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#276652 by GuitarMikeB
Thu May 18, 2017 12:51 pm
Displaced Pianist wrote:
GuitarMikeB wrote:These days you don't need to 'haul around a couch'. There are very good portable Hammond organs now, and ways to get the whole whirlin' Leslie sound. And look at 'do it all' keyboards like Nords.
I had to help keyboard players with B3's and the old wood Leslie cab that weighed 200 lbs. No fun at all.

My base unit is a Roland (~90 lbs.); fully weighted keys, touch/velocity sensitive and great action--a true digital piano. Then I have the Korg (~75 lbs.)--a "do it all" unit--which I use mostly for MIDI, sequencer, certain effects, etc.; much better tonal qualities. It's lighter, but the keys aren't weighted, so I can't use it as a base unit. Then there are the amps--a Peavy (~160 lbs.) or the Roland (~140 lbs.); they're both on castors, but still need to be lifted. So let's see...that's well over 300 lbs. (don't forget the road cases and the misc. stuff) I need to haul each time I play. And of course, I can't just toss my rig in a trunk; it requires either an SUV or mini van, at the least. Did I mention I'm disabled?

Sure, they've made great strides in terms of technologically advanced equipment. I was over @ Sm'Ash not long ago and played one of the new Korgs; it had everything, a really great unit (altho it was still pretty hefty; anything w/ weighted keys typically is) all for only $4500 (I was just a tad short). So should I buy all new stuff to better facilitate the fantasies of total strangers? Or should I just ask anyone who wants me to play what equipment they want me to buy? After all, money is no object when you can subjugate yourself to total strangers.

Or maybe I should just play what I have, and if I ever do run into some folks who have similar musical interests, maybe then I'll consider whether I want to buy some new stuff. Until then, think I'll put more $$ into my Z28.


Sorry, DP - but you're not trying to put yourself out there as a band player looking for gigs, so its different. Someone who is will buy the latest (lightest) equipment out there.
When I saw Styx a couple of years ago (heavy keyboards in every song, of course) the player had a single 88 key controller board on a monopole stand that rotated. I'm sure he had a rack with the sound modules off-stage somewhere - but maybe not. No stage amps needed these days - plug right into the PA.
The new Hammond SK2 2-keyboard organ weighs 35 lbs. It also works as a MIDI controller.
The new Korg Kross 88 key weighted action controller weighs 27 lbs and has enough sounds in it you don't HAVE to have more synths or modules. Sells for $1000.
#276660 by Displaced Pianist
Thu May 18, 2017 2:28 pm
yod wrote:Keyboards do fill in the gaps of a production like nothing else will... Too much keyboard gives an album (or song) a cluttered feeling, so you need a keyboardist who knows how to lay back, just doing a few chord pads or melodic motifs in a rock band.

That's why I've never played the piano in a "rock" band. Yep, there are exceptions, but playing little fills bores me to death, and indeed reduces the piano to the level of the maracas or tambourine. When I lived up north I used to play in blues bands, and gradually got bored w/ that; while blues piano is very active (and not as easy as some would suggest), it's still mostly I-IV-V7 and can get tedious after a while.

I like music where a piano is indispensable, where the music suffers w/o it. That's why I like anything jazz-oriented, R&B, etc. But I don't need to be the focus; I still like the guitar and horns to be integral. Everyone should have some room to step out and solo, within the framework of the music. Young guys today don't understand that--or maybe it's just Tampa--so I stay off on my own.
GuitarMikeB wrote:Sorry, DP - but you're not trying to put yourself out there as a band player looking for gigs, so its different.

Yep, that's fair to say. I'd work w/ a band, but...see above. Don't need the money or notoriety, am only interested in the sound.
GuitarMikeB wrote:When I saw Styx a couple of years ago (heavy keyboards in every song, of course) the player had a single 88 key controller board on a monopole stand that rotated. I'm sure he had a rack with the sound modules off-stage somewhere - but maybe not. No stage amps needed these days - plug right into the PA.

They don't make those rack-mount modules anymore; they're only available used. That seemed like an ideal solution for me, but guys who have them aren't willing to part w/ 'em. Don't see 'em much on CL or even eBay. My Korg has that functionality, and there are benefits to having 2 boards.
GuitarMikeB wrote:The new Hammond SK2 2-keyboard organ weighs 35 lbs. It also works as a MIDI controller. The new Korg Kross 88 key weighted action controller weighs 27 lbs and has enough sounds in it you don't HAVE to have more synths or modules. Sells for $1000.

Never played the SK2, but I see it sells for ~$2900. Have played the Kross; it wasn't bad, but I prefer the Kronos--what I was talking about above. The Kronos is like the Ferrari of workstations...but I won't be buying a Ferrari anytime soon. Even $1000 is pricey, under the circumstances. Like I noted above, if I ever run into some folks who have similar musical interests, then I'll cross that bridge. Layin' out a grand to do something I don't enjoy seems somewhat antithetical.
#276662 by yod
Thu May 18, 2017 2:36 pm
I also love the blues for jamming but have never been in a blues band though I am a blues singer.
Last edited by yod on Thu May 18, 2017 5:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
#276680 by Planetguy
Thu May 18, 2017 3:18 pm
Displaced Pianist wrote:They don't make those rack-mount modules anymore; they're only available used. That seemed like an ideal solution for me, but guys who have them aren't willing to part w/ 'em. Don't see 'em much on CL or even eBay.


huh...interesting, i didn't realize that sound modules had gone the way of the dodo bird.

just earlier this AM i was messing with my malletKAT (midi controller for mallet players) and though it has some very good internal sounds (Kurzweil) i still use the three sound modules i have:

EMU 9090 Orbit
EMU Proteus 1000
Yamaha MU50

very glad to see you back around these parts, DP!
#276683 by thememphizmonkz
Thu May 18, 2017 5:58 pm
Two boards can give a keyboardist great range. Guitar should accompany keyboard, not vice versa. Keys do fill gaps...as they should, but too much instrumentation kills a song. There's a delicate balance in music making no matter what instruments or genre.
#276685 by yod
Thu May 18, 2017 6:06 pm
thememphizmonkz wrote:Guitar should accompany keyboard, not vice versa. .



in your dreams!?!

How long have you been playing disco?
#276686 by Planetguy
Thu May 18, 2017 6:09 pm
in straight ahead jazz the guitarist actually lays out during the piano player's solo. as the pianist is comping for himself w his left hand.

now, in organ trios the gtrst does often play very sparse little stabs behind the organ solos.

and when the gtrst solos.....the organist or pianist is supposed to comp.

now as far as keys being the most important instrument? BWAHAHAHA! :lol: :lol: :lol:

the most important instrument in any band is the drummer. doubt it?

take some great musicians and put them w a bad drummer...NO ONE wants to listen to that. it don't work.

but flip it.....and put some mediocre musicians w a GREAT drummer and now all of a sudden they sound pretty good.
#276695 by yod
Thu May 18, 2017 6:50 pm
Planetguy wrote:put some mediocre musicians w a GREAT drummer and now all of a sudden they sound pretty good.



Much as I hate to admit it you are right.

A great drummer makes anyone sound good. A bad drummer makes everyone sound bad.


But my experience is that the best musician in the band needs to be the bass player because they tie it all together and need to understand what everyone else is doing.
#276721 by Vampier
Thu May 18, 2017 11:38 pm
The Drummer is the Heartbeat of the Band. I agree with Planet Guy. The Bassist is important but If the Drummer is good then the Bass Player can just play even straight with the drums and it sounds good most times. I prefer Bassists who are Bassists and not failed Guitarists. Keyboardists can float about and add flourishes and accents and Power which are all distinct from the guitars and thus add much greater depth ... in my opinion. I like very much those who know how to really use a synth and enhance all the other instruments including the vocals.
#276742 by GuitarMikeB
Fri May 19, 2017 12:57 pm
Displaced Pianist wrote:They don't make those rack-mount modules anymore; they're only available used. That seemed like an ideal solution for me, but guys who have them aren't willing to part w/ 'em. Don't see 'em much on CL or even eBay. My Korg has that functionality, and there are benefits to having 2 boards.


Well, they are going away, but the high end ones are still out there:
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MotifXSRack
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Modal008R
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Omega8
And the Eurorack system.
But why are they going away? Because of VSTi - virtual instruments. Software. So a controller keyboard and a laptop is all that is needed for a portable gigging unit. I've got a dozen virtual synths that give me more sound choices (for recording, I don't gig with keyboards now) than I could have had with $10K of synths 20 years ago.
#276745 by Displaced Pianist
Fri May 19, 2017 1:54 pm
GuitarMikeB wrote:Well, they are going away, but the high end ones are still out there:
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MotifXSRack
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Modal008R
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Omega8
And the Eurorack system.
But why are they going away? Because of VSTi - virtual instruments. Software. So a controller keyboard and a laptop is all that is needed for a portable gigging unit. I've got a dozen virtual synths that give me more sound choices (for recording, I don't gig with keyboards now) than I could have had with $10K of synths 20 years ago.

Good finds, Mike. I was looking into modules 3-4 years ago, and a guy I knew who worked @ Sm'Ash (a very good pianist in his own right) was telling me they didn't make 'em anymore: the profit margins just weren't there. I thought he might be 'pitching' me for an upgrade (friends aside), so I stopped by GC one day...and they told me the same thing. Couldn't find anything decent on the used market, either. Most guys are like P-guy: still using their old modules and not willing to give 'em up.

Given the prices on these new modules, it's easy to see why. The Motif is tolerable--albeit pricey--but $3500 & $5300 for the Modal & Omega 8--yowza! And they aren't easy to use; like someone mentioned in this thread, you need to be a real geekazoid to master them. I just play the piano, and really only want those great EP & GP tones. I've never been a big fan of the Yamaha tones; I had a DX7 back in the day, but it didn't work well w/ blues, so I traded it in for a Roland. But I haven't heard the tones in the Motif, so who knows? Next time I'm @ Sm'Ash, I'll see if they have one I can try out. Still, $1300 is a chunk o' cash.

You're right about VSTi's and software. I've been toying around w/ them, and there are some really good patches available. Never tried 'em live--it's a real challenge to master them in a gigging scenario--but have used 'em in the studio to some success. It's getting to the point where you really do need to be an EE to play these gizmos. I'm just an old geezer who plays the piano.
#276746 by Displaced Pianist
Fri May 19, 2017 2:10 pm
Planetguy wrote:in straight ahead jazz the guitarist actually lays out during the piano player's solo. as the pianist is comping for himself w his left hand.

now as far as keys being the most important instrument? BWAHAHAHA! :lol: :lol: :lol:

Agreed. In my conception, the piano lays down the melody, leaving the guitar and horns to punctuate it and make the tune...interesting. The guitar and horns are what folks come to hear, and they put the edge in any tune...regardless of what genre it is. Sure, I pop a few solos here and there, but for the most part, I'm the bridge between the rhythm section and the guitar and horns. Want an example? Go to my page and check out "Porkpie Hat." I'm comping all the way through, and the horns & guitar provide the edge.

I don't like synths much, but do need to use 'em sometimes--for example, "Hey Nineteen" has a synth. But I try to avoid 'em.

Re: the discussion vis-a-vis drums v. bass, I'd say it's both. To paraphrase P-guy, put some great players w/ a lousy rhythm section, your band sucks. But put some marginal players w/ a strong rhythm section...suddenly you sound pretty good. Imagine that!
#276754 by Planetguy
Fri May 19, 2017 6:20 pm
Displaced Pianist wrote:
Re: the discussion vis-a-vis drums v. bass, I'd say it's both. To paraphrase P-guy, put some great players w/ a lousy rhythm section, your band sucks. But put some marginal players w/ a strong rhythm section...suddenly you sound pretty good. Imagine that!


I am Planetguy and i approve of this message!
#276777 by John Dumke
Sat May 20, 2017 6:02 pm
I am a keyboardist / pianist in several (2) rock bands. Above I posted 6 reasons (page 1 of thread for full) why we are in short supply. I have been thinking about my own situation and some to some other conclusions / opinions.

John Dumke wrote:Problem #1 - The teaching community is geared towards classical sight reading.
Problem #2 - The piano is just damn hard.
Problem #3 - From my perusing keyboard forums, keyboardists find that many bands play too much and too loud.
Problem #4 - Do we really have to play strings, sound FX, horns, organ, synth, piano, rhodes, etc.
Problem #5 - Maybe in our culture, we are loosing the focus on learning piano.
Problem #6 - We want a challenge, background rock keyboards are not.


The reason I am in two rock bands is because I did not have the skills (5 years ago) to be able to do a solo gig. I was new to the gigging scene and just playing my part was challenging. I did however have 8 years of classical training in my youth and brief Musicians Institute attendance as an adult, so I have made very fast progress with 2 hours of practice everyday for 5 straight years. 5 years later the band thing is now more likely to bore me. Fortunately, I am starting to sing lead on some songs, so this is challenging me and keeping me interested and growing.

With regards to keyboards placement in rock.

yod wrote:what a bunch of horse hockey. Keyboards are background support to guitars in 90% of rock. As they should be...


I won't disagree with this, because this is partially true. But it also explains the lack of interest a complete keyboardist has in playing in a "Rock" band. For argument sake we could say there are three types of rock bands.
1) The guitar only bands - ZZ Top, AC/DC
2) The rock bands with keyboards. Tom Petty, Bon Jovi, and many country bands. I am sure there are a lot more.
3) Keyboard centric or prominent bands - Elton John, Billy Joel, Bruce Hornsby, Keane.

If you look at an orchestra, which in essence is the History of sound, whenever there is a piano included, it is front and center. They are piano concerto's. The piano is the lead instrument. Why? Because it has the most comprehensive sound palette. I understand that rock doesn't always use a keyboard player to the fullest potential. But to a keyboardist that has complete chops, asking them to sit back and play a few chords is boring. It is like asking Whitney Houston to do a few background "Dew Ops". As I mentioned I have been in rock bands because playing the simple parts has been challenging, but as I grow, I am looking towards doing a solo act.

But back to the 90% of rock bands are guitar focused. This in general is true. About 90% of your average bar bands don't have a keyboardist. It is much easier to find a 2nd guitarist.

But I will state something that is only my opinion, and obviously highly colored by the fact that I play keys. Rock bands that don't have keys bore me to tears. The most innovative (only in my opinion) had other instruments, and worked on expanding their sound palette. Take bands like ELO, or even Deep Purple and all of the 70's, 80's prog rock. Genesis is clearly on of my favorite bands. Even bands like the Beatles that started out only with guitar, as they progressed and became more innovative started using more instruments, orchestra's and obviously keyboards / pianos.

So while 90% of rock bands do not have a keyboard player, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't aspire to a more innovative and complete sound. The only problem is often times it is the keyboardist that is the orchestrator of a band. He is often the one with the most musical training. Case in point. At Berkelee Music School in Boston. When you learn the guitar, you also learn the piano. When you learn the trumpet, you also learn the piano, when you learn the drums, you also learn the piano. The piano is what you use to compose. I am not saying I am of this caliber, I am not. I could not step into a band and be the band leader. But if you are looking for somebody of this caliber, and then asking him just to sit back and play a few chords to fulfill your musical goals it is not likely to happen. Case in point, I am in a Rush Tribute band. Needless to say, it was the drummer's idea for this band as Rush is a very drum and bass centric band. The bass player and guitar player also have a blast with this band. I did it because I wanted to help our drummer out. He is a good guy, as are all of the other band members. People think we are awesome, and I have a lot of respect for my band mates. It took me MANY hours to get all of the sounds right, there was lots of research on what VST's would creat exactly the right sounds. So I did learn alot about VST's. But musically, from a keyboardists perspective, it bores me to death. I am there to help the other members live out their rock fantasy. Would I take on a second project like that, hell no. I have learned what I need to learn.

So this brings me back to my previous point. If you want a keyboardist to be interested in your project, the project must be interesting to them. Most rock bands with two guitars jamming away simply aren't interesting, from a keyboardists perspective. Which leads me back to one of the original posts. If you want a keyboardist to just fill in a couple of sounds and sit in the background, find a new guy, and nurse him along. Is this ego or greed? I don't think so. Me, I play for fun. Money is not a factor. I have a day job, and just want to get better. A typical 2 guitar, rock band is not that path. Then take a Berkelee or other music school grad. They maybe payed 100k + for their education and likely had 10 years of dedication before entering college. They need to make money to put food on the table.

So is 90% of Rock guitar based, yes maybe? Is rock better off being only 90% guitar based, I think not.
Last edited by John Dumke on Sat May 20, 2017 11:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
#276780 by yod
Sat May 20, 2017 9:32 pm
I completely agree with your assessment, bro, except for one thing

Even the guitar bands use keyboards to support the guitar and make it fatter (usually a midrange piano chord pad) to fatten the guitar sound on their recordings; then either use tracks, sequencers, or forego having keyboards when they play live.

Very rare to record a song without some kind of keyboard filling in the gaps.

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