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Strap-On Keyboards (guitar-style)


Murky Bog Demigod

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To the best of my knowledge, the only remaining strap-on controller is the Roland AX-1 - at least, I think they still make it...it might actually be easier for you to try and find a used one than to buy a new one.

 

There were a bunch made during the 80's and early 90's...the Yamaha KX5 (short keys) and KX1 (full-sized keys - rare), the all-wood very heavy Korg RK-100 (ugh)which was available in a few colors, the Lync controllers, and the predecessor to the AX-1, the Axis. Casio made one as well, but I don't remember the model number.

 

Apart from things like the Poly-800, Moog Liberation, Kawai KC-10 Spectra and other synths that strapped on, I think that's about it for the strap-on controllers - anyone else remeber any models that I may have missed?

 

I used to have a KX5 - despite the fact that the keys were short, they were full width. The thing was a lot of fun to play, but I sold it back when I stopped using products that made my hair big. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/wink.gif

 

dB

:snax:

 

:keys:==> David Bryce Music • Funky Young Monks <==:rawk:

 

Professional Affiliations: Royer LabsMusic Player Network

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The Casio was called the AZ-1, and in my opinion is the best of them all. Good keyboard (today someone would call it "semi-weighted".. ha ha), good wheel system (3 wheels) and good assorted controllers. I still have one, I used it last time a year ago or so.

The fact that is a Casio has put a lot of people down, many owners used to paint theirs, to cover the name on the body..

It does have a big defect, however: When you turn it on, it transmits the physical position of all its controllers, whether you want it or not! (Aaaaargghh!!) So I have to turn it on first, to avoid unwanted changes to my sounds.

The Roland AX-1 feels like a toy to me, the keyboard is too light and ribbon is fragile and not very responsive.

The Yamaha KX1 has a good feel, but they just disappeared right after being introduced.

The Korg is awfully bulky and not ergonomic at all.

I've heard good things about the Lync, but I've never seen one on an European stage; I don't think they were even imported.

 

marino

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Thanks Dave!

I'm all for buying used. As long as it works and is at least relatively durable. I'll probably modify whatever I get anyways to make it look cool.

 

I don't think Roland is making the AX-1 anymore (or the AX-1B); stopped in 1998(?) The AXIS looks nice though, anyone have any feelings on it? I heard it comes with a sustain pedal. Is that rare for strap-ons?

 

Thanks marino!

It surprises me to hear you say that you like the Casio AZ-1. It looks so flimsy to me from pictures. I'll have to consider that one. I'd really like to be able to assign the controllers, is that possible with the Casio? How about the others?

 

Does anyone know anything about the Lync LN-4, or other Lync strap-ons? Thanks again everyone!

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Originally posted by Murky Bog Demigod:

Thanks Dave!

I'm all for buying used. As long as it works and is at least relatively durable. I'll probably modify whatever I get anyways to make it look cool.

 

I don't think Roland is making the AX-1 anymore (or the AX-1B); stopped in 1998(?) The AXIS looks nice though, anyone have any feelings on it? I heard it comes with a sustain pedal. Is that rare for strap-ons?

 

Thanks marino!

It surprises me to hear you say that you like the Casio AZ-1. It looks so flimsy to me from pictures. I'll have to consider that one. I'd really like to be able to assign the controllers, is that possible with the Casio? How about the others?

 

Does anyone know anything about the Lync LN-4, or other Lync strap-ons? Thanks again everyone!

 

A friend of mine bought the Lync when they came out and the first thing his did was break. I'd imagine that parts and such would be hard to find at this point.

 

I still have (and on occasion still use) my KX-5, and once you get used to the tiny keys (I glommed all over the place at first), you can really have fun with it. At least it's light, and I believe that the Yamaha parts dept. over in Fullerton still supports it - last time I needed something, they had it. The MIDI implementation isn't much to write home about, but...at least it works! The Roland one was cool, too, if you can find one.

 

The way to go, btw, is wireless. Talk to MIDIMan - tripping over cables on stage is a drag.

 

Hope that helps!

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Here's my 2 cents about these wearable keyboards...I own 2 Roland AX-1's.

 

I bought one on eBay. It was used, painted white with house paint, a little knocked up, but still going strong. Price was reasonable ($300) and it works fine.

 

The other AX-1 I bought through my local music store. They had to special order it through Roland, but it came after a few weeks. Believe it or not, they're actually made in Italy for Roland, and you can still buy one brand new, if you want.

 

They're actually fairly common on eBay. There seems to be one for auction every week or two. Watch the bids, though...for some reason people seem to want to pay WAAAY too much for these things.

 

With regards to playing an AX-1, yeah the keyboard is a little light, and the whole thing feels a little plasticky, and the preset structure is INFURIATING if you're not using general MIDI, and the manual seems to be written in English translated from Finnish to Japanese to Swahili...but hey, for a fun on-stage visual, they're da bomb. I wish I had a camera for every time I've pulled out my AX-1 before a gig to capture their looks of incredularity! Or maybe it's pathos...

 

The other midi controller which no one has mentioned yet (which I also own) is called a Yamaha SHS-10. They were sold in the mid-late 80's. A hybrid between a toy and a real keyboard, the SHS-10 has on-board cheezy PCM sounds and rhythms, but also can be used as a MIDI guitar-style keyboard. It has medium-sized unweighted keys, a "neck" with mod wheel/pitch bend, and a toy-like LED interface. I think if I ever played it on stage people would think I was an escapee from a deranged Toys-R-Us house band.

 

Anyways, the SHS-10 also shows up on eBay from time to time, but again, people are paying WAAAY too much for these things, like $150-200. I paid $20 for mine through local classifieds. I bought it as a novelty, and seriously wouldn't have paid more than $20 for it otherwise.

 

Good luck finding your on-stage "ax" -- it is liberating to be free from a boxed-in enclosure of keyboards and gear...with one of these babies you can "bang your head" in the spotlight with the lead guitar player!!

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I just traded in my KX-5 last year to Sam Ash* in Chatsworth (San Fernando Valley in L.A.). I wonder if they still have it. I agree with the other posts regarding this controller.

 

I would have kept mine, but I've been doing nothing but studio work for almost a decade.

 

Originally posted by Dave Bryce:

anyone else remeber any models that I may have missed?

 

There is one, although I dont think it would be useful to Murky. Before MIDI was created, Sequential Circuits made a strap on contoller to be used exclusively with their Prophet synths. I bought one and sent it to JL Cooper to have it modified to work with my Oberheim OB-8. They were unable to accomplish this, so I stuck with my Moog Liberation (which was pretty heavy to wear: 13 lbs. It also didnt have patch memory, so I had to rush in between songs to make changes in ASDR levels and other settings...That was in the early 80s. Things are so much better now!).

 

Oh yeah, as far as strap-on synths go, I also remember the Roland SH-101 and the Sequential Circuits Six-Track (I think they both had MIDI).

 

 

* I accidentally wrote "Sam Goody," not "Sam Ash," on this post the first time. I'm editing it now for clarity.

 

This message has been edited by soapbox on 02-02-2001 at 02:24 AM

Enthusiasm powers the world.

 

Craig Anderton's Archiving Article

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I'm happy to hear that there are lots of AX-1's on eBay, as they are out of production (the new black AX1B that is). They may do another run of them in a few years, but apparently that's it.

 

I could never get the KX5 to fit right, it felt like I had to hold it up on my elbow or something odd. I found a Casio one at a store in Boston this summer and the keys were pretty good, but otherwise it felt wrong. The Roland is a good feeling controller and has a fair amount of well placed controls. I know this guy around town who plays one on-stage backed by an MC-80. He's funny.

 

There was also the Korg 707 which apparently everyone hated. It came in many bright colors like hot pink and was one of Korg's only FM synths. It had cute M1-era buttons. I guess it wasn't a real strap on, it just had the strap buttons and was light.

 

Originally posted by soapbox:

I just traded in my KX-5 last year to Sam Goody in Chatsworth (San Fernando Valley in L.A.). I wonder if they still have it.

 

How do you sell a synthesizer to a CD store? Heck I didn't even know that store still existed!

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I still have my Axis. Can't part with it specifically because of the sustain pedal.

 

The action, however, is as bad as it gets. Simply the worst spring-action ever made.

I cut my springs down to make it stiffer. That helps with control when you're dancing about, but the keys practically come up faster than your fingers. No bounce at all.

 

Still, I did have great fun with the thing, back in the day. I wouldn't even CONSIDER a unit with no sustain pedal.

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Originally posted by Steve44:

How do you sell a synthesizer to a CD store? Heck I didn't even know that store still existed!

 

 

Gawd! I really am fried! I meant to write Sam ASH not Sam GOODY. A few weeks ago, I got Sam Goody mixed up with Good Guys, so maybe the problem goes a little deeper. Excuse me now while I get ready for beddddzzzzzz....

 

(but first, I'll correct the original post!)

 

This message has been edited by soapbox on 02-02-2001 at 02:23 AM

Enthusiasm powers the world.

 

Craig Anderton's Archiving Article

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Originally posted by soapbox:

Oh yeah, as far as strap-on synths go, I also remember the Roland SH-101 and the Sequential Circuits Six-Track (I think they both had MIDI).

 

I don't think the SH-101 had MIDI...the Six Trak did fer sure, but I don't think it was ever intended as a strap-on...besides, I hated that synth. I thought it was just an awful-sounding instrument, and I didn't dig the UI, either. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/frown.gif

 

dB

:snax:

 

:keys:==> David Bryce Music • Funky Young Monks <==:rawk:

 

Professional Affiliations: Royer LabsMusic Player Network

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I still use my Casio AZ1 and love it. Lots of controlls, and 2 MIDI channels (switchable a, b, or a/b).

I think Lync made 2 different models, the LN4 (whick was supposed to be killer, but expensive) and the short-lived LN1000, a 2 zone version of the LN4, and came in black, not red.

2 of my favorite key players use the LN4 - John Lawry (formerly of Petra) and Eddie DeGarmo Formerly of DeGarmo & Key, now a producer).

That's my $.02 worth.

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CHECK IT OUT!!

 

I found a nearly-complete strap on controller page at the Vintage Synth explorer. It's got info and pictures of just about all the strap-ons we've talked about!

 

Here is a nice link showing you the various Lync Models.

 

 

One other strap-on controller was/is the Zendrum (sp?) drum pad controller. I just saw something about it but I can't remember the manufacturer's name. In fact, this controller would probably work best for the guy who started this thread - if you're just triggering samples, it'd be easier to remember "this pad or that pad" rather than "Middle C, That Eb, the low F" etc.

 

There are also a number of strap-on midi controllers that are basically guitar style controllers with silly buttons instead of frets and strings..

 

This message has been edited by Steve44 on 02-04-2001 at 10:01 PM

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  • 7 months later...

Back in the early 1980's, Herbie Hancock had this beautiful strap-on blue keyboard called the Clavitar. It was midi-ed by his keyboard technician (a custom job) and had a guitar neck section that had benders, and mod wheel type effects on it.

 

Anybody ever hear of this one?

 

 

Steveedan

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Don't forget the Gleeman Pentaphonic Clear. It came with a strap and has an awesome sound. It was in Keyboard's vintage gear this past month, and a friend of mine has one, with strap, that I am hopefully buying from him tomorrow!!!
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