Advice for New Keyboard: Weighted, Semi or Organ/Synth Style

Discussion in 'Keyboards' started by jlhi2001, Nov 8, 2017.

  1. jlhi2001

    jlhi2001 Member

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    Hi,

    I'm interested in purchasing a keyboard. I've looked at a few models and read about some others.

    The first I looked at was the Yamaha DGX-660 until I heard a couple of Rolands; specifically the Roland Juno DS and 2000 RD. The sound of the Rolands really impressed me; especially the organ sounds.

    I'm interested in both piano and organ. I initially considered a weighted keyboard thinking I might take piano lessons. But I also love the Hammond, Fender Rhodes and other organ sounds.

    I've been rethinking my approach and might like to focus on organ at the moment. I'm assuming that in the long run a weighted keyboard won't really work for playing organ. That leaves semi-weighted and the synth style keyboards.

    So, I'm trying to figure out which direction to go. Roland has the Juno in 88 weighted key and 61 non-weighted (synth style-not sure if that's the right term?). Then there's the Nord Electro semi-weighted--73 or 61 keys.

    I know some people have two keyboards: one weighted and the other non-weighted.

    I'm really wondering what is the best option if I want to start with an organ like instrument. The Roland Juno 61, for example, is non-weighted but has only 61 keys. The Nord can be had with 73 keys but apparently the keys are heavier than a typical synthesizer keyboard.

    I'd like to find something with more than 61 keys (88 if possible) with keys resembling organ keys. Then maybe buy something with weighted keys for piano in the future. I don't know if such an instrument exists.

    I like the Roland DS 61, is there something similar in an 88 key option or is something like the Nord Electro the closest thing? Most of the 88 key instruments seem to have weighted keys.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thanks, John
     
  2. stevel

    stevel Member

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    Can of worms John.

    It's such a personal thing it's hard to say.

    Since you're saying Nord and DS in the same breath it sounds like money is not a huge consideration.

    The DS 61 comes in an 88 key version, but you're right, one is "synth action" and the other is "piano style" weighted.

    The FA line (also Roland) comes in 61, 76, and 88 key versions. The 76 is a more recent addition and is a "semi-weighted" option.

    I bought the FA 06 (61) but if the 76 had been available I would have absolutely gone with it. I'd really love to updgrade right now but just can't afford it.

    But the FA 06 (61) has a good synth style action - it just doesn't work for its piano sounds. The FA 08 (88) is of course weighted.

    The FA 07 (76) supposedly has the same or very similar keybed to the Jupiters.

    I'd say, if you're a pro organist used to playing organ action and being able to do all the things you can do on a Hammond style keyboard, then you need to seek out the thing that is closest in feel and sound (probably Nord).

    But if you're going to be doing tons of other things, or need far more features, or price is an issue, you may want to look at something more of an "all around" keyboard (which is semi-weighted).

    So I know that's not much help but if you can get somewhere and put your hands on one that can help you out.

    Good Luck
     
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  3. jlhi2001

    jlhi2001 Member

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    I'm not a pro. Have always wanted to learn piano/organ. I've had some exposure but not much and certainly not for a long time. Based on what I've seen thus far, it didn't seem like there was a good one piece solution. I know I don't want to venture into organ with weighted keys. So, I'll probably start with an organ style instrument. My main desire would be to have and organ/synth like keyboard. Second to that I would like to have good quality organ and electric keyboard tones, the rest of the synthesizer features might be fun. I'm not up to speed on the detailed differences between workstation, arranger and synthesizer etc. I liked the sound of the Roland Juno DS so I thought the 61 key version might be a good option, then there is the Nord Electro which has the 73 key option (I just don't know what their semi-weighted designation really is--I haven't tried one yet). After that I'd probably get a weighted keyboard for piano.
     
  4. Devnor

    Devnor Member

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    The real question is do you intend on learning organ techniques? If all you want to do is bang out chords with an organ sound, then all you need is a synth action keyboard. But if you intend on learning smears and slaps along with drawbar and leslie control then you want something like a Nord Electro with the proper controls and waterfall keyboard. A used Hammond XK1 or Korg CX3 would be a good choice too.

    The waterfall keyboard makes a huge difference when playing organ.
     
  5. jlhi2001

    jlhi2001 Member

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    I think those techniques are a ways away for me, but I'd like to learn more than banging out chords. I'd like to learn to read piano music. I played drums for many years and got away from it--I can (could) read music as written for snare drum and drum set. I've been in bands and have some very rudimentary keyboard knowledge. It's been a long time since I've taken a look at what's out there for keyboard instruments. There's much more available than there was twenty years ago when I last looked. So, a synth action keyboard might do for now. Locally there's a Roland VK8, Roland Juno 61 (synth action), a Nord Electro 4 sw73. Plenty of used Hammonds too.
     
  6. GravityJim

    GravityJim Member

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    I have both in the studio for the reason you cited. A spring keyboard is great for playing organ, horn samples, string parts, and of course synth patches. But it sucks for playing the piano.
     
  7. rsm

    rsm Member

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    I was never a pianist, so no weighted/semi-weighted keys for me. I prefer synth key feel, with adjustable velocity, and aftertouch - whenever possible.

    my kid takes piano lessons, so I have to remind him to be gentle with my synths and MIDI controllers, he's used to full weighted keys...I'm surprised and relieved no keybeds have been damaged so far!

    "best" as usual is very subjective IMO
     
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  8. jlhi2001

    jlhi2001 Member

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    I saw a Yamaha MOTIF XF7 in the past couple of days. I thought the keybed was much more substantial than than anything else I've seen with synth action.

    I'm wondering what keyboards come close to the Motif. An older Motif, Roland? Most of what's out there to demo has been weighted keys.
     
  9. Devnor

    Devnor Member

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    Motif ES, XS, XF and Montage all have a great feeling keyboards. Roland Fantom X and G are very nice too.
     
  10. RustyAxe

    RustyAxe Member

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    If one intends to play piano a weighted keyboard with realistic "action" is the ticket. But if wanting to play orchestral and/or synth instruments, a semi-weighted keyboard works better for me. I'm using a Kurzweil PC3-76 in my studio, almost exclusively these days.
     
  11. Triton76

    Triton76 Member

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    I will vouch for the ROland Jupiter 50 which has 76 semi weighted keys. good piano and organ sounds and a bout a zillion others.
    you can see the drawbars on the screen when using the organ simulator but can only adjust one at a time. Roland's VR series give you the physical drawbars and different keyboard options.
     
  12. jlhi2001

    jlhi2001 Member

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    I saw a Roland Juno DS 31 and FA 06 today. I thought both keyboards left a lot to be desired as compared to the Motif XF6 keybed. The Roland's didn't feel as "tight" as the Motif XF6--they felt spongy. There was a Nord Stage 3 there that I liked. I would like to sample a Nord Electro.
     
  13. ErikR

    ErikR Member

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    I'm currently using an FA-06 and the Nord Stage 3 Compact (73 keys), with the Nord replacing my old Motif 7 (heavy!!). If you're mostly concerned about feel, then I can definitely vouch for the semi-weighted waterfall on the Nord as being a very reasonable middle ground between the synth feel and a piano. Just enough weight to play piano-ish, but also allowing for fast runs and sweeps like an organ. It's taken a bit of time to get used to it, and it definitely was a concern at first, but now I'm a firm believer.

    Yeah, the FA-06 is very spongy feeling, like mentioned in the previous post. Easy to play synth parts on that - and they do sound pretty good - but definitely not a good feel for organ or piano. The sounds in the Yamaha seemed more natural to me than those in the Roland.

    FWIW - I find that having 73 keys on the Nord is just fine - guess it really comes down to what your style is. I might feel different if I were a 'real' piano player ;) For me, it's a perfect 'meet halfway' on the feel side, though the sounds in all three engines in the Nord are stellar. The FA-06 works well covering a few parts here and there that require two separate boards. A better programmer could probably do everything on just the Nord though.
     

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