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Using 3 keyboards on the gig - Practical?


eric

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I am in a constant struggle with the amount of gear I lug to gigs. My trusty rig that is always with me consists of a digital piano and Hammond clone. Right now that is a Roland RD600 and Korg CX-3. I used to carry a rack with a module or two for synth sounds but got tired of setting up all the patch changes etc. I prefer the instant gratification of having all the sounds right there in front of me.

 

Well, I also like to have a source of cool analogish leads, FX and pads available to me but I hate using 3 keyboards on stage. I have some old Roland analogs but they are big and bulky. My Nord Lead is compact but still, it is a 3rd keyboard and there is no real easy place to put it. Especially on a stage with 9 other people. Sometimes I velcro it on the CX3 but I don't like the appearance of this monstrosity on stage and it's hard to reach. So I usually go with the "L" set up when I have room.

 

Again, the 3rd keyboard is handy for the sounds but it is another stand and keyboard case to lug and plug in etc. A lot of times it is not really worth the effort. It does provide that instant gratification of knowing there is a piano, organ and synth all available under a different keyboard instead of trying to stab patch changes in the dark after having a beer or two.

 

I am considering one of the tabletop style synths (Virus or maybe even that new Roland SH). This might give me the extra sounds I want without the keyboard, but it's still another thing to carry. And wall wart instruments are a big no-no in my book.

 

Does anyone else feel my pain about wanting the flexibility of 3 keyboards but not wanting to lug it and set it up every gig? Any ideas on incorporating the 3rd keyboard more transparently? Any advice on a replacement for the Nord Lead?

 

Lots of questions...Thanks for any insights.

 

Regards,

Eric

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I regularly gig with three boards: Yamaha S80, Roland VK7, Kurz K2000 (bottom to top). I think having the right stand helps with elegance and ease of setup, though I've yet to find a stand that keeps 'em in the nice tight cascade I envision. This may sound strange, but for me, carrying the extra stand for the "L" style setup was a pain.

 

I couldn't agree with you more about not wanting to deal with modules and MIDI connections onstage. If you learn all your synths really well, have some useful splits and layers ready to go, etc, you can dial in anything you need during a countoff.

 

I'd consider a K2000 for #3 if I were you. Not current, but really versatile.

Stephen Fortner

Principal, Fortner Media

Senior Editor, Music Player Network

Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Digital Piano Consultant, Piano Buyer Magazine

 

Industry affiliations: Antares, Arturia, Giles Communications, MS Media, Polyverse

 

 

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Oh, do I ever feel your pain. I too lug three keyboards to every gig. In fact, my first post here was a question about a piano-style board that could also give me some good synth leads.

 

I've since resigned myself to just using three boards, period. I actually kind of like the look of three lined up in front of me. :freak: But the real reason is that I've decided to go for a hard-core piano action keybed, and that just sux for doing synth lead stuff.

 

I currently have an old Korg CX-3, which is the only board I actually like. I'm using a Yamaha PSR-510 for the piano sounds. Clearly this is sub-optimized, and I plan on replacing it as soon as I've got a grand and change saved up.

 

My third board is also less than perfect, although it has a few sounds that I just LOVE. It's a 80s-era Yamaha DX-27, which was sort of a poor man's DX-7 back in the day. I got it on eBay for a song and a prayer.

 

It's funny because I was using the L-formation too, with a two-tier X-type stand and a one-tier angled stand. Then I gigged a tiny bar and just couldn't fit. So I realized the the narrow profile of the DX-27 would just lay right on top of the Korg. So that's how I'm doing it now. Although I just noticed the other day that I'm scratching the hell out of the wood on the Korg. :( It was already beat up anyway, so no biggie, but I guess I'll need to figure some way to protect it sooner or later.

 

Good luck finding your solution. I for one am curious to hear what you end up doing.

 

--Dave

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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Fairly common config going here - dedicated piano, organ and then synth on top.

 

I use an S80 or an S30 (weight/feel tradeoff) on the first level, a (new) Korg CX3 and now a Yamaha An1X for analogish leads.

 

I find it much easier to simply move between keyboards than juggling splits. I often layer the piano and organ sounds via MIDI, just use the volume pedal on the CX3 to bring it in and out.

 

Since I used to play in the era of the L and sometimes U setup, stacking something on the Rhodes and something else on the Hammond, I'm quite used to jumping around. I think it looks more interesting also.

 

I may start off sitting for just piano and then get up as I use the higher keyboards, sometimes even kicking the stool away Jerry Lee Lewis style.

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Good stuff! Thanks for your input. Advice: For protecting the wood on your old CX-3, try using velcro and covering any screws on the top keyboard.

 

I am providing some photos of my recent and new rigs here, in the "stacked" and "L" setup. I was using a Hammond XK2 as my organ up until about 4 months ago. I was not shy about velcro-ing the Nord on top of it since I had it for awhile. Now that I have the new CX-3, I am not so keen on messing it up yet with velcro. Hence the "L" style setup. Check these out. I still wish I could get by with less gear. Maybe one of those new K-stations could hook me up...

 

Previous rig stacked:

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/e888000008/old_rig.JPG

 

New rig in "L" position:

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/e888000008/new_rig.JPG

 

Regards,

Eric

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Hey Eric, I dig the triple-decker! The little red Nord is lonely all by itself!

 

Sevush, I know what you mean about the weight vs feel thing. I used to play two K2000's and my VK-7 live, using one K2000 for piano-type sounds. Had some great samples in that baby. But after destroying two keybed actions, usually on "Leave Your Hat On", I decided to go with a keyboard that could take some abuse.

Stephen Fortner

Principal, Fortner Media

Senior Editor, Music Player Network

Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Digital Piano Consultant, Piano Buyer Magazine

 

Industry affiliations: Antares, Arturia, Giles Communications, MS Media, Polyverse

 

 

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Eric, I think you are doing the right thing with 3 keyboards. I know it's a bigger pain to haul but when playing live you should keep it simple. Having keyboards that are set to basic giging sounds keeps one out of trouble. That way, when something happens ("let's play this song... I know it's not on the set list", or, "we have a request to do...") you are not trying to set a split or send a program change. You can put your hands right on the sound you want. I use 3 keyboards also. Over the years I have tried the L,U,and stack. What I do now is have my piano in front of me and the other two stacked at a 30 degree angle over the left side of the piano. This allows me to play either one with my left hand while playing the piano with my right. I can also turn slightly to my left and face the two stacked keyboards dead on if I'm only playing one or both of them. I midi the piano into the synth and leave the organ to it's own. I have found this to work well for me and cut down on the amount of stage space I use. Speaking of hauling keyboards, my late 70's to early 80's equipment consisted of a Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes 73, Wurlitzer piano, Arp string ensemble, Arp axxe, two Rhodes amplified speaker cabinets, 147 Leslie cabinet, Bullfrog (anybody remember them?) speaker cabinet, and a Sunn powered mixer. It's no wonder I am having back problems now! :P

Kurzweil PC3, Hammond SK-1 + Ventilator, Korg Triton. 2 JBL Eon 510's.

 

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Originally posted by keyoctave:

[snip]Speaking of hauling keyboards, my late 70's to early 80's equipment consisted of a Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes 73, Wurlitzer piano, Arp string ensemble, Arp axxe, two Rhodes amplified speaker cabinets, 147 Leslie cabinet, Bullfrog (anybody remember them?) speaker cabinet, and a Sunn powered mixer. It's no wonder I am having back problems now! :P

Wow. I am stunned. Hauling that rig around was probably a drag, but *playing* it must have been awesome!

 

--Dave

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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The "big hair" days of the early 80's were also big rig days. At one point I used a Hammond, Rhodes, Arp Omni II, MiniMoog and Crumar synths plus mixer, amp, effects, two JBL cabnets and a Leslie. The band complained a bit when we had to move it all, but they would never agree to leave any of it at home. Luckily we had steady week-long gigs so we did not have to move things that often. I eventually settled on the three stack. Weighted action on bottom, poly synth in middle, and mono synth on top right with drum machine on left. I think I liked it because I could hide behind the stack.

 

You can consider a module to sit on top but I don't thing your other two keyboards have pitch bend. If you choose something like a E-mu command station you get a ribbon controller and a bank of knobs. I'm not sure what other tabletop modules have pitch bend controllers.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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Here's my rig:

 

http://briefcase.yahoo.com/coyote-1

 

(Believe it or not, all that great stuff set me back less than $4K including the Marshall Major half-stack and MotionSound Pro3T.)

 

The Hammond, of course, provides a stand for the synth atop it. The Rhodes MK80 does the same for the Alesis - so I only have one stand among all that.

 

Depending on where we're playing I will move the Rhodes/Alesis in front of me, at right angles to the Hammond. If there isn't room for all this stuff I just don't do the gig! It's not like I'm a struggling musician anymore - I basically play just for the fun of it. (Though I am working on some Hammond patches for the QS7.1 because there are times when moving the Hammond is just ridiculous.)

 

And this entire rig really doesn't take up much more space than any other two-stand rig; it's just more annoying to move. The Rhodes is pretty much dedicated to piano & EP sounds, the JP8000 gets the analog-type duties, and the QS7.1 does the Clav, horns, strings, pads, etc. Only a couple of splits programmed in - I really get confused by them.

 

So is it practical? Not really. But if you have a van and an extra hand, it's not impractical either. (The geetarist I usually play with has a van :) )

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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I never played with more than two keyboards in my rig. I didn't have the money for it and I didn't - and still don't - like to drag all that stuff with me. I used to have an FP8 and a cheap synth connected to an SC55 :bor: but the Rhodes changed all of it. Now I'm using the Rhodes and a CS6x but I'm finding out that doesn't work (the CS6x pianos SUCK) so I ordered a piano again, with a great Rhodes patch so I don't have to drag that one with me all the time. A nice module for good organs connected to my CS6x would be great though. You can take a lot of hassle away when you prepare your sounds at home so you don't have to switch to much when you're on stage. Two boards and a module will do for me.

http://www.bobwijnen.nl

 

Hipness is not a state of mind, it's a fact of life.

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Yet another one who gigs with three 'boards. I have a PC-88MX on the bottom for piano, strings and some organ (no glissandos!), an EX-5 on top of that for just about everything (sometimes use splits on it) and a Nord Lead on a separate x-stand, which I place L-style if there's room, or slide under the PC-88 if there's not (and it just stays home if its a quickie gig or a lot of steps). I now use a Standtastic stand for the two biggies, like it a lot. The only problem I have with my setup is I try to keep the two biggies close together, which covers up the top panel of the PC88 and I sometimes have trouble selecting patches; if its a preset on the patch select buttons I can usually do it by feel but if its an oddball sound (trombone, etc) and I have to use the numeric keypad I sometimes have trouble. I've put white tape next to the Enter buttons and that helps a lot, I might also try mounting one of those "glowsticks" underneath the top board.

 

In the end its a hassle carrying that stuff around, but if you've ever had a guitar strap on your shoulder for 4 hours you'll appreciate keys just a little bit more!

Botch

"Eccentric language often is symptomatic of peculiar thinking" - George Will

www.puddlestone.net

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3 boards is the fewest I've ever been able to gig with. At one point I was carting around 5 of them: A Prophet-10 with my Seiko on top of that, and across from that a Roland MKB-300 with an M1 on top of that (I LOVED how you could sit a board on top of that Roland!) and an Emulator III the top of my Invisible stand. (Now, I'm only discussing the 80's and onward. You do NOT want to know what I hauled around during the 70's!)

 

I found that with the use of a Digital Music MX-8 I could drop to 3 boards- The MKB300, the M1 and the EIII, and then add a D-550 and Vintage Keys to a rack and let the MX-8 handle all the program changes which were initiated from the M1. Granted, a lot of the program changes were redundant, but it made life a lot easier, and my back was ever so grateful. (The friggin' P-10 was about 180 lbs in its Anvil case!)

 

Maybe you should consider a MIDI patch bay?

Setup: Korg Kronos 61, Roland XV-88, Korg Triton-Rack, Motif-Rack, Korg N1r, Alesis QSR, Roland M-GS64 Yamaha KX-88, KX76, Roland Super-JX, E-Mu Longboard 61, Kawai K1II, Kawai K4.
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I'm down to one board and a 3-unit rack, when I can get away with it. Use a PC88 as the controller (no sounds from that unit used), a PC2R for Piano/Rhodes/Strings and a Yamaha FS1R for DX-type EPs, leads and stuff. I have set up basic sound patches (Piano ((+ EP) + Strings))) and 2-3 splits (Piano/Organ, Piano/Brass etc.). It is a breeze to set up and fun to play. If I want more synth action I use a Midiman 49USB on top that is hooked to my laptop playing NI B4 & some other VSTis. The Midiman was cheap $150, so if it breaks I won't cry. I just love the fact that I can finally carry my own gear without having to run 15 times between the car and the stage :D
"You'll never be as good as you could have been, but you can always be better than you are." - MoKen
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When I did most of my gigs downtown, where all the bars but a few were on the 2nd floor or in the basement & the stages, were the size of postage stamps, 3 boards were just stupid. I even play standing up to avoid bringing a stool. Picture this it's the middle of winter, 4' snowbanks every where, the gig is on the 2nd floor, & there is only illegal parking in front of the bar. The snowbank is just as high in front of the bar. You're the 1st one to the gig, no one to help, not even a bouncer/doorman. So what do you do, unload your 3 keyboards, stool, amp, chord bag, stand in the lobby, then go park your car & risk somebody liking one of your keyboards while you're parking? Or do take everything up to the stage area & risk a parking ticket while you're up there? For each trip you make do you lock your vehicle or do you leave it open for someone to help themselves. Back then I travelled light. It was 76 note unweighted Roland RD-250 & an original CX-3, all in gig bags, chords & 2 pedals in the bags, amp, & stand. The 2 boards were so light I could carry both at once. The next trip was the amp & stand. Now it seems most of my gigs are in the suburban shopping mall setting, 1 level, often a back door right on or next to the stage. I bring my Leslie 145 semi-regularly. Less money but less hassle. Also the same 4 guys every night, not a 6 nite gig with personel changes every nite. I even did gigs where it was different drummers in different sets. Now, I sometimes bring a 3rd board, for fun, stage size permitting.

Steve

 

www.seagullphotodesign.com

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Carrying 3 keyboards to a gig has at least made me really strong!

 

I take a Clav D6, Hammond XK2, Korg Trinity and Nord Lead 2 Rack to every gig. For amplification I take a Leslie 147, Barbetta Sona 41 and I bring my laptop with a rack of interfaces for soft synths. It's a monster to carry!

 

The kicker is, I just bought a Kurzweil K2600XS (88 weighted keys!) and I'm going to want to bring that too! UGH! But it will probably take the place of the Trinity in my setup. Of course, the load will still be heavier.

 

I say, "do what you gotta do to get great tone." All the keys look great which adds to the visual aspect of a show. And get some roadies!

 

Good luck and start working out :D

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Originally posted by Dave Pierce:

Originally posted by keyoctave:

[snip]Speaking of hauling keyboards, my late 70's to early 80's equipment consisted of a Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes 73, Wurlitzer piano, Arp string ensemble, Arp axxe, two Rhodes amplified speaker cabinets, 147 Leslie cabinet, Bullfrog (anybody remember them?) speaker cabinet, and a Sunn powered mixer. It's no wonder I am having back problems now! :P

Wow. I am stunned. Hauling that rig around was probably a drag, but *playing* it must have been awesome!

 

--Dave

At the time, it was what you had to have to gig. I never looked at it in the 'vintage' way we do now. It was 'awesome' to play but also required one to know how to service your own stuff. You had tines and reeds to replace, wires to re-solder, key contacts and pots that had to be cleaned, motors that needed oiling, etc. And to top it off, your equipment was 'weight challenged'. Even with the nostalgic aura that goes with it, I would not want to go back. I am much happier with the equipment that is available today. You get so much more for your money and almost no maintenance (along with less weight). But, I must admit that it would be fun to play those keyboards again. :)

Kurzweil PC3, Hammond SK-1 + Ventilator, Korg Triton. 2 JBL Eon 510's.

 

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Originally posted by keyoctave:

At the time, it was what you had to have to gig. I never looked at it in the 'vintage' way we do now. It was 'awesome' to play but also required one to know how to service your own stuff. You had tines and reeds to replace, wires to re-solder, key contacts and pots that had to be cleaned, motors that needed oiling, etc. And to top it off, your equipment was 'weight challenged'. Even with the nostalgic aura that goes with it, I would not want to go back. I am much happier with the equipment that is available today. You get so much more for your money and almost no maintenance (along with less weight). But, I must admit that it would be fun to play those keyboards again. :)

Hmmm, yeah, I guess I never looked at it that way. I've been enjoying my return to organ style playing so much that I've seriously considered getting a B3. Not a trivial expense, but I'm at a stage in life where if I made it a priority I could eventually afford one. But man, it's hard to imagine hauling that thing around. 400+ pounds? I just can't see doing it...

 

--Dave

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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If I didn't already have the A100, I would almost definitely be looking to purchase the Korg BX3. For $3K you can have a truly portable organ which comes very close to the real Hammond/Leslie experience in sound, feel, and look, and also has many capabilities not found in the old Hammonds. AND it fits in the back seat of your compact car. (Not shilling here, just pointing out a useful alternative ;-) )

 

Originally posted by Dave Pierce:

Hmmm, yeah, I guess I never looked at it that way. I've been enjoying my return to organ style playing so much that I've seriously considered getting a B3. Not a trivial expense, but I'm at a stage in life where if I made it a priority I could eventually afford one. But man, it's hard to imagine hauling that thing around. 400+ pounds? I just can't see doing it...

--Dave

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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and i thought i was the only one dragging 3 boards around with me. Yamaha ex5 korg x3 & nord lead 2 roland table top sampler & yamaha table top sampler i use v confiurations stacks l shaped whatever will work plus the variety set ups keeps from corporal syndrome atleast that what i tell my self but hay i also own the pa 2 double 18 cabinets long throw peavey dth top cabnets 24 channel mixing board a rack that weights 3 times more than me im not joking im only 120 pounds racks over 300 pounds monitors did i mention big ass light system so if all you are doing is setting up 3 keyboards do feel bad remember my equipment list .

 

ps does anybody know some roadies in new orleans area

Rock-n-roll junkie
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Am i the only one here who wasnt playing in the 70's and was in high school in the 80's and has a C3 and Lesie as part of my rig??

For my big gigs, I lug a C3 and Leslie 147 (all roadcased!) , a wurly, Oberheim TVS1, Roland A90, Kurzweil PC2X, and 16U Rack full of modules around!

But im only 26... and have a tech guy... so maybe in 20 years i will be complaining about lugging like you old geezers! :D just kidding.. my respects to you all!

 

My small rig is just aRoland A90 and Kurzweil PC2X. The A90 runs all my modules in the weheeld rack. I just pull the rack outta my wagon... dump the boards on top and wheel it baby!

 

The A90 recalls all the right patch settings on the modules and on the PC2X. Wish Roland was still making the A90... best controller keyboard ever in my opinion.. and yes i have used all the oldies!! ;)

 

I sometimes use the VK7 for hammond sounds.. but usually when i need the hammond.. i take it!

I might try and get a pic up on here of my whole rig.

 

have some shots of a little bit of my studio gear at Pneumatic Studios

 

FYI.. the modules i use are Roland JV1080/ Kurzweil K2500R / WavestationAD/ Roland JV880 sometimes my Roland S770 too.

 

Cheers from downunder!

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