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Unweighted instruments on weighted actions


Clifton

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Nope. Though palm glisses, B3-style, on a weighted action can get to you after a while.

 

Never played a real clav, so haven't got anything to compare it to, but don't have any trouble doing the Stevie Wonder thing on my 700SX.

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In my opinion:

 

The fast action of Hammond keyboards lends itself to a rapid-fire, "machine gun" technique that's nearly impossible to duplicate with many weighted keyboards.

 

The sweet, fast action of the Clavinet seems like it was built for funk, enabling you to "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee" without the resistance of weighted keyboards.

 

But to me, playing piano with unweighted keys is like a ballet dancer performing in combat boots.

"Oh yeah, I've got two hands here." (Viv Savage)

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I would rather play hammond & clav on a weighted key than piano and Rhodes on an unweighted one! Having only one keyboard, it has to be weighted. With two, I'd want one of each, of course, with the smaller unweighted one on top.

 

There are certain techniques I find impossible on a weighted keyboard, but I can live without them. I've only had one keyboard for about a decade now (other than my Rhodes, that is), and am pretty used to the limitations. If I'd been playing D6 or B3 for decades and then switched to weighted keys, no doubt I'd find it a bigger hurdle.

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Clav, not so hard to do on weighted, though once I get my synth where it's comfortable to reach, I'll probably switch to unweighted.

Organ, different story. The organ sounds in my weighted piano are fair, but they'll never be used due to the weighted keys. Gotta have unweighted for that.

When I got my synth back working, I played a rehearsal where I used only it, with unweighted keys. My hands cramped worse that night than they ever do with weighted keys.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

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Another problem with B3 stuff played on weighted keys is when you use percussion. Many new weighted keys are too slow to "lift up", which prevents the retriggering of the percussion even at moderate speeds, unless you play with exaggerated staccato.

 

A solution is to modify the pseudo-B3 set-up so that percussion triggers on any new note played (even if notes are still on), although a Hammond doesn't respond like that.

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I'm able to play in some fashion on my Kawai MP9500 which is weighted but I can play alot better on my Oberheim MC-1000 which is also weighted hammer action. I think it comes down to the weighted action in hand and how light it is.
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Originally posted by Cydonia:

A solution is to modify the pseudo-B3 set-up so that percussion triggers on any new note played (even if notes are still on), although a Hammond doesn't respond like that.

Man I hate that when a Hammond sound percusses every note. shudders>

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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I think it is a matter of getting used to playing on a particular 'weighted' action keyboard.

 

While not quite the same, it becomes easier to pull off the overall playability of those sounds on weighted keys in time. :cool:

PD

 

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

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Originally posted by Mr. Nightime:

Originally posted by Cydonia:

A solution is to modify the pseudo-B3 set-up so that percussion triggers on any new note played (even if notes are still on), although a Hammond doesn't respond like that.

Man I hate that when a Hammond sound percusses every note. shudders>
+1 (shudder shudder!)

 

You just have to learn to play very staccatto ... and still not quite make it for the faster parts. Definite advantage to the unweighted keyboard here.

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Try the CME UF8 and see if you still feel that way :-).

 

I think the question is more correctly phrased in terms of DIGITAL keybeds. If the MIDI converter for full acoustic grands is fast enough to keep up with everything going on, it should be possible to play machine-gun riffs on a true grand piano.

 

It's the digital boards that are usually sluggish, not the weighted vs. unweighted action itself per se. I had this explained to me recently by a piano technician, who told me more details than I remember about why an acoustic piano has the responsiveness it does vs. most digital boards.

 

This is why the CME series is such a breakthrough, in spite of certain undesirable characteristics such as the general noise that the keys make if you turn off your sound module and pay attention, as well as a bit of wiggliness if you play with a very light touch and very slowly, resting on the keys vs. normal playing. So they can still improve their product (hopefully).

 

I have only ever played bad clavinets (ones in serious disrepair) so do not feel qualified to comment on clavinet action (I love the sound though, and have no trouble playing it on a weighted board).

 

As another poster or two said, what I miss on a weighted board specifically is the swipes of a B3. And that is more due to the lack of waterfall sides than the weightedness -- although the other aspect of a true organ action is that the note "speaks" almost before you even touch it, as it is at least partially guided by electrical impulse (and we do have a weak electrical field about our body).

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Originally posted by Mark Schmieder:

It's the digital boards that are usually sluggish, not the weighted vs. unweighted action itself per se.

Exactly. As I said earlier, many weighted actions are too slow, but on certain controllers like my MIDIboard I never had a problem playing Hammond-like stuff at any speed.
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I have a PC2x you see, all my experience is with weighted keys. Never played a real hammond or a real clav.

 

So with organ the main problem is the speed of the keys? I just can't get the b3 to sound b3-y on weighted keys, when playing licks and and especially glissandos (they sound so seperate!). Or is the PC2s clonewheel just no good?

 

I thought clav was just a really tough instrument to get funky-soundin on, until I played a clav on ordinary synth keys (on a Roland XP-80, no less), it was suddenly very easy!

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I find certain organ and clav chops are ok on weighted keys and some are impossible. I tend to learn songs on my grand. Then when I rehearse them with the band I use my boards. It is an advantage to learn Clav parts on the piano because I am faster and more comfortable when I get the unweighted going.

 

You just adjust to what you have in front of you. I have played Learjeff's single keyboard many times and it does fine. Yea I miss some chops but overall I get by.

Jimmy

 

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Originally posted by Mark Schmieder:

Try the CME UF8 and see if you still feel that way :-).

 

I think the question is more correctly phrased in terms of DIGITAL keybeds. If the MIDI converter for full acoustic grands is fast enough to keep up with everything going on, it should be possible to play machine-gun riffs on a true grand piano.

 

It's the digital boards that are usually sluggish, not the weighted vs. unweighted action itself per se. I had this explained to me recently by a piano technician, who told me more details than I remember about why an acoustic piano has the responsiveness it does vs. most digital boards.

 

This is why the CME series is such a breakthrough, in spite of certain undesirable characteristics such as the general noise that the keys make if you turn off your sound module and pay attention, as well as a bit of wiggliness if you play with a very light touch and very slowly, resting on the keys vs. normal playing. So they can still improve their product (hopefully).

No, it's not the sluggishness of the CPU, it's the speed of the keys. You can't do these things on a real piano either. I can program my keyboard to send the notes that fast and it has no problem (and it was built way back in 1997!) Trust me, the kinds of speeds we're talking about were easy for computers of the 80's. I've worked automotive engine control where we had to dish out spark 1500 times per second, far faster than anyone can strike a key, using an 8-bit 1MHz processor.

 

Really -- it's NOT the CPU speed here! Nor is it the digital architecture.

 

Proof of this is simple: we CAN do this using digital UNWEIGHTED keyboards.

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What strikes me odd here is that this discussion is actually in many ways identical to the topic of comparing digital or synth "pianos" to the real thing.

 

EVERY instrument is different from every other instrument. What it can (or cannot) do varies widely based on make, model, age, etc., etc. etc. This is true even for the "same" instrument, (a Steinway 7' grand and a Baldwin Baby Grand may both be pianos - but they do have different sounds and playing characteristics).

 

What I feel is that the wrong question is being asked. The question should not be "can" one play a B3 or a Clav on a weighted keyboard. The question SHOULD be -- what should I do to get the best music possible out of a clav or B3 sound from a weighted keyboard?

 

The world of keyboards is rife with compromise. If you want a B3, then get a B3. If you want a great horn section - go hire a half dozen horn players. But - we all know that in most cases you cannot afford to have the "real" whatever - be it strings, B3, brass, etc.

 

Keyboards are a world of compromise. But it gets tiresome to hear so much angst about what this or that keyboard "cannot" do. The focus should ALWAYS be on getting the best music possible out of what you do have.

 

The basic organ sounds on the Privia PX-310 don't impress me. But, if I layer one of the EP sounds with an organ sound - I get something unique -- but something I can work with, which sounds good on a number of things.

 

And having a sustain pedal available to be used with a B3 sound opens up musical possibilities that the B3 itself doesn't have.

 

Okay - if you're in a tribute band, that's really desperate to match the sound of the original song as exactly as possible, I can understand some frustration. But, in most cases, matching the exact sound isn't all that important. The goal SHOULD be to invoke the same or stronger emotional response when playing the song.

 

Ultimately, the focus should be on accentuating the strengths of what you've got.

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We are not talking about sound. We are talking about playing techniques that are part of the idiomatic vocabulary of that instrument.

 

I developed my organ technique on a real Hammond organ over many years. If I cannot do machine gun trills, conga slaps, smears, or any other technique on a weighted keyboard, then I cannot play my style. It is limiting, and not in a good way. Simple as that!

Moe

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Sems to nail it. Without the 9 busbar arrangement, which only the new B3 has, although there is a simulation on the XK-1/3, you get a keyboard that has "hotkeys" that trigger early, but you can't do the conga slap thing cause the full drawbars trigger too early. No hotkeys and smears don't quite blur and the notes don't quite run into each other the way they should. And then there's the swipe compression effect that is simulated on the Electro, but I dunno bout the others. Still a few things to be sorted out in the world of clonewheels it seems. And that's before we get to weighted keys ...

 

I actually find it easier to play organ on weighted keys than clav. Especially if you're used to unweighted for clav comping. There's no reason that it can't be done, but it sure doesn't feel as funky as a snappy unweighted action.

Keys: Hammond SK2, Hammond SK1, Hammond SKpro, Korg Vox Continental, Waldorf STVC

Amplification: Line6 L3T, Yamaha DBR-10, Presonus Air 10, Leslie 122V

 

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