laugh:

 

I've heard many players get great Clav results on modern actions, so it's not essential. But it does help you get into the groove :cool:

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I didn't like the A37 action at all for piano or organ. I don't know if I ever tried a clav patch on it.

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 have a D6 calvinet that I have played quite a bit, and I recently did a bunch of restoration work on it, so it's playing really nicely at the moment!

 

Here's a video of what it looks like now:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12wCs8S1Fao

 

I think I can shed some light on the OP's question about realistic key action. The action of a real clav is very light, and the key depth is small. The shallow depth is key to how the clavinet plays differently than a generic midi keybed. There are often effects used on clav recordings (usually wah or envelope filter) that make it hard to hear all the little weird clicks and pops that make a real clav so cool.

 

There's a slight noise when the hammer touches the string and then the main attack sound when the string hits the anvil (bottom of the key press). There can also be a slight noise when the hammer "disconnects" with the string. All these things can make a real clav more dynamic with respect to the velocity of your fingers. These noises are can also add useful percussive bits that are hard to reproduce in fake clav sounds.

 

Here's a great ClaviDuck video of a clav groove without effects that does a good job showing what a raw clav should sound like:

 

Here's another good one with the guy from Jamiroquai:

 

I actually feel that synthetic clavinets are easier to play than the real deal. Aside from the fact that fake clavs don't need to be tuned, the amount of pressure on the key can actually slightly affect the tuning. This matters more when you're playing slow, and you can adjust the hammers to minimize this, but old beat-up clavinets can have this pretty bad. Another issue with real clavinets is that the low notes tend to be louder than high notes. Usually this is mediated by how you play and some compression in the signal chain, but fake clavs almost never have this.

 

In conclusion, there are a lot of great clav emulations out there that are fun to play and work great on gigs, but a real clav is a pretty special instrument that fundamentally cannot be reproduced with software and a controller. Any unweighted controller is probably good enough, so I wouldn't go searching for a holy grail.

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Has anyone tried the Vintage Vibe Vibanet?

 

I played one while visiting VV about 2.5 years ago.

I was having a VV Clavinet pre amp installed into my Hohner E7 and needed to have something to do while I was waiting. :cool:

 

If so, how does it compare to the real thing?

 

Quite favorably, I would have one if I could afford it. Much lighter, better constructed, seems to sing better. Pre amp really quiet, AC only, no batteries.

:nopity:
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But I see many comments that a clavinet's action is important to really playing well, and no alternative/emulation really nails the light action that's needed.

 

How true is that? Are there any keyboards or controllers that would get me close? Or should I not worry too much until I reach a real virtuoso level?

 

At present, I've got a Kurzweil SP4-7, which has got some (IMHO) pretty good clavinet sounds, but I'm considering buying something else if need be. I've also got a Korg Kross I could use as a controller for the Kurz.

 

The Fatar TP100LR is especially sweet for clavinet. The Studiologic SL88 or SL73 will bring you nirvana my son. Both feature the action and both are rather affordable.

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Something I found quite ironic after I got my E7 was that I'd come up with a Clavinet part on my Emu midi controller that I was unable to play on my Clavinet. Well I could play it but it came off better on the MIDI controller.

 

I had a very brief play around on the Korg Vox Continental and aside from a noisy body when playing forte I felt it could be a goer for software Clavinets. Anyone had positive experiences with that one?

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Gratuitous self post hope no-one minds :whistle: :

 

[video:youtube]

 

Hardly had the thing set up since. 5 years :(

 

Could really do with a limiter for those peaks that tend to jump out. Bit too much pumping on the pedal too..

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Yeah, might be worth looking at something with a short travel. I've got a D6 and I haven't played an action I thought was close. You need something lightweight action wise and not a tight sprung Nord action, which I found too stiff. I don't think you'll get near with a Fatar action. The action is pure butter with no force required. In fact I think the only action I thought was close was my old 60's Lowery organ.

 

Actually just thought of a possibility. I remember the Roland VR760 having a really nice keyboard with little spring resistance. Certainly in the one I tried.

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Has anyone tried the Vintage Vibe Vibanet?

 

I played one while visiting VV about 2.5 years ago.

I was having a VV Clavinet pre amp installed into my Hohner E7 and needed to have something to do while I was waiting. cool

 

Were they not even tempted to go down one more half step to the very useful low E?

Yamaha P515, Pianoteq, Mainstage, iOS, assorted other stuff.

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From your post, it sounds like what you want is to understand the nuances and peculiarities of playing a Clavinet. The only way to do that is to buy a Clavinet.

If all you want is to better emulate the sound of a Clavinet, you can get fairly close with different controllers and sound libraries, but it will be similar, not exact.

No one ever says "I want to learn to play the oboe. What keyboard should I buy??" You can study Vermeer's mastery of light on the internet, and attempt to duplicate his art in Photoshop, but if you want to really understand how he did what he did, you will need canvas, brushes and paint :laugh:

Don't rush me. I'm playing as slowly as I can!

 

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