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Rig planning in an era of no gigs


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There may be another thread on this, so apologies in advance if I'm duplicative.


I had a few plans for my live rig this year. Some were aspirational and others were practical. Now that I've had four months of gigs canceled, no rehearsals, and no clear end to this pause on live music performance, I've lost my energy to mess around with things that used to bring me joy, such as, "let's un-rack all those intricate things and re-rack them in a different case with a few new cables, etc." Small projects that made things neater and tidier, or incorporated some new gear.


I had designs on integrating a DSI P6 into my live rig that are on hold. I had designs on two versions of my Nord Stage 3 rig - one with Ventilator and one without, both tied into different racks to simplify if I just wanted to travel with the NS3 on its own.


None of these gear plans were urgent or important. They were fun things to think about and fun options to have available. I can still do them, though I've found now that I am perpetually working my day job sequestered in isolation and unable to differentiate work from life, I find less enthusiasm around tinkering with my gear. Compounded by the realistic fact of no gigs on the horizon. Maybe August.


Is anyone else facing similar struggles?




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It's also hard to motivate to practice hard things if I wont get to play them with anybody. I have actually made improvements to my chops but it's really easy to stumble and fall and get lazy for a day or two and lose focus on musical practice.

As for a rig, I dont know exactly what I will need or not need for a gig if I dont have a set list and dont know what parts I will have to cover. I'm not a "be prepared for any possible sound" type guy. Then I'm carrying a ton of extra gear for parts I never play.

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Somehow I am getting more done.

Things I've wanted to work on for a long time are finally in progress.


I've sorted lots of my accumulation and narrowed it down to things I should keep and things I should make go away.

Some stuff gets tossed, some is given away and I am in progress of selling items that will be valuable to somebody else.


I've got a small home studio set up. Soon the rack will be full, it's time to make custom cables for everything and minimize all possible cable runs.

It's also time to start creating the recording session templates that now make sense since I've planned how to most efficiently use my gear.


I want to live cast but I want to do something different. I can default to my open mic mix of originals and covers but I want to have a unique presentation.

I haven't figured that one out yet.

I still love the pure joy of just playing music, I've never been one to practice much and I've always gravitated towards music groups that are open to spontaneous change and up for that challenge.

That's when I have fun so I am challenging myself to stay fresh and surprise myself.


I'd suggest picking a project and spending half an hour a day on accomplishing it. Let yourself work longer if you start to get into it.

When I was gigging, I didn't have time to make life better.

I am taking advantage of that, soon enough I should be back at it.


By that I mean, hopefully by fall or so. I don't expect our current situation to suddenly be all good again.

After I do all the "engineer" stuff, it's time to finish writing about 30-40 song starts I've let sit.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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yeah. Sold my Electro and was pretty close to pulling the trigger on a Nord Stage compact; was going to have it be a one-keyboard rig for practices and some gigs, and eventually either use my MODX7 with it or get a synth like a Prophet rev2.


All that went out the window. Not only do I not have a reason to get a Stage for the forseeable future, my job is in jeopardy so I don't dare spend that much money. I normally like to keep "music money" in music but bills need to be paid. I do need a new controller (the MODX is terrible for playing piano) and if I can get another 20% coupon from Guitar Center I'll probably get a Kawai ES110 for home use, and possible live use for certain gigs if they ever happen. (Had it in my cart the last time I got a coupon emailed and didn't pull the trigger; Kawai was one of the few manufacturers not excluded LOL!)

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It's funny, since the quarantine started, my musical drive, ambition, and motivation has been all over the place. I've generally been really up and down emotionally during this period, so I'll go from really obsessively reconfiguring my rig, or starting to write three or four different songs, or diving into the organ self-instruction book and working on my two-manuals-plus-pedals technique, or shopping for gear (that I know I'm not going to buy anytime soon)... but usually my "up" periods don't last enough for me to finish anything, and then I have zero energy to put into these things until I wind up on another semi-manic spell.


The best advice I can give, and that I'm trying to give myself, is to be kind to ourselves. This is a weird, challenging, unprecedented period, and it's hard enough without putting the pressure on ourselves to do anything that's not essential. So I'm trying to pursue music when it feels like I can't go on without it, and not pressure myself to do it when I can't be bothered to create for no clear purpose.


And this is definitely something I think we can discuss at next week's happy hour!

Samuel B. Lupowitz

Musician. Songwriter. Food Enthusiast. Bad Pun Aficionado.

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I keep thinking that this is the perfect time to deal with the same types of issues. Luckily I have had some other writing projects and virtual recording (sending keyboard stems) that have kept me occupied, along with some life/family issues. But I agree that this is a time to use some available hours to deal with my rig.


1) I find that I develop sounds for gigs at home, but I don't use my speakers when doing it, which is stupid. So I get on gigs and have to make adjustments. Easy to deal with now that I have time to set it all up at home without the need to keep breaking it down for those pesky gigs.


2) I've dabbled in adding an iPad to my world, but that takes time to work out, tweak sounds etc. And again, through my live QSC speakers.


3) #2 is especially pertinent since I keep going back and forth between using my PX-5S as my lower board (Kronos on top) and the newer PX-S3000. I love the feel on the 3000 but need to get some of my bread-and-butter sounds external if I make that swap.


4) I mostly would develop sounds to cover specific songs, but with the extra time I could be working on just revising/refining more of my all-purpose sounds. Critically listen to acoustic and electric piano sounds, refine some lead sounds with more attention to extra controllers/expression, add some synth timbres that could be used for pads, supporting and stabby textures etc. I'm just a little bored with my go-to's that I've been using for a long time now.


I will say that I've been just practicing piano more, with the pleasure of being able to work on things to improve my technique, and work on pieces that are not for live gigs per se, but just to improve myself and enjoy myself.



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I have a lot of motivation to play music but I have never enjoyed making music on my own that much, so having all band activities put on halt feels very weird.


I pulled the trigger on a Kurzweil PC4 about 3 weeks ago - this had been my plan for a long time. I have spend quite a bit of time getting it ready for the band, preparing sounds for the different songs, loading in programs from the old PC3X, etc.

The PC4 is a great instrument and I am itching to debut it in the band

But that probably won"t happen for a long time to come.

Even though the Corvid19-situation is very much under control here in Denmark and it wouldn"t be illegal to do band rehearsels, but at least one of the other guys in my band has special health issues to watch out for, so we are not anywhere near resuming rehearsals.


So in short: I"ve got a great new keyboard, I have a lot of motivation and energy to play music, but I can"t make much use of it right now (other than practicing songs on my own).



In terms of rig planning the PC4 might have made things a lot simpler - maybe even a bit too simple.

I"ve used the PC3X together with my Roland FA-06 for several years, which has worked out relatively well as most of the weak points of the PC3X are strong points of the FA and vice versa.

But the PC4 blows the FA completely out of the water in almost every aspect, so now I am basically down to just one keyboard, possibly with the Mininova on top for the odd vocoder or wavetable sound.

So now I am saving up for a keyboard that would complement the PC4 in a way that makes sense...

Currently: Kurzweil PC4, PC3X & K2000.

Novation Mininova. Roland FA-06.

IK Multimedia SampleTank 4 & Syntronik.


Previously: Korg Trinity Plus. Roland XP-80. Yamaha EX-5.

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I with KuruP. I'm getting tons of stuff done with all the extra time. I'm used to working from home, so I now lose zero time to commuting. I've cleaned and re-organized the whole studio (which also means re-cabling). I really dialed in my bass and how it interacts with the Pre/EQ/compressor in a channel strip, am writing lots, and more. Having all the extra time has me spending as much of it as I can on music. I'm just about to start a project gathering a bunch of new synth sounds. I find that is an activity I need to do not in a "playing" or "writing" mode, and this is a perfect time to do it. I want to have the sounds saved in memory of the board that made it, and also as a playable sample in UVI Falcon. Then, even if the board goes away, I still have that sound in my arsenal. I've been wanting to do this for a while, and the project is now ON!
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I am sure that I am not going to say something that you do not already know, but here goes...

These are strange times and many people are suffering, but it serves no purpose to get too mired in despair. I do what I can do to help and advocate as much as I can for those who need my voice. Focus not on the things that you cannot control or change. When gigs return I'm sure that those who need or love gigging will find all kind of energy to apply to creating patches and learning material that they will perform. Right now why not give this time and energy to your inner artist? I have sort of been "preparing" for this situation for the past couple of years. I played my most recent live gig in 2017 and retired from decades of teaching school a month later. I have used some of my newfound time trying to stretch my abilities to write better lyrics and music of various styles. In my mind, I have declared myself to be an "artist", only so that I can feel free to write what I love or what interests ME without consideration for anyone else's opinions or the prospect of making money. Hopefully(?), I will gig again, but I did that for 40 years and never spent enough energy doing what I am doing now. My goal is to create and record some sort of artifacts to represent MY vision. It matters not if the efforts are loved or ridiculed. (That's the beauty of being a so-called artist.ð) Of course, I chipped away at these efforts over many years, so when I retired, I had a large enough backlog (some good, some crappy) to draw from if I run out of new ideas. You could spend this time doing the same. Keep all ideas so that you can find them later. At very least you will keep the music muscles toned and you might even learn new practical skills and even create something new and personal.


Good luck rediscovering your mojo Eric.

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I have been spending a lot of time learning my MPC One and using it with my synths. I also have been practicing the bass guitar and I recently had a decent Windows laptop given to me. Being a Mac and Linux guy for the last 20 years, I have had to re-install all my AU stuff as VST. Which leaves out all the Mainstage / Logic stuff. I also have created a bunch more patches for my Deep Mind 12 and cheated a bit and pulled the trigger on Ultimate Patches. I have also been digging into Reaper more. Its been keeping me busy but my passion is playing with others so I'm chomping on the bit to get back to that. I try not to dwell on it too much because it gets too depressing.

Boards: Kurzweil SP-6, Roland FA-08, VR-09, DeepMind 12

Modules: Korg Radias, Roland D-05, Bk7-m & Sonic Cell

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Despite not knowing if/when we'll get back to being able to gig, now is the perfect time to work out rig changes, keep those chops up and learn new songs. ð



"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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I"m about 40% through editing velocities and dynamics on my Beat Buddy SD card, and it"s actually beginning to sound like a human player. I"m sure it will be looking for beer breaks and a girlfriend to shack up with.......... :facepalm:



1967 B-3 w/(2) 122's, Nord C1w/Leslie 2101 top, Nord PedalKeys 27, Nord Electro 4D, IK B3X, QSC K12.2, Yamaha reface YC+CS+CP


"It needs a Hammond"


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I"ve been passing up solo gigs for years, always preferred the dancing and challenges of horns strings while covering other parts.

But this beautiful of great gigs I moved here for in January vanished like a fart in the wind.

Some bookings are on hold but I decided the Duo approach would be better in light of recent events.


New gear like WState, HX 3.5 and TC Helicon VoiceRack w/ the Mic + switching for extra automations.

Can always get in another band or show next year.


Good luck my brothas from other mothas.

If there are bands in your area hope you score.


One door opens when another one closes.

Magnus C350 + FMR RNP + Realistic Unisphere Mic
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As keyboard players, we constantly fine tune our rigs with modifications and upgrades that few, outside of people like those who hang out here, can appreciate. It"s sort of analogous to how folks who enjoy automotive mechanics constantly tinker with their hot-rods. The tough part, continuing with the analogy, is that our present situation is like doing all of those cool modifications, and then not being able to take the car out of the garage for a spin. In absence of this payoff, I"ve largely put my rig planning on hold until things improve.


Staying at home is where boundaries among work, family, social activities, and entertainment have suddenly become incredibly diffuse, as all of this must occur 'under one roof.' I have found that it helps to not focus on the things I can"t do, but instead, the things I can do. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to work from home. One nice thing I"ve enjoyed is that I can take a break, pretty much whenever I like, and pound out some Joplin or other tunes I dig. So I"ve been getting into that lately, pulling some long-forgotten tunes out of retirement. I"ve also reframed my cognitions around work; I have replaced, 'I have to work from home' with 'I get to work from home'...in my lounge clothes!


I"ve also thought about digging my telescope out of the attic, reviving an astronomy hobby I enjoyed many years ago. Taking intermittent breaks to hang out here has been of considerable therapeutic value, as well. I"ve always appreciated the depth of talent and knowledge, both keyboard and non-keyboard related, of those in our forum.

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw


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